Why pets as presents can be a bad idea - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Why pets as presents can be a bad idea

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December is a busy time at the Rutland County Humane Society, as many people search for a pet they think will make the perfect present.

"Now it just seems to be in the forefront because of the holidays are coming up," said Beth Saradarian of the Rutland County Humane Society.

Saradarian says during the holidays the idea of gifting an animal always spikes, but even with the best of intentions, she says sometimes a surprise is not the best idea.

"Surprises to someone who really doesn't want a cat or a guinea pig or whatever it is tends to backfire if they didn't want one," Saradarian said.

In fact, at this Humane Society, while you can give the gift of a cat or guinea pig, hiding a dog under the tree is typically off limits.

"A puppy and dogs are just so much more responsibility. Especially with puppies they need to be house trained and they need toys and they need socialization and not everybody thinks about all that," Saradarian said.

So the Humane Society has come up with a new take on the gift of companionship, which they think is better for both pet and the pet parent in the end.

"We would actually prefer and which we also think is more fun-- perhaps a gift certificate," Saradarian said.

She says that way shelter employees can counsel the potential pet parent on the responsibilities and costs of owning whatever pet they choose.

"It's a lot of just talking and understanding the person who is giving the gift and the person more importantly who is receiving the gift and whether or not it's going to be a nice match," Saradarian said.

She says there are both pros and cons to taking home any animal over the holidays. On the one hand, the kids and parents are on vacation, which gives the family and the animal some time to adjust. But holidays also bring the stress of people coming and going, presents and tree ornaments that sometimes make it hard for the animal to adjust.

She says it's not about being a Scrooge on someone's holiday surprise, but about making sure it's a positive relationship that will last a lifetime.

"Sometimes the fun wears off when reality sets in," Saradarian said.

Another thing to consider is the investment. The ASPCA says the average cost of owning a dog for the first year is $1,300-$1,800. The average cost of owning a cat is about $1,000.

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