Did you know that after the holidays, animal shelters receive an enormous influx of unwanted puppies that were given to people as gifts? They also receive many older dogs whose families get puppies for Christmas and then decide that they don’t need their aging family dog anymore. This is why many people, including myself, discourage giving puppies (or any sort of animal) as Christmas gifts.
I know it may be tempting to give someone a puppy as a gift: Who could resist that adorable face? Though it may seem hard to believe that someone wouldn’t want that tiny 12 week-old puppy, the sad fact is that the novelty will wear off rapidly when the new owner is faced with vet bills, constant care and supervision, arranging pet-sitters, and other added expenses. This is a huge responsibility to place on another person, but that is what happens if you give an animal as a present.
If you are dead-set on getting a pet for your kids or partner for Christmas, please consider adopting, because there are so many deserving animals in shelters that need good homes. (See my post “Why Rescue?” for more details.) This way, you are saving a life instead of potentially contributing to puppy mills and irresponsible breeders. Also, you have the option of adopting an adult pet, which may be better if you are getting him or her for your kids. (Although every child will beg and plead for a tiny little puppy, who will actually be caring for the puppy and taking him or her outside in the middle of the night and in the freezing cold? That’s right: probably not the kids.)
Speaking of shelter pets, there is a lot that you can do in this season of giving to help them, which can be a good alternative to adopting a pet. Many shelters and humane societies have “Christmas lists” of items that they need donated, which range from simple items from around your house like old towels, to pet supplies that you can buy and donate. Most shelters also offer the option of sponsoring a pet. Typically, the sponsor pays the adoption fee for a pet to help encourage someone to adopt them.
In these ways, we can truly prioritize the well-being of the animals and prevent the homeless pet population from growing. Remember that when loving animals and wanting to help them, it isn’t a matter of finding them just any home, it’s finding them the right one.