The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Lifestyles

December 19, 2013

Study backs pets as presents, but holdouts still remain

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Giving a puppy or kitten to the pet lover on your list is a gift idea animal activists have long warned people to avoid. But a national animal welfare group says the fears of pets being rejected or returned are unfounded.

Some shelters around the country are ramping up for Christmas Day deliveries of new family pets, a move applauded by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, whose new study supports seasonal adoptions. But some shelter leaders maintain that adoptions are better left for after the holiday rush.

An ASPCA telephone survey says about 96 percent of responding owners who got their pet as a gift (whether it was a surprise or not) said the way they got the animal increased or had no impact on their love or attachment. About 86 percent of those pets were still in the home or remained with the family until the animals passed away — the same rate as pets obtained in other ways. The study was conducted in July and published in the journal “Animals” in October.

Until those results, even the ASPCA advised against giving pets as gifts.

Dr. Emily Weiss, the nonprofit’s vice president of shelter research and development, says the holidays are an ideal time to adopt a pet “because many of us have time off, and we are around and focused on home and family.”

But not all shelters are convinced. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles, which is not affiliated with the national organization, still discourages pets as presents.

“The image of a puppy bounding out of a box is something people relish, but the decision to adopt should be done with purpose,” said Ana Bustilloz of the Los Angeles shelter. “We suggest a gift certificate. That way, the adoption is a gift, but the pet is chosen by the person or the entire family.”

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