Animal advocates say pets being returned after holiday season

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - It has been about a week and a half since so many unwrapped presents on Christmas, but now 'tis the season for returning gifts, and sometimes that includes pets.

Shelters and foster programs in our area say they've seen an increase in people returning pets that were brought home as Christmas gifts.

"We advocate for adoption and especially around the holidays because we know right after the holidays, we're going to get a surplus of people trying to surrender animals," said Frankie Spatafore with the Marion County Humane Society.

Around this time, Spatafore sees two issues. First, people bring back pets they've adopted because they realize it's too expensive or there's another problem.

"A lot of people calling, wanting to surrender animals they've not only received as Christmas presents, but animals that they already had in the home that may not be able to get along with a new animal," Spatafore said.

Pet Helpers also experiences this type of problem. In fact, they and the Marion County Humane Society say they often see situations where older pets are brought to foster homes or shelters.

"Right before the holidays, a lot of people surrender their senior dogs, their older dogs, they surrender them because they're in preparation of getting a puppy for Christmas," said Kathy Vincent from Pet Helpers.

Vincent says this year it's a concern and one of the worst she has seen. While there are definitely unforeseen situations that come up, it's important to note the possibilities of raising a pet, and how much of a commitment it really is.

"Unfortunately, they're usually larger dogs," Vincent said. "Older labs, things like that. We don't really have enough fosters to take as many as we'd like. We'd love to save them all, but we just can't. Dogs can live, depending on the breed, the size, anywhere from 10 to 20 years so it's truly a lifelong commitment. It's truly a forever home."