Gift returns after the holidays include adopted pets to local shelters


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — In the weeks following the December holiday season, citizens will be out returning and exchanging presents they received, including adopted pets. 

According to Virginia Beach SPCA Community Outreach Director Kate Baldwin, they always see an increase in adoptions around the holidays due to children asking for a puppy or kitten for as a present. 

Unfortunately, those pets often get brought back. 

Baldwin says this holiday trend that affects many local shelters and SPCA organizations is heartbreaking. 

“It’s actually really tough on our staff. In shelters every where, I think that’s one of the hardest parts because you see these animals. some of them have been here for months waiting to get adopted,” says Baldwin. “And when they get adopted and get to leave, it’s really emotional. Almost everybody in our shelter comes to applaud, people are crying, it gets really exciting and then to see them come back in…” 

Shelters start to see the adopted animals returned as early as a few days after Christmas, to two weeks following the holiday. They haven’t had any returns yet this year, but they are anticipating some as time goes on. 

“The newness of having a pet is still exciting.The chewing, you know, all the other little things that come with having a little animal that isn’t trained yet hasn’t really set in,” Baldwin says,”So typically about 14 days is when we really start to see the impact of the people not really knowing what they signed up for.”

Last year, the VBSPCA had five puppies returned within the first week after Christmas, according to Baldwin. 

Counselors at the VBSPCA work with every adopter to try and lower the number of pets returned. Baldwin says they also require every potential adopter to meet with the animal before taking it home.

The Portsmouth Humane Society tells 10 On Your Side they’ve only had one return so far this holiday season and are hoping that number stays low. 

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