Giving a puppy as a Christmas gift is giving someone a 24 hour a day, years long responsibility. Not everyone is prepared for that. Unwanted dogs end up arriving at the shelters slowly throughout the holidays and by the new year many of the shelters are at capacity say many of the shelter organizations we contacted for this story.
Rebecca Reid of world renowned Austin Pets Alive in Texas commented that January is a very busy time for the organization. “More people give up their dogs in January than any other time of year. A good percentage of our January intake is through our PASS program (Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender). This includes animals that came to us because someone couldn’t afford vet care or pet deposits, so it’s interesting to see that spike (nearly doubled) immediately after the holidays.”
The holiday rush can result in gift givers not always thinking clearly when purchasing a puppy. Kathleen Summers, Director of Outreach for the Humane Society of the United States added: “We advise never to buy a puppy from a pet store or online, during the holidays as a gift, or any other season. Some of the worst puppy mills sell puppies through pet stores and online, relying on impulse purchases by people who haven’t seen for themselves where the puppy was born and raised.”Unfortunately these impulse buys supporting puppy mills often end in sad results, says Summers: “We receive heartbreaking calls after the winter holidays about sick puppies purchased from pet stores. Many of them don’t make it to see the new year.”
Kelli Schry, a spokesperson for the San Diego Humane Society said, “Adding an animal to your family is a big responsibility and a life-long commitment, so it’s important that your loved one is ready. Also, part of the joy of choosing an animal companion is finding the one that is the perfect match for you!” While many shelters discourage people from giving dogs as gift, the San Diego Humane Society decided to take hold of the situation by offering gift givers a wonderful option. “A great alternative is to give an Animal Adoption Gift Certificate for the adoption fee so your loved one can adopt an animal when the time is right.”
Christmas. It’s a wonderful time of year and while dogs are one of the greatest gifts of all, putting one under the tree may not be. Please think before you give.