BRYANT, Ark. (KARK) — This holiday season, some people likely bought pets for their loved ones as gifts. While the intentions were probably good, it can lead to problems later—both for the pet and person.
“People do sometimes adopt pets kind of on a whim,” said Tricia Power, the Director for Bryant Animal Control.
Pets can be great presents for people with the resources and patience to take care of them, but it doesn’t always work out that way.
“They may start to realize, ‘I’m not prepared for this,'” Power said. “So, they end up bringing the animal back or rehoming the animal.”
Power said it might be easy for a would-be owner to dump an animal and move on with his or her life, but it’s not as easy for the animal, which may never get a second chance.
“Other potential adopters may look at an animal that’s been returned to the shelter as somehow damaged,” Power said. “[They think] maybe there’s something wrong. Why has the animal been returned?”
The Bryant Animal Shelter rarely deals with these issues because of its smaller size. The shelter allows people to drop animals that need to be rehomed, but they are asked a series of questions so employees know how to best give the animals a second chance.
Additionally, the shelter does a holiday program each year that allows some applicants to temporarily take an animal home with them to find out if the fit is right. The program seems to work in preventing rehoming issues later.
“One of the dogs [from this year] is going to be in a permanent home,” Power said. “The fosters have decided to keep her permanently.”
Power said people will likely start dumping their new animals in Jan. or Feb. if they decide to do so, and she hopes people will think before acting. She said a simple call to a shelter or veterinarian could save a family.
“Reach out to them and ask questions,” Power said. “Tell them what your challenges are and be prepared to take that advice.”
Power said animals that display behavioral problems, especially out of character, may have an underlying health issue. With no way to adequately communicate with humans, they sometimes act out to show something is wrong.
“Their medical problems manifest behaviorally,” Power said.
People who consider buying a pet for someone in future holidays should think about it differently, Power said. A smart way to do this is to craft a “free animal” gift card for the recipient, who can then go to a local shelter and meet a furry friend before adopting it.