Europe’s Biggest Animal Shelters Ban Adoptions For Christmas

Germany’s biggest animal shelters are banning adoptions for the Christmas season. Berlin’s Bremen animal shelter, the largest in Europe, was the first to announce a moratorium on adoptions after December 18th. The shelter houses around 500 homeless dogs and cats.

It seems counter-intuitive, but the shelter says it’s for the good of the animals. Shelters in other major German cities – including Berlin, Hanover and Bremen – have followed suit, The Independent UK reporte.

The temporary ban is to prevent impulse gifting and extends until after the holidays. The Bremen shelter says in the past they’ve seen an influx of adoptions over Christmas only to see an influx of pets being returned in January, according to Country Living and that it is heartbreaking.

Gabriele Schwab, of Bremen Animal Shelter told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) pets are not just for Christmas.

“Quite honestly, those people who don’t understand, we don’t want them,” Schwab told DW [translated].

Arvid Possekel, from Hanover Animal Shelter also spoke with DW and explained further that potential adopters can still visit the shelters to look at animals but they will have to wait until after the New Years to take them home.

“The temporary stop is there so that animals do not end up under the Christmas tree, because animals simply are not presents,” he said. “Ideally they become members of the family and you just don’t give family members as presents.”

Possekel also pointed out bringing an adopted animal into a hectic, festive home can unduly stress an animal: “It means that animals that newly arrive in a home come at the most stressful time of year.”

“It’s an enormous strain on the animal, on top of the stress of their new surroundings,” he added.

It’s a sound policy, one supported by shelters around the world, who every year put out educational campaigns to dissuade families from spontaneous adoptions and instead ask people to consider all the factors that go into caring for a pet.

“To have pets brings joy and a better quality of life, but also a great responsibility,” Claudia Hammerling from Berlin’s Shelter, said in a statement. The city’s shelter must be doing something right – it has an estimated 90% success rate in pet adoptions.

The policy these shelters have put into effect is a strong reminder that a dog is for life, not just for the holidays.

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