Pet shelter policy discourages gift-giving pets


Kiana Hinkson

A cat rests on the second floor of the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA Adoption Center.

One in ten pets adopted from a shelter will be homeless in six months, according to The American Humane Society

When someone receives a pet as a gift, it’s often unexpected. Recipients may not have time to research their pet or understand the responsibility of owning a pet.

The Peninsula Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and many other pet shelters have a policy limiting adopting a pet for gift-giving. However, not all shelters have this policy, resulting in the continuation of gifting pets. 

“We try hard not to adopt out any pets as gifts. If anyone says that they are getting an animal as a gift, we will say no or will recommend that they bring in the person that they are giving the animal to so they can pick out the animal,” said Jamice Jordan, an adoptions counselor at the Peninsula SPCA.

“I’ve done a lot of research to find that lizards and other reptiles are good starter pets for families,” Mattson said.

Research is a necessary process before adopting a pet. It has been a big part of pet owner Erin Mattson’s pet buying process. 

 Jordan often has customers who haven’t researched before adopting an animal.

“Even though someone may be really excited about adopting a pet, they may not be ready for a pet, or maybe their living situation isn’t great for accommodating the animal they want to adopt. So, they have to bring the pet back,” Jordan said. 

On Valentine’s Day, Carlmont sophomore Brooklyn Alexander received a heart-shaped box from her father. As she opened the lid, a shiny wet nose peeked out of the box. 

Suddenly, a small ball of fur jumped out. It was a chocolate lab. Alexander’s family was excited about their new puppy, Russel, but this excitement didn’t last long. 

“It did not work out well,” Alexander said. “We didn’t realize how much work went into it.

Alexander’s family gave Russel to someone who could provide a better home for him. Although Russel eventually found a caring environment, people sometimes return unwanted pets to shelters.

“Animals are not perfect. Pets from a shelter normally have some type of behavior or medical problem, and people don’t want to deal with that,” Jordan said. 

After being returned to a shelter, pets sometimes become aggressive, decreasing their likelihood of getting re-adopted. 

“Typically, animals go backward behaviorally. When you move an animal from one place to another, they tend to get stressed,” Jordan said. 

Although gifting a pet to someone may seem like a good idea, often, people receiving a pet as a gift aren’t able to care of a pet properly. But even people with an appropriate living situation may not understand the commitment of adopting a pet, especially one from a shelter.

“People should be prepared to take care of a pet. It takes a lot of responsibility and time,” Mattson said.