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Yes, you can give a pet as a Christmas gift.

  • Tuesday, 04 December 2018
  • Linda Chivell

With less than a month to go before Christmas Day, here’s what you need to know if you’re to gift a pet a new home, plus seven tips for success.


Pets as Christmas gifts


Opinions about pet ownership are constantly changing.

The old dog dominance theory – that says pet dogs have a pack mentality and owners should be the alpha dog – has long been debunked. Letting animals sleep on the bed is no longer taboo.

Some shelters are even advocating this time of year can actually be a good thing for both the animal and the new family, as everyone is home to help the new pet settle in.

A Christmas gift

A pet at Christmas, or a voucher for pet adoption at a shelter, can be a good idea – so long as it is not a surprise present.

Data supports the fact that no spike in the number of surrendered pets in the months immediately after Christmas, and indeed very few surrenders seen throughout the year because of a pet being an unwanted gift.

This finding agrees with surveys that found no significant association between receiving a pet as a gift and relinquishment soon afterward.

Kittens as Christmas gifts

An annual ‘cat-astrophe’

Although the number of cats entering shelters spikes annually between November and January, this is because of kitten season.

This is the time of the year when non-desexed female cats give birth to coincide with increased warmth and availability of food. This phenomenon placing huge pressure on staff and resources at shelters due to the flood in kittens.

To help stop the enormous number of unwanted cats and dogs entering shelters, it is really important to desex your animal (especially cats before kitten season).

Why pets enter shelters

There is a misconception that most animals end up at shelters for behavioral problems or medical issues. One of the most common reasons for pet surrender in Our country is a lack of pet-friendly rental accommodation.

Additionally, with the rise in increased awareness of cruelty against animals, eg, websites like One Green Planet, shelters get notified about the often horrific conditions the animals are kept in. These animals then end up in shelters.

Adopt from a shelter

We encourage all families considering adopting a cat or dog to visit their local pound or shelter. Sadly, it is estimated more than thousands of dogs and cats are euthanized annually in South Africa. Some do try to rehome unwanted animals.

Cutie pie

Seven tips when considering a new pet

Pet ownership is a wonderfully rewarding experience, with many studies showing pet owners have improved physical and mental health and are more social

So if you are considering adopting a pet this Christmas, here are some tips to consider:

  1. Positive training techniques are more effective and humane than punishment techniques. Reward animals for doing the right thing with treats rather than punishing them for doing the wrong thing.
  2. If adopting a pet for a child, remember the parent is ultimately responsible for the pet (so be prepared to take care of the animal!).
  3. Christmas decorations and ornaments such as tinsel and Christmas tree hangings make wonderful objects to get stuck in the stomach after swallowing, so keep them out of reach of pets to avoid unnecessary and expensive surgery.
  4. Dogs can get very sick with pancreatitis after consuming a fatty meal, so no feeding leftover Christmas ham or sausages.
  5. Dogs and chocolate don’t mix, so keep boxes of chocolates securely in a cupboard.
  6.  You must be ready to commit both the time and money required for the lifespan of an animal, which could be up to 20 years.
  7.  Consider adopting an older cat (eight years and over) or a middle-aged dog (five to eight years of age). Research consistently shows that animals in these age groups are the hardest group to re-home and hence spend the longest time in the shelter.

So, if you’re ready to make the commitment, go on, visit your local shelter and make this Christmas one to remember for you or the owner of the newly adopted pet.


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