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Post-holiday blues hit animal shelters hard - Too many pets ‘returned’ like unwanted gifts

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After the tree is set aside on the curb, the ill-fitting sweater returned, and the nosy relatives long gone, reality sets in for thousands of new pet owners citywide. That hairy bundle of joy is a living creature with immediate needs. It will stretch its claws on every piece of wood in your house, and proudly poop on your bed. And that can be too much for certain folks. “Some people treat animals the same way they treat a pair of shoes,” said Najiyyah Ali, the assistant shelter supervisor at the Center for Animal Care and Control’s Brooklyn facility, 2336 Linden Boulevard. “Like it’s something you can just trade in if you don’t like it.” Ali reluctantly makes the acquaintance of hundreds of dogs and cats each season. The animals are brought to the shelter when their owners can’t handle them any longer. Ali said Fridays and Saturdays are typically the busiest days at the shelter. Last week about three dozen animals were brought to the shelter, she noted. The facility can hold up to 400 animals. At present it is about half full, Ali said. The facility will euthanize animals if space is needed, or the animals have serious health or temperament issues, Ali said. “Sometimes it’s necessary, but we try to avoid it as much as possible,” she said. The shelter welcomes adoptions, and opens its doors to rescue groups and no-kill shelters, which regularly take animals out of the Linden Boulevard facility. Ali, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, said that after seven years of working at the shelter, she is not surprised by human behavior. “People are kind of creatures of habit. They adopt for different reasons than they should,” she said. “They need to understand that it’s not a stuffed animal—it’s a responsibility.” “It’s just like a child—not a doll,” said Ali, the owner of two dogs and a cat. “A lot of people don’t realize what that entails.” While some presents should most certainly be purchased on a whim, an animal should not. “It should be well thought out or planned.” The Center for Animal Care and Control’s Brooklyn facility is open for adoptions seven days a week, except major holidays, from noon to 7 p.m. For more information, call 212-788-4000. To view adoptable animals online, go to www.nycacc.org.

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