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August 15th, 2022

holiday petCourtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

The Christmas holidays are coming up, and many people are thinking about what gifts to give their friends and family. 

For some, that might mean the addition of a new furry friend into the mix. For those thinking of adopting a new pet, however, there are several factors to keep in mind. 

“From the shelter standpoint, if it's for YOUR family and children, we support that if it's something you all have decided on and are committed to,” Liberal Animal Shelter employee Tara Logan said. “If you're thinking of giving a pet to your mom who lives alone, or if you're wanting to get a companion for Grandma, we don't necessarily encourage it because that gift turns into A LOT of responsibility for that other person, which they may not be fully capable of taking on, whether it's because they don't have the time to devote to that animal's care or because they don't have the financial resources for shots and veterinary visits and food and treats and all of that. I think a lot of times, unfortunately, people don't fully account for all the extras that come along with owning an animal, which makes things not work out.”

Logan said there are a few rules from the shelter side regarding adoption. 

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“One of the firm rules we have at the shelter is chemistry is required – just because you and an animal get along, that doesn't mean that animal will get along with the person you're wanting to gift it to,” Logan said. “Or maybe that person doesn't want a hyper puppy because they can't keep up with it. If you give someone a sweater as a gift, and it doesn't fit them, that sweater can be returned to the store, but if you give someone a cat or dog, what could happen if that person doesn't like/want the animal? It could end up in a shelter or on the street or in another bad situation. Even with parents planning on getting their child an animal for Christmas, they have to remember it's a long-term commitment, it's not a situation where you can put the pet in a closet and only bring it out occasionally. It's a lifetime commitment and you have to socialize with the pet and feed it and take it to the vet and all of that care. That animal you decide to adopt is a 24/7/365 commitment for you, and if you don't think you can take it on, maybe a pet isn't the best choice. We would obviously love our animals to be adopted, but we want them to be adopted by people who are fully committed and ready to take on that responsibility.”

For families planning on adopting, Logan and Liberal Animal Shelter manager Johanna Torres said there are some discussion points parents must talk about with their children. 

“If adoption is something you're considering as a family, sit down ahead of time and lay out all of the tasks that will need to be done and make sure there's a way that can be stuck to,” Logan said. “The family needs to talk about who will be in charge of feeding, who will be in charge of walking (if it's a dog), who will be in charge of cleaning out the litterbox (if it's a cat). Make sure everyone realizes the full scope of responsibilities that go along with having a pet so everyone understands what needs to be done.”

“Even if you get a pet for the kids, you're still technically in charge of that animal because you're responsible for making sure the kids are doing what they're supposed to with walking and other care and all of that,” Torres added. “Everyone needs to be fully involved with the care of that animal.”

Logan and Torres added the shelter employees have deep discussion with the people who come in looking to adopt a new pet. 

“We talk to them about what type of pet they might be looking for, and some families already have an idea of what would work for their family and situation,” Torres said. “We show them the animals we have, and we have a room here at the shelter where the family can spend some one-on-one time with the animal to see what kind of connection is made, and sometimes a family ultimately ends up taking home an animal different than what they thought because a better connection was there.”

“And if a family already has a dog at home, we advise bringing that dog with them to see how they'll get along,” Logan said. “We'd hate for a family to take an animal home that ultimately doesn't quite get along with the other animals already at home, because then there's a fee to return that animal, and we really don't want the animal out on the streets. I don't really foresee us seeing that many more people than what we've seen in the past. I do think, however, some of that will depend on what dogs and cats we have here – for the smaller, fluffier ones, there's nearly a stampede for them, but not so much for the bigger breeds (German Shepard, boxer, pit bulls), which take extra care and energy, and not everyone's up for that. So that also accounts for the number of potential adopters.”

Logan added the shelter uses its Facebook page quite extensively to spread the word about the animals up for adoption through the shelter. 

“We use our Facebook page a lot, that's our major platform because it's free and we reach out to a lot of people. In fact, last month, we had a lady come all the way from Lincoln, Neb. to adopt a dog she'd seen it on our page, so Facebook really works well for us,” Logan said. “We've also made some adjustments on the page as far as interests and things like that, which has also really helped us get seen more. We also work with Angels For Animals, who works with the shelter in Guymon, Okla. and the Wise Dogs group, and they help us send dogs to great rescues, and they're great to work with. Our goal is to not have animals here for very long, we want them to be adopted to good people, and those groups really help us out with that.”

For those who do end up adopting a new furry friend for the holidays, Logan and Torres said there are some preparations they can make before bringing their new pet home. 

“Make sure you've got a kennel or crate or something like that where they can go and feel secure. Also, make sure you've got food, a collar, a bed, things like that so they can feel welcome and comfortable,” Logan said. “I always think of pet adoption as, you prepare the nursery before you bring an infant home, you should think about making sure the area's ready for when you bring a pet home so they feel welcome. That animal's coming into a new space with new people, it's scared and unfamiliar, so they need to be made as comfortable as possible so they feel good.”

“And if the animal is mostly going to be outside, make sure they've got a fenced in area where they can run around and make sure they've got a good and safe shelter,” Torres said. “People are always welcome to come to the shelter and take a look and see if there's an animal they connect with. If there's an animal you're considering adopting for the holidays, come to the shelter and we'll be happy to introduce you to your new friend. They're all good animals, they just need good homes.”