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Give a Gift of a Dog or Cat This Holiday season!

Dr. Emily Weiss follows up on a previous post that stirred up some good conversation in the comments!

A few weeks ago I wrote about our new research around pets as gifts. Our research adds to the existing data that indicates pets obtained as gifts are not at a higher risk of relinquishment—and, in fact, much of the research shows that they are likely to be at a lower risk of relinquishment. You can read more about the research here.

My first post on this subject elicited some great supportive comments, as well as a lot of comments from readers who were not comfortable with the idea of pets as gifts.  (Okay, I am understating that a bit. There were several who said things like, “Adopting animals as gifts for others is absolutely irresponsible.” Also: “I guess this study never touched lower Texas. Every dog that has been given as a gift has been returned or found dead on the road. We would never allow anyone to adopt a pet as a gift for someone else.”)

Change is scary, and going against convention can be even scarier… but here is an example where we have the data. Further, what do we think happens when that person who was denied for the adoption of a pet as a gift leaves the shelter? Yes… he finds another option to obtain a pet. And we lose the opportunity not just to save a pet in our shelter, but potentially we increase the pool of intact animals in the community, and certainly we have lost a supporter and friend.


SPCA of Texas posted this pic of a boy and his new pup—a gift—on Facebook


If there is concern that the gift recipient won’t be prepared, how about increasing your revenue by offering a “starter kit?” For dogs, include bowls, food, some good enrichment devices, a proper collar, ID tag (with the receiver’s contact info on the tag—placed directly on the dog before he leaves the shelter), no-pull device if needed, a good “New Dog” info brochure and your contact info for questions. For kitties—dishes, food, proper litter and litter box, toys, a proper collar and ID tag (the cat should leave with this on), a good “New Cat” info brochure and your contact info for questions. 

We are hopeful that this data can help those that still have a policy of “no gifts” to remove that policy and embrace the notion of dogs and cats as gifts. Imagine the dogs and cats who can leave alive through endorsing and promoting pets as gifts!

I love this video from a volunteer at Charleston Animal Society featuring Brutus, who was adopted as a gift. Note that he fits some risk categories—big, brown, maybe identified as a bully mix… Brutus may not have had many folks interested in adopting him, but thanks to Charleston Animal Society’s open door for pets as gifts, you can see Brutus being delivered to his new home on Christmas Eve:



Special delivery of that dog or cat adopted as a gift—what an amazing way to change the face of the shelter within the community! Bert Troughton blogged about this concept last year highlighting a great program conducted at ARL Shelter and Wildlife Center in Pittsburgh

These nifty delivery programs can be a great way to dip a toe into pets a gifts—you get a window into the life that pet will have—and provide a lifelong memory for that family.

So… are you ready to give it a try?


Related links:
ASPCA Research: Pets As Gifts
Blog: “Pets As Gifts—Wrap ‘Em Up!”
Blog: “Very Special Delivery”