Wanting a pet for Christmas? What families should consider before bringing home a 4-legged friend

MILWAUKEE -- The holidays can be the perfect time to bring an animal into your home -- but are  you really ready for it? Dezarae Jones-Hartwig of the Wisconsin Humane Society joins Real Milwaukee with what people should consider before adopting a pet.

Is it true that shelters see a large influx of animals right after the holidays?

That has not been our experience at WHS - we do see animals surrendered year-round, but there is not an excessive increase around the holidays.

Everyone who adopts from WHS works with an Adoption Counselor which helps ensure families have thought through the decision thoroughly before committing to adoption.

So if someone's child does have a pet at the top of their Christmas list, how do you recommend parents handle that?

First and foremost, remember that it`s never one family member`s pet, that animal really will be part of the family and will need care from everyone in the home. So if your child wants a pet, everyone in the home has to agree and be ready to support that animal as necessary.

Start by asking them the basics:

  • What type of pet are you looking for?
  • How do you plan to take care of them?
  • Why do you want a pet? - this one is most important, because if they`re just looking for something cute but aren't ready for the realities of pet care, a stuffed animal could be a perfectly fine substitute.

If the family all agrees that a pet is a good idea, should they surprise their child with an animal on Christmas morning?

Instead of picking out an animal to surprise them with, you can wrap up a WHS gift certificate under the tree instead. The certificates work on adoption fees, supplies in our store, and even services, so if your adoption fee ends up being lower than the value of your gift certificate, you can use the remaining funds on food, toys, bedding, or even training classes.

This also allows the child to feel involved in the process, invested in the decision, and more attached to the animal. But if you are set on surprising your bright-eyed child on Christmas morning, just make sure the animal is in a safe place the whole time, and certainly never put an animal in a box!