In a Dec. 12, 2013 press release, The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) released findings from its latest research study, which finds pets given as gifts are just as likely to be loved and treasured.
So convinced that "gift pets" would be high risk for returns, many animal advocates believe shelters should not allow adoptions for the purpose of gift-giving. The ASPCA's latest study refuted that concern summarily, showing that "96 percent of people who received pets as gifts thought it either increased or had no impact on their love or attachment to that pet. Additionally, 86 percent of the pets referred to in the study are still in the home."
This new data adds to previous research studies conducted in the 1990s and 2000 (Patronek, 1996; Scarlett, 1999; New, 1999; New 2000), which found that pets acquired as gifts are less likely to be relinquished than pets acquired by an individual adopter.
"This has been a very controversial topic for the public and the sheltering world alike, but we're hoping to put an end to this misconception before the holiday season," said Dr. Emily Weiss, Vice President of Shelter Research & Development for the ASPCA. "Keeping all their normal application protocols and processes in place, shelters should feel confident enough in the supporting data to give it a try in their facilities. These are exciting findings that can help open new adoption options for shelters, allowing more animals to be placed in loving homes."
The bottom line? If someone on your Christmas list is ready to share a loving, forever home with a pet, this latest research shows it's perfectly okay (with parental consent, of course) to pick out the perfect pal from your local shelter. There is nothing in the world like the look on a child's face when they see their present wriggle free of its Christmas wrapping and run into the arms of its new best friend.