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Holiday Adoption Do’s and Don’ts

Cat YawnFew gifts can bring as much joy to giver and receiver alike as a furry or feathered friend.

But along with the joy come responsibilities, especially around the holidays, when household stress, traffic and noise can be very high, and very disturbing to the new family member. So if you’re planning to give a pet as a gift, make absolutely sure that the recipient wants it, and will be willing to care for it. Otherwise, it might be best to consider an inanimate gift.

If a new pet is brought into the home at holiday time, the first concern should be its physical safety. (See Dr. Katie Gibson’s article on Holiday Hazards on page 4). After that, the new owners should make sure the new member gets the attention, inattention, space and regular routine needed to facilitate a smooth integration into the family.

Lauren Weldishhofer of Animal Compassion Network suggested that new owners should create a space for the new pet “away from the holiday hullabaloo”. That could mean a crate in a quiet spot for a new puppy, or a safe room for a cat. Weldishofer also suggested that people consider waiting until after the holidays to bring a new pet home. The forever friend might be picked out before the holiday, perhaps on a family outing to a shelter, but not brought home until after New Year’s. Once family life has returned to normal, the new pet will acclimate and bond better and faster as sanity reigns.

Tristan Rehner, Behavior and Training Coordinator at Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, recognized that the holidays can be the best of times and the worst of times for a family to adopt a pet. She stressed that puppies, in particular, need a regular routine, one thing the holidays rarely provide. She also said the extra attention paid to new pets could be very stressful, particularly if it comes from unfamiliar visitors.

Rehner said newly adopted pets would benefit from routine in both diet and schedule. She suggested that new pets be supplied with toys that could keep them amused and out of things they shouldn’t be into. And, like Weisdhorfer, Rehner recommended that new pets be provided a sanctuary to which they can retreat when the holidays get too happy in their new home.

“Consistency and sanctuary,” Rehner said, are what make for a successful holiday adoption.

Project Santa Helps Area Pets

A Buncombe-Henderson organization, Project Santa, (Supporting Animal Needs Through Action), will again provide gifts for the least of our furry family. The group is conducting its Second Annual Winter Donation Drive that benefits Brother Wolf Animal Rescue and the Blue Ridge Humane Society.

In 2011, Project Santa collected over 1,210 pounds of food and other items. Kyle Kissman, Project Santa Founder and Director, says “Our goal for 2012 is to double our donations to these no-kill shelters. 100% of the items collected are split equally between the two.”

Project Santa accepts new and used items such as collars, leashes, and bowls as well as food. If a pet, for instance, has outgrown items, Project Santa will gladly accept and re-purpose them for shelter cats and dogs. Unused portions of food are acceptable if properly labeled and sealed in original packaging. No treats or food “Made in China” will be accepted, since there have been countless recalls and pet deaths by such items. Pet lovers can donate until December 31st. Buncombe County drop-off points are: Blue Ridge Reef & Pet, Canine Shear Heaven, Pet Supplies Plus, and You Work I’ll Play. Henderson County points are listed on www.project-santa.com.
All this and a chance to win prizes! There is a winter raffle – each donation receives a ticket for a chance to win prizes from local WNC businesses. For a full list of ways to acquire raffle tickets, or to schedule spay/neuter services, visit the web site.