Queens lawmaker urges caution in giving pets as holiday gifts this year

Photo courtesy Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.

Queens Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. wants to ensure that parents, children and gift givers are considering every aspect of pet ownership when considering them as a gift this holiday season.

“Each year, countless animals are abandoned or surrendered to shelters after the initial novelty of being a “gift” wears off,” Addabbo said. “It is a saddening reality that many of these animals end up homeless, neglected, or euthanized due to the impulsive decision to give them as presents.”

Addabbo also shared how a household pet, especially one given as a holiday gift, can often be given the proper care in a loving home, but it is equally important that all aspects of pet ownership are considered.

According to a survey from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), 96% of people who received pets as gifts thought it either increased or had no impact on their love or attachment to that pet. 

The ASPCA’s findings on those who received their pets as gifts, in and outside of the holiday season, further the senator’s pleas for potential owners to consider all aspects of pet care. 

Potential pet owners are ultimately responsible for the cost, health, and long-term commitment associated with caring for an animal before deciding to bring one into their lives, according to Addabbo. 

In 2021, the ASPCA estimated the cost of owning a dog for one year, including food, toys, medical care and other items, was $1,391. Ownership of a cat was estimated at $1,149 a year. Both yearly estimates did not include initial one-time costs, like microchipping, and special costs, including dental, which was shown in another diagram.

The ASPCA also recommends any child’s parents who are receiving or gifting a pet on their child’s behalf should be ready and eager to assume the care of the animal.

In statistics released by the Animal Care Centers of NYC in June, the organization experienced a 20% increase in animal surrenders and shared that shelters were at capacity. 

Addabbo also mentioned that adopting individuals can provide loving homes to animals in need, thereby reducing the burden on overcrowded shelters and contributing to the welfare of these animals.

In recognition of the colder temperatures during the holiday season, Addabbo also shared helpful tips and reminders for pet owners on what to remain aware of this year. 

According to information found on the ASPCA website, some helpful tips include keeping dogs away from fatty foods, securing Christmas decorations and tree ornaments, bringing pets inside in especially cold temperatures and buying appropriate clothing to keep them warm while on their walk. 

For further information and resources on pet safety and care, readers are encouraged to visit the ASPCA website to learn more.

Emily Ramos contributed to this story.