The problem with pets as Christmas presents

Definitive proof that puppies are the world’s best gifts. The viral video by The Huffington Post shows people of all ages screaming and even crying with joy over a new puppy on Christmas day. There’s no doubt Santa gets a lot of requests every year for pets as presents, but animal experts say these kind of gifts can come along with a high return rate.

For some people, the joy on Christmas morning doesn’t last long after they realize how much responsibility taking care of an animal requires. There may be a better time around the holidays to expand your family by bringing home a new pet.

At The McCracken County Animal Shelter, abandoned, unclaimed, or owner-surrendered animals all have faces looking for a forever home. Director Ryan Brown said, “We have had some good luck.” Their adoption rate is up this season, which is helping to keep their numbers down as we head into winter. “That way, it’s a lot easier on the dogs. We have fewer dogs outside,” said Brown.

He said he is worried, though, that a lot of people who come in looking for puppies as presents could bring them back in the new year. “It’s very common for a lot of shelters to see an increase in owner surrenders after the holidays, simply because that process hasn’t been thought through.”

Animal experts say it’s a better idea to put toys or treats under the tree and then wait until after the holiday to pick out that perfect pet. Brown said, “If you have children or other pets in your home, it’s really important to do as much as you can to introduce everyone to a new animal before you bring them into your home.” It’s a process Brown said can help match the right pet with the right person who’s ready for a commitment that will last the animal’s lifetime. “We want good homes for good animals. You look for that perfect fit.”

Brown said the excitement that comes with Christmas Day can also put stress on dogs or cats who aren’t used to that environment. He suggests picking out a pet with the whole family either before or after the holiday.

There’s no time limit on returns for animals that don’t work out, but their adoption contract specifies that the pet must be returned back to the shelter.

Adoptions at the shelter are half-price until the end of the year, and a shelter volunteer is donating a one-hour massage for people who adopt through the end of January.

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