5 Reasons Not to Buy a Puppy for Christmas

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on December 13, 2012.

1. Family members should be adopted, not “bought”

There are enough shelter animals looking for homes that the idea of encouraging the demand for backyard-bred puppies is difficult to justify. In case you need any more convincing, just watch this adorable animal shelter commercial:

I’ll also add that some people purchase their animals, especially dogs, because they are looking for a specific breed. In reality, just about every type of dog will come through your local shelter at one time or another. They likely won’t have pedigree papers, but the people for whom that is a priority are probably not my audience here.

One of the things I like about my local shelter is that they treat their animals as individuals, carefully informing prospective owners about energy levels, interests and attitudes. Finding the perfect match is not just about finding a specific breed, but examining the quirks and particularities of each individual. Mixed breeds are an excellent choice no matter what you’re looking for: You just have to find the one that’s just right for you.

2. Buying animals makes it okay to throw animals away

I believe the commoditization of animals is a huge root cause of animal cruelty. Putting animals on shelves and selling them like cheap, plastic toys makes them a part of our disposable culture.

What does disposable mean for an animal? It means that rather than raising and teaching them, as we would our human family members, we play with them until they break or get boring — and then throw them away.

3. Buying animals keeps puppy mills in business

We vote most effectively with our wallets, and if we don’t like the mistreatment and neglect puppies experience in those horrible facilities, we have to stop buying from them.

Puppy millers don’t get into breeding because they actively hate animals. They do it because they’re lazy and greedy. If there’s no money in it, puppy mills will cease to exist.

4. You can’t play matchmaker for someone else

Dogs are as individual as people. Some are couch potatoes; some need to run. Some need a lot of attention; some need their space.

And maybe you think you know someone well enough to pick the right dog for them, but even if that’s true, there’s that indefinable element that you just can’t force.

5. You can’t make that kind of commitment for someone else

Adopting a pet is a huge commitment, in terms of both time and finances. Nobody can make that choice but the person who will be taking care of the animal. Even a lifelong animal-lover has to be in the right frame of mind and at the right moment in their lives to welcome a puppy into their home.

Giving someone the wrong animal — or even the right animal at the wrong time –  is much less likely to result in a forever home than a person making that decision themselves. As cute as it may seem to wrap up a little puppy or kitten in a bow and surprise someone on Christmas morning, it’s a guilt-ridden and heart-wrenching experience to return that same animal to a shelter in January.

I wonder how much of the income that supports puppy mills comes from well-intentioned but thoughtless individuals buying $800 pet store puppies that end up in a shelter a few weeks or months later.

Is there a right way to give someone a pet as a gift?

Perhaps. If someone has already expressed a very clear intention to adopt a pet in the near future, you might take them to a shelter and pay for part or all of the adoption fee. Some shelters also sell adoption certificates for use as gifts.

But if you’re not absolutely sure, you should let someone choose their own time and place to adopt — and choose an animal-related Christmas gift instead.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

282 comments

Jack Y
Jack Y2 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y2 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Mia B
Mia B2 months ago

Thanks

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Ingrid A
Past Member 2 months ago

Thanks

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara2 months ago

Rescue or adopt from a reputable sanctuary first.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara2 months ago

Kids love pets but make sure they are committed. Try putting them in charge of a wild bird feeder. After you are sure they are interested and responsible, move up to a small pet.

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Louise R
Past Member 3 months ago

Thank you

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Shae Lee
Shae Lee3 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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