Local animal shelters and rescues are filled with unwanted pets, and for a long time vets and shelters discouraged people from giving animals as gifts.
That may be starting to change; many shelters are holding adoption drives around the holidays. But there is a caveat. Liz Ford, who supervises the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center says animals should not be an impulse purchase, and that families looking to adopt should be reminded that pets can live for ten years or more.
"That's a commitment of a long period of time for whoever needs to be responsible in that household for that pet. It's not something to be taken lightly. When you give someone a pet, you're giving them a big responsibility."
Ford says if you're looking to get someone a pet this holiday season, take him or her with you to meet the animal. Companion animals, she says, should be chosen by the person who will be responsible for it. Adopting a pet is a big lifestyle change for many.
"Try to make a best match for you and how your days are planned," Ford suggests. "Look at the things you like to do as far as what type of pet, temperament, exercise needs, and all of those things."