In the lead up to Christmas, I always feel it’s important that I ask readers that may be considering giving a pet as a Christmas gift to a loved one, to stop and think about all of the joy and happiness that comes when you adopt a dog or cat in the new year instead.  Here’s why…

Reason #1 for adopting a pet instead of shopping for one

Being a huge pet adoption advocate I absolutely would prefer more people to adopt a dog or cat from a shelter or rescue group, rather than go on a waiting list for puppies or kittens through breeders.    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to have a go at the responsible breeders out there doing the right thing,  but the fact is that in Australia we don’t currently have enough people to provide loving and secure homes for those dogs and cats that are already born, and well over 100,000 dogs and cats are being euthanised each year through no fault of their own as a result.

Reason #2 for adopting a pet instead of shopping for one

Each year over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period animal shelters across the country see a surge in abandoned pets.  This is often a result of people not being prepared for the financial and emotional commitment of owning a pet, or even not wanting to find and pay for pet care whilst they head off on holidays.

By waiting to adopt a dog or cat instead in the new year, this will not only make a difference to one of the many thousands of pets that are surrendered during the holiday period, the rescue group or shelter can then also help potential owners find the right match for their individual lifestyle.

Reason #3 for adopting a pet instead of shopping for one

It can help ensure you aren’t actively encouraging backyard breeders who capitalise on the Christmas puppy demand to do the wrong thing.

Some well meaning people who run out of time turn to online classifieds in a desperate last minute Christmas rush.  This in turn can fuel the type of backyard breeding activity that we know is negatively impacting on animal health and welfare.   I’ve even heard one story from multiple people about puppies being sold out of the back of a car near a popular Melbourne shopping centre in the week leading up to Christmas to desperate shoppers who simply aren’t going to question the health or breeding conditions.

So, rather than adding to the demand for even more puppies and kittens to be bred, why not consider what Christmas is all about – a time for giving. And, just by waiting a week or two into the new year to adopt a dog or cat, you will help save TWO lives when you adopt from a shelter. The life of the animal that you adopted and the life of the animal that can take its place at the shelter until they find their new home.

Reason #4 for adopting a pet instead of shopping for one

You’ll also likely save thousands of dollars if you were to adopt a dog or cat rather than buy one of the popular ‘flavour of the month’ dog or cat breeds.  All adoptable pets from animal rescue organisations are health-checked, vaccinated, de-sexed where required and temperament assessed.  Adoption fees are also generally much cheaper than what most breeders or pet shops charge and cover all of the basic health expenses as well micro chipping, worming and flea treatment.

Reason #5 for adopting a pet instead of shopping for one

For those of you haven’t yet experienced the joy of pet adoption and think that dogs and cats in shelters must have something wrong with them,  the reality is that pets end up in pounds and shelters for many reasons and mostly through no fault of their own. Some of the most common reasons they end up in shelters include getting lost with no microchip or identification tag, owners passing away or moving into a nursing home with no family to take care of their pet, a lifestyle or family change.

Reason #6 for adopting a pet instead of shopping for one

But what about Christmas Day I hear you ask.  Well…if you’re wondering what to give on Christmas day instead, why not have fun creating a ‘Pet IOU’ card or voucher and also pop down to your local PETstock store to stock up on all the pre-puppy or kitten items that you will need.  Read more about that here!

That way you can build even more excitement about the impending new family member, reflect on the wonderful fact that you will be saving a life, and also enjoy the experience of finding a pet in the new year together with your loved one.

Don’t forget Pooches at Play Season 3 is currently on-air Saturdays at 8am on Channel 10. This week I will be talking to Liz from The Hair of the Dog Rescue group about being a foster carer, and some of the things you need to know in general about dog behaviour when dealing with rescue dogs.

Lara & Darcy x

About the Author: Lara Shannon is co-Host of Pooches at Play and has completed a Certificate III in Dog Behaviour & Training with the National Dog Trainers Federation. Lara also runs her own dog walking, dog minding and dog training business in Melbourne’s Bayside area.