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Think carefully before giving a pet for Christmas

The story last Sunday about the beagle Buttermilk scaling the kennel fence in the Isle of Wight Animal Shelter was certainly amusing. Going by the provided photos, it would appear that’s a pooch which could find its way out of any enclosed space. Congratulations — and good luck — to the family that adopted her. We hope with you she will learn to sit and stay content not to roam.

Many of you with pets have likely experienced similar episodes of when your cat or dog found its way out of the comfort of home or security of an outdoor fence and into the wild. Sometimes they’ve returned on their own, others required an exasperating search-and-rescue party and, sadly, there have also been tragedies when the animals have been killed by a vehicle or completely disappeared.

Buttermilk’s escapades also got us to thinking about whether or not to give a pet as a gift this Christmas is a good idea. We urge you to think very carefully about whether or not the recipient — be it your children, a relative or friend — could handle the responsibility and cost. Youngsters don’t automatically realize how much responsibility is involved. Let’s not forget that pets are not cheap. We know of one person who took on a part-time job to help cover the expenses of food and vet bills.

Do your research of both breed and where the animal is bought. Find out about the breeder, kennel, shelter or even pet store.

Talk to other people who have also gotten pets for presents and ask about their experiences.

For the recipients, we ask that if you and the critter aren’t compatible after all attempts, then find the animal a better home. Don’t abandon the kitten/cat or puppy/dog by the side of the road.