Adopt Don’t Shop!


Grace Panzitta, Writer

I heard a story last week about a vinyl window sticker on a car that said, “Pets are not presents, they are a 10-15 year commitment.” My mom was driving behind this car in Rockaway about a week ago. She said this message struck her because of the truth of the statement. She came home and told me about the sticker she saw.  It really got me thinking and questioning the meaning behind the message.  People actually return pets that were holiday presents?  What was the motivation behind the car sticker?   What are the different reasons that someone would return an animal companion?


In 2020, my family fostered a cat through 11th Hour Rescue.  She was a beautiful cat with white fur with a small crescent moon shaped patch of gray on her forehead and pool blue eyes.  We were in love with her and gave her the name Alice.  Alice was petrified of our two boy cats to the point that she kept attacking our two already adopted fur babies.  We tried repeatedly for months to socialize our cats with Alice but it didn’t work.  Although we were devastated, we knew that we could not adopt her and it would be best to find her a home where she was an only cat, which we did. I wondered if compatibility issues among pets could be a leading reason why pets are returned to shelters.


According to an article  “Setting the Record Straight on Shelter Returns” written May 18, 2021 on, a website for a national network of pet life saving centers and network partners that states many different sources of animal statistics, there are five main reasons that dogs and cats combined are surrendered: 


  1. Have too many animals – 16%
  2. Housing – 13.7%
  3. Caretaker or family health/death – 10.1%
  4. Non-aggressive behavior/personality – 7.8%
  5. Financial -7.2%


The website also states that the top reason dogs are surrendered is due to housing issues (14%), while the top reason that cats are surrendered is due to the owner having too many animals (22.6%).  After Alice, we fostered a pregnant mom cat who had six babies in our house.  We decided to adopt two of the babies (Hermione & Harry) and ultimately decided to adopt the mom cat too (Lucy).  One of the babies was sick and didn’t make it past four weeks.  The other three kittens were adopted by good homes.  We would have kept them all if we could have, but that would just be way too many cats in our house, so I can’t understand why having too may cats could lead to surrendering them to a shelter. 


Although this information is important, I still wondered if there’s a difference in the amount of animals surrendered before and after the holiday season.  


According to the Richmond SPCA, in 2019, between 10-11% of pets that were adopted were returned for the two years prior, but returns during the holiday season in each of those two years were less than 10%. This comes to show that the number of adopted animals returned during the holidays might not be greater than the number being returned at any other time. 


With just the little information I researched for this story, I think the point of the bumper sticker was to persuade people to really think about their decision to adopt a pet and to realize that people should be ready to commit to their decision before they adopt.  I really like that someone took the initiative to get this message out.


In any case, there are so many pets in need of a home.  If you are thinking about getting a pet, please think about visiting a local shelter.  


Works Cited

“Setting the Record Straight on Shelter Returns” Brent Toellner 2021 Web. 31 Dec. 2022.


“Fact Check: Are pets adopted at the holidays more likely to be returned?” 2019 Web. 30 Dec. 2022.