It seems completely harmless, the idea of presenting someone you care about with a large box only to watch as their face changes to a look of pure joy when they see a cute little puppy or kitten popping out with a red ribbon tied to their collar. However, unlike other gifts, living animals can’t just be returned or exchanged if it turns out to be a bad fit.
That is why we should never give pets as Christmas gifts. It’s just a bad idea all around. Here are some of the things you should be considering NOT giving a pet as a Christmas gift. Christmas time is already pretty hectic as it is, do you really want to make someone or some family even more bonkers during the busiest time of the year by sticking them with a new family addition? Pets are a long term commitment – dogs can live for 12-15 years on average, while cats can easily live more than 15 years. Unless you know for a fact that this is exactly the kind of commitment that someone has been looking for, don’t give them a pet. Get them a pair of socks instead.
Often times people view pets as commodities rather than living beings who require a lot of care as well as plenty of time and attention. If someone isn’t willing to take the time to properly care for and train a new pet, then don’t give them the gift of a pet for Christmas. Improper care or training can lead to behavioral problems, which if not addressed, can lead to even bigger problems. There are endless numbers of pets that end up shelters or taken in to be euthanized for “behavior problems” that could have easily been avoided with proper care and training.
Now, very rarely is there ever an occasion that giving a pet as a gift is a great idea. But, if you diligently do your homework, there might be a rare exception, so here are some tips for giving pets as presents:
Always ask first. Never surprise someone with a pet gift. Even if you know full well that the person is on the lookout for a pet, you need to ask first in order to be sure what kind of pet to get them. You want to make sure that you’re not getting your elderly parents an energetic puppy that will be too much for them to handle when an elderly house-trained dog would’ve done just as fine as a companion.
Give pets to immediate family only. Buying someone else’s child a puppy is not a good idea, even if you know they want one. Keep the pet gift-giving to your parents or your children only.
Make sure they can care for the pet properly. Before you buy your elderly mother that dog, be sure she can physically keep up with it. And before you add a new puppy to the family, make sure that your kids are old enough to assist in its care. If the answer is no, then don’t get the pet.
Avoid impulsive decisions. Buying a pet the same as buying a pair of shoes. It should not be a light impulse one day that you’re at the mall. It’s a decision that should involve the entire family.
Wait until the holidays are over. The holidays are a busy time. So if you are serious about adding to the family, consider doing so when things start to quiet down in January and February. That way, you can have the entire family sit down and discuss everything involved. That way you have time to do your homework, get all the supplies you will need, and head down to the local shelter in order to adopt rather than shop.
So this holiday season, definitely avoid the impulse to buy the fluffy puppy sitting in the window of the pet store just because the kids would love it. Instead, really think about whether it would be a good idea or not to add to your family. Unfortunately, Christmas is the time of year when many pets end up being given as holiday presents only to end up as products of the shelter system weeks later. Don’t be that jerk that feeds into it by impulsively giving a pet as a gift. Instead, always give plenty of time and forethought into the decision. And even if the right decision is to expand your family, always ADOPT and DON’T SHOP.