‘Pets are not gifts’: Why animal welfare orgs discourage pets as gifts this Christmas

December 22, 2023 - 4:05 PM
Image by Samson Katt via Pexels

Do not give pets as gifts.

Animal rights organizations made this call amid the gift-giving season, citing that pets are lifetime commitments to owners.

An old post from Agusan del Norte-based shelter called the Community Alliance for Paws-Cabadbaran surfaced on Facebook. Some Filipinos shared it to remind their friends that pets “are not gifts.”

“Pets are not gifts! They are 15-year commitments!” the post reads while referring to the average life expectancy of dogs and cats.

The alliance also listed some of the basic responsibilities that new owners have for their fur babies.  These include spaying/neutering their pets, taking them to regular veterinarian visits, training them and giving them vaccines.

“This may be a lot, but these are only the basics. Owning a pet is a serious responsibility. If you cannot commit, do not get or give one! Abandonment is punishable by law,” it said.

Another group dedicated to rescuing strays, the Philippine Animal Rescue Team, also uploaded an infographic wherein it listed numerous reasons why pets are surrendered or returned to shelters.

Some of the common reasons for pet surrenders are:

  • The child or receiver has lost interest
  • Nobody in the family wanted a pet
  • No one has the time to take care of the pet
  • Pet is too noisy or destroys things

In the post, the local rescue team told the public to “think responsibly” about gifting any type of animal this holiday season.

“This Christmas, think responsibly. DO NOT GIVE PETS AS GIFTS. Having a companion animal is a commitment and a big responsibility,” it said.

Animal Kingdom Foundation (AFK), an organization dedicated to protecting all animal rights, also advised against treating animals as presents for loved ones this Christmas.

“Here’s a daily reminder as we prepare for the festivities and celebrations. Pets are not gifts, they are living beings that need care, love, and attention. They require a lot of responsibility, long time commitment, and careful consideration,” the AFK said.

It suggested adopting, sponsoring a pet or donating for rescues’ needs instead.

“This Christmas do not buy pets as gifts, instead be the GIFT and give an adoptable dog or cat a gift of a loving home and furever love or sponsor a rescued animal for as low as 700 pesos per month,” the organization said.

Interested individuals who wish to support rescued stray animals or help rehome them can check out these groups’ social media accounts for details.

Abandoned pets

In an interview with GMA News, AFK spokesperson Heidi Caguioa shared that the organization has already rescued a lot of dogs and cats who were abandoned by their owners.

“Ibinigay, binili at eventually dahil hindi na kayang alagaan, burdensome na ito sa pinagbigyan, napabayaan, pinabayaan ng pagala-gala,” Caguioa said.

The COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns also saw a rise in new pet owners as Filipinos either adopted or rescued dogs and cats to keep them company.

This was seen in the increase in data on Google searches about pets and pet supplies.

READ: In Southeast Asia, Filipinos are most interested in owning pet during pandemic Pets and the pandemic: The impact our animals had on our mental health and wellbeing