Christmas present pets are often returned


Last updated 1/13/2022 at 4:52pm

Village News/Chloe Shaver photos

Opal, the FAS Pet of the Week, is playful and ready to be adopted as the star in any household.

Chloe Shaver


As the holiday season comes to an end, many people look to return gifts they received from well-intentioned friends and family, hoping to use their credits to purchase a gift they truly wanted. National Returns Week, as this is called, falls on the week of Jan. 4, and over 1.75 million packages are expected to be returned and traded in for a more fitting gift.

These returns also include "Christmas present pets." Young children receive puppies and kittens on Christmas morning, only to forfeit their newest friends less than a month later when their parents realize the responsibility and commitment needed to care for them. Animal shelters across the country receive hundreds more rescues in the month of January than any other month due to this trend. The Fallbrook Animal Sanctuary, Fallbrook's resident animal shelter, confirms this trend.

The Fallbrook Animal Sanctuary, home to cats, dogs, and loving volunteers, houses hundreds of puppies and kittens each year. Animals taken into FAS are all forfeited by their owners, whether this be a litter of kittens which turned up at their doorstep or a pet they can't take with them when they move. By virtue of being a no-kill shelter, meaning they cannot choose to euthanize an animal that cannot be adopted out to a home, means that they must be selective in the animals that are taken in. "We work really hard to find the best match because they've already been in a bad situation before; we want to find their forever home."

The FAS closes adoptions during the holiday season to dissuade adopters from gifting pets. A cat or dog requires 10-20 years of commitment, from feeding them every day, training, walking, scooping their litter box, and more. When considering adopting a new pet during the holiday season, there are many things to consider, as with any new pet.

When deciding what new furry friend to bring into your home, consider taking the household with you. This means the entire family will be involved and part of the process of finding a new pet, and each member will therefore be more committed to caring for them.

Training is another important aspect of getting a new pet to consider, especially a dog. Many dog breeds are left in shelters longer than others due to negative stigmas associated with that breed. From pitbulls to huskies, rottweilers to German shepherds, some are left behind in favor of "easier" or "friendlier" breeds.

However, every dog is unique and has their own personality; in this regard, however, the breed of a dog plays a large role in their lifestyle. Don't adopt a working or herding dog if you don't have a large yard or work for them to do. Similarly, don't expect a cuddly lap dog to go on miles-long runs every day. If you feel ready to adopt a dog, but are unsure about the training commitment, look into a professional dog trainer. They will be able to help you and your new companion by giving you the skills you need to care and control a new pet.

When considering adopting a new animal, look into your lifestyle, don't assume that you'll change your daily routine to accommodate a new pet. If you really wanted to start walking, you would already be going on walks; don't think that getting a dog will help start that habit. If you tend to be out most of the day, consider getting a cat over a dog. They are more independent, and not nearly as likely to chew up your favorite pillow while you're at work. Kittens are recommended to be adopted in pairs to keep each other entertained and happy.

The FAS would like to highlight one special kitty this week: Opal. A new mother, her kittens are currently in long-term foster care on account of her being feline leukemia positive. This means that she must be the only cat in your household to ensure that other cats remain safe and healthy; however, this disease doesn't spread to humans, children or babies, or any other pet in your household. Outside of her diagnosis, she's expected to live an otherwise healthy, happy life.

Opal put herself on the doorstep of a Fallbrook resident, heavily pregnant and incredibly friendly. When her six kittens were born, her keeper turned her and her new babies into FAS so they could receive the care they needed. When the runt of the litter began having seizures, Opal and the others were tested for feline leukemia. All tested positive, and while the youngest died, the others are hoped to have only been exposed due to their mother, and will test negative in about a month if that is the case.

The Fallbrook Animal Sanctuary homes animals of all ages. These senior cats are ready to be welcomed into any home with an open heart and love to give.

Opal is an incredibly friendly and playful cat, having been socialized at a young age. Her personality best suits an experienced cat owner looking for one cat to care for, or an experienced cat owner looking for a playful kitty to interact with their existing pets.

The Fallbrook Animal Sanctuary can be reached by phone call or text at 760-685-3533. Visit for more information on adopting, visiting times, volunteering, and spaying/neutering.


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