Pets do not make good surprise presents, say staff at St. Lawrence County animal shelters
Sunday, December 15, 2019 - 8:28 am

Spirit, a female beagle mix, is at the Potsdam Animal Shelter and is ready for a new home. Photo by Matt Anable.BY CHERYL SHUMWAY

North Country This Week

What’s better than finding a cuddly little puppy or kitten under the tree Christmas morning? Maybe not finding one until after Christmas, say those at three local animal shelters.

The Potsdam and Massena Humane Societies and Ogdensburg’s St. Lawrence Valley S.P.C.A. all discourage surprise pets given at Christmas.

“We try to discourage impulse adoption, because a pet is a long-term commitment,” said Alysia Maynard, Potsdam Humane Society director. “Sometimes people think a family member or friend wants a pet, but maybe they don’t.”

“If heads of households want to add a new family member, we allow that. We want to make sure a pet is going into a home where ideally all family members want the pet for the long term,” she said.

Karen Cunningham of the St. Lawrence Valley S.P.C.A. said it is best to make a decision early to adopt before Christmas, or wait until after Christmas. “It is better to talk it over first with the person receiving the pet. Come in to see the animals, but wait until after Christmas is over to bring the pet home,” she advises.

“Christmas can be too chaotic to give your new pet the training and structure it needs,” said Cunningham. “Also, there are many safety concerns. Holidays are crazy enough already.”

“You can still give a surprise by wrapping up pet supplies for a gift to open, with a gift certificate to adopt a pet that can be picked up after the holidays are over,” suggests Heidi Bradish, Massena Humane Society Director.

“We are willing to work with people to accommodate them in the adoption process and if they want to give a surprise pet. We take every situation on a case-by-case basis,” said Bradish.

“If you can’t take home a pet yourself, you can sponsor a pet at the animal shelter as a gift, so some other person can take the animal home without adoption fees,” said Bradish. “This helps spotlight an older animal, or an animal with special needs. Some people sponsor the pet that has been the shelter the longest.”

“You can also make a donation to an animal shelter in honor of a past pet of yours or a friend’s pet that passed,” said Maynard.

The Potsdam Humane Society has 18 dogs and 32 cats or kittens ready for adoption. Pets can be viewed at Adult dogs are $95, pups are $120, cats are $50, and kittens are $75, including spaying or neutering, vaccinations, treatment for internal and external parasites and heartworm, leukemia testing and placing a microchip. The shelter, at 17 Madrid Ave., is open Mon.-Fri. from 1-5 p.m. and Sat. 11 a.m.-3 p.m., or by appointment.

The Potsdam shelter gives free animal adoptions to seniors aged 60-plus who adopt a pet that is seven years old and up. Military veterans can get two pets in their lifetime for free.

St. Lawrence Valley S.P.C.A. has 10 dogs and 17 cats for adoption. Pets can be seen at The adoption cost of dogs is $90 and cats are $65, including spaying or neutering, vaccinations and treatment for worms and fleas. It is at 6718 Route 68, Ogdensburg, is open Tues-Sat. 1-4 p.m.

The Massena Humane Society currently has 7 cats and 3 dogs for adoption. You can see them at Cats and kittens are $85, dogs are $140 and up, and puppies are $200 and up, including spaying or neutering, vaccinations and treatment for worms and fleas. It is at 177 South Racquette River Rd. and is open Mon.-Sat. 1-5 p.m.