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Think twice about giving a pet as a gift this Christmas, Humane Society advises

Cute, cuddly and with a built-in “ahhh” factor, pets may seem like an ideal Christmas gift idea, but you might be barking up the wrong tree.

Marjorie Brown, development director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Humane Society, cautioned against purchasing a pet as a Christmas gift due to the enormous commitment and responsibility that comes with being a pet-owner.

“We frown on that,” said Brown of such gifts. “When people come in and walk through and want to look at the adoptable pets, our adoption councillors have been trained to question where the pet is going.”

Shelters globally sometimes see an influx of animals shortly after the holidays, the result of what seemed like a good idea going bad, the new pets not being a good fit for any number of reasons.

When purchasing a pet, it is crucial to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Pets are a huge responsibility and a long-term commitment, notes Brown.

“If you’re taking a pet home to your family, we ask you to bring in your family,” she said. “Particularly if it’s a dog – we don’t want any children in the home being nervous around a new dog. Also, we want to watch out for any allergies.”

Multiple home changes in this short period of time can also add unnecessary stress to these animals.

“When we send a pet home,” said Brown. “We don’t like to see them come back. Because it stresses a pet out more so than not.”

Pets require extra accessories to be cared for adequately such as food, water bowls, and grooming supplies. They also have many needs such as exercise, veterinary care and training.

For those set on giving a pet-related present, alternative ideas include a stuffed animal or a relevant gift card.

“We actually have gift certificates,” said Brown. “So if you want to give a pet for Christmas, we encourage you to give a gift certificate instead. And then the person can come in after Christmas and choose his or her own pet – might make a better match.”

The K-W Humane Society tends to see more traffic throughout the holiday season in general, particularly when the weather gets worse.

“It does tend to get busier here,” said Brown. “Not so much this year, because we haven’t had those horrendous snowfalls yet. But once the snow starts flying, we do tend to get a lot of strays brought in. People don’t like to see the pets living on the street in the wintertime.”

Out of all of the pets brought in around this time, Brown noted that stray cats are one the group sees in particular.

“There’s many what we call ‘community cats’ folks see at their back door,” said Brown. “They’re social enough that when the snow does fly when it does get too cold, that folk who have been feeding them bring them in and we adopt them out.”

The K-W Humane Society and its Stratford Perth counterpart are selling chocolates this Christmas as a fundraiser for the animals in their care. The stocking stuffers are available directly from the organizations themselves.

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