Adopting a pet as a gift for someone else has long been discouraged or forbidden by many humane societies and SPCAs. The fear is that the pet is more likely to be returned, like an ugly sweater, or the complete first season of Duck Dynasty. Of course, no one studied this — it was assumed. The one extensive study I know of that did study this concept found the opposite: pets given as gifts are less likely to be returned. Still, some shelters won’t allow any adoptions the week before Christmas. But PHS/SPCA says this month can be the absolute best time to bring a new pet into your home. Parents have time off from work and kids are home from school, making this an ideal time to bond with a new pet. If someone walks into our center and asks if we adopt out pets as gifts, our response is, “Yes, we are open to that, but please tell me more about your thoughts and the gift recipient.” Our adoption staff use their judgment and look at each adoption individually. Some situations — given the pet and potential adopter — may be fine in terms of a gift, while others will be inappropriate. In the end, staff can deny this request when they feel it’s placing an animal in a bad situation. If folks are wavering between gifting a pet or not, we’ll recommend an adoption gift certificate or, for something more fun, buying an item from our gift shop like a collar, or treats, wrapping the item and including a card explaining that you will take the gift recipient to PHS/SPCA to find the pet of their dreams. Lastly, if you are still looking for the perfect holiday card, visit our Center for Compassion from noon to 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec., 14: it’s the final chance to have your pet pose with Santa.
Scott oversees PHS/SPCA’s Adoption, Behavior and Training, Education, Outreach, Field Services, Cruelty Investigation, Volunteer and Media/PR program areas and staff from the new Tom and Annette Lantos Center for Compassion.