"A pet is for life, not just for Christmas." A Christmas kitten or puppy is often a popular choice, however animals are not a good impulse buy. That being said, there are many unwanted dogs, cats, rabbits, and more, available for adoption around Beijing. For those who have given the idea due consideration, we suggest waiting until after the holidays, when the chaos has died down before welcoming a rescue animal to your family.
We spoke to Dr Rosie Furlong, from Doctors Beck and Stone about how best to make the process of animal adoption go more smoothly.
Furlong is from Ireland and studied veterinary medicine at University College Dublin before going on to work with large and small animals in Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia, She has worked at Doctors Beck and Stone’s branch in Chaowai SOHO for the past two years.
Furlong says that first off, anyone considering pet adoption needs to be responsible and aware of the commitment it takes to keep an animal. "Aside from needing to be home enough to look after day-to-day care, owning an animal makes taking holidays or relocating a little more complicated as the animal has to be taken care of or moved as well," she says.
Adopting families should consider the costs of keeping a pet. "Predictable costs are likely to include vaccinations, de-flea and de-worming treatments which are ongoing throughout the animal’s life," says Furlong. Spaying or neutering is another significant cost and this is usually done around 6 months old. Furlong lists other smaller costs including equipment such as leashes, bedding, litter tray, and "Obviously if the animal has any health problems, these can also prove costly and require time for vet visits," she adds.
People sometimes worry about adopting a rescue animal, fearing health issues or behavioral problems. "In some cases," says Furlong, "depending on their background, animals from shelters can need a little more work to become used to strangers and other animals, but in general the time requirements would be about the same as for any other animal."
When it comes to introducing a new animal to the household, it should be done slowly and preferably after the new animal has been found to be free of any infectious disease or fleas or mites. Any existing animals should also be up to date on vaccinations, de-flea, and de-worming treatments. It’s also important to consider the gender of your pets, and and whether they are neutered or not. "For example, introducing an older unneutered male dog to another older unneutered male dog can be more likely to result in problems than if one or both is neutered," Furlong says. With regard to children, the age of the child and the temperament of the new animal need to be considered. "Younger children aren’t likely to be aware of how to safely handle a new pet. The age and breed of the animal need to be considered . If there is any doubt, seek advice on this from a vet (ideally someone who has had contact with the animal) before introducing the new pet to children," she says.
Families should take care to pet proof their homes, particularly if they are adopting a young animal, as they are more likely to chew furniture and eat things that shouldn’t be eaten! "This may only become clear after the animal has moved in but your leather couch may have to go!" Furlong says.
When introducing a new animal to their space, allow the animal to discover the area themselves in their own time, for example by leaving the carrier open and allowing the animal to come out when they want. If the animal is nervous, it may be best to introduce them to the family gradually, at a quiet time of day when only one or two people are around, before gradually introducing more people. "If introducing a dog to another dog, sometimes a neutral ground is best," says Furlong. "They could meet in a public space outside and then go into the house together." It can take animals several weeks to acclimate to their new home, usually older animals will take longer.
There’s no reason not to adopt a rescue animal if you do your homework, and take your time. But considering the holidays are one of the busiest, craziest times of the year, it’s a good idea to put off finding your forever-friend until the new year.
Photos: Courtesy of Dr. Rosie Furlong