Apparently, I Was Wrong! Humble Pie is Served.

As you know, I’ve been quite vocal in encouraging people to not choose pets as Christmas presents.

Santa with pups and kits

But it looks as though I’ll have to eat my words!

Yesterday the Associated Press reported that the ASPCA is encouraging adopted pets as gifts for the holidays!

WHAT? Are you kidding me?

Sure, we’ve all heard the anecdotal evidence, but the proof is in the numbers, and the numbers don’t play out that Christmas pets are more likely to be abandoned or surrendered.

The ASPCA polled 220 people across the US who admitted to having been given a pet as a gift. The results? The vast majority of those respondents (169) stated the pet still lived with them, 25 of the pets had died, and only 21 of the animals had been rehomed. That’s not much different from what happens with pets obtained any other time of the year.


So the ASPCA is encouraging rescues to adopt out animals to be given as Christmas gifts. And some rescues are doing just that. For example, the Humane Society of Pinellas County, FL, will have special Santa’s elves delivering adopted animals on Christmas! Is that cool or what?

Granted, change is difficult to grasp, and not every rescue group is on board with the ASPCA’s recommendations. They claim Christmas is too chaotic for a new pet. But hey, it’s also the time when people are off work and have time to spend with that new dog or cat.


So I’m eating my humble pie and siding with the ASPCA. 

What about you? What do you think about these new recommendations?


You can read the actual study as published in the journal, “Animals,” here.

You can read the AP article on the topic here.

55 thoughts on “Apparently, I Was Wrong! Humble Pie is Served.

  1. IMHO – if you want to give a pet as a Christmas present. make it in the form of a gift card and then after Christmas the whole family goes to their local shelter and picks out the pet together. Christmas can be very stressful on a new pet with people coming and going and the pet is in whole new surroundings. Those stats were very interesting.

    Isaiah and I wish everyone in the Rumpy household a Merry Christmas


    1. i uNnersTanD tHe sTatisTicAL sTuFf. aN i aM oVeR-tHe-mOon haPpy iF iTs aLL tRoO! hoWevEr, tHe hoLidaYs aRe a sTreSsfuLL tiMe tO bE adOptEd. yeR hoUse iS nOt noRmuL…fuLLa paRtiEz aN tReEz aN noIze, aN yeR nOo pEt mAy gEt coNfyOozEd. i muSt voTe fEr tHe giFt caRd iDea aLso…thIs iS wHuT wUz dUn aT mY sheLteR. onLy reSponSibuL aDuLts wITh nO kiDz coULd aDopT aRouNd cHrisTmuS tiMe, wiTcH woRkeD oUt weLL fEr eVerYbuDdy.

      1. That’s your choice, but the numbers show that our fears are unfounded. Truth is, kids are home from school and adults are home from work, so the animal will have people around to help him or her adjust. And really, if it helps a few more animals get a good home, isn’t it worth it to admit we might be wrong?

  2. Live and learn, but I think it’s only effective when the family in question is already actively seeking a new member. Surprising someone with a new dog or cat can surely backfire. If the kids have been clamoring for a dog, then they’ll be able to take care of it, but if nobody in the family wants an animal, it still strikes me as a recipe for disaster. ASPCA or not – I’m 56 years old, and I’m sticking to my guns on this one. Rescuing an animal is one of the most fulfilling activities one can engage in, but it’s also an activity that one must prepare for. Today’s little cutie pie is tomorrow’s carpet chewing, barking, furniture scratching nightmare. You wouldn’t give someone a fiance for the holidays – animal ownership is nearly similar in terms of commitment.

    And we all know that re-homing is far from the worst thing that can happen to a companion animal. The life that you’re handing over to someone – all wrapped in a bow – can end up being next years tragic headline. Somebody after all, gave Puppy Doe to the monster who cut her up.

    1. I agree to a point. But are we really prepared to sit here and say the majority of people will treat an animal that way? Especially when we may be totally wrong? And do we really help animals by being so crass, or do we do that to presume we are morally superior to the “unwashed masses?”

      1. Good point. And I do realize that the Puppy Does of this world are the sad minority. I’ll check out the study. As usual – great post. 🙂

  3. Great post…I am always one to want to check and re-check any adoptive arrangement, so I suppose the timing is less critical than the situation the critter will be entering. making sure an animal is going to a safe, loving environment should be first on Santa’s to-do list :). Love you Rumpy!!!

