The sign in the window at Mohave County animal shelter says it best: Look before you leap, a dog is for keeps!
Nothing lights up a child’s face on Christmas morning like an adorable puppy, but it’s unfortunate when the puppy grows up, nobody wants to take care of it and it ends up at the shelter, destined for doggie heaven.
That’s why shelter manager Lisa Snyder stays clear of pet adoption events at big-box retail stores during the holiday season.
“It’s all puppies and I think it’s a horrible disservice to the older dogs,” Snyder said Monday at the Kingman shelter operated by Western Arizona Humane Society at 970 Buchanan St. “After they’re puppies, they come to us. They were all puppies at one time.”
Like children, puppies are cute when they’re little. But once they chew up a piece of furniture or someone’s shoes, and they poop in the house for the first time and the kids don’t want to clean it up, and they need their vaccine shots and daily exercise, the puppy charm wears off.
Bringing a new dog into the household, even if it’s not a puppy, should come from a thoughtful process, not an impulse.
“Even for adults, animals for Christmas is not a good idea, a puppy or a dog,” Snyder said. “It shouldn’t be just the holidays, it should be all year. They talk about emptying the shelter for the holidays. I’m not going to do high-risk adoptions to get them out. It’s got to be a happy home for the holidays.”
Mohave County animal shelter has been holding pet adoption events at Anderson Ford, 3601 Stockton Hill Road, with the last one scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Anderson subsidizes $25 of the regular $95 adoption fee and provides a free bag of dog food. About a dozen dogs and four cats have been adopted at the auto dealership, all older than 2 years.
The shelter also runs a “Senior for Senior” special of $25 for people 60 and older adopting a dog that’s 5 years or older.
It’s not that Snyder doesn’t like to see puppies and kittens adopted. But Christmas is the worst time to give one as a present, as half of them will come back to the shelter by February or March, Snyder said.
“What gets your attention at Christmas? Puppies and kittens,” she said. “I don’t want you to get pets for Christmas, because a puppy should be a pet, not a gift. I’d rather you make a homemade gift certificate to go pick out your own pet, and it’s very successful.”
The shelter had a rush on Monday with people coming to look at animals, and one cat was adopted, an older black cat. Four people came in and picked up their lost dogs, which is “fantastic,” Snyder said, because only about one-third of the animals brought to the shelter are reclaimed by their owners.
Sierra Pollock came in later in the afternoon to adopt 2-year-old Tamra as a Christmas present for herself.
“I wanted company for Christmas,” Pollock said. “She was one of the more timid ones, not barking all the time.”
Snyder brought out Ace, a 7-year-old male who was adopted from the shelter and returned a little over one week later.
“They didn’t have time for him. He runs away,” Snyder said. “They put him in a pen, and then wondered why he ran away. He’s very mellow.”
She worries about animals that get adopted during the holidays, having seen what happens after the decorations come down.
“It’s not just Kingman. It’s nationwide,” the shelter manager said. “These are all great dogs, and at some point, they were all somebody’s puppies.”