Christmas puppies and kittens – Not toys to be exchanged

Published 7:00 am Sunday, December 3, 2023

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This Christmas, many shelter kittens and puppies will be given as precious gifts. Unfortunately, many of these animals will be surrendered back to the shelter after just a few months. 

Cory Rice, a volunteer with the Butler County Humane Society, said during the holiday months shelters find and rescue more strays that appear in the area than at any other time throughout the year. Rice explained it is obvious that many of the animals surrendered on the streets had homes previously, due to their friendly and people-oriented natures. 

“It’s truly heartbreaking,” Rice said. “The only explanation to why this seems to happen during the holidays is that people are struggling financially, and sadly many do not see their animals as a priority or like a family member. They are the first things to go when times are hard. We implore people to take their animals to the shelter or a rescue if they have to surrender them.”

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Beth Rayborn, a volunteer from Animal Tails Rescue in Rutledge, said the volunteer-supported shelter in Crenshaw County often receives surrendered pets some months after they have been with new owners. 

“A couple of months after Christmas is typically when we see people wanting to surrender more,” Rayborn said. “They usually have gotten a puppy, then the puppy grows and it’s taken up more time than they’re really willing to give, and it’s a lot more responsibility than people really think about initially.”

Rayborn explained animals are often surrendered after the owners realize they were not ready for the responsibilities a pet entails. 

“They often say they didn’t know it was going to get this big or they didn’t know it was going to eat this much or things like that,” Rayborn said. “People need to do their research before they get a dog, and know what breed that is going to fit best with their family and their time availability.”

Lowndes County Sheriff Christopher West explained that due to Lowndes not having an animal rescue of their own, community members try to help animals in need when they are able. He explained the need is passed on by word of mouth if there is a stray in the area, in  hopes that someone in the area will help. West said he could not identify if there were more stray animals around the holiday months in Lowndes County. 

Rice advised that only those who are financially able to spay or neuter their animal, feed them daily, give them the necessary shots and veterinarian care and who are able to treat them with love and respect should adopt a pet. 

“They are not toys to be exchanged,” Rice said. “They are intelligent and emotional creatures who become very attached to their owners and their homes. I love seeing the puppies and kittens finding new homes, but I always have an authentic conversation with potential owners and make sure they are ready for the commitment that a pet is. It is a 10 to 18 year commitment on average.”

Rayborn recommends possible pet owners who are not sure if they are ready to adopt, should first try a test run.

“I would see if they have a family member that has a dog, and maybe they could sit with them for a while, or babysit them for some days to do a test run,” Rayborn said. “It’s just not fair to a dog to adopt it, and then a couple of months later decide that they don’t have the time or the money to take care of it.”

Shelters and rescue centers work tirelessly to provide for the forgotten animals, and desire nothing more than for them to find a forever home. To contact the Butler County Humane Shelter to foster or adopt, contact Rice at (334)-368-8246. To report a cat or dog in need of rescue in Crenshaw County contact Rayborn at (205)- 283-2498.