Shelters warn pets should not be Christmas presents

Local News

During the holidays, we’re all trying to think of the perfect Christmas present for the ones we love.

Many may think a puppy or a kitten is the best way to say ‘I love you,’ but animal shelters are asking you to think twice before making the commitment.

News 3 took a trip to Hilton Head Humane Association where they received a dog in very bad shape last week. 

“Our friends over at Groomingdales, we called them up and we said you have to help us with this dog, or we think it’s a dog that’s underneath all this matted fur,” said Franny Gerthoffer, the executive director at Hilton Head Humane Association.

Beaufort County Animal Services found the dog underneath a car in Bluffton. Gerthoffer says they couldn’t even tell if it was a dog.

“Ears matted to her body, tail matted to her body… legs could not extend out… eyes were matted shut,” she said. “She was growly and mean and bitey and darting.”

After two days in a crate, a sedative, and a few hours of grooming… a Maltese appeared. 

“Once she woke up from her little bit of sleep there, she actually became a different dog,” Gerthoffer recalled.

They named her Holly. She’s a little picky with who she lets near, but Holly is a happy, loving pup none the less.

What’s most shocking is her age.

“Just a little over a year… I’m sure she was a very cute puppy, you know last year, at this time,” Gerthoffers said. “So you got a very cute puppy maybe for the holidays and then what? The excitement wore off or… something happened? I mean it took a long time for her to get into the condition that she was in.”

Shelters say this holiday high happens too often.

“Starting in mid-October we get phone calls where people will say ‘Are you gonna have any puppies at Christmas time?'” explained Laura Bush with the Hilton Head Humane Association. “Kittens and puppies are adorable at Christmas time, look at little Otter, but you have to plan for little Otter being 20 years old someday and needing to go to the vet every year and have vaccines.”

While they may seem like the perfect present crawling out from under the tree, shelters say they are a daily commitment for a decade or more. 

“What we’re hoping for this holiday season and for everyone to have a Merry Christmas, especially the animals, is that people really take their time and know that this is a lifelong commitment,” said Gerthoffer.

Many shops and shelters like the Hilton Head Humane Association give gift certificates to go towards adoption fees.

They say that’s the best gift because then the ones you love can take the time to find the perfect pet they love. 

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