For Immediate Release - December 14, 2011

State Agricultural Officials Caution Residents about Choosing Animals as Presents

During this holiday season, careful consideration should be used when giving pets as gifts

BOSTON – Wednesday, December 14, 2011 – With the holidays fast approaching, officials from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) caution shoppers against giving pets as gifts.

Each year around the holidays, DAR’s Division of Animal Health sees a sharp increase in the number of pet adoptions and purchases. Finding the right animal can take some time and DAR officials are encouraging residents to think carefully before making this long-term commitment of caring for an animal – especially if the pet is going to be a gift for someone else.  

“Acquiring a pet is a serious decision that requires careful consideration of the time and financial resources needed to adequately provide for an animal,” said DAR Commissioner Scott J. Soares. “A sick puppy or kitten can cost thousands in veterinary bills and be a heartbreaking experience, so taking the time to do some research will help ensure you find a healthy animal that is best suited for your family and lifestyle.”

Although pets as gifts may be given with the best of intentions, all animals require a lifetime commitment – perhaps something the gift giver didn’t intend to impose on the recipient.

If after careful consideration, obtaining a new pet is part of your holiday season this year, take steps to ensure your animal is healthy and comes from an approved shelter or rescue, reputable breeder, or a licensed pet shop. Make sure you have no doubts about the source being reputable or that the animals are healthy.

Also, there is no shortage of pets for sale or adoption over the internet. Here too, residents are urged to be judicious. While many postings are legitimate and well-intentioned, there are also postings which contain erroneous descriptions of the pet for sale, including the use of stock photos instead of pictures of the actual animals available. Always ask to see and interact with the pet before making a commitment.

DAR asks residents to remember:

  • If you plan to adopt a pet from an animal shelter, make sure to only adopt from approved shelters.
  • If you are considering buying from a pet shop, make sure you are buying from a licensed pet shop. All Massachusetts pet shops must be licensed and must display their license in a location that is visible to customers.
  • If buying from a breeder, make sure that the breeder is reputable. Ask to see the mother dog or cat interact with her puppies or kittens to detect any behavioral problems.

DAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services – DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR’s website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow at http://twitter.com/MDARCommish.