Seeing the joy on your child's face when you surprise them with a dog or cat on Christmas morning is a Kodak moment, but perhaps not a practical one.
According to local animal shelter volunteers and welfare activists, animals given as “gifts” may seem like a good idea, but more often than not, the pets become a responsibility the person(s) aren’t ready for, leaving families with an animal they can't take care of and the difficult decision to give it up.
Both Jeanie Acorn of Colville Pet Rescue (CPR) and Nancy Rose of Colville Valley Animal Sanctuary (CVAS) say that the fallout of owner surrender pets from the holiday season usually occurs two to three months after December. As the animal grows, it takes some families awhile to realize the scope of the responsibility they've undertaken with Christmas pets.
“The cuteness (of a puppy or kitten) doesn’t wear off after 24 hours,” says Rose. “What we see a lot of is people move and leave their pets behind, or a young adult leaves the home and mom and dad are left with the decision of whether or not they can care for this animal. Getting a pet should never be an impulsive decision.”
Currently, CVAS has 58 cats, 22 puppies and 25 adult dogs available for adoption. Rose estimates there will be a 10 percent increase in abandoned or surrendered pets in the next several months.
Acorn says that 50 percent of dogs that find their way to CPR are owner surrenders. Last year, the non-profit adopted out 145 dogs, the majority of which found their way into the organization’s system after Christmas.
*Read the full story in next week's edition of the S-E!