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Humane approach to Christmas presents

DeKALB – Holiday music and bell ringers standing outside stores are sounds often associated with the holidays.

But for some, the sound of a barking dog or purring cat will signal their Christmas is here.

Pets have become a popular holiday pickup in the area, said Beth Drake, executive director for TAILS Human Society. TAILS sees a roughly 15 percent increase in adoptions in December, Drake said, with puppies and kittens being the most popular choices.

Logan Cauffman, 23, of Sycamore had been asking for a puppy for a few months, but his mom, Tracy Cauffman, wasn’t sure it was such a great idea.

“I said no until today,” Tracy Cauffman said Friday as she stood in the TAILS front entrance. “I saw [the puppies] and just thought, [Logan] has the biggest heart. He’s just a good person.”

She and her daughter decided to stop by TAILS the week before Christmas, and with one look at the puppies, she changed her mind about her son’s gift. By the time the Cauffmans left the animal shelter Friday, Logan had a 2-month-old dachshund mix.

“It’s pretty much the best Christmas present I’ve gotten so far,” he said while holding his puppy. “I wanted a car, but I wanted a puppy much more.”

Drake said many shelters discourage adopting a pet during the holiday season, but she said it can be the best time to bring a pet home to the family. Many concerns stem from the idea the pet could be exciting for a short time, but not enough preparation was put into caring for the animal long term, she said.

But that concern exists year-round, so bringing a pet home at a time when the whole family will be together will provide a great opportunity to work on the important foundation skills with the pet, she said.

“People have time during the holidays, and it is a good opportunity to work on communication skills with the pet,” she said.

TAILS already had 50 of its pets adopted during the Jingle Paws event at Geneva Commons recently, and Drake expects plenty of potential pet owners to come out in the days leading up to Christmas.

Christmas is not the only time TAILS goes against the general thinking of its fellow shelters. Drake said many shelters will not sell black cats during Halloween because of fears of what could happen to them, but TAILS actually promotes black cats during that time.

“We try to be a really progressive organization,” she said.

Drake said it is important to remember a pet is more than a gift under a tree, and the owners should remember to “puppy proof” their home.

Tracy Cauffman said it was important for her family to adopt a puppy from a shelter because she didn’t want to pay for a more expensive dog from a breeder, and she didn’t want to support puppy mills.

“Who cares if they’ve got papers,” she said. “We’re mutt people.”

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