Every year, pet stores in Canada sell thousands of pets—dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, etc.—that are inevitably gifted with bright red bows to shrieking children, significant others, and unsuspecting family members and friends. Approximately 70% of these living and breathing gifts are surrendered to shelters, given away to other people, or abandoned shortly after the holiday season. It’s a sad epidemic. Once the reality sets in that pets aren’t a novelty but rather living beings that require love, attention, and money to survive, many people feel overwhelmed, even trapped, and try to offload them. In some cases, these “gifts” were given to someone who didn’t even want them.

Before you purchase an animal, consider these facts:

1. It costs (a lot of) money to take care of an animal for a lifetime.
When you choose to become a pet guardian, you make a commitment to a living creature—and it’s more than just to love and play fetch. You make a financial commitment, too.

According to PetFinder, the average cost of caring for a dog is between $766-$10,350 in the first year and then $536-$9532 for every year after that. This includes food, vet bills, vaccinations, bedding, toys, boarding while on vacation, training, dental cleaning, grooming, fencing, treats, and accessories like collars, leashes, water bowls, etc.

2. The best relationships are ones with an emotional connection.
Sometimes, we think of pets as interchangeable. A dog is a dog is a dog. A cat is a cat is a cat. Not true. It’s very important when choosing an animal to love that you (or the person you’re gifting them to) meet them first. Animals, like humans, have personalities. Finding a fit with an animal is just as important as finding a fit with a human mate. Essentially, you’ve got to like each other. The human-animal bond is a big deal—for both parties. That bond can’t be forced. It has to be felt.

Instead, consider gifting an adoption kit. A bunch of toys, a collar, some treats. And when the time is right, the recipient can go to a local shelter and/or animal rescue, meet the animals, and find true love. On their terms.

3. The holidays are a crazy time; crazy times are not ideal for adding furry family members.
The holidays see hoards of people come and go. Dinners. Get-togethers. Parties. Road trips. It’s loud. It’s messy. And it’s rare to find anyone who actually has the time to help a new puppy, kitten, or bunny adjust to its new surroundings. Which means: the new pet is a stressed pet. And this stress can be permanently imprinted and create ongoing trauma and trust issues.

New animals in any home at any time of year require extra attention, socialization, and bonding. Christmas is not the time—for animals or humans—to make this happen.

Help Paws For Hope spread the #PetsAreNotProducts message.
Most people don’t’ know that when you purchase an animal, you support breeding mills. Instead, take the pledge to never purchase an animal again, then buy your friends and family some Paws For Hope T-shirts to support rescue animals or donate to help us end the retails sale of animals altogether.

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