It can be one of the toughest holiday decisions – do you get your child a pet? Whether you’re considering a puppy, kitten, fish or reptile there are all kinds of criteria to consider.
At the Oregon Humane Society, December is the busiest month. They recommend pets only be adopted when a child is older than 10.
“It really has to be a family decision,” explained Barbara Baugnon “We like to see a gift basket under the tree with all the supplies and a gift certificate for pet adoption rather than a living animal.”
That way, the child can be involved in selecting the pet.
“It’s best to get a pet to reward responsibility as opposed to getting a child a pet and hoping it will make them responsible,” advised Baugnon.
At Pets on Broadway in Northeast Portland, December is the busiest month for the purchase of live animals.
“Kids ask for something to snuggle and cuddle,” said employee Duke Moten.
The number one request among small animals is the hamster, but for interaction employees say a rat makes a better pet.
“They’re easy to train, they have a memory and they can bond with you,” said Cheyenne Myers, a small animal specialist at the store.
Hamsters she said are active at night and sometimes children get frustrated when they want to play. When it comes to fish many parents come in trying to find Nemo, but the clownfish requires saltwater.
“Beta fish are a better choice for children and come in a variety of colors,” remarked Moten.
A small animal with supplies can cost under $50, but can also cause disappointment.
“The child should be involved in the decision making process. You don’t want them expecting a puppy and then get a gerbil,” remarked Baugnon.
Adoption fees at the Oregon Humane Society range from $55 to $300 for dogs and from $35 to $100 for cats. OHS expects to handle 1,200 adoption during the holidays.
“It’s the ultimate Christmas morning -- the black lab with the red bow, but you need to make the decision responsibly,” Baugnon concluded.