Animal shelters across the state are full of pets who would love to be placed in a new home for the holidays, but leaders of those shelters are discouraging Iowans from giving pets as gifts. Liz Ford, supervisor of the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center, says pets often live for 10 years or more.
“So, that’s a commitment of a long period of time for whoever needs to be responsible in that household for that pet,” Ford says. “It’s not something to be taken lightly. When you give someone a pet, you’re giving them a big responsibility.” Ford says a companion animal should be chosen by the person who will be responsible for it. “What you’re looking at is your lifestyle and trying to make the best match for you and how your days are planned and the kinds of things you like to do, as far as what type of pet, what temperament, exercise needs, and all of those things,” Ford says.
“So, really the person who will be primarily responsible for the pet should be the person choosing that pet, they’re going to have to live with it for many, many years.” Tom Colvin, executive director of the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, says most shelters offer gift certificates – which would be a better gift than giving a live animal. “So, then somebody can come out at their leisure and select just the right pet,” Colvin says. In addition, Colvin encourages parents to take their children to an animal shelter to teach them about compassion and what shelters do.