With the holidays fast approaching, we thought it was fitting to share our opinion on giving pets as Christmas presents. And our opinion is, don’t.
Too often after the holidays we see pets being surrendered because the grandkids thought they’d get grandma a kitten and she didn’t really want one. Or we’ll meet the boyfriend who got a puppy for his girlfriend and now that they’ve broken up, no one is prepared to handle the expenses and responsibilities on their own. These pets will now be at the shelter trying to adjust to a new environment without their family and it happens every year.
Aside from surprising someone with a living, breathing creature, this time of year is not conducive for everyone to accommodate a furry houseguest they weren’t expecting. The holidays are a very busy and stressful time for not only you, but your pets, too! All of the hustle and bustle in addition to trying to establish routines and do proper introductions can be a hassle for even the most experienced pet owner. Consider the amount of stress put on that new pet who has to meet the whole family in one weekend or who gets started by Aunt Sally’s dog who isn’t the best around new dogs or the grandchildren that have never been around pets before. A lot of people travel for the holidays as well; the last thing you’d want to do is gift a pet to someone who is then going to be gone for one week and not able to bond with or transition their new pet into their household.
Our policy at HSMC is to not adopt pets out as gifts and here’s why. We want everyone in the household to be a part of this decision as well as be onboard for the responsibility and the fun that is to come. It’s important for us to see the interaction between our adoptable pet and everyone in your household as well. We have a lot of adoptables who arrived to us as strays and we don’t know their whole story or all of their likes and dislikes. We’d hate for you to find out the hard way that Sparky (whom you just adopted) is afraid of granny’s walker or terrified of dad and his beard. The other piece of the puzzle? If you’re looking to bring a new dog home and already have a canine companion at home, we want to make sure that both dogs are going to get along together. We strive to make our placements permanent and successful and these aren’t steps we aren’t willing to skip in keeping with the spirit of the holidays.
Unfortunately giving a pet as a gift, portrays the sentiment that this living, breathing thing may be just one more thing the kids can outgrow this year. Pets are not disposable, they are a lifelong commitment that will require a lot more maintenance than the presents wrapped under the tree. Giving pets as presents can teach children that they are more of a commodity than a responsibility. We want your children to be a part of the process and part of the research required to bring home a new family member.
One of the reasons HSMC does not do same day adoptions is because we don’t want people to adopt a pet on impulse; we want the decision to bring home a new family member to be a planned and prepared one. Allowing a minimum of 24-48 hours to process an adoption application and take a pet home gives the potential adopter the time to think about what pet will be right for them, prepare for having a pet come home and consider the pros and cons of bringing home a new family member. When an animal is gifted to someone, that time to process and prepare is taken from the equation and sometimes to the detriment of the new four-legged family member.
A great alternative to gifting someone a dog or cat, is to gift them with books about how to choose the right pet, how to train your new pet or breed specific publications. There are also magazines you can subscribe to. Better yet, your present can be committing your time to go with that person and volunteer at the local shelter to see what it’s like to care for pets.
Please consider other alternatives to giving a pet as a Christmas present and educate others who may be considering giving a life instead of a gift.
Poem to an Abandoned Gift
‘Tis the night before Christmas and all through the town,
every shelter is full – we are lost but not found.
Our numbers are hung on our kennels so bare,
we hope every minute that someone will care.
They’ll come to adopt us and give us the call,
“Come here, Max and Sparkie – come fetch your new ball!!
But now we sit here and think of the days
we were treated so fondly – we had cute, baby ways,
Once we were little, then we grew and we grew –
now we’re no longer young and we’re no longer new.
So out the back door we were thrown like the trash,
they reacted so quickly – why were they so rash?
We “jump on the children”, “don’t come when they call”,
we “bark when they leave us”, we “climb over the wall.”
We should have been neutered, we should have been spayed,
now we suffer the consequence of the errors they made.
If only they trained us, if only we knew…
we’d have done what they asked us and worshipped them, too.
We were left in the backyard, or worse, left to roam,
now we’re tired and lonely and out of a home.
They dropped us off here and they kissed us good-bye…
“Maybe someone else will give you a try.”
So now here we are, all confused and alone…
in a shelter with others who long for a home.
The kind workers come through with a meal and a pat,
with so many to care for, they can’t stay to chat.
They move to the next kennel, giving each of us cheer…
we know that they wonder how long we’ll be here.
We lay down to sleep and sweet dreams fill our heads
of a home filled with love and our own cozy beds.
Then we wake to see sad eyes, brimming with tears –
our friends filled with emptiness, worry, and fear.
….. In parents’ haste to think of a gift for the kids,
there was one important thing that they missed.
A dog should be family, and it’s just not humane
To put a living, feeling pet outside on a chain.
If only Santa exclaimed as he rode out of sight,
“You weren’t giving a gift! You were giving a life!”