Think Twice About Giving a Pet For a Christmas Gift

Animal shelters across Texoma expect to see an increase of unwanted pets after the Christmas holiday, but for local shelters who are already full to capacity, receiving anymore animals can be a challenge. Newschannel 6 visited with local shelters and they say a pet is not always the best gift to give as a present.

Katrena Mitchell with Wichita Falls Animal Control tells us puppies and kittens are always at the top of children's wish lists for Christmas. Mitchell says any pet is an investment and can be a handful, especially if a family is not ready to take on the responsibility.

The holidays are a popular time to bring home a new pet, but it is also a popular time for animal shelters. Katrena Mitchell, Animal Services Administrator with Animal Control says, "There's usually a 10 to 15 percent increase of animals being surrendered in the months of January, February, and March because the novelty wears off and they grow big. Sometimes the existing animals in the home don't like them so it becomes a problem for the family to keep them."

But to prevent the problem of growing numbers of homeless animals Mitchell says giving animals as Christmas gifts is not always the best choice. "You don't want to surprise the family. It's an investment, a 12 to 15 year investment to have a dog or a cat in your life. It's something you need to think about."

A dog or a pet can be a handful if you are not prepared. They can also be a big responsibility financially. The Wichita County Humane Society is currently sitting at full capacity and says receiving any more unwanted pets can be stressful for them as well as the animals already there. Eric Winniewicz, Kennel Technician and Veterinary Assistant, comments, "Our large dogs are completely full and we've got overflow into our other building. It seems like our counties intake has gone up in the last couple of months already. We expect probably more after the holidays as well."

Wichita Falls Animal Control is also expecting to see more animals after the holidays. Animal Control is a kill shelter so if they reach capacity and a pet is not claimed after three to five days, they are either adopted, sent to a rescue group or euthanized. Mitchell comments, "None of us ever want to make that decision to have to put an animal down. But when there is no room and we continue to have animals brought in, there's no where else they can go."

Animal Control tells us they still do encourage residents to adopt a pet, but says it is best to welcome new animals to the family after the holidays when things calm down.

Animal Control also wants to remind families who already have pets in their homes the holiday season can be hazardous for your pet. Poinsettias are very toxic to any animal and keep any chocolate or sugary treats out of your pets reach. Also any type of tinsel on Christmas trees can be very dangerous if cats ingest it.


Natalie Garcia,  Newschannel 6