We all remember that opening scene from Lady and the Tramp, and what could be better for an animal lover or child than receiving a little bundle of fluff jumping around under the tree?
My family’s always been big on the idea that once an animal joins the ranks, it becomes family. From the goldfish in the pond to the dog on the sofa, taking in a new animal is never something we’ve taken lightly.
It’s well past the run up to Christmas, and by this point, the usual range of billboards and commercials advertising whatever this season’s must-have toy or gadget is, are hard to ignore. But it’s this idealised picture that sometimes leads people to make poorly considered and thought out purchases and to power phrase a well-known adage – ‘A Pet is For Life, Not Just For Christmas’.
As a general rule, I’m not a fan of giving pets as gifts, period. But I’m particularly opposed around Christmas time. This is because in most cases – not all, but most – the act of this ‘gift giving’ is driven by whim.
That sad truth of the matter is that if you visit your local shelter throughout January or February, you’ll find hundreds of pets who worn out their welcome as Christmas gifts.
It happens every year, and 2015 is no exception.
SSPCA: Warning over giving pets as Christmas gifts
The Scottish SPCA are advising people not to buy pets as Christmas presents for fear of a surge in abandonments.
As Scotland’s animal welfare charity prepares for its busiest time of year, it hopes many pets will be spared the heartbreak of being dumped like unwanted gifts after the festive period.
Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn said, “It’s an upsetting reality that in the weeks and months after Christmas our centres are often asked to take in puppies, kittens and other pets who were given as presents. Even worse, some of these animals are dumped like rubbish once the novelty has worn off. Every year in the lead up to Christmas we stress that animals should never be bought on a whim or given as surprise presents but some people aren’t getting the message.”
In January of 2015, the Scottish SPCA took in over 230 dogs and over 250 cats and it’s more than possible that some of these animals had been bought for Christmas.
For this reason, they are asking people to really consider whether they have the time commitment and financial resources to be able to properly care for an animal for the entirety of its life. In order to reduce the risks of people taking on pets to give away as presents, the Scottish SPCA have stopped rehoming puppies, kittens and baby animals on the 19th of December until the 3rd of January.
Chief Supt. Flynn added, “We have to ensure our rescue animals aren’t being taken on by someone who just wants a new pet for Christmas. However, our animal rescue and rehoming centres will be open to the public throughout the festive period, including Christmas Day, and young animals can be reserved during this time. Our message is simple, a pet is a lifelong commitment and not a present which can be given at Christmas and then forgotten about soon afterwards.”
Pets for Christmas may seem like a wonderful idea but Pets Corner implores their customers to ‘Think Twice’ before taking on such a commitment.[Source]
Lucy Ross, Head of Training at Pets Corner: “At Pets Corner we have a ‘no impulse and surprise’ present policy with regards to our pet sales all year round, but especially during the festive season. We do not agree with the sale of pets as surprise presents where the person receiving the pet is unaware. Our reason for this is that we want to ensure our pets are going to only the best of homes to owners who have a good understanding of their welfare needs. We like to talk to the primary caregiver of the pet to make sure they have only the best advice and to provide ongoing support for them and their new pet. We do take each customer situation and case into consideration and depending on the circumstances around the primary caregivers of the chosen pet we will either agree or disagree to sell the pet under our ‘Think Twice’ policy.
“We are all about responsible pet ownership here at Pets Corner and we recommend that all prospective pet parents think twice before taking the step to purchase their new family members this Christmas. The Christmas period is a very busy time of year for families. In addition to the usual daily routines of school, work and other activities, end-of-year festivities mean even more demands on your time with extra cooking, cleaning, shopping for gifts, gift wrapping, tree decorating we are generally much busier during this time of year than any else. We also have family guests coming to stay or visits away from home to join in the festivities elsewhere making for a temporary hectic lifestyle. All of this makes it a difficult time to introduce a new pet to a new home and environment with all the noise, fun and excitement that Christmas brings.
A new pet requires a great deal of time and attention from their new family. It’s in everyone’s best interests, especially the animals, to wait for a less busy, exciting time of year to bring home any new pet.”