LOS ANGELES - As the holidays come to a close, many people may end up returning Christmas gifts and sometimes that can include a pet.
Some local shelters, such as the Montgomery County Animal Rescue Resource Center Shelter in Dayton, Ohio, reported an influx of surrendered pets. The shelter has a max capacity of 100 animals, according to Dayton Daily News, but it currently has 147 animals.
A shelter employee told the publication that people often receive a kitten or puppy as a Christmas gift and when they find out it may take too much to care for, they tend to give it up.
PETA encourages people to stay away from the idea of giving a kitten or puppy as a holiday gift, stating that many local organizations across the country report an uptick in abandoned animals each year.
“By January, many of those ‘present’ animals have joined the more than 6 million who enter shelters in the U.S. every year,” it stated. “Some animal shelters even get in on the craze, offering discounts or free adoptions and encouraging people to give animals away as gifts.”
It found a shelter in Fargo, North Dakota that received more than 700 animals after the holidays each year. An adoption group in Edinburg, Texas, also reported about 400 animals being surrendered each year around Christmastime.
But studies conducted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 2013 reported that pets given as gifts are not at a higher risk of abandonment.
One study surveyed 1,006 adults over the phone. Of those called, 222 people said they received a cat or dog as a gift within the last 10 years. About 86 percent of those people kept their gifted pet - 74 percent still had a living furry companion while 12 percent reported their beloved friend had died.
The organization also released a statement, recommending that if pets are given as gifts that the giver make sure the potential owner has “expressed a sustained interest in owning one and the ability to care for it responsibly.”
Don Belton, public information officer with the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control, said care centers have not seen a trend in relinquished animals over the holidays. Instead, people end up bringing a lot of cats during the summer months because that is when felines tend to have litters.
She added that is why shelters across L.A. County mandate spaying and neutering pets.
Amy Nichols, vice president of companion animals at the Humane Society of the United States, said there was little information to support the claim that animals given as gifts may lead to abandonment.
“We are unaware of any data to support the assertion that pets adopted during the holiday season are returned to shelters at a higher rate, but it is important for potential pet parents to carefully consider the responsibilities required to properly care for a pet, regardless of source,” she said.