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Experts: Avoid Adopting a Pet During Holiday Season

Buffalo Grove area pet experts offer tips on how — and when — to introduce a new pet to the family.

 Are you thinking of getting a new pet for the holidays? If so, some Buffalo Grove-area pet experts suggest you delay the acquisition.

Angela Lambert, assistant manager of Kay’s Animal Shelter in Arlington Heights, advised waiting until after Thanksgiving or Christmas to get a new pet. “Wait until the hustle and bustle of the holidays is over so animals can get used to your house,” she said. “With the holidays, you also need to make sure the animal doesn’t escape, such as when the door opens and closes for guests. You need to make sure the animal's needs are being met.”

She noted the shelter traditionally has been busy the Friday after Thanksgiving, as people are take advantage of the long weekend to find a pet. Established in 1953, Kay’s Animal Shelter is one of the oldest animal shelters in northern Illinois.

, which provides 24-hour care for specialty, emergency and critical care situations, advised against acquiring a new pet right around the holidays. In an emailed statement, noted the following:

“Welcoming a new pet into your family is a gift that keeps on giving but is not something that we recommend for the holiday season. With shopping and family events, new pets are often neglected and left to fend for themselves. Because owning a pet is such a big responsibility, we advise each member of the family to be on board and educated with the needs and often, continuous demands, that a pet can require. Be sure to research your pet’s needs so that your family is prepared to provide the proper care and attention.”

“Giving a pet to a family member on Christmas may not be the best idea, as it’s such a high-stress day. Wait until after Dec. 25, when you can take advantage of a longer break from school to bond with the pet,” said Paul Dickinson, owner of Precious Friends, a dog-walking and pet-sitting service, and a volunteer with Adopt A Husky. “If you have kids, you need to get them involved in selecting a pet, and also be realistic as to the type of care your child can provide the new pet.

“The worst thing to do is to not research your pet before you get it. You need to see if your lifestyle and your home will fit a potential pet’s needs. If you live in a small apartment, you don’t want to get a dog that needs a lot of room," he said.

Dickinson has been involved with husky rescues since 2001.

Dickinson advised watching breed-specific television shows for research, such as “Dogs 101” on Animal Planet. If the new pet is a dog, he suggested reading books on dog training by Cesar Millan. He also advised getting a new pet from a reputable breeder that is registered with the American Kennel Club, or adopting from a shelter. According to Dickinson, puppy stores should be avoided because "the dogs tend to come from puppy mills."

When a new dog is brought home, Dickinson suggests getting the dog acclimated to the neighborhood with a walk. Once inside, limit the dog to one room of the house to prevent the animal from becoming overwhelmed. Gradually introduce the dog to the rest of the home over the next few days. In addition, schedule the dog for a veterinarian appointment soon after the animal joins the family.

"Getting a new pet is not something you should do on the spur of the moment," Dickinson said.

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