-By Analisa Hurt

It’s the holiday season, and you may want to adopt a cat or dog as a gift to someone special. We are happy to help you bring holiday joy with an adopted pet, but please be sure to consider what is best for the pet and your giftee.

Pets can be wonderful gifts.

In the past, animal welfare organizations have opted not to adopt out pets as gifts, fearing these pets may not be as valued by their new guardian as a pet they chose themselves. But, research and our own experience shows this is not the case.

In 2013, the ASPCA conducted a survey of pet guardians with gifted pets. Of the respondents, 96% answered that receiving their pets as a gift either increased or had no impact on their love or attachment to the pet. The survey also revealed that receiving a pet as a gift did not impact whether or not the pets were still in the home.

ASPCA's study concluded that “Denying adopters who intend to give the animals as gifts may unnecessarily impede the overarching goal of increasing adoptions of pets from our nations’ shelter system.”

Our matchmakers focus on making loving matches.

In animal welfare, we all want the same thing: for as many homeless pets to find loving homes as possible. So, here at the SPCA-NN, we do not deny adopters simply because they intend to give the pet as a gift. We simply ask the adopter to give us as much information as possible about the future guardian to be sure we are making the best match. 

For example, if you’re looking for a pet for your grandparent, we might suggest a cat or kitten over a big, energetic dog. We always want the pets and their owners to be as compatible as possible.

Pets adopted during the holidays remain in happy homes.

Return rates for pets adopted from our adoption center are very low around the holiday season. This means that pets adopted during Thanksgiving and/or Christmas are being successfully matched with great families. Last year, our return rate for holiday adoptions was 5% which is very low compared to the industry standard of 8%. Currently during the pandemic we are experiencing even lower return rates of 3%!

Gifted dogs and cats bring happiness.

SPCA-NN adoption counselor Mel was about five years old when she received her beloved yellow lab, Buddy, for Christmas. She and her brother found Buddy under the tree Christmas morning, and she said “I was so excited to get a puppy. I had always wanted a dog and having it be a surprise was even better.”

Although Buddy passed away during her childhood due to thyroid cancer, Mel would not have traded the bond they had for the world. Receiving him as a gift is a fond memory.

“I would have loved him as part of the family no matter how he came into our lives. It was really nice having it be a surprise, though, as a kid,” Mel said. 

Research your gift recipient's needs in advance.

It’s important that the recipient of your gift is prepared to take on a pet for the rest of its life. Talk to them ahead of time to make sure this person is ready and willing to become a pet guardian, and that the pet you choose is right for them. 

On the other hand, you could always pick out the pet together. Tell your giftee that you would like to pay the pet’s adoption fee, and then hop on our website to pick them out and adopt together! That way, the experience is still special, but you can be confident that this person is getting exactly what they want and need. 

No matter how you choose to gift a pet to your loved one, we encourage you to consider adopting a homeless pet. Pets add so much love and joy into our lives, and the SPCA-NN is proud to continue bringing this joy to you.

Commemorate the day you get your pet! We’ve been loving our products from Sticker Mule and their custom save the date magnets are the perfect way to celebrate your new adopted pets’ adoption date.

Check them out!