Studies show that spending time with animals helps relieve stress and can benefit our health, which is why more companies are creating pet-friendly workplaces. People are even making pets, whether it’s their own or those waiting for adoptive homes, a part of their wedding day photos.
For those who don’t have pets of their own or don’t work at a pet-friendly office, the growing popularity of puppy and kitten parties has been one way that people get a break for some one-on-one cuddle time with adorable animals. You’ve probably heard of shelters and rescues offering 30-minute cuddle sessions or puppy parties with these cuddly cuties in exchange for a donation. And then there are breeders and brokers that lease out puppies for children’s birthday parties or corporate events.
These events involve puppies and kittens, anywhere from eight weeks to a few months old, being delivered to a person’s office or home, where they then have the opportunity to play and interact with the animals for a specified period of time. It seems like a fun and harmless way for animal lovers to get their puppy fix and, in some cases, raise money for a good cause. But what are the issues surrounding this trend, and is it something animal lovers should support?
The Good and Bad Behind Puppy Rentals and Puppy Parties
The thought of renting puppies, even when it involves shelter pets and is for a good cause, doesn’t settle well with some people. Some say it reinforces the thought that animals are “products,” especially when terms like “puppy rental” or “puppy lease” are used. Or that it promotes animals as being for temporary enjoyment and entertainment only.
There are also concerns with young and vulnerable animals being placed in potentially stressful situations where they are exposed to illnesses or placed at risk of becoming injured. Young puppies and kittens are more susceptible to disease and illness than older animals, and some smaller breeds can become easily injured if they’re handled too roughly or aren’t monitored to keep them out of harm’s way.
Yet another concern is when puppies are rented out for profit, or to help sell animals in a pet store. Often, these animals come from backyard breeders or large-scale commercial breeding facilities that churn out animals for a profit while the adult breeding animals are confined to life in a cage. The puppies they offer for rent are purposely bred, only adding to the overwhelming number of animals that are in need of a home. Sometimes the puppies are rented directly by the breeders, or through third-party partnerships with pet stores.
Use Your Best Judgement
If you do decide to participate in puppy parties or rented cuddle sessions, use caution. There are rescues and shelters that offer these events as a way to raise money for their cause and do everything with the animals’ best interest in mind, but that’s not always the case.
Reputable shelters and rescue organizations have volunteers accompany the puppies and kittens to make sure they’re kept safe and don’t become overwhelmed. They keep the playtime short and make sure the animals aren’t exposed to any dangers. And, most importantly, the puppies and kittens they bring are from unwanted litters that have been surrendered into their rescue or shelter, not animals that have been purposely bred for profit.
Steer clear of events offered by pet stores and breeders, as this only helps perpetuate the commercial dog and cat breeding industry by creating more demand. Ask a lot of questions about the age of the animals, precautions taken to ensure their health and safety, and how the funds raised by the event will be used. Also beware of backyard breeders and scammers who might offer these parties through print or online classified ads such as on Craigslist.
Alternatives to Puppy Parties and Puppy Rentals
Puppy parties aren’t the only way for animal lovers to interact with lovable puppies and kittens. You can get your cuddle fix and help animals of all ages by volunteering to help care for animals at your local shelter. Duties can include feeding, cleaning their enclosures, taking them on walks, or engaging in play to help them build confidence and socialization skills.
Some shelters also hold on-site birthday parties for children, allowing them the opportunity to learn about pet homelessness and adoption and have hands-on time with the animals at the shelter. There are also special programs where children can read books to dogs and cats, providing the animals with calm socialization while helping children build reading confidence.
Help Puppies and Kittens by Being a Foster Home
Another, more long-term option is to become a foster home for your local shelter or rescue organization. Volunteer foster homes are always needed, especially in the spring months when shelters are inundated with litters of kittens. There’s also a need for foster homes that are willing to help socialize young puppies and kittens. By providing a foster home, you help ease the burden on shelters and can help pets receive the socialization they need to prepare them for their adoptive homes.
And as much as we love puppies and kittens, remember there are also adolescent and senior pets that need foster (and adoptive) homes as well. They’re perfect for people who want to help but aren’t quite up to the challenge of having a puppy or kitten in their home.
Lead image source: Duffy Brook/Unsplash