Many will be celebrating their holiday with the gift of a new meow or bark.
But, as many area animal shelters experience high adoption rates this season, they also experience a high rate of surrenders.
Lindsay High of Pennsylvania SPCA Lancaster center admits many families face hard financial times during the holiday season, and many respond by giving up their animal.
"A lot of people will come in and adopt an animal as a gift for the holidays," High said. But she added, "we also get a lot more surrenders during the holiday."
However, she said, there are programs available to try to help struggling families keep their animals in their homes, including efforts to assist with food insecurity.
"If folks fall on hard times and especially during the holidays, finances could get tight, they're not able to afford a bag of dog food. We want to be able to give them those resources," said High.
High encourages people who do want to give up their pets to contact the shelter and follow the proper intake procedures to make sure the animals are properly surrendered. However, she admits, some people still abandon animals outside the shelter. Although she doesn't like to see that happen to animals, she admits, "I would rather if someone is at that point that they drop off that animal and they will be scooped up first thing and they will be taken care of and adopted out."
High also admits, many people who are homeless are forced to surrender their animals this time of year, even if they are caring for their pets.
"We have a handful of really great homeless shelters here in our community. But, unfortunately a lot of them don't allow pets," said High. And, she points out, "just because someone is homeless doesn't mean they don't love their animal."
High said the best place for a pet is with a family, not in a shelter. But, she encourages people in need of help to contact the shelter at (717) 917-6979 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. People who live outside the Lancaster area can also find help here.
The Shelter Animals County national database estimates that millions of dogs and cats enter America’s shelters each year, and more than half of them will never leave.