Rockford animal shelters advise against giving pets as holiday gifts

WINNEBAGO COUNTY, Ill. (WIFR) - Waking up to an animal wearing a big red bow under the Christmas tree might seem like the perfect gift. but in January many of those presents get returned to an animal shelter.

"Don't do it. That would be the best advice to give," said Stephanie Lauer, Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary.

Laure says the best thing to do is go with the person and let them pick out their present.

"Make sure they are wanting what you are wanting to gift. Give a gift certificate either to a rescue or to a shelter or somewhere rather than just giving them an animal," Lauer said.

"Families sometimes come in and they're looking to get a puppy or a kitten for a Christmas gift for their family and that's okay as long as the parents realize when the newness wears off the responsibility for caring for that pet is going to fall on the parents," said Donna Apgar, Winnebago County Animal Services.

Apgar says using a reward system is the easiest way to train a puppy.

"You want to make sure you are rewarding the behavior you want to see your dog repeat. whether that's jumping whether it's walking nicely on a leash,” Apgar said.

If you are struggling to take care of your pet tons of organizations are willing to help.

"Come on in. The month of December we gave away food every day, I know the other rescues do too. Someone is always willing to reach out a hand," Lauer said.

Taking your dog to training class can also be beneficial and there are several options located throughout the Stateline.