What do you get for the kid who has everything? Some parents decide to bring home a furry gift, but once the holidays pass so may the excitement over a new pet.
Concerns over impulse buying are behind Rockford's Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary's no gift policy. Every prospective owner has to appear in person to check out the animal.
It's not exactly jingle bells... But this time of year, the calls of lonely animals start sounding like music to many people's ears.
"We get a lot people that come in and I'd say about 10 percent will be looking for a pet for a gift," says Lori Pryor of the Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary.
Many parents may think a cat or a puppy could be the perfect Christmas gift, but you have to think about if you're willing to do the long term care.
Says Pryor, "It's usually a very common thing that after the holidays, even Easter with bunnies, cats, kittens, that it grows old, the novelty worn off."
Pryor says animals tend to swarm back into shelters after the holidays, for a variety of reasons.
"The dog may grow to be too big, or allergies. We suggest that the person that they want to provide the animal for as a gift comes in and meets with the animal," says Pryor.
That's just what the Rittmeyers are doing. They just lost a dog, now they're searching for a new one.
The family's dad, Gavin Rittmeyer says, "Our family is very active with the animal, we were with our golden, Schaaffer and so everyone wanted to be a part of making this decision."
They're also all ready to chip in on caring for the pet.
Gavin's seven-year old Lydia Rittmeyer says, "I think it would be a great experience for me to take care of dogs because I like to feed 'em day and night and I like to play with them once in a while."
The Noah's Ark no-gift policy is not exclusive to the holidays. It lasts all year round. Pryor says that's to remind people that pet care lasts all year too.
The Winnebago County Animal Shelter has a similar policy, though it allows parents to buy pets for their kids as gifts. The county shelter also offers gift certificates so people can go pick out their own pet.