  4. RumpyDog, that’s a very small poll, too small for me to be comfortable in feeling we should jump on this idea right away, and it’s self-answered, meaning respondents may not be entirely truthful. I do feel, however, that with todays’ greater awareness of pets as living creatures and greater caution with shelters and rescues to ensure the home really wants and can care for the pet in question, pets being dumped or ending up in shelters after Christmas may not be as bad as it was just a decade ago when shelters reported the month after Christmas being as busy as a summer month for pet surrenders, and many seemed to have been recently adopted. I received a kitten as a Christmas present years ago, and it was a total disaster, but as I said, times have changed. One local shelter pre-adopts pets and delivers them on Christmas morning by special arrangement, and it’s very popular and successful.

    1. Yes it’s small. But the respondents are equally distributed across the US and were 60/40 female to male. The study is published in a peer review journal, so I’m willing to go with it.

      1. 220 people out of millions who adopt and millions of pets is not enough for me, peer review journal or not. I could find the same statistics in my own city, but I wouldn’t extrapolate them to the entire country.

      2. And that’s your prerogative. Personally, if it means more animals are adopted and less money is going into the hands of pet shops and backyard breeders, I’m going to think positive.

  5. I think it’s ok, when all required qualifiations are fulfilled. But a pet as a “surprise” or last-minute gift is still a no-go for me. I’m also not sure if an adopted pet should join a family while the common christmas-kerfuffle. But some people maybe will switch their habits and can make it comfy and easy for the pet…. think that’s not to answer generally.

  6. I have mixed feelings about this. My stepson got his first puppy on Christmas and it worked out fine. Georgie was nearly 17 years old when he went to the Rainbow Bridge earlier this year. But Jay’s stepfather and Mom had it all planned out to minimize the stress on all concerned. Not all puppies and kittens are that lucky. Since I don’t have time to read the study now, I will reserve judgement either way.

  7. There is such an over crowding. They are not like the sweater we thought they would like that is the wrong size that gets taken back. That happens any time of year.

  8. Do you think the statistics could change if giving pets as gifts is overly encouraged? Although my dearest dog Sephi was a gift (not a holiday gift, but an unexpected surprise gift) I’m still doubtful. For me, looking for the right pet is like shopping for the perfect wedding dress. What if it is given as a gift and isn’t the right fit?

    1. Maybe it is, but are my fears worth denying an animal a chance at a forever home? Even you admit your gift is still with you. Statistics hold out you’re a part of the majority.

  9. Yes a great gift certainly from the giver’s view but the receiver gets a gift that keeps on taking-vet gets 3 X what my cardiologists charges. But perhaps a loving dog is priceless.

  10. The parents or the adult needs to be on board when getting an animal at ANY time. After all, it’s the adult who will pay for the food, vet care, accessories like leash, collar and toys. If that person is not willing to do that getting a pet at any time is not a good idea.

    If what happened in my family is an indication, my parents ended up walking him in the morning and at night.

  11. A cautious approval. If a person takes the time to drive to a shelter, fill out the forms ( some rescues do interviews and evaluations/check references) and pay the fees – then the pet has a great chance of being in a forever home. (And people are home as much as they are during their summer vacation period?)
    Neiman Marcus hands over 2 of their “holiday” high traffic windows to the SPCA/ Humane society 2 weeks before Christmas to showcase animals and offer adoptions by the groups. Gets a lot of publicity and animal people do talk about pet responisbility)
    I do worry about the pets being sold on the side of the roads by malls and stores – that’s more likely to be impulse adoptions.
    If a dog, cat, rabbit, guinea pig ( insert all the other rescued animals desperately living in shelters) find their forever homes, then it’s a win.
    Paws crossed. It’s all they really want for Christmas.
    Good job Rumpy!

      1. Pet stores are cruel and inhumane.
        Selling pets is a big way to make money here – those road side sales/Craig’s list/signs in grocery stores.
        All our dogs were adopted through rescue groups – and we did pay – but that supports their work helping other animals. We just see it as a donation to the cause.
        Cats, though, they find us and we kept them off the streets…those actually came from neighbors who bought them along side of the road. Sigh.

  12. wow! Thats a tough one! I suppose you could look at it either way.
    I would say if the family had already intended to get a pet and have everything planned for just that, then sure why not? But if it is an impulse buy, simply because a child asks for a puppy for xmas and no planning has gone into this at all….then I think thats where the poor animals get returned after xmas.
    ((husky hugz))

  13. Rumpy, your message is still an important one. No matter the season, we hope folks will give adding a pet to their family serious thought beforehand and make it a lifetime commitment. We hope they visit their local shelters and rescues to give a homeless pet a second chance at a happy life. If they can’t adopt, we hope they consider fostering, or even sponsoring, so all pets can not only have a Merry Christmas, but a happy and very loved life.

