As much as everyone loves puppies and kittens, they don't always make the best Christmas presents.

Many people think a surprise pet makes for a great gift, but not everyone thinks of the possible consequences.

Kim Hessel, founder of Heaven Can Wait animal rescue foundation says animal shelters always see an increase in animal intakes in the months following Christmas.

"One of the negative effects is that you've given an animal to somebody who may or may not want one. That's why shelters see an increase in owner surrenders in January and February. Whether it's a cute little kitten to your grandmother who really did not want a kitten at 85 years old, or whether it's a pup that was a spontaneous purchase; now there's regrets.

Hessel says a good alternative is animal sponsorship.

"One of the things we've seen happen this year is people have been sponsoring a certain animal. So instead of actually adopting one to bring into your home, they've chosen as a family to sponsor a specific cat or dog and give gifts on behalf of the family to that specific animal which is kind of a nice idea. The animal gets a bit of extra bedding or a special bag of food or something like that; and the family can take some comfort and joy in the fact that they did help out an animal that needed a hand."

Overall, Hessel recommends thorough research and an assessment before making the choice to provide a home for an animal.

 

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