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Pets as Christmas gifts: Things to consider before buying

12/12/2014 09:20 EST | Updated 02/11/2015 05:59 EST
As British Columbians scramble to purchase holiday gifts for loved ones, one animal advocacy group is warning people away from placing that kitten or kitten under the Christmas tree.

"Christmas time is a really hectic and stressful time for families and bringing in an animal into a new environment is a very stressful experience for that pet and for the family," Paws for Hope Executive Director Kathy Powelson told The Early Edition.

"We just don’t feel that it is the best time to bring in an animal into an environment that is going to be much louder than it is normally is and probably much busier than it normally is."

However, if people feel strongly about bringing a pet into the family during the holidays, Powelson suggests they adopt the animal from a shelter or buy from a reputable breeder rather than at a pet store.

Here are three things Powelson says people should carefully consider before bringing that pet home:

1. If you’re a parent, are you prepared to look after the pet?

"Often what happens, if a child is given a pet for a gift, that novelty will wear off," said Powelson. "Is the parent prepared to take full responsibility for the animal? If the answer is no, then don’t bring the pet into your home."

2. Is this something your child (or sibling or partner) has wanted for an extended period of time?

"Is this something they have wanted for a long time or has it just come up and is it a whim?" said Powelson. "Did they watch Men In Black and they fell in love with that dog? If you’re giving someone (a pet as) a gift, you need to really, truly believe that person understands it’s a lifetime commitment."

3. And if you’re adamant about getting that pet, must you do it over the holidays?

"If you do want to give someone a rescue pet for Christmas, give them an 'IOU,'" said Powelson. "I owe you a kitten.  I owe you a dog. I owe you a hamster. Wait until Christmas day and then look at bringing that pet into the family."

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