Pass It On! Why You Should Never Give a Pet as a Present.
Well-intentioned people often make mistakes. And one of them is giving pets – puppies, kittens, hamsters guinea pigs, ferrets, caged birds — to people who never asked for them or who are not equipped either financially, emotionally or in terms of the physical environment they can provide for a pet.
This holiday season, think about what options you have to help animals, either now or in the New Year. Remember, you can always give the gift of paying an adoption fee for someone who has been approved and vetted as a new pet owner with VHS. That way, you know the animal will be going to responsible forever home.
Here are a few reminders that support the widely held belief and experience about giving pets as gifts. Please share this!
- Adopting a puppy or a kitten is a 10-20 year financial and emotional commitment. Many people are unprepared for this reality which is why so many animals end up homeless and neglected.
- A child’s attention may be better suited to a stuffed toy. We’ve been there. We want to make children happy – but they lose interest in caring for pets. And then the parents’ resent the work. Many animals in rescue were former “pets”—all because a child or family lost interest and no one took the time to provide proper training and care. Dogs need outdoor exercise every single day, and a huge investment of time is required to housetrain and train a puppy. Typically, children are not able to handle this responsibility.
- Has the person or family actually expressed a desire to adopt an animal? What type of pet would best suit them? For example, a laid-back adult dog or an older lap cat is often a better fit than a wild and crazy puppy or kitten. If a family decides to adopt an animal, every member of the family should be part of the decision after having discussed the obligations and commitments involved. If you give an animal as a gift, there’s a good chance that the recipient never wanted an animal in the first place, which never ends well.
- Does the person or family have adequate space, time, and money to care for a pet? What is their employment or financial situation? Is it stable? Are they home enough to spend time with a pet? Caring for a pet requires a lifelong commitment to that pet. A dog might cost up to $25,000 or more over the course of its lifetime. And a cat is not far behind. Costs can add up quickly not only for food but also for vet visits and emergency care when the puppy eats a chocolate bar or a golf ball or the cat munches on a toxic plant. Is the recipient a busy person?
- What does the future hold? Are there any foreseeable life changes that could make caring for a pet difficult? What about the unforeseeable ones? Is the person or family member elderly? Or likely to move? Is there a plan in place for the pet should circumstances change? Also, some people don’t realize that they are allergic to pets until the animal is already in their care. Again, the adoption of a pet must be carefully considered from all perspectives – another reason why giving them as gifts is just not the right idea.