The element of surprise is a lovely aspect of a Christmas present, except when it comes to giving domestic pets.
It's a heart-breaking reality but each festive season there is a significant spike in the numbers of surrendered and impounded animals to ACT Domestic Animal Services.
"It's our busiest time of the year," manager of ranger services Eva Cawthorne said.
"We get a large number of dogs to be rehomed around Christmas, New Year and soon after."
She said the problem was twofold, as there was a definite increase in stray and roaming dogs, but also an influx of surrendered animals staff can only guess were unwanted Christmas gifts.
"When you are buying a dog or a cat, the person you are buying it for really needs to be involved in that decision," she said.
Owners need to be prepared for an animal, be on board with the long-term commitment and choose an animal that's suited to their circumstances.
Ms Cawthorne urged people to rethink giving pets on a whim, as those that aren't rehomed are put down.
"If we can't contact anyone or determine the dog is owned after seven days, the dog is put up for rehoming," she said.
"We have a high rehoming rate, well into 90 per cent and we try our best not to have to put dogs down."
For RSPCA ACT, summer is the peak period for surrendered rabbits, kittens and pregnant cats.
"December through to April, we usually see over 150 kittens surrendered per month," a spokesman said.
"This is largely due to the fact that cats breed more regularly in the warmer months and that these cats are roaming and are not desexed."
The ACT's first free desexing program, which was held throughout September, was able to desex 380 cats as part of a long-term strategy to curb the persisting problem.
Ms Cawthorne said typically it was dogs left alone and bored that escaped and are found roaming by ACT rangers.
To avoid distress, she urged owners to ensure their pets were microchipped and they had up-to-date contact details.
"If we have that, we can contact the owner no matter where they are and tell them we have their dog," she said.
"We encourage people to make sure their fences and gates are secure and if you are going away to arrange for someone to care for and regularly exercise your animals – or book them into boarding kennels."