September 28, 2020

BY CALEIGH MCLELLAND

With Halloween costumes off the racks and trick-or-treaters nearly finished their candy, our attention now turns to Christmas.

And while many enthusiastic shoppers finish their shopping well before Dec. 25, others leave gift buying until the bitter end.

But there are some gifts that need much more thought than just deciding what colour of shirt to buy an hour before the mall closes on Christmas Eve.

Animals are often popular gifts for children, but many parents rush into buying or adopting a puppy or a kitten without considering just how much work a pet actually is.

Because of this, staff members at the Guelph Humane Society make sure the entire family is prepared for a new addition.

“Everyone in the family has to meet the animal to ensure they are all comfortable with the idea,” said Caroline Dunmore, lost and found co-ordinator/adoption counsellor at the Guelph Humane Society.

Often animals are surrendered or brought back to humane societies shortly after Christmas because of allergies or because people are unaware of the hard work and dedication involved in taking care of an animal.

“For this reason,” said Dunmore, “we stop adoptions around two to three days before and after Christmas so the adoption is not a last-minute decision.”

Like a child moving from home to home, animals can become stressed in new environments, too.

Some animals also have special needs, whether it be a health issue, a fear of men or small children or a dislike of other animals, and may require a particular person or family to take care of them.

“That is why we are very careful about our adoptions,” said Bonnie Deekon, executive director at the Cambridge and District Humane Society, adding that she finds it difficult to see an animal getting comfortable in a home, only to be moved or taken back to the shelter.

“This just adds to the confusion of the animal,” Deekon said. “When we send an animal home, we want to make sure it is their forever home.”

According to Deekon, many animals do not initially adjust well to groups of people. And since Christmas is a time when friends and family get together, Deekon recommends people hold off on bringing a new pet home until after the holidays.

“Instead, people can purchase a gift certificate. That way everyone can come in and the animal can be chosen by the entire family,” she said.