Give A Humane-Themed
Gift, Not A Live Pet
by Charlotte LoBuono
This holiday season, the Humane Society of
the United States (HSUS) is offering toys and games for children
as fun, educational alternatives to the gift of a live animal.
The Society's gift ideas include Fundanas,
colorful bandanas printed with games that teach children about
animals and their habitats and "Color Me Kind" coloring books
which feature lessons about kindness and respect for animals.
Turnips the dog and Humphrey the cat are 10-inch
plush puppets that are also characters from the HSUS classroom
newspaper, "KIND News."
The National Association for Humane and Environmental
Education also has toys and games available through its Youth
Education Division on its Web site (www.nahee.org/bite.asp)
or by phone: (860) 434-8666.
These games include 'Doggone Crazy!', a colorful
board game developed by dog bite prevention educators and
dog trainers to teach children about appropriate behavior
The game helps players learn to interpret
dogs' body language using question cards, game pieces, and
baseball-size photos of dogs expressing different emotions
through their body postures.
HSUS also suggests giving a gift of pet supplies,
such as bowls, collars, toys, a scratching post, or an exercise
wheel, to a friend who is considering adopting a pet in the
near future. After the celebrations end, if the recipient
does decide to go ahead and adopt a pet, he or she will have
the necessary supplies already.
Individuals who still want to adopt a pet
once the holidays are over are advised to consider the following
checklist of essential points first:
1. A pet is a lifetime commitment,
and pets can live for 15 to 20 years. Are you prepared to
provide food, shelter, veterinary care, love, attention, and
other essentials for the duration of the animal's lifespan?
2. Pet food and veterinary care
can be expensive. Can you afford them?
3. Pets require time and effort
to be properly trained and nurtured. If professional obligations
regularly keep you away from home, you should carefully consider
your pet choice.
4. Before adopting a pet it is
important to verify that you apartment building accepts pets,
and that no other household members are allergic.
5. The primary pet caregiver
should be closely involved in the adoption process. When visiting
animals in a shelter, consider the age and personality of
each animal. If children are part of the household, the animal's
temperament around kids should also be considered.
6. New pets should always be
spayed or neutered to prevent overpopulation and to help them
lead longer, healthier lives.
7. Instead of buying an animal
from a commercial breeder, adopt a needy pet from an animal
shelter. You will be giving a precious gift of life and love
to a deserving, innocent pet who, until you turned up, was
facing only loneliness and possible death by euthanization.
8. Purebred rescue groups also
have adoptable animals in need of new homes. Such groups are
run by people with an in-depth knowledge of a specific breed
of animal. Those interested in finding a purebred rescue group
in their area should contact their local animal shelter, check
the classified section of the local paper, or search the Internet.
The Companion Animals section of the HSUS Web site can also
help people find a local purebred rescue group.
© 2003 Animal News Center, Inc.