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Pets as Christmas Gifts Are a Bad Idea

Pets as Christmas Gifts Are a Bad Idea

You might think that giving your child or your elderly parent a puppy or kitten for Christmas is the perfect gift, but those in rescue think otherwise.

Elbow Room NM’s Greta Weiner met with Janelle Chavez from Almost Home NM to talk about gifting pets for the holidays.  Almost Home NM is a local rescue taking in dogs from all over our state, and occassionally out of state.   Often they rescue the dogs who need more time to find their own forever families.  The dogs that come into the rescue stay here until their forever home is found. The only time we euthanize is if a dog is showing extreme aggression we can’t fix (animal or human) or if it is deathly ill. Other than that they just live here until they are adopted.

Often they take on the harder cases.  You may remember a few years back a dog was found with his chain embedded in his neck.  Not only did Almost Home NM rescue and pay for the healthcare of that dog, but they also gave him a forever home.  This dog was so abused it’s unadoptable.  He will live out the rest of the years of his life, as a permanent resident at Almost Home NM.

While the discussion talks mostly about dogs, the same could be said for adopting a little kitty.  So, let’s talk about gift giving:

Wait.  What?  We shouldn’t give puppies and kitties for Christmas?  Why not?

A pet is a huge commitment that can last up to 20 years sometimes.  A pet is one of those things you want and should pick out for yourself.  Sometimes family members and friends believe they know what is best for an individual so they go out to get a pet as a gift, and in all actuality that person they are giving it to might not want a dog.  Sure they might love your dog or cat and they might even say something to the effect that they would love to have one.  If that is the case and you truly believe they need a pet- offer to pay the adoption fee for a pet they choose if they decide they truly want one.  You never know you might be getting someone more of a burden than a gift.

For instance let’s say someone gets their friend a puppy for Christmas because they think they are lonely, sad, or need more exercise.  Well the person receiving the pet might not exactly be thrilled to have to train a pet, worry about where the pet will stay if they leave town, etc.  They might be excited to start traveling, or to not have any actual commitments/responsibilities holding them back from doing things spur of the moment and now they have this pet they feel they have to keep because it is a gift. You might be excited but are they?

So now what happens?? That person now has to worry about house training, vetting, training the dog to live in the house—orrr they might not even want to deal with it and either get rid of the dog (whoops it ran away) or toss it outside to live.  It is just such a bad situation and then to top it off all animals are alive and all have different personalities.  What if the person getting the gift doesn’t even connect with the pet?? Again it gets returned, rehomed, sold, turned into a shelter, or thrown outside.  Often these are the pets that end up in the shelters and rescues.


Why not buy an animal from a pet store?  Breeder?

Pet stores typically get their animals from puppy mills.  The parents live their entire lives in wire cages with no or very little humane interaction until they stop producing and then they are either culled or auctioned off.  The animals receive little if any vetting and there really isn’t much thought put into the qualities/traits that might be desirable or best for the health of the animal.

Backyard breeders often just get two purebred dogs and breed them rampantly on every heat—again  and again with no thought to bettering the breed.

A reputable breeder is someone who has one or two breeds they breed every so often—often time they are highly involved in different types of competition and then only champions are bred after they have excelled in competition, been health checked/tested, and certified to be healthy.  Many times they only breed to better the breed and they have all the lineage and tests in their files.  Many good reputable breeders charge a lot for their dogs as they have put so much into them, they are very strict as to who can purchase a puppy and what it would be used for, and many are somewhat involved in rescue for their breed.

So I have no problems with reputable breeders but backyard breeders are just doing it for the money and will sell a puppy to anyone.   They will breed as many times as possible.  It is a sad life for a dog to be in a puppy mill or to belong to a backyard breeder.  In my opinion the only time someone would want or need a purebred dog from a breeder is if they are working dogs and the people are wanting to compete.   But not many people actually do.

Ok, so if we agree to go the rescue route, why can’t I adopt the pet for my kid who lives in Denver?  

All adopters need to meet the pet.  You can’t just make the decision for them as they might not like the pet you choose or even want a pet.  If they do want a pet then the people giving the gift can get them a bunch of pet related stuff they will need for a new pet and a gift certificate to pay for the adoption fee.


Tell me a story about a holiday adoption you did approve. 

We actually take part in a large adoption event Dec 16-18thand do quite a few adoption.  However we do have a lengthy application process with quite a few people who are denied.

One of my most memorable adoptions was a young man who had just bought a house for he and his kids and he adopted a large hairy dog for the kids for Christmas . He filled out our lengthy application and he now shows up at every adoption event to show us pictures of his dog he adopted from us.

Another memorable adoption was a Husky mix a man adopted for himself for Christmas last year.  He loves that dog and he too brings him quite often to visit us at our events.  We do do a lot of adoptions for Christmas – but we are extremely careful and with our application being 4 pages they have to seriously want the pet to sit there that long filling it out.   Of course we  also do follow ups and home visits just to ensure the safety and happiness of our dogs.

What if we want to get a dog at a shelter?  Do they have the same restrictions? 

Unfortunately they do not.  Most just want the dogs out of there. But it always depends on the shelter as well.  There is no matching the pet to the personality of the adoptees or vice versa.  If the animal doesn’t mesh with the adoptees, the shelter often sees the same animal returned.


Thanks again to Janelle Chavez at Almost Home NM for sharing thoughts with us on gifting pets for Christmas.

If you’d like to save a little life and adopt from Janelle, you can find their adoptable pets at Almost Home NM Adoptable Pets.

The lives of all the animals at Almost Home NM need constant care, healthcare from vets, food, training and more.  If you’d like to donate to Almost Home NM you can do so here.