It’s a classic holiday image: the irresistibly fluffy little puppy with a red ribbon around his neck, bursting from a gaily wrapped box to lick the nose of the surprised and delighted gift recipient.
While the idea is charming, the reality of pets given as gifts can be vastly different. At the Sacramento SPCA, our Receiving Department often takes in animals from members of the public who simply don’t have the time or the desire to care for their four-legged holiday presents.
“We saw a gift surrendered just a few weeks ago,” says Amanda Schultz, assistant customer service supervisor. “A child received a rabbit as a present from a family friend, but she was horribly allergic to it. Her mother brought her in to surrender the bunny, and it was a very sad scene with a lot of tears.”
Customer Service Manager Jaime Johnson agrees that gift surrenders are often emotionally fraught. “People feel guilty giving up an animal that someone chose for them,” she says. “But they often just don’t have the time, or the desire, for a pet.” Johnson notes that small breed dogs and puppies are the most commonly relinquished “gift pets.”
Learn the best way to give a pet as a gift. The Sacramento SPCA offers an alternative for those who want to enrich someone else’s life with an animal companion. Gift certificates are available for purchase that can be redeemed by the recipient for the pet of their choice.
“Gift certificates are so much better than giving an actual animal as a gift,” says Adoption Counselor Sonya del Gallego. “The person can be involved in selecting their new pet, and they can form a bond before the animal is in their home.”
Sacramento resident Tiffani Juarez knew that the holidays would be a challenging time to adopt the puppy her children had been clamoring for. “With all the visitors, parties, and travel to see relatives, adding a puppy to the mix during the holidays would have been a disaster,” she says. “So we wrapped up a box that had a collar, a leash, and a Sacramento SPCA gift certificate for the kids last year, and promised them that we would visit the shelter in January to find our new family member. And that’s when we adopted Rocky.”
Does Juarez regret not having the big puppy-in-a-bow scene under the tree? “Not at all,” she says. “That would have been cute, but we wanted to do it the right way.”
Gift certificates are available to purchase at the Sacramento SPCA’s Adoption Center during regular business hours. They make great stocking stuffers and can be redeemed for adoptions, as well as for merchandise and services!