SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — Ed Florentino, executive director of the Griffin Pond Animal Shelter, says that sometimes pets can be returned to the shelter after Christmas, “like other unwanted gift.”
That’s why he urges the public to shy away from giving a pet when searching for the perfect gift for Christmas or another special occasion.
Florentino laid out several reasons why animals don’t make good gifts.
“We don’t endorse the gift aspect of pets for the obvious reason that they should never be considered as gifts,” Florentino said. “It takes love, time, patience, energy and expenses to care for domestic pets… Unsuspecting recipients don’t have the proper schedule or environment to have a pet, so the furry friend gets delivered to a shelter weeks or months later.
“Adoptions are not necessarily about the family, but the pet. The pets need time to trust their new owners and get comfortable at their new home, and it often takes months before everyone is comfortable.”
Staff members at the shelter work hard to ensure all pets go to good, loving homes at all times, but especially around the holidays.
“A lot of times, just by talking to them, it will come out how committed people are about the pet,” Griffin Pond Adoption Coordinator Katie Stack said. “I can’t tell you how many people I call back with a simple question and they don’t have an answer, so they don’t call back. There are quite a few people who aren’t as serious as they think they are about adopting.”
According to Stack, many people have good intentions but may not understand all the responsibilities that come with caring for a pet.
“There are plenty of people who are trying to give them as gifts to their boyfriend or girlfriend who live in other areas and often times it’s not going to work out,” she said. “We do try to send pets home for the holidays if we know they’re going to a good home.
“We always ask potential adopters if they understand it’s a commitment for the lifetime of the pet.”
Florentino added all potential pet owners must pass through a rigorous adoption process before they can take a pet from the shelter.
“We do an extensive background check with references and have our Humane Society Police Officer Sandy Scala visit the new, potential owners for a first-hand view of the residence where the pet will be moving, if possible,” he said. “We don’t want our pets to be set up to fail, but fostered to a family that has good intentions.”
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends giving pets as gifts only to people who have expressed a sustained interest in owning one and have the ability to care for it responsibly.