Christmas will be here before we know it. Santa is making his list and checking it twice. But there is one gift idea that you too should really be thinking twice about before you take the leap – that is giving a pet as a gift.
It seems that at this time of year more than ever, pet stores are full of cute, cuddly, adorable little four legged furry friends who are so tempting to give a home to on a whim. What could be a better Christmas gift?
STOP RIGHT THERE!
NEVER, ever buy a pet on a whim or an impulse. Not for yourself, and NEVER for another person.
In fact, you should never purchase or adopt a pet for another person at all – unless you live in the same home and are willing to love, care for, and take full responsibility for the pet yourself. The only time you should gift a pet is if you are a parent giving your children a pup or kitten, knowing and accepting that, in actual fact, you are the pet parent.
A pet is a very personal choice. It is also an enormous responsibility which many people are not willing or able to take on, or are not prepared for, and unless the potential recipient has already chosen their furry family member for themself, and you’re simply paying for it, you should never make a pet ownership decision for another person – no matter how much you think they will love it.
Too many Christmas pets end up surrendered or abandoned by the time the holiday season has passed – some even by New Year. This is heartbreaking and traumatic for the animal, for the shelter staff, and often even for the person who can’t or is not willing to keep the pet. Many of these pets need to be euthanized purely because they have no forever home.
Before you purchase any pet for yourself or for family members who live with you full time, you need to honestly ask yourself the following questions:
Am I willing to take the pet if it is unwanted or unsuitable for the recipient?
Can they afford to keep and properly care for the pet? Are they willing to?
Will the pet be loved and cared for as a family member for its entire lifespan?
Will the pet suit their lifestyle and home situation?
Does the person already own a pet? Will another be compatible?
Are pets allowed if the person is a tenant?
If you have a vacation coming up in the next few months – don’t get a pet now! Wait until you’re going to be present and committed fully to welcoming the pet into your life.
A pet is not an accessory or a toy that you can discard when it is no longer a baby, or if it becomes annoying or proves to be too much hard work. A dog can live on average up to fifteen years; a cat up to sixteen years or even older – a few even live close to twenty years. Their needs change throughout their life and you’ll most likely outlive your pet, usually requiring hard decisions at the end of their lifespan. Are you willing to undertake these responsibilities?
Pets require constant and consistent love, attention, affection and care, as well as dog walking, grooming, and even dog day care for canine friends. They can be very expensive to keep, and may at times impinge on your lifestyle. They have needs and feelings. You can’t just leave them behind if they become an inconvenience.
Pets should never be given as a surprise gift – unless it’s to your own children or spouse in your own home – and you as the giver should be willing to take on responsibility for the pet for its lifetime if necessary.