• Marla Brooks

Animals Are People, Too

I’m going to make this short and sweet. It’s that time of year that this subject must be brought up. It’s about giving pets for Christmas.

Animals are not just a gift for under the tree. They are a lifetime commitment. People bring home cute puppies and kittens for Christmas, but what happens when the puppy soils the rug and the kitten climbs up and knocks over the Christmas tree?

There’s a long-standing belief that pets given as gifts, particularly around the holidays wind up in shelters soon after and that belief is substantiated by the number of pets relinquished to shelters all across the country soon after the holidays are over. The SPCA sees dogs that have been given during the holidays start to return in April, especially the large-breed puppies. It’s heartbreaking.

Think about this. Each year, approximately 2 .7 million dogs and cats are killed because the shelters are too full and there aren’t enough adoptive homes. Some people don’t have the heart or the good sense to take the animals back to the shelters and that puppy or kitten ends up on the street. Or worse.

For that reason, some shelters, humane societies and rescue group discourage “gift” adoptions around the holidays. The ASPCA recommends giving pets as gifts only to people who have shown long-term interest in having one and who you believe have the ability to responsibly care for one.

If you’re planning to give an animal as a pet to someone you know will love, care for and make the pet a member of the family this holiday season, please take them with you and let them choose their own. That gives both the animal and new owner a good start. And please, please, do not go to a pet shop. Local shelters and animal rescue groups, as well as the SPCA and Humane Society need to find homes for those they are caring for. There are also rescue groups who specialize in specific breeds, some have pets with special needs, some have older pets looking to live out their lives in a loving atmosphere, and everything in between. There are lots of options if you just take the time to look.

By going to a rescue or shelter to adopt, you’re going to be loved forever by the one you bring home. So please make this a wonderful holiday season of giving and sharing love, both to the people and the furry, winged and scaly ones in your life. If you’re looking for a pet, please rescue one and choose carefully. Save a victim. Don’t create one.

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