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The Problem With Giving Puppies as Presents at Christmas
Back in 1978, when the Dogs Trust was called the National Canine Defence League, Clarissa Baldwin (who became chief executive in 1986) came up with the now-famous slogan “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas”. Although this phrase is now synonymous with Christmas to any dog owners with morals, there is still a roaring trade in puppies at this time of year.
There is a whole host of welfare reasons that getting a puppy at Christmas is absolutely not the right thing to do, and in some cases, it can be fuelling a trade that is highly illegal as well as wholly inhumane.
In this post, we will be exploring a few of the reasons that puppies-as-presents is wrong, including; the difficulties of puppy ownership, illegal breeding, smuggling and farming, the need for rehoming dogs in care and the cost of living crisis. We will also be giving you a few wonderful alternatives that will allow your family to enjoy the company of a dog without buying into a trade that is harming the welfare of thousands of dogs across Europe.
The Surprise Puppy Present - The Problems
The first thing to say when it comes to puppies-as-presents is that a new pet should never be a surprise. An animal takes a lot of care, attention, time and money, and any new owner should be completely prepared for this. Animal charities have seen a huge rise in dogs being abandoned in the past few months due to the cost of living crisis, with the Dogs Trust describing it as “an unprecedented amount” and the RSPCA seeing a huge 25% rise in cases.
Even if you have thought it all through and getting a puppy is viable for your family, Christmas is still a foolish time to take on a new four-legged friend. When puppies are taken to their new homes it is a hugely overwhelming time regardless of the time of year, they have been taken from their mothers and their litter, and are experiencing a completely new environment for the very first time. The last thing they need is all the accoutrements of Christmas to deal with too. All the extra noise, family, decorations, food smells and amped-up children could potentially cause anxiety issues that can take years to rectify.
Puppies are also only puppies for a few months, they grow and become dogs who cost more and need a lot more attention, walks and training. This is often another reason that young dogs are abandoned after being gifted at Christmas.
Puppy Farming and Smuggling
Many ethical dog breeders and charities who rehome animals simply will not allow dogs to be taken on at Christmas for the reasons we have stated above. Meaning that puppies that are available to purchase at this time of year are often the product of illegal breeding or trade. Sadly, due to upsurges in demand, Christmas has become a time when illegal puppy farmers and dog traders thrive. These traders are most concerned with profit rather than the welfare of the dogs in their “care” and many of our four-legged friends are treated horrifically just so that people can have their puppies for Christmas. And with a 60% rise in pregnant dogs being seized at the border since 2021 you can never be too sure where your new puppy has come from either.
To avoid buying into this horrible illegal trade in dogs, always make sure you see the puppy with its mother, you only buy from registered breeders, never buy from markets, car boots or vans, get verified confirmation of worming and vaccinations, and never meet breeders at a “helpful meeting point”.
Rehoming a Dog
If you and your family do want a dog to join your family we think that rehoming is one of the most rewarding ways to do it. There are thousands of dogs, up and down the country, who have had a difficult start to life and would love to be looked after by people who have the love and warmth to give them. Why not wait until the new year and visit your local branch of the RSPCA, Dogs Trust or other local dog charity and see how much of a difference you could make to a dog in need?
Borrowmydoggy and Charity Volunteering
There are also other great ways of introducing your family to looking after a new canine companion without the commitment of ownership. For example, Borrowmydoggy.com is a website that connects dog owners who need help looking after their canine companions with people who have the spare time to do so.
You could also volunteer with your family at a local animal charity and see what it takes to look after a new dog as well as help dogs that are in need of companionship and love. You might even find your new family member whilst doing so!
In conclusion, getting a puppy for Christmas is definitely the wrong decision and families who are considering doing so should take heed of what we have mentioned above. There are so many routes to responsible dog ownership and we encourage people to take these instead. If you need any help in finding a dog please don't hesitate to get in touch.
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