Although the temptation to bring a fluffy kitten home with a red bow around its neck for Christmas may seem irresistible, it's an action that often ends badly for the pet.
"As a policy, we don't do animals as gifts," says Corinne Ross, manager of the B.C. SPCA Vernon & District Branch.
Ross' stance on the issue is firm: no animals will be released if the SPCA even suspects the pet is going to be given as a gift.
To some, the policy may lack holiday spirit and seem at odds with the prevalent belief that adopting an animal is an ethical gift choice, one that makes a child happy and gives a pet a home.
But Ross says that home is sadly temporary when animals arrive as presents, rather than well-considered additions to the family.
"An animal is forever," Ross says. "It shouldn't be a gift but a well thought through process involving the entire household."
She urges people not to succumb to the draw of surprising a friend or family member with a furry-friend for the holidays.
"It should be an informed decision, not one made just because a kitten is cute for Christmas."
She says the SPCA must meet with the owner, or owners, of the pet before officiating the adoption. It doesn't make sense she says, for a friend or relative to come in and choose a pet for someone else.
"We really try to talk to people about what they want so we can match them with the perfect pet," Ross says.
Another reason Christmas is a questionable time for pet adoption, is because of travel plans.
"A lot of people go away for the holidays," she says. This can leave newly adopted animals who are just settling in to their new homes anxious when they are left with friends or in kennels.
Pet gifting aside, Ross says the holidays are a time when an animal's environment is littered with dangers.
"There are poisonous anti-freeze mixtures animals can get into," Ross says. "And the salt used on roads can be bad for their skin, as well as bad for their digestion if they consume it."
She says cats seek shelter under cars, a cozy hiding spot that often gets them hurt or killed.
"It's wise to give your car a tap before getting in," Ross says, to flush out any napping cats.
Christmas tree ornaments can be hazardous to animals as well.
"Tinsel is a bad one for cats," Ross says of the not-so edible plastic decoration.
"Chocolate under the tree is a problem for dogs (because) it's toxic to them," Ross says of innocently wrapped truffles just waiting for a dog to sniff them out.
Ross says the SPCA's dogs will be getting a special three day field trip from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day.
"All our dogs will go to foster families," Ross says, noting fostering is usually reserved for animals that are sick or need to be socialized with people and other pets before they are ready for adoption.
Ross says they have enough foster families for this Christmas, but encourages anyone interested in signing up as a foster family to go online for more information.
The SPCA is asking for donations including toys for cats and dogs.
"Just no blankets," Ross says of the commonly donated item. "We have more than enough!"