Shelter animals given as holiday gifts

A dog at the Yolo County Animal Shelter wears a holiday sweater while whimpering and wagging her tail at people who pass by her cage.
A dog at the Yolo County Animal Shelter wears a holiday sweater while whimpering and wagging her tail at people who pass by her cage.

By Lauren Keck, Staff–

Dogs bark and whimper in their concrete floored cages in the Yolo County Animal Shelter. A few of the smaller dogs wear festive sweaters to keep them warm. Some wiggle with excitement as a person walks by, while others cower in the back of their cages, staring up at people with droopy eyes.

The holidays are a busy time for animal shelters, according to Amanda Newkirk, a member of the Veterinarian Medicine CTR Companion Animal Health department at UC Davis, as many pets are given as gifts in many households.

For example, sophomore Brooke Rubenstein and her sisters had quite a surprise on Christmas Eve in 2005 when they opened a purple box under the Christmas tree. A small, skinny puppy popped out with a tag that said: “Hi Makenna, Brooke and Paige, my name is Rubi and I am yours!”

Many parents make an entire plan about how they will get the animal and present it to their child at the request of the shelter.

Sophomore Neil Welch’s parents told him and his brothers they were going to the beach, but instead they took them to pick up a dog. The boys were surprised and got to take their new family member home.

Some shelters don’t feel comfortable promoting holiday pet adoptions and close weeks before Christmas. People wanting to adopt often turn to pet stores and breeders if shelters near them are closed, but shelters encourage people to “adopt, don’t shop.”

Many people have heard that it is best not to adopt during the holidays, so they are hesitant to bring home a new pet. Though a few close, most shelters love to see animals being adopted at any time of the year, according to Newkirk.

Several shelters team up with local organizations during the holiday season to accomplish an adoption push. Many shelters run “Home for the Holidays” promotions in order to get more animals a family during this time of year.

However, many shelters warn families not to act on impulse when adopting an animal as a holiday gift. They often recommend making the adoption an event and having the person the pet is for choose which animal he or she wants.

This happened in sophomore Justine Bock’s household, when her mom decided to let 13-year-old Bock adopt a cat for Christmas. Her mom took her to a shelter in Sacramento to pick a kitten.

“The shelter was very nice, clean and all the animals seemed happy,” Bock said.

To help homeless animals, members of the community can adopt, volunteer and donate. Encouraging people to adopt their animal from the shelter is also helpful.

“When you adopt you have undoubtedly saved a life; you are nothing short of a hero,” Newkirk said.

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