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The pitfalls of gifting pets during the holidays: a long-term commitment

The holiday season, synonymous with warmth and joy, often sees the emergence of a concerning trend – the impulse to gift pets. While the notion of surprising a loved one with a furry friend might seem heartwarming, the reality is far more complex. Pets are not mere presents; they are long-term commitments that demand dedication, responsibility and unwavering care. This is one of the reasons Have a Heart Humane Society will not approve an adoption, if the owner to the rescue being adopted is not present.

A long-term commitment:

A common misconception is underestimating the duration of commitment when welcoming a pet into one's home. Dogs, cats and other animals typically live 12 to 20 years, depending on the breed and species. This longevity means their care extends far beyond the initial excitement of receiving them as a gift.

Rescues overwhelmed:

The aftermath of holiday pet gifting often hits animal shelters and rescues, like Have a Heart Humane Society hard. Inundated with surrendered pets shortly after the festive season, these organizations witness firsthand the repercussions of impulsive adoptions. Pets, received as gifts, sometimes find themselves abandoned due to being more work than anticipated or when children fail to take up the responsibility.

This surge in surrendered pets, post-holidays, burdens rescue facilities, stretching their already limited resources. Worse yet, older animals, loyal companions with years of love to give, often face abandonment as families make room for younger puppies or kittens, perpetuating a cycle of heartbreak for these mature pets.

A responsible approach:

Instead of surprising someone with a pet during the holidays, advocating for a responsible approach to pet adoption is paramount. Prospective pet owners should thoroughly consider the commitment they're undertaking, ensuring they have the time, resources and dedication necessary for the animal's entire lifespan.

Education about pet care and the significance of adopting from reputable shelters or rescue groups should be emphasized. Encouraging families to visit shelters together, fostering a sense of responsibility and empathy, can help ensure a better match between pet and owner, reducing the likelihood of impulsive decisions.


While the desire to gift a pet during the holidays stems from good intentions, the repercussions can be detrimental to the animals involved. Understanding the gravity of pet ownership, the long-term commitment it entails and promoting responsible adoption practices is crucial in ensuring the welfare of these beloved companions.

This holiday season, let's celebrate compassion and empathy by refraining from impulsive pet gifting and instead focus on supporting responsible adoption practices, ultimately creating happier homes for both pets and their owners.