As a full blown supporter of animal adoption and rescue it may surprise you to hear that as a general rule I usually frown on the idea of giving a pet as a Christmas gift. While saving an animal from the shelter is a top priority for me I also am acutely aware of all the responsibility that comes with pet ownership. Before you decide to give a four-legged friend as a gift here are some things you should consider.
First of all, if this is a gift for a grandchild, friend, neighbor, etc make sure that all members of the family are on board with the potential adoption of the cat or dog. Springing this sort of surprise on anyone can cause for a great deal of resentment and unfortunately often times ends in the animal being returned to the shelter due to no fault of its own. To avoid situations such as those, after talking to each family member, you need to figure out the best type of dog for the families lifestyle. For example, different breeds have different needs and personalities. If members in the family love to run and will take the dogs on many walks then a higher energy dog may be the ticket. If however, they are incredibly busy and have limited amount of time to walk or groom the dog then maybe a lower energy dog with low maintenance grooming habits may be best.
Another issue that comes along with “springing” a dog on a family is their understandable lack of necessary pet supplies. These items such as a collar, leash, pet bowls, food, brushes, and crates are essential to making the adoption transition successful. It is only with planning and preparation that a family can be fully ready for the addition of a furry friend.
So while the idea of a fluffy little dog with a bow around it’s neck is adorable in commercials, just remember that in real life this scenario does not play out quite as well. As well meaning as your gift may be, and as desperate as many shelters are to find homes for their adoptable dogs and cats, it may be best to avoid live animal gifts unless discussed in advance with all parties.
With all of that being said if you are still wanting to help the poor animals that are stuck in the shelter over the holidays there are many ways in which you can do so. Donating treats and bones is a great way to give some joy to these bundles of fur! You could also consider fostering a dog or cat over the holidays so that they have a warm, cozy place to enjoy Christmas morning. Blankets and supplies are always in demand as well and could certainly improve the quality of life of many of these shelter animals. Check the APL’s website for fundraisers, wishlists, and ways volunteers can help! Merry Christmas!