Animal shelters in Arkansas see uptick in people returning pets after holidays

PULASKI COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — You see it all the time in movies and TV shows, and sometimes in real life: parents or loved ones giving pet as a holiday gift.

There aren’t many Christmas presents cuter than a puppy or a kitten, but once the cuteness and excitement wears off, local shelters see an uptick of people returning the pets they adopted.

Debbie Howell with the Humane Society of Pulaski County said it’s a sad reality this time of year. She said many people don’t realize that adorable gift idea comes packaged with a lot of responsibility.

“When you commit to a puppy, that’s about a 15 year commitment,” Howell said. “It’s like you’ve adopted a baby. You have to be patient, patient, patient.”

Howell said it’s important to know what you’re getting into before adopting a shelter pet, but also keep in mind that your new dog or cat comes with a history.

“When you adopt an animal from the shelter, you don’t have all the background. We don’t even have all the background,” Howell said. “They’ve been in the shelter for a while, they need time to de-stress and get used to a new environment.”

Howell said not to let the idea of commitment scare you off from adopting a pet, because giving an animal in need a forever home is a wonderful gift.

“Pledge to this animal that you’re going to do right and give them a chance. Don’t give up too soon,” she said.

Howell said they see the biggest uptick in animal returns right after the new year.

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