Television and movies often portray happy scenes of puppies popping out of boxes on Christmas morning. However in the real world, giving a dog to a young child as a Christmas gift can be a disaster waiting to happen. Live animals are not toys.
Several years back when I was living in an apartment complex in Philadelphia, I found a kitten in a dryer in the laundry room. The kids in the development thought it would be fun to watch the animal go in circles through the dryer window. By the time I got to the kitten she was in shock, her shoulder had been dislocated, and she was barely breathing.
On the advice of my veterinarian, I sat with her for hours keeping her warm with blankets and a blow dryer.
It’s probably a good thing that she did not survive. She would have been in such agonizing pain if she had regained consciousness she wouldn’t have been able to bare it. She died in my arms that night. One moment she just stopped breathing and it was over.
I found that kitten in the dryer in 1977 and to this day, I still remember every detail of the horrible death she suffered.
So while putting a big red bow around a puppy’s neck and giving it to a smiling child may make a great photograph, responsible pet ownership is about much more than a Kodak moment. It’s about understanding that life is delicate and all forms of it must be respected.
Children who get puppy’s for Christmas often lose interest when it grows into a dog. Then parents who don’t want to raise the animal or incur the expense, discard the animal as if it were a used toy. Too many animals given as Christmas presents end up being killed by shelters, abandoned, abused, hit by cars, or given away with psychological damage. That is why some shelters ban pet adoptions during the Holiday season.
We have strict rules on the rescues we adopt out from our farm; no dogs go to homes with children under the age of 7. And under NO CIRCUMSTANCES will we ever place an animal intended as a gift, unless the recipient meets all the requirements of our adoption process. We don’t do this because we want to be mean, we do it because we know from experience that live animals make terrible gifts, especially for small children. All it takes is one innocent bite from a dog, and by law in most states, the animal becomes un-adoptable and must be destroyed.
Owning a dog is a 10 to 15 year commitment that involves time, money and the desire to provide a loving, safe environment for another member of the family. That does not come from a box under a Christmas tree.