Giving a pet as a gift can be a thrilling moment, but you should think twice before getting carried away during the holidays. A very sad fact is that, each year, thousands of animals given as holiday presents end up in shelters, abandoned, given away or worse. Here is a list of do’s and don’ts, so the pet and the person it’s been “gifted” to have the best chance of success.
Do: Is the recipient a “pet person?” As hard as it may seem for a pet lover, there are individuals who do not feel comfortable around animals. Animals can sense this, and the chances for bonding are affected. Maybe they are more of a cat person than a dog person. Note the recipient’s behavior around your pet. Are they welcoming your pet’s advances to meet them? Do they speak to your pet when greeting them? These are all good clues to measure the level of comfort that the recipient will have for a pet.
Do: Make sure the person is able to care for a pet: Giving a pet as an “unexpected” gift is NEVER a good idea. This is a major reason why “Christmas” gifts end up at a shelter. Consider these questions before purchasing a pet as a gift:
- Is the recipient ready to participate in managing all aspects of the responsibilities of a pet owner, each and every day?
- Is the recipient willing to provide opportunities for the pet to run, walk, and play every single day?
- Does the recipient understand that a dog will need consistent training to learn to become a good canine or feline citizen?
Don’t: Give a pet as a gift to children without parental consent: This is a big no-no on many different levels. Sooner or later, the parent will be the primary caretaker of the pet so it is important that they are aware of your intention. Also, a pet is not a toy. It is a living, breathing creature that needs a responsible, caring and loving owner. Make sure these necessities can be met before even considering a pet as a gift.
Do: Make preparations for the new pet: This involves preparing the recipient’s house by hiding harsh chemicals, electric cords, anything breakable, etc. Establishing an area for your pet to relax and sleep is recommended. Also, make sure you locate the nearest vet and emergency centers just in case of an accident and include that information in your gift card.
Don’t: Make an impulsive purchase: Adopting a pet should be a conscious decision. You can find puppies for sale at many different places such as over the internet (watch for scams), at the mall, or from a local breeder, and making an impulse choice to buy a pet almost always ends in disaster. Did you know many shelters ban pet adoptions during the holiday season for this very reason?
Do: Consider a Shelter or Rescue Pet: In no way are pets from breeders superior to pets from shelters. Not only are you saving a pet’s life, your companion will be forever loyal knowing that you saved their life. If you are looking for a purebred exclusively, check out breed specific local rescues. Additionally, oftentimes older pets are less work than puppies and are already trained. Remember, the purchase price does not reflect the quality of the animal. It is all about second chances.
Don’t: Just buy any dog for anybody: As an example, a pitbull puppy most likely won’t be the best option for an 80 year old grandmother. Be sure to take account breed type, physical attributes and other variables in the pet’s personality. Remember, adding a puppy to your life is, on average, a 15-year responsibility.
When the glamour of the holidays wears off, there is a little soul, that will be looking to its owner for support and love. Make sure that the love will be there for them in carefully selecting their new owner.