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« Maybe they're not reading their own press clippings? | Main | The saddest story I've read this week »

November 11, 2008



It started years ago, primarily so that people could enjoy the holidays without endangering their new pet with holiday foods, wrappings, etc and so they would have time to spend on the new arrival in a calm environment.

Of course, if you live up here, the worst possible time to get a young pup is in the winter - tough to housetrain, etc.

Most SPCAs here in Ontario close adoptions before Xmas and reopen after New Year's. Experience seemed to teach them it was a bad time to adopt out pets including dogs or puppies - back when they still had puppies, that is.


On the flip side, my office closes for 10 days around the holidays -- so there would be not time when I could spend MORE time getting a dog adjusted to my home/family than during the holidays. I just think the universal "it's a bad idea" is a little extreme...


I've heard of studies that animals given as gifts are LESS likely to be relinquished at a later date because of the emotional attachenment with the PERSON who gave the gift


Well yeah, Brent, but you're not who they're worried about!


I have to agree with you, Brent, on this one. Our shelter does our best to place pets with appropriate families throughout the year. We even also follow up behavioral training if there are issues a family would like to address. With these precautions, we still get returns year round, e.g. this dog play bites too much, this dog is getting old and I cannot deal with death, this dog cannot come with me on my move out of state, etc. This will be the first year where we will be a little relaxed on our adoption policies for X-mas gifts. I am going to ask for us to watch our return numbers to see if they actually do go up, or if this is once again a ploy of why not to adopt animals out to homes, which we all know happens way too often in the shelter/rescue world.


Isn`t there a difference between a family/person choosing to adopt a dog/cat at Christmas time and someone else deciding to give them a dog/cat as a gift?

I think that 2nd scenario is a bad idea at ANY time.
I would imagine there are more returns when it`s a surprise gift.
I don`t think anyone should give someone a pet as a gift.
It needs to be a decision by the people who are going to spend 10+ years taking care of this animal.

dog checks

Yep its crazy i dont know why people get them if they dont plan on keeping them

JP Faiella

Hello. My name is JP Faiella and my PR Agency in Boston (Image Unlimited Communications) represents The Companion Animal Protection Society.
I sincerely appreciate you opening a dialog about the release sent to you by our agency. If anything, a dialog about this issues is truly what such outreach is about. And we sincerely appreciate you allotting a channel of distribution to discuss it.
To reply to your comments pertaining to this outreach I would say the following...
You mention that a strong checklist would be a valued option to present to individuals potentially considering a companion animal during the holidays. Ms Howard, President of The Companion Animal Society actually did this in the release sent to you (See Below)
Before you buy a puppy, Deborah Howard has created the following checklist to see if you are ready for the new member of the Family:

1. Did the companion animal you plan on bringing into your home come from a shelter, reputable breeder or from another location where you can trace its whereabouts

2. Have you prepped the entire family for the new member of the family?

3. Who will be responsible for the dog’s socialization?

4. Who will be accountable for the animals care? Feeding? Walking? House training?

5. Have you calculated the cost of raising your animal? Vet bills? Food? Toys?
You also mention that the headline used is "staunch" - in reply to this comment I would say that so many animals are brought home during the holidays and then simply returned by people that did not stop and think about the impact of their actions that we all feel such language is in line with this issue.
In closing, I would say that in NO WAY would our client (or anyone at our agency, all animal lovers) discourage anyone from bringing a shelter animal into a well prepared and loving home...however, how heart breaking it must be to an animal to be brought in to a home and then simply returned when the family realizes that they were not prepared?
Stepping down from my soapbox, I would like to sincerely thank you for creating an opportunity for us to discuss this issue and I encourage everyone to learn more about The Companion Animal Protection Society at

Thank you Brent!



I don't disagree with the majority of your comments -- or the majority of the press release for that matter. I agree that people should think seriously about the giving pets for the holidays -- and I think most of your bullet points of things to think about are quite good. I just think that rescue organizations as a whole have created a dialogue that is overarchingly more negative than positive --- when I think just the exact opposite should be the goal. We should be making adopting a pet fun, and cuddly and work to make people feel good about adopting their pet. We should work to make the experience as positive as possible (and make the experience good for the animal as well). I just think so much of our language in this has become very negative toward other options, like an interogation to pass adoption standards and taken the fun out adopting a pet. In the end, this is hurting the "market share" for rescue groups -- and ends up hurting the animals.

Like I said, I didn't intend to single out CAPS -- but only used your headline as an example of something that is, in my opinion, way too commonplace among the rescue/shelter community.


One thing I've learned through working with an animal advocacy group is that people respond much better to positive messages of action rather than negative messages of inaction.

I am not a fan of living beings as "gifts". There's something creepy about that. I think people should wait until after the stress of the holidays to take on the huge responsibility of a companion animal. And there are ways to market that and promote it without saying stuff like something is a "very bad bad bad evil wrong idea". And there are ways to encourage responsibility, kindness and respect if one chooses to bring an animal into a stressful environment, like during the holidays.


The issue of "Christmas Puppies" is actually more of a myth than reality. If you click on my name, it will take you to my post on the subject. But here are a few bullet points:

* Pets given as gifts are Less likely to end up in a shelter.

* Dogs purchased at pet stores are Less likely to end up in a shelter.

* Dogs born in the owner's home are More likely to end up in a shelter.

* Dogs adopted from a shelter are More likely to end up back in a shelter.

* Dogs acquired for under $30 are More likely to end up in a shelter.

* Dogs acquired for over $100 are Less likely to end up in a shelter.

* Pets given as Gifts account for only 7% of acquired dogs and only 8% of dogs are bought at Pet Stores. The most common source of dogs is from Friends and Family at 34%.

JP Faiella

Brent thank you so much for giving us a platform to discuss this.

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