No matter what the hottest new toy is, the gift children ask for most at Christmas is a dog or cat.
Fortunately, the Payson Humane Society stands ready to help you pick out the perfect pet. But the society also wants to make sure you know what you’re getting into.
“Getting a dog or cat for someone at Christmas can be a little hectic,” Diane Fitzpatrick, humane society manager, said. “It’s what most kids would like to get, but training a puppy takes time and patience. If you have both, then Christmas is a great time to bring a new animal into your house.”
If you don’t have the time and patience during the holidays, a wise alternative is a Payson Humane Society gift certificate. Then you can bring your child in after the holidays and make an adventure out of picking out the new family pet.
The humane society is selling gift certificates, good for a dog or cat, for just $25 this holiday season. That’s 50 percent off the normal fee for an animal and includes spaying or neutering.
While the shelter’s cat population is down due to a recent outbreak of feline herpes, there are still seven cats now available for adoption. A litter of kittens arrived Thursday, but Fitzpatrick says they will have to be quarantined for two weeks before they can be taken home.
“People can come in and pick out a kitten, but it has to stay here until the quarantine period is over,” she said. “If you don’t want one of the seven cats that can go home right now, it might be best this year to give a gift certificate for a kitten.”
Dogs and puppies, on the other hand, are in plentiful supply at the shelter.
“We have 62 dogs, which is over capacity,” Fitzpatrick said. “We normally only have 50. We also have 27 beautiful puppies that would make excellent Christmas presents.”
Puppies or dogs are usually a better choice than cats for younger children, Fitzpatrick said.
“If a child of two or three pokes a puppy in the eye or pulls his tail, the puppy is probably going to think it’s all in fun and won’t react aggressively,” she said. “But if a cat gets poked in the eye, it might claw the child.”
Additional factors that should be weighed when considering a pet as a Christmas gift for a child:
- If you aren’t the parent, make sure you ask the parent first.
- If you are renting, make sure your landlord allows pets.
- While allergies should be taken into consideration, Fitzpatrick said the thinking on that subject is changing.
“I’ve been reading a lot about allergies in kids,” she said. “If you keep an allergic child away from animals, he’ll always be allergic. But if you expose him to an animal, he’ll get over it. So I think it’s healthier for a kid to have an animal.”
- Pets such as mice and birds are best for older children. “You have to spend a lot of time socializing a bird so it can be held and picked up, because they bite at first,” Fitzpatrick said.
- Don’t get caught up in fads. “After the popular Dalmatian movies, everybody wanted a Dalmatian,” Fitzpatrick said. “But they’re a hyper breed that needs a lot of attention, and we had a whole lot of them turned in here when people realized they were more than they wanted to deal with.”
Taking these factors into account, Fitzpatrick said pets still make great gifts.
“Dogs and cats make wonderful Christmas presents as long as you know what you’re getting into,” she said.
The humane society is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 474-5590.
Holiday Pet Food and Supply Drive
Donations made during the holidays go a long way toward meeting the shelter’s needs well into the new year.
While cash donations are always welcome, the shelter provided a list of items it especially needs.
Dry adult dog and cat food
Dry puppy and kitten food
Canned dog and cat food
Dog and cat treats
Dog and cat toys
Rugs without rubber backing
Litter boxes and litter
Cleaning supplies like bleach
(Look for the special white dumpsters with black spots)
Payson Feed & Pet Supply
Chaparral Pines clubhouse
Payson Humane Society
For more information, call the shelter at 474-5590.