Why you should think twice before gifting a pet on Christmas

When thinking of your loved ones' favorite things to put under the tree for Christmas, you may be thinking a new pet. However, just like Santa checks his list, you may want to think twice.

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — When thinking of your loved ones’ favorite things to put under the tree for Christmas, you may be thinking a new pet. However, just like Santa checks his list, you may want to think twice.

Stephen Watson, Shelter Manager at the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Animal Services Unit, says pets are great companions but they don’t make great gifts.

“We overwhelmingly discourage pets as presents at Christmas,” Watson said. “Choosing a pet is a very personal thing. There’s a moment when I know this dog or this cat is for me. I’ve seen it over and over and over again.”

Nationally, Watson says about 15-percent of pets given as gifts make their way back to the shelter.

“What people don’t realize is that when there is an adoption, the animal knows that they are leaving a shelter, that they are leaving,” Watson said. “To bring that animal back is very psychologically damaging to them.”

In turn, the trauma could cause the animal to behave poorly, making it more difficult to get them adopted for a second time.

Watson reminds everyone that pets are wonderful, but they are a responsibility. Your friend may not be financially prepared to take care of one and your child may not be interested in one for more than a couple of days. So again, think twice before giving the surprise gift of a four-legged friend.

“While we love our pets, we don’t ever want to see them again. We want them to stay in their forever homes,” Watson said.

If you would like to give the gift of an animal to a loved one, Watson recommends calling a shelter and asking about a gift certificate. The adoption fees would be covered, but the potential new owner would be able to come in and find the pet that’s right for them.

For more information on pets available at the New Hanover County Animal Services Unit, visit here or call 910-798-7500.

New pets from area animal shelters are featured weekly on Pet Pals on Good Morning Carolina. Visit here to see featured pets.

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