The picturesque holiday gift of a sweet puppy wrapped up in a hat box and given to a loved family member couldn’t be more endearing, but the harsh reality is that giving a new pet as a gift may not always be a good idea, according to Karen Wolfe, director of Kokomo Humane Society.  

With the excitement of the holidays, sometimes the shine of a new pet can get lost over the months, or someone is gifted a pet when it’s not a good match for the family. When that happens, pets end up in local shelters.

“Never surprise someone with an animal because you don’t really know if they want one or not,” said Wolfe. “We get animals surrendered by people who say someone thought they needed a dog or a kitten, and they didn’t want that. What we will do here is a gift certificate so they get to choose the animal, or the giver can pick one out.”

Wolfe said that anyone considering gifting a pet should make sure to do their research on the type of animal that would be best for the recipient and also take into account recipient’s schedule during the holiday season to make sure they will be home enough to spend time with their new family member.

“If you’re a parent and you want to get a kitten for your child for Christmas, it’s not a bad idea. You’re going to be home a lot. On the other side, if you are traveling or having a lot of people over, it may not be the best time,” said Wolfe. “I wouldn’t say never to do it, but I think you should think it through before you do it.”

Wolfe said not to pick an animal based solely on its looks. Consideration of the breed, personality, and needs are of great importance.

“Find a dog that is suited how you live your life. Do your research.,” she said. “Look at future expenses. Those are things, when you want a dog, that need to be considered. And remember if you are getting the dog for a child, you’re going to be the one taking care of it.”

Wolfe said that family members that wish to give a pet as a gift could consider purchasing some of the supplies to give as a gift, like a pet cage or leash, and then come to the Humane Society and pick out the pettogether. She also said that just because someone makes one trip to the shelter doesn’t mean they have to take an animal home that day.

“We pretty much get everything,” she said. “You just have to be patient. We can’t take requests. Check the website. Haunt the place. Come in often. We get dogs and cats mainly. Rabbits. We have a rat right now, and we have a pig. ”

There are added benefits of adopting an animal from the Humane Society. For the cost, the animal is spayed or neutered, receives its first round of vaccinations, and undergoes a wellness exam that includes a rabies vaccine, heartworm test, and first flea medication. The animals are also microchipped. Wolfe added the biggest impact in adopting a shelter pet is saving a life. With adoptions, too, the new family signs a contract that, if for any reason, the pairing doesn’t work, the animal is to come back to the Kokomo Humane Society so it can be found a new home.

GIVING TUESDAY
This year, the Kokomo Humane Society is participating in Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving. The Tuesday after Thanksgiving is the official day of giving and this year, it is Nov. 28. Participants can give time or money to support their favorite charity.

The Humane Society has a matching grant, so any dollar amount donated to the shelter as part of Giving Tuesday will be matched. They are planning to use the funds to support the new facility’s surgery suite that will be exclusively for the animals at the shelter.

“We’re here to help, and this surgery suite will allow us to do more,” said Wolfe. 

There was a recent case of three Shih Tzu dogs that were brought into the shelter as strays. They were matted and in need of dental intervention. Having animals that come in like that can be a deterrent for adoption, but with the new surgery suite, the staff will be able to provide care on-site. The trio of dogs was adopted together, and the Humane Society was able to provide the dental work the dogs needed to have a better life.

“After adopting an animal and having all these things, it’s a big deterrent. If we can get them off on the right start, that’s what we’re trying to do,” Wolfe said.

Those wishing to make contributions to the Kokomo Humane Society for Giving Tuesday can do so by making the donation online through the link on the Humane Society’s website (kokomohumane.org) or by sharing the posts on Facebook and Instagram to help raise awareness of the campaign that will run from Nov. 28 to Dec. 12. The shelter hopes to raise $10,000. With the matching grant, they need to raise $5,000 to make that goal. Wolfe said in-person donations will be accepted, but online donations will be the easiest for givers. 

“I know a lot of people want the money to be given directly to the animals, and this is a great way to ensure the animals will benefit from the gift,” said Wolfe. 

She also hopes that when the new center opens, the public will not be as hesitant to come to the shelter. 

“One thing that I really hope will happen when we move to the new building will be that people will feel more comfortable to bring us these dogs and not think they’re going to be euthanized immediately,” said Wolfe. “When I hear that stuff and we post these stories, I can’t tell you how many limbs we have removed from animals who have been hit by cars. Or eyes that had to be removed. Or dentals done. We do have to euthanize some, but our numbers are getting better. We are transparent, and our numbers are on our website. I’m hoping that we’re building confidence. The community is building this building. There is no way we could have built this building without the help of the community.”