Thinking about getting someone a pet for Christmas? Don't.

Rose Bak

Animal shelters will be overwhelmed with abandoned pets come January. Don’t contribute to this problem.

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At some point in their lives, chances are good that your kid is going to ask for a puppy for Christmas. Or a kitten. Or maybe a rabbit. 

“We’ll have some time off over the holidays,” you might think. “We can bond with our new pet. It’ll teach my little darling how to be responsible when they have to take care of a pet.”

I’ve got one word: DON’T.

No seriously, don’t.

There are several issues with pets as Christmas presents.

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The holiday atmosphere can lead to big problems.

First, you’re bringing an animal into your house at a time when there’s a break in your routine. You may be home more or less than usual. If you have kids, they are likely ramped up for the holidays. All that uncertainty and heightened emotion can lead to animals exhibiting anxious behavior like urinating in the house, snapping or biting, or destructive chewing.

And speaking of chewing, there are many more hazards around your house during the holidays that can lead to your new pet getting injured. Things like mistletoe, chocolate, tinsel, wrapping paper, and many traditional holiday foods can be dangerous, even deadly, to animals.

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It costs a small fortune.

Pets are also way more expensive than many people expect. It’s not just things like food, cat litter, or leashes. You also need to budget for things like toys, pet sitters, veterinary care, licenses, immunizations, and more.

According to an article from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA):

Caring for an animal companion requires a lifelong commitment, which could go on for over 20 years. Costs can add up quickly, not only for food but also for vet visits and emergency care when the dog swallows a sock or the cat takes a few bites from a toxic houseplant. Is the recipient a busy person? If so, a regular pet sitter and/or dog-walker may be needed. Forbes estimates that the cost of caring for a cat will be “at least $780 a year and $16,800 over [the cat’s] possible 15-year existence.” For a larger dog, it estimates a price tag of “$1,570 a year and, over a 12-year lifetime, [total costs] ranging from $22,025 to upwards of $82,929 for folks using dog walkers.” Forbes’ high estimate for a small dog is even pricier!
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Shelters are overrun with animals after the holidays.

Many people assume that if they drop an animal off at their local shelter, “some nice family” will adopt the animal that they didn’t keep. Here’s the problem: shelters are overrun and they almost always have more animals to adopt than homes to place them in.

If your adopted animal has behavior issues or health problems, chances are good they will not be adopted. This means that the animal will likely end up euthanized.

Older animals are also more likely to be euthanized out of the shelter.

If you think your “free to a good home” ad on Craiglist will be a good idea, think again. According to PETA, animals offer for free on Craigslist are extremely likely to wind up being used for things like dogfights and illegal experiments. No animal should spend its life like that.

Your best option for a holiday pet? One that’s of the stuffed variety.

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Rose Bak is a freelance writer who lives in Portland, Oregon with her family and special needs dogs. She writes on a variety of topics including local news, homelessness, poverty, relationships, yoga, and aging. She is also a published author of romantic fiction. For more of Rose's work, visit her website at rosebakenterprises.com or follow her on social media @AuthorRoseBak.

Portland, OR
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