SHERIDAN — Pets make wonderful companions — they do not, however, make good gifts.

Individuals who head to the Sheridan Dog and Cat Shelter this year looking for the perfect Christmas present for a friend or relative will leave disappointed, as the shelter does not allow third-party adoptions, according to Executive Director Debie Crawford.

“Sure, it’s cute to have a puppy under the Christmas tree or a little bunny at Easter, but usually gifts as animals, people mean well, but the intentions misfire,” she said.pets

It’s easy to immediately fall in love with a puppy or kitten. But, after the initial excitement wears off, the new pet owner is left with a lifelong commitment that requires a lot of time and care.

“You’re giving a pet and they have all kinds of things that go along with them — the costs, the food, the bedding, the toys, veterinary bills, grooming,” Crawford said. “Will they have time to exercise, play or train the animal they get? And if they leave town, they’re going to have boarding and pet-sitting costs.”

Additionally, the holidays are a tough time to introduce a pet into a new environment. Crawford pointed out a lot of people travel or host family, exacerbating the stress levels for new animals and humans alike.

Many years ago, the Dog and Cat Shelter did allow people to take home animals intended as presents. More often than not, these animals ended up back at the shelter.

Instead, the Dog and Cat Shelter offers a gift certificate-style program. If a resident thinks a friend needs a pet, that individual would pay a specified amount — different animals carry different costs — that could later be redeemed for a cat or dog. Unused gift certificates serve as donations for the shelter.

Crawford recommends getting a pet-related gift for the animal lover in your life, perhaps some dog toys or a book about training. That way, the person can decide whether to adopt on his or her own time without feeling pressure to use the gift certificate.

Once a person is ready to adopt, be warned: The Sheridan Dog and Cat Shelter takes adoption seriously. Individuals looking to get a pet must pass a thorough vetting process involving quite a bit of paperwork.

“It’s pretty intense,” Crawford said. “Why do you want to adopt? Do you have other animals? If so, we make sure they have proper vet visits and they’re current on their vaccinations.”

In the end, the shelter emphasizes finding great environments for both animal and person. Taking a dog or cat home and then returning it later creates even more unnecessary stress for a pet that needs a good, loving home.