Shelters have seen an increase in pet surrenders after the holidays.

Madison, Wis. – The holiday season is a great time to give pets as gifts.


What do you want to know?

  • Many shelters see an increase in people surrendering a dog or cat after the holidays.
  • The Dane County Humane Society works to provide counseling to anyone who comes in for adoption.
  • Gifts are offered to fit into a pet supplies box or to pay the adoption fee instead of gifting the animal.
  • It is not recommended to keep pets wrapped in a crate or box, as this can stress the animal.

But surprising a loved one with a furry friend isn’t always the best option.

After Christmas, many shelters come in after people receive a dog or cat as a gift and realize they aren’t ready for a pet.

Dane County Humane Society (DCHS) leaders said it’s important to recognize that animals are a big commitment of time and money. That’s why the organization works to give advice to anyone who comes in for adoption before they decide to go home with an animal.

“It’s making sure families are talking about a pet,” DCHS spokeswoman Lisa Barnard said. “If it’s not the family that’s actually buying the pet, maybe let the parent and/or guardian know the type of pet they’re looking for.”

She recommended adjusting the gift to visit a shelter or pet store to see animals and learn more about ones you might be interested in. Gift givers can offer to pay the adoption fee or collect a box of pet supplies. This leaves the decision to buy a pet up to the individual or family.

“That gift giver can be part of the process,” Bernard said. “And you can see that bond forming right away, too, which is an amazing experience to feel. And it’s an amazing thing to see.”

If you do think about it and decide to give a pet as a gift, make sure not to put it in a crate or box to wrap it up.

“We don’t recommend it just because it can stress your pet to suddenly go outside and go into a box or, you know, go from a cage to a box,” Bernard said.

The adoption counselors at DCHS are more than happy to help you make the decision that’s best for your family this holiday season, she said.

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