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Home for the Holidays: The Do’s and Don’ts of Pet Adoption During the Season

As the holiday season approaches, one popular gift someone can give to themselves or others is a furry friend. However, the adoption of a pet during the holidays comes with responsibilities and circumstances that may differ from the adoption process any other season. 

Adoption agencies and shelters are gearing up for the likely increase in animal adoptions in the next few weeks due to the holidays. The Humane Society of Fairfax County, Wolftrap Animal Rescue, The Little Black Dog Rescue are just some of the many local shelters, rescues and organizations preparing their furry inhabitants in finding their forever home during the holidays. 

With this possible increase in holiday adoptions, local animal rescues have advice for those considering welcoming a pet into their life this season. 

Adopting a pet during the holiday season has its own set of circumstances for possible adoptees. (Photo: Michelle Whitaker)

Chelsea Jones is the senior Communications Specialist at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, which sees an increase in adoptions around the holidays due to people having time off of work and having more time to spend with a new pet. Jones said though the animal shelter encourages people to adopt an animal during the holidays, there are “huge differences” between adopting a pet during this season compared to adopting one any other season. 

“One of the biggest things you have to consider is what your schedule is going to look like over the holidays,” Jones said. “Some people are traveling, some people are having lots of family over and those things can be really stressful for a new pet in the home.” 

If one decides to travel during the holiday season, Jones stated possible future pet owners should figure out if they have enough time for a pet to become comfortable with their new surroundings before setting them up with a pet sitter or taking them along on their holiday trip. For those who have family coming into town for the holidays, Jones recommends that new pets, such as cats, should be kept in one room of the house during a family visit to limit the potential stress on the new animal. New pet owners should also remind visitors what the rules may be about one’s pet; whether a visitor should approach the animal or not.

One holiday idea local adoption agencies and animal shelters provide for is putting together or wrapping an “adoption kit.” Filling a box with toys, a bed, leash and more can make it easier for one to decide whether they want to gift themselves or others with a furry friend during the holiday season. If a person is sure of adopting a pet for themselves or someone else, they make an event of visiting a shelter and gifting their new pet with the adoption kit. 

Michelle Whitaker, the dog program manager at the Falls Church-based organization Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation, said people who may be planning on adopting a pet during the holiday season should make sure the animal is “compatible” with their lifestyle instead of getting a furry friend for the “cuteness factor.” For those who want a “calm” home during the holidays, Whitaker recommended adopting an older dog or cat instead of a puppy or kitten. 

Although Whitaker stated Lost Dog & Cat Rescue encourages people to adopt an animal, she said future pet owners should “do their homework” and visit local shelters or adoption events to interact with a potential furry friend. Most importantly, Whitaker stated one shouldn’t wait until Christmas Eve to decide whether or not to adopt, but rather take some time whether adopting a pet during the holidays is the right choice for them.