Why You Shouldn't Give Pets as Gifts
Thinking of that perfect "Kodak Moment" kind of gift this season? It can be tempting to give that special someone an adorable little ball of fur with a bow around its neck as a heartwarming holiday gift. Sound lovely? The pet stores know how charming this sounds and they are prepared - with plenty of cute fuzzy puppies and soft furry kittens (many of which come from puppy or kitten mills) vying for your attention as you walk past the shop windows. Be wise, and think twice... pets are not an impulse purchase!
Who is ultimately going to be caring for this pet? Are they ready for and willing to take on the responsibility? This is a 10 to 15 or more year commitment to a living breathing being with many needs - not to mention costs. Has this person ever shown the ability to make this kind of commitment? (Just because you wish he would doesn’t mean he can!) Who is going to pay for veterinary bills, spaying or neutering, and food? Are you sure you know what kind of pet is the best fit for this person’s lifestyle and personality? Although that adorable puppy is small, cute and fuzzy now, it doesn't mean your girlfriend is going to love it when it grows into a big galumphing, slobbering, shedding creature that just chewed up her favorite shoes.
Many an unwanted pet is dumped at the local shelter during the months following Christmas. Puppies are A LOT of work. Not everyone is ready to devote the time and effort required for raising a puppy into a well-behaved dog. And most poorly behaved dogs end up at the shelter before their first birthday. Kittens are cute but they can be hard on furniture and carpet if you are not cat-educated and well prepared to guide appropriate scratching behavior. Giving pets as gifts is not fair to the animal or to the person receiving the pet - even if they are pleased initially, it is far too often a set up for failure in the long run.
Adding a pet to the family is a serious, long-term commitment. It's a decision that needs input from everyone who would be involved in caring for the animal. If you are determined to give someone a pet as a present, then WAIT until after the holidays. Give a gift of a collar and leash orpet bed and toys along with a book about choosing a pet and pet care. The key is to let your special someone choose the pet for themselves - after they have had the chance to research the type of pet that will be the best fit for them, and after they have given plenty of thought to the commitment they are making.
So when you walk past that pet store in the mall and are tempted by those wagging tails and purring puffballs, look but don't buy! Just take the accessories, not the pet.