Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Pet Talk

March 23, 2012

You received a pet as a gift . . . What now?

CNHI News Service —

It’s the week after the holidays. You received everything you wanted this year… and then some. A well-meaning relative decided that you needed a new pet in your life and gifted accordingly. What are you going to do now?

Mark Stickney, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, says that whether or not you decide to keep the pet, you have a few options.

“It is never a good idea to give a pet as a surprise gift,” notes Stickney. “There is no such thing as a ‘free’ animal. Proper care of a pet requires a lot of time and resources, which the receiver of the pet may not be able to spare.”

If you find yourself the surprise recipient of an unwanted pet, do not panic or do anything drastic, such as turning the animal loose. This can cause problems for not only the animal, but also for any people who find the animal.

“Never turn the pet loose,” states Stickney. “The weather can be very unfriendly to abandoned animals, especially during the winter. In addition to freezing or becoming ill, they may be hit by a car, starve, or be attacked by other animals. Pets are not accustomed to finding their own food or shelter, so turning them loose is usually a death sentence.”

Rather than turning your predicament into somebody else’s problem, try giving the pet back to the giver. If he or she can return the pet, then the situation is out of your hands. If that fails, however, another option is to take the pet to an animal shelter. Adoptions tend to be higher during the holidays, especially for puppies.

If, however, you are too worried about the fate of the animal to leave it at a shelter, you can still find it a suitable home if you have the time and patience. Fostering is a big responsibility, but it can be very rewarding once you place your pet in the perfect home.

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