To Give or Not To Give
The idea of a cute puppy popping out of a box or a kitten sleeping under a Christmas tree is adorable and romantic. Unlike most gifts however, a living animal is a life long commitment.
Giving the gift of a pet for Christmas may seem like a wonderful idea at the time. Many people view pets as a commodity and the novelty wears off quickly; I’ve heard this countless times from clients who have purchased pets for their children. Pets require a lot of time and care, which is something that can be especially hard to find around the holidays. If you aren’t prepared to properly train and care for your puppy or you don’t want a new kitten shredding your curtains perhaps another gift is best.
Improper care and lack of training will eventually lead to behavioral issues. According to the SPCA, 47% of dogs and 42% of cats are surrendered for behavioral problems. Countless pets that start off as gifts wind up in a shelter and many never find a suitable home. Before you buy the fluffy kitten or floppy puppy in the window at the mall for your child or significant other, think carefully whether it is the right choice.
Tips to consider before gifting a pet:
1. Don't make it a surprise
Everyone should be involved in the purchase or adoption of a new pet, even the recipient. A surprise puppy wearing a bow under a tree may be more festive but it is better to ask up front.
2. Purchase an adoption certificate
Consider paying an adoption fee in advance and allow the recipient to go and choose their perfect pet. This way they can choose a pet they connect with and give a much needed home to a shelter animal. You'd be surprised how many purebred dogs winds up in shelters!
3. Give a pet to immediate family only
Your friend may not want a new pet and does not know how to kindly say no. A new pet should be a family decision.
4. No impulse shopping
Acting on impulse doesn't give you the chance to select a pet based on size, temperament, activity level, and grooming needs. The kittens in the box at the gas station may be very tempting, but you went to the store for milk; not kittens!