To Gift or not to Gift? Animals During the Holiday Season

We’ve all seen the heartwarming viral videos before: on Christmas day after all presents have been unwrapped, a final box manages to appear holding a small puppy or kitten inside. Excitement ensues, and while it may be magical in the moment, most people who work with animals advise against gifting them during the holiday season.

Kia Reimath, the Assistant Director at the City of Lubbock Animal Shelter, said if you do decide to gift an animal, make sure it is an appropriate choice based on different factors like energy level

“Before anybody really considers getting anything for Christmas, make sure it’s a good fit for the family both size and the temperament of the dog” Riemath said.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ website, when it comes to giving pets as gifts, the ASPCA recommends “giving pets as gifts only to people who have expressed a sustained interest in owning one, and the ability to care for it responsibly. We also recommend that pets be obtained from animal shelters, rescue organizations, friends, family or responsible breeders—not from places where the source of the animal is unknown or untrusted.”

Riemath also said around March they seen an increase in animals surrendered at the shelter. While there is no one specific reason for the increase, she believes animals growing out of their puppy stage may be a factor.

“They’re adorable when they’re babies, you know a little kitten popping out of a box, all the kids are going to oh-and-aw and giggle, and that’s going to be great fun, and it’s a same thing with a puppy,” Riemath said. “And then they start getting bigger, and then their not quite so cute”

According to the ASPCA’s website 31 percent of dogs and 41 percent of cats entering shelters are euthanized. This includes strays, lost pets, and owner surrendered animals.

Richard Evans, the owner of Pets Plus, only recommends gifting animals to children when it is clear the parent will take responsibility of the animal.

“If parents are buying it for a child, and the parents are going to be the ultimate responsible person, then you can surprise a child, but you don’t ever surprise an adult with a pet, it’s just to much of an obligation” Richards said.

According to the ASPCA website, “If the recipient is under 12 years old, the child’s parents should be ready and eager to assume care for the animal. If the gift is a surprise, the gift-giver should be aware of the recipient’s lifestyle and schedule—enough to know that the recipient has the time and means be a responsible owner.”

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