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By Tawny Clary

Pets can make a merry present or a holiday disaster – if careful attention is not paid. Just in case you wind up with a new pet this holiday season and find yourself saying, “Now what?!” we have compiled a nice little package of resources for you.

Considering adopting a pet for you or your family? Adopting from shelters or rescues is a great option that has been on the rise for years. In 2016, Jefferson County’s largest shelter, the Foothills Animal Shelter, adopted out over 9,000 animals. While breeders still take the cake for where people obtain dogs from at 34 percent, the American Pet Products Association’s (APPA) most recent report shows shelter adoptions not far behind at 23 percent. For cats, it is quite the opposite with 3 percent coming from breeders and 31 percent obtained from shelters. Let’s start by looking at what’s nearby. Here are a few local rescues in the area:

• Angels with Paws

• Foothills Animal Shelter

• Life is Better Rescue (based in Lakewood, occasionally have adoption events at a variety of local Petsmarts).

• Rocky Mountain Puppy Rescue (see locations and events near you on their website)

• Cat Care Society

• Metro Denver Parrot Rescue

If you received a pet for the holidays, first thing’s first. Puppies over the age of four months must be licensed. You can get them licensed through Foothills Animal Shelter. Cats are not required by law to be licensed, but you can license them through Jefferson County as well.

Next – supplies. Supply lists are easy to find. Foothills Animal Shelter keeps a list of helpful supplies on their website needed for dogs and puppies as well as cats and kittens. They also have a nice list of alternate resources. If your adoption intentions tweet to a different tune, such as a bird, reptile, rodent or livestock, there are specialized pet supply stores in the area that can help guide you through stocking up on pet necessities as well.

• Pet Club Wheat Ridge

• Planet Pet

• World of Birds

• Scales n’ Tails

• 5280 Reptile Room

Hopefully, the twinkle in your eye over your new pet doesn’t go out after the holidays. Hopefully, what we’re about to tell you doesn’t make it go out either.

There are two things that we all try to balance daily, but soon forget about when it comes to pets: time and money. We can get so caught up in the fun of bringing home an animal companion that after paying the adoption fees, we fail to realize that we are not done spending; not even close. Remember to look ahead at the course of the animal’s lifetime. There will still be food, toys, training, regular vet visits/costs, emergency money to put aside, grooming (not just for beauty, but health, too), gates and cleaning supplies (accidents will happen).

Then there is time. There is someone new in your life to devote time to every day. Your schedule may need some adjusting. Consider setting aside some extra time in the beginning to help your new pal transition to their new life with you a little more easily.

Have the money, but not the time? Give yourself the gift of donation to a local rescue or pet organization. They rely on donations to function. Start with ones listed above. You can also donate on behalf of someone else. This is a great gift idea that makes everyone involved feel good about it. There’s also less chance for buyer’s remorse.

Have the time, but not the money? That’s OK, too. Give an animal a warm place to stay and a new sense of hope by becoming a foster home. You can be as choosy as you want on which animals you choose. Finding one that is compatible with you and your household situation will ensure the animal thrives in your home through a good, personal relationship.

After all, good relationships are what pets are supposed to be all about – on both ends.

“People are happier and healthier in the presence of animals,” according to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute. “Scientifically documented benefits of the human-animal bond include decreased blood pressure, reduced anxiety, and enhanced feelings of well-being.”

While pets can help with the blues, if you are still getting the holiday blues and need to socialize, but don’t want to leave furry, feathered or scaled companions behind, there are a variety of pet social groups in every city. Check out websites such as Meetup, Facebook or NextDoor to see what local groups are in your area…or start one. You never know who is in a similar situation as you and looking for a way to connect to others.

There are many ways to make a pet part of your holiday, and a pet can make a wonderful gift. Just be sure there is a mutual understanding between the gift-giver and the gift-receiver on what it truly means to own a pet.