What could be better than opening a wiggly box of puppy happiness on Christmas morning? Not much if you were in the market for a puppy, and the one in the box is exactly what works best in your household. But buying an animal as a gift is a tricky thing, and should be done with extreme caution and careful consideration.
You see, when you get an ugly sweater, or one that is the wrong size, taking it back does not result in anybody dying. I have been to kill shelters and seen puppies put down by the dozens. Don’t think that just because your return is comely and wags his tail that he will find a home. Most do not.
The kill rate (percentage of dogs and cats that end up in shelters who die there) hovers around 70% in North Carolina, with some counties as high as 91%. Prior to the construction of the new shelter, Rockingham County’s rate was as high as 97% (I was unable to find statistics for the new shelter, but I guarantee despite the nice facility the kill rate is still very high). These are not good odds. If you hear there is a 70% chance of rain, you wear a raincoat or take an umbrella and are ready to be wet.
But our society still badly wants to believe that most of the animals in shelters are saved. They are not. Most of them die alone and unwanted. Do not take the chance that you might contribute to this number by purchasing a puppy on a whim. Think it out, and be absolutely certain it is the right thing to do. This applies at Christmas time, and during the rest of the year. Puppies and dogs (and cats) have emotions. They love, they feel, they get scared. They do not deserve to end up dying alone at shelters because of our thoughtlessness.
Can adoption be successful during the holidays? Yes. When it is well thought out. When the recipient really wants the dog, and was even actively looking at just this sort of dog prior to the holiday and was ready to take the leap. When the recipient is ready to take on the financial responsibility and put in the time and love that it takes to raise and train an animal to co-exist well in their home these adoptions can be successful. But some of these animals can live more than a decade. It is not a decision to be taken lightly.