Don’t give pets as gifts, animal rights groups say

This rascal catches a nap at the Catfé, a satellite adoption centre for the Vancouver SPCA. Photo by Emelie Peacock
This rascal catches a nap at the Catfé, an adoption centre for the BC SPCA Vancouver. Photo by Emelie Peacock

Reported by Emelie Peacock

Putting a pet under the Christmas tree is a bad idea, according to Vancouver animal rights groups.

Jodi Dunlop, BC SPCA Vancouver branch manager, said the amount of animals returned to SPCA shelters after the holidays has decreased in the past five years. Still the SPCA and the Vancouver Humane Society advise against gifting a pet for Christmas. Instead, people should look into the many other options available.

Holidays stressful for pets

This dog, Gypsy, is one of many waiting to be adopted at the BC SPCA Vancouver. Photo by Emelie Peacock
Gypsy is one of many critters waiting to be adopted at the BC SPCA Vancouver. Photo by Emelie Peacock

Emily Pickett, program coordinator at the Vancouver Humane Society, said getting a pet is a decision all family members should be involved in. Christmas can also be a difficult time for animals.

“The holidays can certainly be very busy and stressful for us, let alone for an animal who’s been uprooted from a different environment and moved into a new one,” Pickett said.

Catfé, Vancouver’s only cat cafe, is also a satellite adoption centre for the SPCA. Owner Michelle Furbacher hasn’t seen an increase in interest ahead of the holidays, adoptions remain steady at five to seven cats per week.

Furbacher said people need to meet a pet before adopting as personality fit is really important. “I would never recommend giving a pet as a gift to someone who hasn’t met the pet, or who hasn’t met the animal, because raising a cat is a long term commitment and you want to make sure that it’s a good match between the animal and the owner,” Furbacher said.

Donations needed at SPCA

For people unsure of what to give their animal-loving friends and family, there are many options. Dunlop said donations are needed for the 109 animals up for adoption in Vancouver. Toys, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables for smaller animals, are most needed.

Pickett said donations and volunteering are preferable to gifting pets. “Donate in their honour to the Vancouver SPCA or the Vancouver Humane Society for example, or any other sort of animal charity that they’re interested in. Or you can maybe make a date to go and volunteer with them at one of those animal rescues or shelters,” Pickett said.

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