I’m just going to come right out and say it…pets as holiday gifts are a bad idea. Pets are living beings who depend on their humans to take care of them. If a person is given a pet and he or she is not ready, prepared or even willing to assume responsibility, what happens then?

As an animal lover, I understand why anyone might think the ultimate gift is a dog or cat. However, if you are at all thinking about giving a pet as a gift, you need to take several things into consideration before making a final decision.

Things to consider:

  • Has the recipient of your gift shown sustained interest? Or has he or she only recently mentioned wanting a pet?
  • Is he or she able to care for a pet?
  • This is long-term commitment.
  • A pet is a huge financial responsibility.
  • If the pet is for a child, the parents need to be ready to assume care of the pet.
  • The holidays may not be the best time to bring home a new animal.
  • It needs to be the right time for an owner. They will need time to transition the pet to the new home.

If you insist that a pet is the best gift for your loved one, give thoughtfully:

  • Never give a pet as a complete surprise. Ask the recipient directly, not their friends or family, if they would like a pet and are ready for the responsibility. It’s tempting to make it a complete surprise, but it may be an unwanted surprise. The last thing anyone wants is the pet to be surrendered to a shelter.
  • Rather than surprising a loved one with a pet, go ahead and pay the adoption fee and let him or her pick out their own dog or cat. Connection is key when selecting a furry friend. Also, if your friend decides that timing isn’t right, the shelter will receive a donation in their name.
  • The recipient should be involved in the pet selection process, and if that is not possible, consider their lifestyle. A puppy is probably not the best choice for Grandma or Grandpa. Consider the pet size, temperament, age, and activity level.
  • Gift only to immediate family. It is more likely that a family member will be up front with you and tell you they do not want a pet whereas friends may be concerned about hurting your feelings.

This anecdotal article provides a humorous account of a college student giving his girlfriend a hamster. Even though it made me laugh, it drives home my point. The owner of the pet should be the one bringing the pet home…by choice.

Add CARE to Your Contacts

While the Holidays are a popular time for families to get new pets, please be aware that CARE is here to help you in times of emergency. Our ER staff is available 24/7/365 to help you with anything from life-threatening injuries to simple illnesses that just can’t wait until your veterinary office opens. If you’re planning to bring a new pet home this Holiday Season, add us into your Contact List just in case. Our number is 704.457.2300. One simple rule to follow as a pet owner is to always be prepared.

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