While many people have stopped giving pets as gifts, some well intentioned people still haven’t got the message yet, namely that giving away living breathing animals with needs at Christmas time is a really bad idea, according to Al Hickey, Western Regional Director for The Humane Society of Canada (HSC).


As a part of its seasonal efforts to help animals, The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) is once again asking people to refrain from giving dogs, cats or other pets as gifts at Christmas or any other time.

“While people on the receiving end of the furry gift will likely be surprised, chances are the surprise will not be a pleasant one,” says Hickey. “Choosing a pet who will be a part of your member for many years is an extremely personal decision and not one to be taken likely. Those who are surprised with a pet are likely to be upset, even resentful, put outwardly may appear polite to the person who gave them the animal.”

“Sometimes these feelings are realized immediately because the person on the receiving end didn’t even want a pet or they wanted to select their own ‘best friend’ at an appropriate time. Sometimes the recipient of the ‘gift’ is initially excited at receiving a cute gift, but these feelings often quickly change when they realize the responsibilities and costs involved in properly raising an animal companion.”

HSC Executive Director Michael O’Sullivan has little patience or understanding for those irresponsible people who use innocent animals to surprise someone at Christmas.

“The sad and totally preventable consequences of what happens to pets given as gifts should no longer be a surprise,” states O’Sullivan. “Animal protection organizations have been publicizing the numerous negative impacts associated pleading with people who are carried away with the Christmas spirit. Unfortunately, it is still a warning that needs to be given.”

While some people can be upset or inconvenienced by receiving a pet, it is the innocent animal who suffers the most – often with his/her life!

“Pets who live with people who don’t really want them are often not cared for as well as they should be and they will sense that they aren’t really wanted. Others who are taken to animal shelters or pounds before they are rehomed undergo considerable stress when they are separated from what they thought were their families. Those who aren’t fortunate enough to find new homes are killed,” states a sad and angry O’Sullivan. “Children who receive such presents only to have them taken away later will also likely suffer considerably. All of this pain and suffering can be averted by exercising a little common sense and compassion.”

In order to prevent the needless pain and suffering associated with giving pets as gifts, The Humane Society of Canada offers the following positive alternatives.

Thoughtful Alternatives to Giving Pets as Presents

  • Surprise the recipient(s) with the idea of getting a pet that they personally select at an appropriate time by wrapping something the animal will need. Items can include: water/food bowls, pet care books, leash, collar, etc. Buying an HSC first aid kit will help in many ways. Not only could it save their pet’s life some day, but the money spent buying the kit will help lots of other animals in need and reminds people that animals need love and care.
  • Give a card indicating that you will accompany the person, when they are ready for a pet, to the animal shelter or pound and help pay for the animal or to have the animal spayed/neutered at an appropriate time.
  • Make a donation, in the recipient’s name, to a charity that helps pets.
  • Provide practical information pertaining to the care, costs, responsibilities and commitment involved in raising a pet. Don’t forget dogs can live for 15 years or more while cats can live for 20 years – even longer!

“Whatever you decide to give to the friend or family member on your Christmas list don’t surprise them with a pet. There are lots of practical, humane alternatives,” says O’Sullivan.

CONTACT: Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at www.humanesociety.com via twitter at www.twitter.com/HSCanada and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Humane-Society-of-Canada/211468055538280

[For more than 17 years, Al Hickey was the Chief Executive of the BC SPCA and before that headed up the Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce, and was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has been The HSC Western Regional Director for over 12 years. He has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. For his lifetime of achievement dedicated to helping people, animals and the environment, we have bestowed upon him our prestigious Heroes for Animals Award, shared by only a handful of people and organizations.

A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, Michael O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 110 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]

The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works to protect dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits and small animals, livestock, lab animals, wildlife and the environment. We carry out hands on programs to help animals and nature, mount rescue operations, expose cruelty through hard hitting undercover investigations, work to pass laws to protect animals, use a multidisciplinary approach, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres, and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education.

The only organization of its kind, seven days a week, The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works across the street, across Canada and around the world helping people, animals and the environment.

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