During the holidays there are lots of images of puppies and kittens given as gifts. Getting a pet should involve a long-term commitment, and a holiday gift may be well intentioned, but chosen in haste. The cuteness may quickly wear off once the recipient realizes the huge amount of time and money they must devote to a pet. It’s not fair to the puppy and kitten, or the recipient, to impose such a responsibility on such short notice. We have some guidelines for making your decision to give an animal as a gift.
1. Never give a pet as a surprise unless you are a parent, or half of a couple, and are willing to take 100% responsibility for your pet. Talk to the recipient about your gift, and make sure they are ready to take care of a pet. Just because someone wants a pet, doesn’t mean they are prepared to raise one. Health care, training, toys, bedding and food can add up very quickly. To be safe, you can give an IOU for a pet. An IOU allows a person to thoroughly research breed, size, and energy level, so you can find the right pet.
2. We do not recommend that you buy from a pet store. Research each location to see if dogs come from puppy mills. Puppy mills are places where mothers are forced to have more litters than nature intended. Puppies are often given inadequate nutrition and medical care. Remember that rescuing a pet in need can bring a household joy. Research the local animal shelters in your area, if you wish to adopt. Check reputable breeders if you do not wish to adopt.
3. If the recipient is unable to care for their new pet, be prepared to find a caring home, or take full responsibility for the pet’s wellbeing.