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Local animal shelter fills up with 'Christmas pets'

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FARGO—Hundreds of pets, over 700 are taken every year around the holidays to animal shelters.

Those cats and dogs, usually given as presents.

Man's best friend has a ruff time around the holidays.

Homeward Animal Shelter fills up just days after Christmas with dogs and cats, meant as a loving gift.

"A mom walked in on Monday, brought a puppy because her 16 year old daughter thought it was a great idea to gift it, but mom and dad weren't ready, that puppy is now adopted, but it has already started and this was only Monday," said Nukhet Hendricks, Homeward Animal Shelter.

Shelter directors say this happens every year after the holidays, while kids are ecstatic with a pet under the tree, many aren't prepared for the responsibilities that come with it.

"With this gift, not only are you asking them to make a 15-20 year emotional commitment, but you are also asking them to make a financial commitment, they may not be ready," said Nukhet.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says the average cost of pet ownership exceeds $1,000 for the first year.

Besides the money, pets also take up a lot of time.

The organization reports every year 780,000 pets are surrendered because their families don't have enough time to take care of them, and that can impact the animal.

"Animals know when they aren't wanted and when they can't stay at that home, it is hard on them - and eventually if they get passed around too much, they develop a mindset of, I can't touch this family because I don't know if I can stay here. There's no winners in this situation," said Nukhet.

As we celebrate the new year, shelters like Homeward will be busy taking care of presents that aren't meant to be underneath the tree.

Instead of gifting an animal, the Homeward Shelter suggests giving a coupon or a gift card to a shelter, that way the recipient can be a part of the decision process.

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