BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Giving someone a puppy or kitten for Christmas sounds like a good idea, but what happens when the cuteness wears off?
"Puppies are a lot of hard work," said Rachel Boutwell, director of Animal Control for the City of Denham Springs. "Most people are excited to get the kitten and puppies for Christmas for their kids and grandkids," Boutwell said. "Then afterward, they realize it's a lot of responsibility."
Boutwell says after the Christmas holidays, they see an uptick in the number of animals they take in. "They're not so cute anymore or they've eaten your shoes and stuff like that. We get a lot of returns," she said.
This particular animal control department, which is funded by the city, is limited on what animals they can take in, meaning they cannot accept owner surrenders, but they do take in strays. Some people take drastic steps to get around that rule. "We've had people d rop off at the gate, we've had people d rop off boxes of kittens at the gate," Boutwell said.
"It takes time for puppies and adult dogs and cats to adjust to new environments. Give them a chance," Boutwell said. She also advises new owners to consider obedience classes before giving the dog or cat away.
Not only do some people get rid of new puppies after the holidays, but some trade in their senior dogs for a new model. "A lot of people trying to re-home their senior dog and then turn around and look for a new puppy," Boutwell said. "You've got to realize, they might not be the only dog in your life, but you're the only thing in their life."
And once a senior dog is d ropped off, Boutwell says there's a slim chance it'll find a "fur-ever" home. Boutwell says some people adopt older dogs, but it's not many. "There's just not enough people out there like that and those are the dogs that get overlooked," she said.
Tank, a familiar face among staff members, has been in this shelter for six years. "This is his home. This is the only life he's known," she said.
So before you think about gifting an animal for Christmas, carefully consider the future. "There's always certain circumstances in life where things happen and of course we understand that, but shelter isn't the ideal life," Boutwell explained. "An ideal situation for any animal is on somebody's sofa or laying under somebody's feet," she said. "Just make sure it's the right thing for you."
Boutwell says before buying or adopting a pet as a gift for someone, make sure you're educated on the breed and the energy level of the animal and whether that fits your lifestyle and living situation.