PEORIA, Ill. -- Peoria County Animal Protection Services (PCAPS) wants you to think twice if you're considering giving someone a pet for the holidays.
The organization reminds residents that sometimes these gifts don't work out and the pet is given away or returned to the seller.
If you do want to give a live animal as a gift, PCAPS suggests you keep the following in mind:
* A dog or cat may live 15 years or more. Most people want to pick out their own lifetime companion. Consider a gift certificate at an animal shelter instead of a live puppy or kitten.
* Some people may not be interested in a pet at all or may not be ready right now.
* Trying to introduce a new pet can be quite a challenge during the holidays. Amidst the busy holiday season it can be very difficult to establish a regular routine or adequately introduce an animal to its new home. After the holiday excitement passes it may be a bit easier.
If you do decide to get an animal, beware impulsive decisions and animals sold on-line with no personal interaction. When looking for a new pet, whatever the season, follow these tips:
* Insist on seeing the animal in its normal environment to get an idea of its typical behavior.
* Ask specific questions about the pet's behavior: has it bitten a person? Does it get along with other animals? Does it have any medical issues?
* Require the seller give you the animal's medical records. Keep good notes of the seller's name, address, phone, and e-mail in case problems arise.
* If it's a puppy or kitten, ask to see the parents and other litter-mates. This can give you a good idea of what to expect as the animal gets older.
* Don't agree to meeting in a parking lot to pick up the animal; this doesn't provide any time for you to assess the pet's personality or behavior.
* Make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible to be sure the animal is healthy.
* Consider adopting after the holidays from an animal shelter where pets are assessed for behavior, receive preventative veterinary care, and are waiting for new homes.
For more information on choosing the right pet or to learn about animals in need of adoption, call Peoria County Animal Protection Services at 309-672-2440.