Purchasing Holiday Pet Should Be Careful Decision; Humane Society Says

They're furry, cuddly and can provide years of companionship.

They can also make great holiday gifts.

Each year, hundreds pets are given as Christmas gifts to South Mississippians.

However, if a pet is on your holiday shopping list, one Humane Society says you'd better think twice.

"So, he'll be going out on Christmas Eve, probably in a stocking, and a little Christmas stocking, as a Christmas gift," said David Butler, owner of Butler's Pets, in reference to a little Chihuahua.

The Chihuahua is just one of dozens of puppies that will be purchased at Butler's Pets this holiday season.

But cute as these four legged creatures may be, shoppers at this pet store get more than a sales pitch when it comes to buying animals.

"I talk to people who want to buy a dog or puppy for their parents. You better make sure that's on their Santa list. You don't want to bring home a guinea pig for Grandma or a python for Paw Paw, when that's not something they really wanted," said Butler.

That's just the message Humane Society workers want to get out.

People also go to the Humane Society each year to get pets as holiday gifts, but each year, pets that were intended as gifts wind up at the shelter, sometimes even before the holiday season comes to a close.

"We do see that," said Julie Parks, Assistant Director of the Humane Society of South Mississippi.

"There's always a few when the whole family hasn't come to a consensus on what is the kind of pet that's the best for their situation," she added.

Humane Society workers say returning animals to the shelter also lessens their chances of finding a loving home in the future.

"It's very disappointing when they come back here, and then they have to go through the process again. It has a psychological effect on them, which then sometimes has a very negative behavioral effect, and sometimes when a pet is returned once or twice, they take on some bad behavior habits, which makes them un adoptable in the future," said Parks.

But many agree, pets can be a wonderful holiday gift, and great companions for years to come, when they're placed in loving homes that want them.

The Humane Society of South Mississippi has a few holiday fundraiser coming up.

On Thursday, December 16, there will be a gift wrapping fundraiser at the Grand Casino Gulfport.

You can get your gifts wrapped there from 1 to 9 p.m.

On Saturday, December 18, you can have your pet photographed with "Santa Claws" at Petsmart in Gulfport.

That event is from 10 to 6.