Is a puppy at the top of your child’s Christmas List this year?
We talked with Kimberly Vermillion from the Arizona Animal Welfare League and she has some tips about some things you should consider before adding a new furry friend to the family.
- Recognize that pets are a long-term and financial commitment
Depending on the age of the pet when they’re adopted and the breed, families can expect to have the pet for anywhere from 10-15 years.
“Pets can be expensive,” said Vermillion. “Understanding the cost is important, especially if they need vaccines and there can be a lot of unexpected expensive of having a pet throughout their life.”
- Be ready for the responsibilities that come with pet ownership
Between feeding, walking, training, and playtime, pets can take up a lot of time. Vermillion said it’s important that families evaluate their current schedules and evaluate whether or not they have the time to care for a pet properly.
She also advises that parents be prepared to take on majority of the responsibilities for caring for the pet, even if they are getting it as a “gift” for their child.
“Don’t expect that your kids are going to take full care of the pet,” said Vermillion. “It may sound sweet but want to make sure everyone knows what they’re getting themselves into.”
- Make it a family affair
Rather than gifting the pet exclusively as a holiday present, Vermillion says parents should involve their children in the process and select a pet that best suits their family.
“If your family is super busy and doesn’t have time to train a puppy—consider getting an adult pet,” said Vermillion.
Vermillion also says it’s a good idea to evaluate the family’s living situation. A dog will require a fenced-in yard, whereas a cat could thrive better in a small apartment.
Additionally she suggests that the family visits an adoption shelter together and selects an animal whose temperament meshes well with children’s ages and personalities.
Benefits of Adding a Pet to the Family
If, after talking it over, your family decides that they are ready for a pet, Vermillion says it can be a great opportunity for kids to learn some responsibility with age-appropriate tasks to help care for the animal.
For example, preschool and young elementary-aged children can be responsible for filling up the pet’s water bowl or measuring out their food.
Older children can walk the dog after school, assist with training sessions, and help bathe them.
“It’s important to understand it’s a team effort,” said Vermillion. “It’s still going to be the parents’ responsibility if the kids fail to uphold their end.”
Alternative Ways to Help a Pet in Need
If pet ownership ultimately sounds too overwhelming for your family right now, there are still ways you can help an animal in need.
- Sponsor a pet
Families can visit https://aawl.org/ , select an animal on the website, and make a donation in that pet’s name. That monetary contribution can go toward the adoption fees and help another family adopt the pet for less.
- Donate Items
Arizona Animal Welfare League also has a list of items on their website that they are in need of to help care for the animals in the shelter. These include leashes, harnesses, blankets, towels, and more. Families can drop of donations to the Arizona Animal Welfare League Tuesday through Sunday between 11:30 am – 6:00 pm or order directly from their Amazon Wish List.
- Become a Foster Family
“This is a great option for families who want to try out having a pet in their home but aren’t quite ready for the long-term commitment,” said Vermillion.
Families can fill out an application, go through a brief video training, and get matched with a pet that would fit their family.
Whatever route you choose, we hope this makes your pet-gifting decision a bit easier this holiday season.