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Adopt a pet this Christmas

Published: 
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Your Pet & You

Christmas is just around the corner and top of the list to Santa may be a puppy or kitten.

Before giving in to your children’s pleas, seriously consider the requirements you must provide once you welcome a furry addition to your family.

All too often, puppies and kittens that are cute and fun to play with when they are tiny, outgrow their charm and their appeal dissipates.

Children returning to school in the New Year become bogged down with homework and studies, their social lives take precedence, and they are no longer committed to spending time with the pet they promised faithfully to care for. Mom and Dad are often the ones left holding the leash.

Pets are a huge responsibility. They can live for many years and must rely on their owners for their well-being. Food, water, toys, veterinary attention, medication, beds, suitable and secure shelter (eg a fenced yard where the dog can run around freely), pet shampoo, and grooming equipment are just a few examples of some of the things you need to buy for your pet.

Items which cost no money but are equally important and often even more limited, include your time and affection. If these resources are not in abundance now, then wait until you can dedicate these to a pet.

If you have the money and time to commit to a pet this Christmas, you have various options for choosing a future friend. 

You can purchase a puppy or kitten from a breeder but ensure that the breeder is a reputable one. A reputable breeder genuinely cares about the welfare of animals and does not see them as simply sources of income. Seek testimonials from other clients of this breeder. Visit the breeding kennels and make sure the dogs are in good health as well as housed in a hygienic, comfortable and spacious environment. Interact with the mother and father of the puppy you are interested in to assess for genetic problems which may be physical (eg hip dysplasia) or behavioural (eh high levels of aggression or anxiety).

Ask questions such as when the puppies are weaned from the mother and what vaccinations they have received. A reputable breeder should be able to answer any questions on the breed and should know how important the first few weeks of life are to shaping a puppy’s temperament so should not separate the puppies from their mother until they are 12 weeks old.

A reputable breeder shows concern for the future homes of the puppies and will do a home check to assess the environment as well as keep in touch with you after the sale. A contract should be signed and any registration papers immediately handed over to the new owner. Beware of any “breeder” who tells you that you have to wait for documentation.

Pet shops are increasingly visible points of sale for pets but you must be cautious.

Pet shops in T&T are not regulated due to the lack of any legislation; thus health, safety and welfare standards are often not adhered to. This can result in direct or inadvertent abuse of animals due to issues such as poor hygiene, unsuitable cages and environment, inappropriate and inadequate food and water; as well as increased risk of diseases being harboured by animals if veterinary care is not at hand. 

Until pet shops in T&T are required by law to maintain high standards for the animals under their care it may be wiser to not purchase live animals from such institutions.

The culture in T&T is such that many of us know of a friend or relative whose pet is having young ones and we often hand these out like sweets! While too many sweets are bad for us, too many puppies and kittens are bad for the entire dog and cat population.

Thousands of animals are killed every year in T&T because they cannot find homes and become “nuisances” to society. Neutering is a way of keeping the dog and cat population at a sustainable level.

Christmas is a season associated with kindness and goodwill. If you have decided that you can provide a good home for a pet, consider opening your heart and door to a pet who needs it—adopt.

Copyright © Kristel-Marie Ramnath 2014. For further info, contact 689-8113 or [email protected]

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