January 20, 2022

Homes for the holidays

Pets as presents are fun, but they come with responsibility

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Cortland Community SPCA Shelter Manager Emily Roberts holds Jack, a foster kitten, while his brother, Frost, plays in their shared kennel.

This year, the Cortland Community SPCA has seen a jump in pet adoptions in February and July, and adoptions have steadily increased since August with a high of 35 adoptions in November — and they’re hoping to keep it up throughout the holiday season.

Opening the lid of a beautifully gift-wrapped box to find a fluffy kitten or floppy- eared puppy is a scene that many people have dreamed of.

If you’re thinking of welcoming a four-legged friend to your family this holiday season, there are a few things you might want to know.

“When people who come in trying to adopt for the holidays, we make sure to go over the whole process with them,” said Emily Roberts, shelter manager for the Cortland Community Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The Cortland Community SPCA has about 25 adoptions every month and now has around a dozen adoptable cats and dogs, including adult animals looking for forever homes.

“The nice thing about adult animals is that their personalities are kind of set in stone and oftentimes need less training,” Roberts said.

If you’re considering a pet, a good place to start is to talk with your family about the responsibility and cost, and to your landlord, if you have one, about pet rules.

“There is no such thing as a free pet — if you are getting a puppy or kitten for free, there is still the cost of spaying and neutering, monthly flea preventative and vet visits,” Roberts said.

In addition to the regular vet appointments, sometimes emergencies and accidents happen, she said.

“I highly recommend that owners get pet insurance if they can afford it,” Roberts said. “I had a dog that needed knee surgery, and it would have cost $4,000 but, with insurance, it was only $400.”

There is also the responsibility of caring for and training your pet.

“Kids can certainly help with pet care — they can do things that are age-appropriate, whether that is feeding the animal, cleaning the litter box or taking the dog out to potty — but we don’t really recommend the child take on 100% of the responsibility,” Roberts said.

Throughout the pandemic, SPCA staff noticed that people would adopt a puppy and then return the dog once it reached 10 or 11 months old.

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Cortland Community SPCA Adoption Coordinator Aubree Piermatteo kneels beside 10-month-old Hooligan. He is a mixed breed, and has been at the shelter since Dec. 2.

“They get a lot more difficult to handle and they’re not as small as they once were,” said Adoption Coordinator Aubree Piermatteo. “Failure to train. People don’t realize the dog isn’t going to learn on its own.”

A 2013 study by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found that adopting a pet during the holidays has no negative effect on emotional attachment and that 86% of pets adopted during the holidays remain in the home.

The SPCA encourages the whole family to meet the animal they plan to adopt, rather than giving them as a surprise gift.

For people who already have pets at home, introducing your newly-adopted animal to the family could take some time.

“There’s a decompression period that people don’t always know about,” Roberts said. “The shelter is a really stressful place, especially for dogs, because it’s loud and there are all sorts of weird smells, sights and other dogs barking. They can get really stressed out if they’re here for too long.

How to get involved
If you’re looking to adopt, foster, volunteer or donate to the Cortland Community SPCA, visit www.cortlandspca.org or call 607-753-9386 for more information.