Kingstonist’s Wizard of Paws: Pet adoptions and the holidays

A festive Dr. Ryan Llera with Poppy, who is currently available for adoption from Support Wolfe Island Friends of Ferals. Anyone interested should contact Sarah at Kingston Veterinary Clinic.

The holidays are just around the corner and you know what that means… time with your family, holiday traditions, awesome food, and crazy shopping madness. Still looking for that perfect gift? Why not do a good deed and give two gifts? Pet adoption is a popular idea at this time of year. Not only do you find a gift for that special someone, but you’re giving an animal, who would otherwise be cooped up in a shelter, a forever home. Yes, forever…

I’ve got nothing against pet adoption. I’ve done it myself and wish that more people would do it. The Ontario Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) even has a special program called iAdopt to help raise awareness of the plight on animals in shelters, and to increase the numbers who get homes. Their website has lots of excellent tips to help you in choosing who to add to your family and how to integrate them into your family. But let us look at forever…

Adopting a pet is a commitment that is not to be taken lightly. We see high volumes of animals such as rabbits and ducks around Easter get purchased only to be surrendered, abandoned, or released into the wild. However, around the winter holidays, cats & dogs are often the chosen pets to get adopted. When you get these pets, they come with the bonus of already being vaccinated and spayed or neutered, which is a great thing for them and a savings for you.

Yet you need to be devoted to them as much as they are devoted to you. Realize that, though they are almost always healthy when you bring them home, accidents do happen, and if you adopt an adult or senior pet (highly encouraged!) some problems may rear their ugly head in the years ahead. It’s this reason that I urge you to consider that into your decision to add a pet to your family. Pets are a wonderful thing, but they deserve all the care you can give and this unfortunately comes with a price.

I’ll suggest including an insurance plan or a savings account as part of your gift. Many shelters give you up to 6 weeks of free insurance for you to try to investigate as an option, but I don’t find too many people continuing it. Another possibility is that your veterinary clinic may offer gift certificates you can get to help defray costs for anything the new pet owner may need; this is especially great for college students.

Speaking of kids… For a lot of people, they are enamored with the idea of getting a puppy or kitten for a child. I would discourage this, as small kids often aren’t the ones who end up taking care of the pet. If they are teenagers, their interests may change and the critter in question may be yours and rather than theirs. Shelters may often have other options such as rabbits, rats, or other pocket pets which still require care and attention. These options don’t involve the walking and bathing of pets such as dogs, and may be a little less maintenance and easier for kids to manage. It’s still important to know about proper pet care and make sure they have a clean habitat and fresh food.

In short, pet adoption is a wonderful gift for you, the new pet parent, and the animal who gets a home. All I ask is that you commit to them by giving them the care and love they deserve. If now is not a good time to get a pet, consider sponsoring one, fostering a rescue, or volunteering at a shelter – In this way you can still give back to them. I hope you have a happy and wonderful holiday season… pets included, of course!

Special note: That gorgeous feline with Dr. Llera in the photo above is Poppy, and she is currently available for adoption through Wolfe Island Friends of Ferals. Anyone interested should contact Sarah at Kingston Veterinary Clinic (613-542-7337).

If there’s something you’ve often wondered or questions you have about regarding pets, let us know by email at [email protected]. *Please note that specific medical questions about your pet cannot be addressed and you should speak with your personal veterinarian.


Dr. Ryan Llera is a small animal veterinarian at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic. Though originally from Florida, he married a Canadian (who is also a vet!) and they share their home with two cats, two dogs, two horses, and a rabbit. Dr. Llera also contributes writing to various other animal and veterinary related blogs. You can find more of his writing at, or see what else he is up to on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Disclaimer: All columns are personally written and my opinion, and may not necessarily reflect those of current or former employers.

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