Considering a pet as Christmas gift? Give it some consideration |

Considering a pet as Christmas gift? Give it some consideration

Rhonda Costa
Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada AppealAnimal Control Officer Amy Amaru cleans the cat kennels at the Carson City Animal Services shelter Wednesday. Officials warn the public to make thoughtful choices about adopting animals during the holidays.

More than 50 cats and kittens were in the Carson City Animal Services shelter Wednesday afternoon. Some of them are foster cats, but all are in need of a home.

Some families think about giving a pet as a Christmas gift.

“I’d hate to say it’s ever a bad idea to adopt an animal, especially at Christmas. But as long as you put some thought into it, it makes for a better long-term results,” said Pat Wiggins, Animal Services supervisor.

“We do get an influx of adoptions before the holidays. And we then get returns because some of them have not given themselves enough time to think about what they’re getting in to.”

Animal control officer Dani Amaru was busy cleaning the cat cages and feeding and watering them, each of the 32 cages being occupied, some containing multiple cats.

“We’ve got another 19 (cats) in the back room,” Amaru said as she emptied a litter box into the garbage. “I’ve been here three months and am shocked when someone yells at me for not taking on their problem, their responsibility.

“Most people when turning in their animal don’t do anything about finding them another home until the last minute. They can use the newspaper, Craigslist. But when something goes wrong, they act like it’s our fault.”

Wiggins said the main thing to consider when adopting a pet is to go the animal shelter early and often and spend as much time as possible with the potential pet.

“Come down two or three times, take the animal out of the kennel and be hands-on with them,” he said. “If the pet is for a child (and a surprise) and will be in the house, have another child of the same age, a relative or friend, come in with them and see how the animal does. That will give them an idea of how the animal will behave.”

Wiggins said when they get an animal in, they don’t know the animal’s history. And if the family already has one pet and are not sure how it will react to a new one, bring it with them.

“Bring your animal down and we’ll put them together, while on leashes of course, to see how they interact,” he said.

“Cats are a little more difficult in finding out how they’ll interact with another animal, but we can usually tell.”

Wiggins said the animal services’ office cat, Annie, is used to see if a dog will tolerate a cat.

“We can use our office kitty to see if they’re OK around a cat.”

According to the American Humane Association, dogs can live to be 15 years or older; cats 18 years or older. Where will you be that many years from now? How old will your child be in 15-18 years? Will you still want the animal after they are grown up and out of the house? Are you ready for the lifestyle change of taking on a pet?

Usually, the family already has in mind whether they’ll be adopting a dog or cat before they go in.

“They all have their own opinion ” cat or dog,” he said. “Same with big or small dog ” they have their own personal opinion. But they will come up with questions once they see the dogs.

“They may want a small dog, but may will see a big dog that will tear their heart out and walk out with it. They will make concessions and help wherever they can.

“They may come in and want a 30-pound dog and walk out with a 60-pound dog.”

Animals make great companions and protectors and they rely on their owner to protect them. Most all pet advocates say the best way to protect your pet is to have it spayed or neutered and get regular veterinary care.

– Contact Rhonda Costa at or 881-1223.