As ‘Pandemic Pups’ Flood Shelters, PETA Urges: Don’t Put Animals Under the Tree—They’re Family!

For Immediate Release:
December 15, 2021

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va.

Animal shelters across the country—already overwhelmed with abandoned “pandemic puppies”—will soon face another crisis: Every January, shelters see a spike in unwanted dogs and cats who were given as Christmas presents to people who, it turned out, were unable or unwilling to care for them. That’s why PETA is urgently advising people not to buy animals as gifts.

PETA asks everyone to remember these points:

  • Animals are a lifelong commitment. Many people who receive them as gifts ultimately aren’t willing or able to exercise and housetrain them, give them all the patience and attention they need to be socialized properly, and pay for food, accessories (such as toys, grooming supplies, leashes and harnesses, and bedding), and vaccinations and other veterinary care.
  • Children may not be ready. Young children may unintentionally harm or be harmed by animals when they’re playing with them, and parents who unrealistically expect a child to bear the responsibility of an animal’s care may end up turning the animal over to a shelter or another home once the child fails to provide that care or loses interest.
  • There are too few happy endings. In addition to the unwanted dogs and cats left at animal shelters, countless more end up abandoned on the streets to fend for themselves or chained or penned outside 24/7—neglected and lonely for the rest of their lives.
  • Wait until the holidays are over. Families who are ready to commit to caring for an animal for more than 16 years should wait until the hubbub of the holidays has subsided and then head together to their local animal shelter to find the dog or cat who is the perfect match for them.

“Giving someone a puppy for the holidays is signing them up for 16 years’ and thousands of dollars’ worth of responsibility,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “Animal shelters are already reeling from the effects of the pandemic, and PETA says never give animals as gifts and never buy them from breeders or pet stores at any time of the year.”

Around 70 million dogs and cats are homeless in the U.S. at any given time. An estimated 10% of them end up in animal shelters, where many must eventually be euthanized for reasons including injury, illness, old age, emotional or psychological damage, and a lack of good homes. That’s why PETA encourages everyone to adopt animals from shelters and never buy them from breeders or pet stores, which exacerbate the homeless-animal overpopulation crisis.

PETA’s new “Dogs Aren’t Toys or Holiday Gifts” holiday public service announcement is available here.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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