It's a scenario straight out of a holiday movie: a child rushes down the stairs on Christmas morning to open up their gifts. One of those gifts seems to be wiggling--it is the new puppy or kitten that the child had been begging for all year.

Many parents love to see the joy on their child’s face a new pet brings, but many pet adoption agencies are wary of this holiday pet gifting.

A common belief says that adopting a pet around the holiday season encourages the abandonment of these animals to shelters at the beginning of the year when their new puppy or kitten becomes too big. This belief has resulted in many organizations discouraging the giving of pets as gifts. However, this belief has begun to change in the animal welfare community.

A 1996 study published in The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association looked at the factors that lead to owners giving up ownership of their dogs. The study found that dogs received as gifts were less likely to be given up than dogs that were purchased or chosen by owners directly.

According to a study done in 2013 by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), there was no connection between receiving a dog or cat as a gift and the owner’s relationship to the animal. Most individuals – 96 percent – who received a pet as a gift believed that it either increased or did not change their love for the pet.

Unsure of what type of pet to get? Consider visiting a shelter with the person you're buying for, and offer to pay for the adoption fees. This way, they will be able to select the pet that best catches their eye. You could also provide the recipient with a gift basket for their future pet, such as pet beds, food, and collars.

However, the decision to adopt a new furry friend should not be taken lightly, as it is a serious responsibility. The ASPCA provides a list of things to consider before adopting a pet. Adoption is an option for those who have been considering adding another member to their family for an extended period of time, and not just an impulsive decision. In addition, you should be ready to responsibly care for a pet for the average 10-13 year life expectancy of a dog or 12-16 years for a cat.

Thinking of buying a new pet? Instead of shopping for your new best friend, consider adopting from an animal shelter instead. The McDonough County Animal Shelter has both cats and dogs available.

According to The Humane Society of McDonough County’s Facebook page, the cat room is currently filled to the brim with felines looking for their forever homes. Adoption fees at the McDonough County Animal Shelterare being reduced for all cats through January.

Costs for unaltered cats include a $25 adoption fee and a $12 microchip fee. Costs for altered cats include a $10 adoption fee and a $12 microchip fee. The shelter is also running a promotion called the “HSMC Holiday Cat Picks,” in which select cats can be adopted for only the $12 microchip fee. These cats can be found by looking for the special holiday signs on their cages at the shelter.

A microchip is a small device that is about the size of a grain of rice that is implanted beneath the animal’s skin. This microchip serves as the pet’s identification tag and helps to reunite them with their owner should they ever become lost.

With an influx of animals, the shelter is in need of donated supplies for the animals. These items include cat litter, dog and cat food, paper towels, 30-gallon black garbage bags, and dog treats. If unable to drop off an item but still interested in donating, you may donate via PayPal to the shelter through the Humane Society of McDonough County’s website at

The McDonough County Animal Shelter was built in 1985 after a successful fundraising effort by a group of citizens with the support of McDonough County and Macomb.

The McDonough County Animal Shelter is located at 101 E. Tower Rd. in Macomb, Illinois. They can be reached at (309) 837-2989 or at


For comments or questions on this article, email