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December 10th, 2021 | By Alicia Silverstone

Sure, a puppy in a box is as absolutely precious and adorable as anything could ever possibly be on Christmas morning. But what about when said puppy chews the legs off your couch, nips your son, or has a big ol’ accident in the middle of your Persian rug?

Dogs are the greatest gift to humankind that ever was, but they are indeed family members that shouldn’t be bought (ever) and shouldn’t even be adopted if the gift-giver themselves isn’t ready to accept the full responsibility of caring for a new member of their family.

I volunteer for an animal rescue group that regularly gets inquires as to our adoption fees. I always flinch when we get that question knowing that if the nominal adoption fee is an issue, what will the plan be when (heaven forbid!) the pup gets cancer, breaks a leg, or has lifelong severe allergies. Veterinarians, holistic remedies, and good quality pet foods are not cheap. A puppy or dog can be human-child level expensive, depending on their needs. We have to keep that in mind when considering the bliss that comes along with the heavenly sweetness of being a dog Mama or Papa.

Dogs are not presents to just last one fun day, only to be passed off to another family when things get real. I bet you’re thinking “I know that!”… but not everyone does. For example, a few weeks after Christmas, many Christmas puppies end up in shelters. So what can we do to stop that? Discourage gifting puppies for the holidays.

There is, however, a caveat to that general rule: IF you’ve been discussing this as a family for a long time, and are ready for the fiscal and physical and emotional obligations of another family member – then BY ALL MEANS – DO adopt yourself a Christmas puppy! Happiness is a mutt on its butt!

Here’s some hard talk from someone who knows a little too much about what happens on the inside of the animal rescue world.

Please do not consider buying a dog when over 800 dogs per day, per state are euthanized because people buy instead of adopting. These are not vicious, horrible dogs – 99% of them are fully adoptable and are euthanized simply because there’s no space in the shelter.

Other reasons dogs are euthanized in shelters: they have an easily treatable condition like heartworm, mange, or allergies but the shelter cannot afford the meds, the shelter doesn’t have the foster/ volunteers needed to take an overflow of dogs (when there are no more available kennels) home, or some dogs may just have been waiting too long and have overstayed their welcome.

How you can help is adopting, fostering, and donating to shelters (both financially and with supplies – shelters and rescues almost always need things you already have in your homes like towels, sheets, old rugs, crockery, heaters, baby gates, baby playpens, all cleaning supplies, etc).

All breeds of dogs are available to adopt – simply sign up for alerts on or with your zipcode and breed and age preferences – you’ll get a daily email and find your baby. Other ways to adopt: follow all your local rescue groups on social media (you get to see who is coming in first that way!), head over to your local shelter, or attend an outdoor adoption event.

Apprehensive? One way to take it slow in terms of adoption is by fostering. Fostering is such a wonderful way to jailbreak a doggo, and give a sweet mutt a little time to unwind from the stressful situation of being in a shelter.  You can test run being a furry Mama, and if it doesn’t work out or it isn’t a perfect match – no biggie, you gave a pup some wonderful couch and yard time! If it does – wonderful!

Chloé Jo Davis is the Director of Digital Content at The Kind Life, a Mom of 3 human little boys, and 4 rescued pets in Connecticut.

Photo by Rhaúl V. Alva on Unsplash

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