Call me Scrooge, but I’m not a fan of giving pets as holiday gifts. Let me preface this by saying that this is because most times, (no, not all times), it’s an impulse decision fueled by the desire for that perfect Instagram moment or just to give the best gift ever! Speaking for the shelters I have been with, hardly anyone ever comes to search for the holiday pet well in advance of the big day. And, when met with resistance, usually let loose on the phone or in person. (A display that hardly reads well for being well equipped to deal with all of the inconveniences and accidents a new pet may bring.)
The simple truth is, if you just take the Christmas week out of the adoption process, you have 358 other perfectly good days to pick for that special adoption day! And by mid-January quite a few Christmas surrenders and unclaimed strays with collar dents will have made their way into shelters across the country!
That being said, there are instances where adoptions DO happen for the holidays. Not everyone’s holiday celebration is the same, and we view things case by case, recognizing that sometimes he holiday season is no big deal to someone and after months of searching our kennel, Ms. or Mr. Perfect Pet just happened to move in now.
Sure, if the shelter says no there are other shelters, and rescues, and pet stores, and breeders, and Craigslist, etc.… And sooner or later some shelter will make the acquaintance of most of them.
Here are some things to consider if you are planning to have a pet pop out from under the tree. By the way, please DON’T gift wrap a pet OR stuff it under the tree.
* Consider the timing. The holidays are hectic and stressful with baking, cooking, shopping, cleaning, wrapping gifts, entertaining, visiting friends and relatives, well…you get the idea. Seriously, the last thing a new pet needs is being introduced to a new home in the midst of Christmas chaos. A newly adopted pet needs and deserves all the time and attention of its new family. Adopting a pet is a special occasion unto itself.
* Every dog owner’s favorite activity with their four legged buddy is going out in the cold, sleet and snow while the dog tries to figure out where to do its business. Keep in mind dogs of all ages need to have dedicated owners helping with the task of housebreaking in a new home from the moment they arrive, and this is a job that requires patience, consistency and dedication. Shelters often see an influx when the short days and cold, wet Wisconsin weather makes dog ownership more of a chore. Pets are a lifetime commitment (or they should be, anyway) and children should not confuse a living creature with anything else that may be under that tree.
* Right after the holidays the kids are back to school and life goes back to normal. That is probably why many families opt for summer vacation from school to adopt a new pet. Without school and the extracurricular activities consuming their time, the kids they have the leisure to bond with a new pet and help with all the chores like obedience training, housebreaking, feeding, litter box cleaning, poop and pee clean-ups, playtime, dog walking, etc., etc., etc.
* Pets shouldn’t be surprises. Period. Even if the person seems excited with the initial surprise, that can change in a heartbeat…or in the time it takes to pee on the carpet. We find the best way to gift a pet is to have the recipient involved in every step of the process. It doesn’t matter if it is for a child or a Grandma or a boyfriend.
If you must have something under the tree, how about a gift basket with a promise note to help them find the perfect pet and pay for the adoption? You can add some of the things a pet may need like a collar, leash and tennis ball, or maybe some catnip, a feather wand and a litter box.
* Certain disreputable people and businesses are warehousing all the most sought after puppies and kittens and promoting it on social media. While many are from backyard breeders looking to make a buck, many more are shipped in from puppy mills. Some are healthy, most are not, but all are bred and born in inhumane, often filthy conditions. Every time a dog is purchased from an irresponsible breeder or puppy mill operator, it keeps them up and running. Even if you give a puppy mill pup a wonderful home for Christmas, its mother remains back at the mill, having litter after litter until she’s too sick or old to reproduce and is tossed aside. Please don’t be one of them. Wait until the holidays are over and visit your local shelter or rescue organization.
Merry Christmas to you and yours from us and ours!