Jackson County Animal Shelter reminding residents pets are a long-term commitment

Every year pet adoption centers see a rise in the number of outgoing pets, only to have them come back in January, as new pet owners return them.

What they thought was a Christmas gift is actually a long-term commitment.

During the holidays, pet adoptions skyrocket – for some kids, Santa’s visit means the promise of a new four-legged friend. And if you do plan to bring home one of Santa’s little helpers, the Jackson County Animal Shelter has words of warning: be prepared.

Director Joseph Barlow says the shelter deals with the same phenomenon each season –boomerang animals. “They’re adopted on a whim without the thought being put in, and they come back to see us. They come back to live with us until we can find another family.”

First-time pet owners might underestimate the amount of attention and time that young animals need. Adoption Coordinator Maridee Mallette said, “Well you’ve got to think, when you adopt a pet, or whatever, it’s going to be a 15-year commitment if you get a puppy. You’ve got to remember that you’ve got to train them to go potty outside, they’re going to chew, they’re going to make messes – and is the child going to take care of it or are you going to take care of it?”

That’s why agencies recommend that a grown and fully-trained animal be adopted instead of a kitten or puppy. The new family member can already take commands and will be less maintenance for parents, clearing the way for kids to learn more basic responsibilities. “The best advice I can give is do not assume that that’s going to be the children’s responsibility – let’s face it, that rarely happens. And so, as I mentioned earlier, it needs to be a family commitment to that pet. ”

“You’ve got to be ready for vet bills, if it gets sick or anything, it has to have all its shots and wormer and rabies shots and all that, it has to be spayed and neutered – and you’ve got to spend time with the animal. You’ve got to make sure you have time to play with the puppy and teach it things.”

The Jackson County Animal Shelter will be closed from Thursday and reopen Monday morning. The shelter is always in need of pet supplies, like food, litter and blankets.

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