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Q: I always heard it wasn't a good idea to adopt pets during the holidays, but I see more shelters offering holiday pet adoptions. Has the recommendation changed?

A: It has. It used to be considered a bad idea to give a pet as a gift and that the holidays were the worst time to bring a pet into the home, but the key to success is being thoughtful about the process.

Holidays are definitely a busy time, with lots of activities, travel and guests, but you may also have a more flexible schedule, with time off work and kids home from school. That can make it easier to help a new pet adjust to family life.

There's the concern that a new puppy or kitten — or even older pets — will be destructive, chewing or clawing holiday decorations, but pets get into things year-round, not just during the holidays. With thoughtful pet-proofing and supervision, you can ensure that the environment is safe for them and that your decor is safe from them. You'd have to do that whenever you got a pet.

I've often heard the objection that kids will quickly lose interest in a pet because they're distracted by other gifts and activities. As a parent and grandparent, I can safely say that kids are expert multitaskers: If they have really been wanting a pet, they'll make time to play with and care for them.

Holiday pet adoption campaigns, sponsored by local and national shelters and humane societies, pet supply stores and pet health insurance and pet food companies, are now the norm. Shelters work with potential adopters to help ensure that the transition goes smoothly. The careful and well-planned gift of an appropriate pet can make the holidays merry and bright.

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