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Don't Give Pets as Presents This Holiday Season

Boston terrier Owen doesn't have a home this holiday season.

"He's (Owen) seven years old," Mary Kirlin of the Marathon County Humane Society said. "Where they got him I don't know."

But he's probably not in any rush to find one either, Kirlin said now is not the time to give a pet as a gift.

"There's a lot of commotion at Christmas time," Kirlin said. "There are beverages or mixed drinks that could spill. There's chocolates and foil-wrapped treats."

Kirlin said no matter if it's a puppy, kitty or bird, the shock and surprise when opening the pet gift is bad for the pet's nervous system.

"An animal has two choices when something startles them or has fear," Kirlin said. "They can either run or fight."

Kirlin said at the Marathon County Humane Society, their adoption application process is rigorous so they don't adopt pets out as gifts and at this time of year.

"Heaven forbid an animal escapes out the door when someone is bringing in the Christmas presents," Kirlin said. "What a total way to ruin the holiday."

Instead of trying to adopt an animal over the counter, try looking below the counter to make a kit with things like a new kitty collar or a care book for the bird you want to give or even fleece boots for the new puppy.

Kirlin said making a pet kit with supplies for someone as a gift is a better alternative, that way they're educated and ready to take care of the new member of the family.

"Bring the family in. Make the decision together on what you can afford, what is the scheduling, living space, etc.," Kirlin said. "How does the dog, cat or rabbit respond to the whole family? You want to make sure it's a bond all the way across."

While Owen may be hoping for a family for Christmas, waiting for the right one at the right time may be better for him in the long run after all.

"They've left the shelter. They've left a home. They've come to a shelter. They've left the shelter where they were comfortable into another place," Kerlin said. "Christmas and holidays are just not the right time to do it."

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection offered advice when choosing a pet, too.

1. Match the pet to the person. Consider lifestyle, space and financial demands.

2. Don't buy from a breeder blindly. Insist on visiting the breeder's facilities to see how the animals are cared for.

3. Exotic animals are rarely, if ever a good pet choice. They have special nutrition and health needs that may be expensive to meet, and finding veterinary care may be difficult.

4. Get a certificate of veterinary inspection if you're bringing any animal into Wisconsin from a different state.

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