Right now, pet adoptions are free at Huntsville Animal Services. They're waiving the adoption fee through the end of the year. We wanted to know if it's encouraging people to give pets as gifts so we talked to the shelter director to find out.
Despite concerns that animals given as Christmas gifts end up back at shelters after people realize they can't take care of them Huntsville Animal Services said this isn't as big of a problem as we think it is.
"We do get a certain percentage of returns but it's very low. It's about 3% of our dogs and cats come back," said shelter director Dr. Karen Sheppard.
Doctor Karen Sheppard said it's a misconception that dogs and cats given as presents, end up back at the shelter. A 2013 study by the American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says 86 percent of animals in the study given as gifts remained in their homes.
"I know that I got a pet from my mom as a kid and it worked out great. So you know a lot of those dogs do work out really really well."
One woman who was at the shelter adopting a new dog said she had two dogs but one passed away so she was getting another one. She said she thinks pets as gifts are a good idea.
"I think it would be wonderful. Yes, getting a pet for Christmas, especially a child. It's very exciting," said Vicky London.
Right now the shelter has 36 dogs up for adoption and 20 dogs waiting in the stray area. They said they encourage anyone interested to come pick one out and if it doesn't work out...
"If for some reason someone adopts a cat or a dog and it's not working out we want them to bring it back to us," said Sheppard.
The shelter said they're offering the free adoptions as a way to clear the shelters and give people an opportunity to add a pet to their home. They also told us they don't do a background check for adopters but they do talk to anyone interested and will deny an adoption if they don't think the person will be a good fit.