Holiday shelter sweep and the “Lassie Syndrome”


Every day of the year is hard for homeless animals, but the holiday season is especially hard. We often get tied up in all our traditions, work parties, gift exchanges and big meals…but one act of kindness can save a life.

Countless pets are returned to shelters every year because they were given as presents. But what could be better than giving your child, spouse, or friend a cuddly puppy for Christmas? A lot. Advertisers portray this time of year as warm, giving, and comforting, but what happens when the holidays pass and the “Lassie Syndrome” doesn’t materialize in the pet you received?

The Lassie Syndrome is hope for your dog (or cat) to be that imaginary pet who can read your thoughts, automatically know how to behave in human company, all without any training. However this is unrealistic, and your new pet can’t be expected to live up to that high expectation. In real life it took trainer Rudd Weatherwax years of dedication to train and mold Lassie into the TV character she became. So inevitably, when pet owners become disappointed that they don’t have a dog that unconditionally loves them and behaves without an ounce of training, pets are dumped at local shelters.

How can you help combat the “Lassie Syndrome?”

  • Educate your network of friends about the disadvantages of gifting pets as presents. Let your friends and family know that you support dog rescue, and that means you want to see all pets in their perfect, lifelong home.
  • Be active in your pet adoption process! Much like a wedding dress, when the perfect match is found, you feel it. After all you wouldn’t let a friend surprise you with a wedding dress (and you only use it for one day!).
  • A new pet owner should be dedicated to the development of their dog or cat, and rescues like PUP are dedicated to being transparent with what the pet needs to live a happy life. If that doesn’t work for you, then it’s ok to move along.
  • Often when pets are dumped after the holidays, owners think they are allowing their pet to be adopted by another family, sadly this isn’t always the case. Millions of pets each year are euthanized because shelters can not keep up with the demand, or don’t have local funding to drive robust adoption programs.
  • Support local rescues and shelters like PUP. Participation in programs like AmazonSmile and #GivingTuesday are simple ways to extend your helping hand so we can educate the public, rescue more dogs and effect change by saving a life.

PUP’s Holiday Shelter Sweep

This weekend we’ll be pulling many dogs from a Northern California shelter to give them a second chance at life, but remember, these dogs are also giving humans a second chance. You can donate to our shelter sweep fund here, below are just some of the dogs we’ll be rescuing.

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