  14. My sister-in-law gave my sister a cat for Christmas over twenty years ago. My sister and the cat did not bond. My parents ended becoming the care-givers for this cat. I don’t know which side to weigh on. I think that people who rescue animals from shelters should take responsibility for said animal and not foist it on to another person who may not be emotionally/economically prepared to take on the responsibility. Having a pet companion is a great responsibility, almost as much as having a child. Would it be appropriate to give a human baby to someone for Christmas? I’m sorry, but I have to disagree with the ASPCA.

    1. I see your point, but don’t you think a responsible shelter will ascertain the purpose of the animal before adopting it out? Besides, if you say no, there’s plenty of puppies on Craigslist that they can buy, no questions asked.

      1. I have a difficult time liking the ASPCA. I’m sure the CEO is a good person and needs to make a living as much as the next guy. But that yearly salary he gets is darn close to $500,000 working for this non-profit organization. How much of a donated dollar supports the executive salaries at the ASPCA? As a non-paid volunteer, I don’t think I want to know.

      2. I think you must have read that wrong. I never said I worked for the ASPCA. And I wouldn’t. I’m a local volunteer. But since the top officials at the ASPCA are each highly-paid (and there are MANY of them), I’d be sad to know where those salaries come from. I mean, considering all the money that people donate with the hope that close to 100% would go to help animals.

      3. With all due respect, I’m not talking about salaries today. I’m talking about adoptions. If you’re going to deny what the study says because you’re upset with the CEO’s salary, then that’s not exactly in the best interest of the animals, is it?

  15. The sats don’t lie and that is great news! I actually got a puppy for Christmas when I was twelve, but it was a wanted and planned for gift…I think that makes a huge difference. Surprising someone with and unwanted animal is not a good idea.

  16. As long as everyone understands the responsibility of caring for an animal, I don’t think it matters what time of year.

    Happy Christmas to you and the gang, from BriniZozi the Shackleford Boxers x.

  17. I am Still not a fan… they will need to go Farther than that to convince ME that they really do HALF of what folks BELIEVE they will do.

  18. I still think you were right. Especially in northern climates where the ground is covered in ice and snow … a terrible time to try to integrate a pet into a household. But of course, what do I know, right?

  19. Goodness, reading these replies it seems you have opened a pie of worms, I do think that if the household owner wants to bring a surprise puppy home for christmas for her kids that would be great and an elf? delivering it? WOW. My Dad did this one christmas, we had lost our big dog and he brought us a pup, under the tree and everything. It was great. I have had abandoned cats wander onto our property any time of the year.. bad people abandon animals not surprised people! You can take them back if you don’t want them anyway.. In fact the elf will probably come and collect it!.. c

  20. 220 people doesn’t seem to be a large enough sample. If the sample was larger, than I’d bow to data. The other thing would be to compare the percentage of surendered dogs given as gifts as opposed to dog acquired otherwise. It is quite possible that the means of acquiring a dog don’t play as big of a role as one might think.

    That said, I will not be giving anybody a puppy as a gift just yet.

  21. Interesting comparison that appears to dispel the accepted belief but sad that so many die, regardless of the time of year that they are bought.. Why is this? Lack of care? Illness?

  22. Anything that gives a dog or cat (or other pet animal) a chance at life where they may otherwise be euthanized I’m all for. Absolutely. And, by life, I mean a good life, not being caged in a research lab. Every living creature deserves that chance, at life with quality. Thank you for this post, for continuing to advocate for what’s right for our furry (& feathery) friends. Very grateful for your voice. Wishing you and your gang very happy holidays and a year filled with all you wish for in 2014. Love, Paulette

  23. I’m pleasantly shocked by the results. But I have always stood firm in my belief that getting a pet at Christmas time is much different than ‘giving’ a pet as a gift. As long as the decision is thought through properly and thought of in the long term, then it really doesn’t matter what time of year it is. Just my opinion though!
    Thanks for sharing the finding with us Rumpy.
    Carrie, Myfie, Ellie and Millie x

  24. As long as those who get the pet recognize that this is a living, breathing animal that needs love and care … I’m fine with it. My first dog was a birthday gift. For 10 years, he was my friend, my accomplice and my protector. When he died, it was a huge loss. I miss him still.

What would you like to add to the conversation? Bark at me in a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s