Animals are not holiday gifts

A. Marie Hamilton
Posted 11/16/22

We are rapidly approaching the holiday season – with that being said, animals are not holiday gifts; they are a “furever” home commitment.

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Animals are not holiday gifts


We are rapidly approaching the holiday season – with that being said, animals are not holiday gifts; they are a “furever” home commitment.

Sure, it’s picturesque to have a beautiful new puppy with a giant red bow popping out from a box under the sparkling Christmas tree – but it’s cruel and frankly, animal abuse if you don’t intend to keep the puppy until it’s a senior dog.

And that isn’t just for dogs – cats, horses, turtles, reptiles, goats, pigs and any other animal that people fancy getting for the holidays as a gift.

In good times and in bad times, they are there for us. Dogs protect our homes, our bodies, our families and even help us hunt (if you hunt), work on our farms or ranches and keep a watchful eye over our children out in nature's playground. They are working 24/7 and 365 days for us.

It’s incredibly cruel to “adopt” or “buy” a cute puppy only to abandon them at a shelter once they become unruly teenagers or adult dogs after the cute Christmas-puppy stage wears off.

Recently, I can unapologetically say my two dogs saved my horse's life. It was them who alerted me one cold morning recently that Freckles hadn’t touched his water, food or supplements when I found him lying in his stable on his legs. It was my dogs’ behaviors which told me I needed to contact the equine veterinarian right away. Luckily I did, Freckles had become incredibly sick with a near-fatal equine virus (don’t worry, he is much better now).

According to the Humane Society shelters in Wyoming, they see anywhere from a 25% to 75% increase of animal abandonments and relinquished holiday pets starting on New Year's Day and can last through Valentine’s Day.

Although the reasons for returning a pet to shelters after the holiday nostalgia wears off numbers into the thousands; the reasons why you should reconsider this option are few.

Animals need time to adjust to new environments, no matter how well-taken care of the animal was previously to coming home with you or not, or how friendly a pet may or may not be. It takes time for any pet to reveal its true personality after pet adoption, and in many cases, it can take a few months before a pet feels comfortable enough to be themselves.

I’ve made it a habit in my life to adopt dogs who have endured abuse, neglect and sad situations – and it’s not easy, but it’s well worth it. If someone doesn’t have the heart, time or patience to work with a pet who has a history, it can be very cruel, tragic, challenging and detrimental to both the animal and gift receiver.

Baby animals are very difficult to work with in obedience and potty training – and that is the number one reason most people give up their gifted-pets after the holidays. Animals, especially dogs and horses, can be just like teenage humans from their baby to adult stages – very ornery, difficult and sometimes mischievous. Potential pet owners need to be aware some breeds are more notoriously mischievous and “mouthy” than others – like my German Shepherd Husky mix, Ellie, she can be very demanding and “talkative”. Whereas, my Black Lab Collie mix, Roxy, is a quiet, attentive guard/service dog.
Unless you are buying the animal as a family pet and will commit to raising that pet, nurturing it and loving it in the case the gift-receiver/s reject it, then you should probably consider getting a stuffed animal instead of a live animal for the holidays.