SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

December 14, 2012

Think carefully before gifting a pet

(Continued)

It is important to remember that the main reason animals are abandoned or taken to shelters is because they are unwanted. According to the MSPCA, 11 million animals are surrendered to shelter each year. Only 10 percent of all puppies and kittens born in the U.S. each year will find a permanent home. The sad truth that is not advertised by the pet production industry is that more than 80 percent of all newly acquired pets are either in a shelter or dead within two years of the acquisition.

Consider the following before giving a pet as a gift:

Does the person want a pet?

Can the person afford a pet? Ongoing expenses for a pet include food, bedding, litter, leash, toys, licenses, grooming, regular and emergency veterinary care, and, possibly, pet insurance. The ASPCA estimates the annual cost for these items at $580 per year for a small dog, $875 per year for a large dog and $670 per year for a cat. Of that amount, annual veterinary expenses can range from about $190 for a cat to $350 for a dog.

Does the person have room for a pet? If you are thinking about giving a dog, does the recipient have a fenced yard?

Does the person have time to properly train and care for a pet?

Is the person allergic to animals?

Is the recipient allowed to have a pet in their home? Will they have to pay a pet deposit?

Will the person have to make a drastic lifestyle change to accommodate the pet?

Does the recipient have the time to properly care for a pet? Average time required for minimum daily care could range from 30 to 60 minutes for a cat to one hour or more for a dog.

Are they ready to care for a new pet during the cold, wet winter months? During cold and inclement weather, the dog will still need to be walked outdoors. Pets should not be left out in the yard for more than five to 10 minutes in freezing weather.

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