Pets as Gifts
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! During this season, many people feel joyful and are eager to help make other people happy too. We know how much joy animals bring to our lives, so some people choose to give pets as gifts, always with the best intentions. The image of a puppy or kitten under the Christmas tree often induces warm feelings of nostalgia. Unfortunately, the reality of the days and weeks following that moment is not always joyful. In fact, it is not uncommon that pets received as gifts are later surrendered to shelters.
It is important to remember that the faithful companionship of a pet comes with a great deal of responsibility. Adding a family member means a long-term commitment of time, money and energy that may exceed the recipient’s expectations and abilities. Puppies and kittens are adorable but most will live at least 10-15 years and will require food, veterinary care, grooming expenses, toys, bedding & boarding/pet sitting costs, as well as considerable time to train, play with, exercise and care for the pet.
Even if a family is looking forward to a new pet, it is essential that there is an opportunity to meet the pet first and ensure that it is a good fit for their personality, lifestyle and resources. If you want to give an animal as a gift, consider wrapping a photograph and a “gift certificate” for a pet instead of presenting a live animal. You could also give a basket of needed items, such as a collar or harness, leash, toys, cat litter, etc. and an I.O.U. for the pet itself. A successful adoption requires time, planning and careful consideration.
Additionally, the holiday season is a hectic time filled with distractions and dangers even for well -established family pets. There are often visitors coming and going, which creates an opportunity for an anxious or excited pet to escape. Decorations may pose a risk to a curious cat or dog and many abundant food items spread out for meals or treats could lead to gastrointestinal distress. Waiting a few days or weeks to introduce a new family member could make an enormous difference for everyone! - Written by: Dr. Elizabeth Chosa