If you’re considering giving a pet … THINK!
Thinking about giving a pet as a gift to your kids or a friend this year? Think carefully: While animal organizations traditionally have advised against “gift pets,” there are ways you can make your present a success for both the animal and the people involved.
Understand first that holidays are filled with excitement, over-extended schedules, and often, more than a little stress. On the big day, there is plenty of activity, sweet treats, friends and family coming and going. All of this can be overwhelming for a brand new animal in your home, which may put a pet under enormous stress or, worse, motivate an escape, with the animal never making it back home. This means families and individuals who are giving a pet need to do some advance planning to make the adoption successful.
According to the National Council on Pet Population Study & Policy, research about why people give up their pets shows, surprisingly, that “dogs received as gifts (are) much less likely to be surrendered to an animal shelter than those acquired directly from an animal shelter, a friend, a pet shop, or as a stray.” Here are some tips to help you manage the gift-giving process:
1. Avoid the surprise element. Get everyone in the home involved in picking out the right animal for their lifestyle. Adults should take the lead in making the choice for families, as they’re likely to end up with the responsibility for pet care. Be sure the family will have enough time to provide this care, including feeding, walking (if it’s a dog) and other exercise, playtime, love and affection, and vet visits.
2. Consider the animal’s age that will be best for the family. Puppies and kittens, while adorable, need a lot of attention for proper socialization and house training. An adult animal is more likely to have settled down and will be eager to bond as a family member much sooner.
3. Be sure the gift recipient is prepared for both the emotional and financial commitment the pet will require, for the animal’s entire life. In some cases that may be 15-20 years. Costs include food, veterinary care, training and grooming – every year.
4. Give a pet gift certificate. A gift certificate lets the recipient get involved in choosing the right animal from the outset while you cover the cost of the adoption. A promise certificate outlines the expected commitment. Or, make a pet gift basket filled with supplies the new owner will need, with the adoption to take place after the holiday.
5. Make adoption your first choice for finding the right pet. One in four rescue dogs is a purebred, and all rescue animals –- dogs, cats, small mammals, birds, reptiles and more! -– will be most appreciative to have a new forever home.
Make everyone happy by thinking and planning first. Don’t take a chance on having the pet you give as a gift end up being turned in to a shelter. Make sure the family or individual wants a pet and is ready for one.
This page last updated 3-3-15