Shelters are filling up as pet Christmas gifts are often returned

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Bringing a four-legged friend into the family can bring smiles to a family’s face.

But Montgomery County Animal Care and Control Director David Kaske said there are risks in giving pets as Christmas gifts, which in turn is causing an influx of new animals into shelters across the country.

Kaske told The Leaf-Chronicle that the shelter will likely see a 50% increase in returned adoptions in January and February due to poorly thought-out holiday gift ideas.

For those receiving the gift of fours, Kaske said families should remember the three-dog rule:

  • Three days for an animal to decompress and start eating and drinking
  • Three weeks for a pet to settle in, understand the environment and develop a routine
  • Three months for a pet to feel comfortable in the house and bond

Owning a pet can be expensive for those who get one as a gift, Kaske said. Dogs and cats can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500 to maintain per year, including food, toys, and regular vet vests.

In addition to gifts, Kaske said the number of adoptions increases during the holiday season, although he said the number of returns also increases.

Kaske said that as Christmas approached on a Saturday, they counted 17 new adoptions.

“We just remind people when they get to that time of year that they don’t adopt as a Christmas present,” Kaske said. “It’s a bit different if it’s for the family and the parents come with the kids.”

The stray kennels are full, Kaske said, as his office continues to see more than 200 pets in any given month.

While many pets are reunited with their owners, Kaske said the harsh reality is that many pets are being left behind. There are currently 14 available for adoption, although many more are gearing up to be available after their three-day wait expires.

One of the issues driving the increase in the number of animals left in shelters is the transient nature of the community.

With families moving in and out of Clarksville and being relocated from Ft. Campbell, Kaske said many pets are being left behind.

Contact reporter Craig Shoup at 419-559-7582 or by email at [email protected] and on Twitter @Craig_Shoup. To support his work, sign up for a digital subscription to TheLeafChronicle.com.

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