While television and movies often portray happy scenes of puppies popping out of boxes on Christmas morning, in the real world, giving a live animal as a gift may not be a welcome surprise. Parents who decide to give small children puppies for Christmas are sending the wrong message, and they are putting the long term life of the animal at risk, whether they realize it at the time or not.
Live animals are not toys.
Putting a big red bow around a puppy’s neck and giving it to a small child may be a thrilling moment. The look in the child’s eyes may make a great photograph, but responsible pet ownership is about much more than giving in to a child’s wishes.
Pets of every sort are living creatures with feelings and bodies that can be hurt easily by a child, who may not be old enough to understand why an animal cannot be treated like all their other toys.
Several years back when I was living in an apartment complex in Philadelphia, I found a kitten in a dryer in the laundry room. The kids in the development thought it would be fun to watch the animal go in circles through the window. She was also wet when I found her, I’m not sure exactly why.
By the time I got to the kitten she was in shock. Her shoulder had been dislocated and she was barely breathing. I sat with her for hours keeping her warm with blankets and a blow dryer, hoping that there was some chance she would recover, although on some level, I knew she would never survive. It’s probably a good thing that she didn’t. She would have been in such agonizing pain if she had regained consciousness she wouldn’t have been able to bare it. She died in my arms that night. One moment she just stopped breathing and it was over.
I found that kitten in the dryer in 1977, and to this day, I still remember every detail of the horrible death she suffered.
Children who wanted nothing but a new puppy for Christmas lose interest when it grows into a dog. Too often, the parents discard the animal as if it were a used toy. What’s worse is many animals given as Christmas presents end up being killed by shelters, abandoned, abused, hit by cars, or given away with psychological damage. This is why some shelters have a ban on pet adoptions during the Holiday season.
We have a strict rule to adopt one of our rescues; no animals in homes with children under the age of 7. And under NO CIRCUMSTANCES will we ever adopt out an animal as a gift unless the recipient is present for and meets all the requirements of our adoption process.
We don’t do this because we want to be mean, we do it because we know from experience that live animals make terrible gifts, especially for small children. All it takes is one innocent nip to a child from a dog that is accidentally poked or squeezed too hard, and by law, the animal is un-adoptable and must be destroyed.
Small children, puppies and Christmas presents are a bad combination. The one who always looses is the animal who deserved more than to be thrown away with the old wrapping paper after the Holiday thrills were over.