reconsider pets as a gift

Photo Credit: diane39 / Getty Images

In a world where people seem more disconnected from each other all the time, Christmas, Hanukkah, and other winter holidays represent hope. Puppies and kittens symbolize innocence, joy, and unlimited energy. Holidays and pets seem like a perfect match. After all, who hasn’t watched a Hallmark movie where a child lifts the cover off a Christmas present to find a puppy inside as mom and dad beam in the background?

Unfortunately, real life doesn’t always provide a happily ever after ending. Children may love being surprised with a new pet but aren’t always ready for the responsibility of caring for it. Even when parents step up to tend to the needs of the animal they brought home, they sometimes resent it. The exuberant puppy or kitten could prove too much for the entire family and end up in an animal shelter by the new year.

A Pet Can Be a Wonderful Gift in the Right Circumstances 

Giving a child, lonely older relative, or a friend a pet can be a thoughtful gift if that person feels prepared to assume the responsibilities of pet ownership. Despite the commercials and holiday movies, surprising someone in this way is rarely a good idea. It is important to check with the recipient first to see if such a gift would be welcome. This is especially true if you plan to give a pet to a child whose parents don’t necessarily want the financial obligation. Some other things to consider include:

  • Make sure no one in the home is allergic to animal dander.

  • If the intended recipient lives in an apartment or other type of rental housing, he or she may not be allowed to have a pet. Be sure to check this out ahead of time.

  • Is the pet a good match for the new owner’s lifestyle? Think about his or her age, any physical limitations, the personalities of everyone in the household, and whether other pets already live there.

If everything looks like a go, consider allowing the gift recipient to choose his or her own new pet. You can offer to take them to a shelter and pay all the fees associated with the adoption. Choosing to adopt from a shelter rather than purchase from a pet store or breeder gives a deserving animal another chance at finding a happy home. Shelters screen dogs and cats before placing them for adoption to ensure they would make a good family pet. They are also spayed or neutered, up-to-date on their shots, and have passed a behavioral evaluation. It is a win-win for everyone involved.

Chaska Valley Veterinary Service wishes you and your family a happy holiday season. If the recipient of the holiday pet lives nearby, please let him or her know we would be happy to help them with the health and safety needs of the new arrival.

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