No surprise pets as gifts, CT & Milford animal advocates say

MILFORD — With the start of the holiday shopping season, animal care advocates are urging people once again to take care in giving pets as gifts.

"We want to make sure that we are not surprising anyone with pets or (overwhelming them) by a pet they are surprised by," said Kathryn Schubert, communications manager for the Connecticut Humane Society. "On that end, if you are interested in surprising someone with a pet, my recommendation would be rather than taking a pet home to them, you can tell them you will take care of the adoption fee or buy toys for the pet."

In Milford, animal control administrator Gary Farrar said the city doesn't have many animals adopted during the holiday season, but that is at least partially because there aren't very many animals at the shelter.

"Usually, this time of the year, we don't have many kittens because kitten season ends early to middle of fall and doesn't start again until the middle of the spring," he said. "And dog-wise, we rarely see puppies, and most of the time, we are getting dogs that are usually on the larger end, like pit mixes, or boxer mixes, which unfortunately isn't what people think of when they want to adopt an animal for Christmas time."

Happily for the animals, though, Farrar said animals that get adopted from the Milford shelter rarely get returned. When the animals do come back, it's also typically not because the new owner was surprised with a living gift.

"I've seen it about once or twice," he said. "It's usually someone will adopt an animal, and they have really bad allergies and can't keep it. So within a reasonable timeframe, we will take the animal back."

The Milford shelter doesn't normally accept surrendered animals, unless the health of the animal or a person is at risk, he said.

"If someone does need to surrender an animal, we advise them to contact a rescue or a specific breed rescue or the Connecticut Humane Society," Farrar said.

Schubert said there is a high demand for pets all year round at the Connecticut Humane Society, and their available pets get adopted fairly quickly. The society also helps rehome animals from out of state, she said.

"Last month, we got a few extra dogs because we did a few types of transport," she said. "We had 21 dogs come from Hurricane Ian. We had about 17 dogs come from the National Mill Dog Rescue. So the numbers fluctuate depending on what is going on in the United States and how we are helping or how many surrenders there are in Connecticut, but it's a quick turnaround when dogs or cats go up for adoption."

The reasons people surrender their pets are vast, and include economic hardship or having to move and being unable to take their animals with them, she said.

For this reason, Schubert says it's essential for people to remember that adopting an animal is a long-term commitment.

"It's not just for the holidays or when they are home," she said. "It's not all fun and games, and it's not just for that big surprise for Christmas. It is a big responsibility to take on, so they should think beyond the holidays and ensure their pet will be taken care of regularly and fit into the person's routine."