Experts warn against giving pets as gifts this holiday season

Some shelters see many animals returned after holidays

By Jessica Jewell - Weekend Anchor / Reporter

BLACKSBURG, Va. - Many people will be giving pets as gifts this holiday season, but some local experts are warning against that.

"We all, I think, we can think anecdotally of a story where giving a pet as a gift didn't go well for that pet or for that family," Virginia Tech College of Veterinary Medicine Assistant Professor Virginia Corrigan said.

Corrigan said many pets given as gifts for the holidays are returned several months later.

"If the pet was given as a gift and it was a surprise and maybe that friend or family member just wasn't prepared, whether it was financially or emotionally, or has time constraints where they're just not able to care for that pet the way that they need to be cared for," Corrigan said.

But leaders at the Roanoke Valley SPCA said this may actually be the best time of year to adopt a pet.

"Some folks have extended vacation time offering now so if you're trying to work with a dog on potty training or get to a point where you've got two dogs who need to get to know one another, you can be home more often," Roanoke Valley SPCA CEO Denise Hayes said.

She said if you're not sure, there are other options, like their foster program.

"We try to get all of the pets out of the shelters for the holiday timeframe just for a couple of days," Hayes said.

Before committing to a new furry friend, think it through.

"Those pets can really find a loving home and it can be a great situation for them and for that animal," Corrigan said.

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