The holidays are coming! Lots of moms (and dads) buy their children a puppy or kitten for the holidays. As an animal rescuer,I would ask you to rethink that choice. Sure, pets are cut, cuddly, and fun. But, who is going to care for them? Who will housebreak them? Who will clean up their messes? Who will socialize and train them? Your child/ren? Doubtful.

We often see these same pets back in shelters shortly after holidays like Valentine’s Day and Christmas. Pets are not property and should not be given as gifts. They are a responsibility that someone has to take on and once the cute wears off, what then? There are certain considerations that need to be made before purchasing or adopting a pet to give to another person. I do not recommend ever giving a child a pet as a gift unless you, or their parent/guardian, are in the know and prepared to care for the animal. If you think giving your girlfriend a fluffy puppy with a red bow on its collar for Valentine’s Day is a gesture she will love, think again. Did she mention wanting a pet? Does her schedule allow her time to tend to a pet? Can she afford all the care that it may need?

Maybe fostering an animal would be an option for your family. There are many homeless dogs, cats, rabbits, gerbils, etc that would love to have a nice warm home for the holidays. You could be that home. Adopting an animal may also be an option. Here, again, you will need to take all the above considerations before making this decision.

Fostering is less expensive than owning or adopting a pet. Generally, your only expense is the love you give. Some rescues ask their foster families to provide food, as well. Is it difficult to give them up once they are adopted by another family? Yes. However, think of the lifelong lessons you are teaching your children. You are making a difference, saving a life, and enriching the lives of these animals as well as your family. Fostering can be long or short term. You can foster for a few weeks to a few months or even a year. If you are good with animals and know how to train and socialize them, you will be a great help to the rescues that you work with. If you are a fit for fostering, it will turn into a lifelong commitment because the love that you get and give is irreplaceable and addicting. If you have the room in your heart and home to give an animal a stepping stone to a forever home, fostering would be a perfect choice.

Another great option would be to take the recipient to a local shelter and let them see the available animals. Let them know that you will make a donation, in their name, to go toward that animal’s expenses. The shelter will be greatly appreciative of this. You may also be able to put the donation toward that animal’s adoption fee. This will go a long way toward helping that animal become someone’s new family member. It is also an option to simply make the donation and receive a letter or certificate to commemorate the event and be given as the gift. Call your local rescues and see what their needs are. Use this information as your cue as to what or how much to give.

If you would like more information on fostering, do an Internet search for animal rescues or shelters near you. Check Facebook, Twitter, and PetFinder.com. Rescues are ALWalwaysAYS in need of good foster homes. Remember that you will be saving a life while enriching your own!

My family is a foster home for Great Danes. You can visit our blog at www.FurKidFosters.com to read my first-hand accounts of our adventures. You will also be able to read about how we got started and where we want to take FurKid Fosters in the near future. Our contact info is on the website as well as links to our Facebook and Twitter accounts. We are always glad to answer any questions and help connect potential fosters and adopters with rescues in need of both.