WAGM TV News 8 “Is a Pet a Good Christmas Gift?”





Link to news piece on WAGM TV News 8 with MFOA’s Robert Fisk, Jr.:




Is a Pet a Good Christmas Gift?

Published: Dec. 20, 2023 at 9:47 AM EST

By Rothery Sullivan

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - Some people may be considering gifting a pet to a loved one this Christmas, however, animal advocacy groups and local shelters say this is not a good idea. 

“The majority of animals given on the holidays are as a surprise, and it’s incredibly risky to surprise someone with such a huge commitment,” says Robert Fisk Jr., the founder and president of Maine Friends of Animals. Maine Friends of Animals is an animal protection organization based in Falmouth, Maine. 

Fisk continues that Christmas is not a good time to give a pet due to the busyness and disorder that usually come with the holidays. “I don’t think surprising people with pets is a good idea, period, because I think the person should be involved,” he says. “The worst time to do it is over Christmas. Wait until their birthday or whenever it is when you’ve got a lot of time to go out and decide what kind of animal you want.”

While parents may want to give their child a pet, Fisk advises against this. “Kids have notoriously short attention spans, and giving them a living creature is not a good way to teach responsibility,” he says. “The parents usually pick up the slack and oftentimes the pet is returned or given away or taken to a shelter.”

Betsy Hallett, the manager of the Central Aroostook Humane Society, agrees, explaining that shelters often take in animals that were given as gifts over the holidays. 

“In about probably 4 to 6 months is when we’ll start getting those animals that somebody had gotten over Christmas,” Hallett says. She says that oftentimes people do not realize the amount of care the animal will need, or that they will have difficulty securing veterinary care. 

Instead of gifting an animal people can give a gift certificate to a local shelter, says Hallett, which will allow the pet owner to choose their pet at the appropriate time. This can also give kids time to learn the responsibilities surrounding owning an animal. 

“Some [parents] will bring them in and let them help with morning chores on a Saturday morning to realize this is the reality - you’re going to be scooping litter boxes, or you’re going to be walking that dog. You’re going to be cleaning up behind them,” explains Hallett.

While pets bring a lot of joy to people’s lives, they also require financial, emotional and physical care. It is advised that you think twice before giving that amount of responsibility to someone this holiday season. 

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