Animal shelters and pet stores are often at odds during the Christmas season.
Many shelters refuse to adopt out their animals for fear that the pets will be given as gifts to unwilling or unknowledgable recipients. Pet stores, on the other paw, stock their windows with adorable kittens and puppies and market them as the perfect gift idea, often at bargain prices.
Careful Consideration, Research and Certainty are Important
‘Tis the season for surprises but giving a pet as a gift is rarely a good idea. Careful consideration, plenty of research, and the certainty that the animal will be wanted, cared for, and loved for a lifetime are all decisions and commitments best made by the recipient of the surprise.
Is the Recipient Capable of Providing Proper Care?
Even if the word “pet” appears on someone’s wish list, is that person truly aware of the time, energy, and finances required to properly care for an animal? A good quality diet, consistent veterinary care, exercise, and plenty of bonding and play time are required for any type of pet. And, depending on the type of pet, the list can also include professional training, grooming, boarding, licensing, petsitter, dog walker and perhaps even daycare.
Are There Other People or Animals in the House?
Other considerations include everyone who will be living with the new pet. Have they been consulted? Are they willing to help with the pet’s daily needs? Does anyone suffer from allergies? If there are other animals already in the home, would they welcome a newcomer? Pets who are territorial, aggressive, elderly, submissive, or suffer from a chronic illness may not willingly display the welcome mat, even if it is in keeping with the spirit of the season.
Christmas Activities May Prevent a New Pet from Learning House Rules, Bonding
Even if the recipient has included “pet” on his wish list, introducing a new animal into the home during the busy Christmas season can be a recipe for disaster. Travelling, decorating, and welcoming houseguests will prevent a new pet’s need to relax in his environment, learn the house rules, and enjoy quiet bonding time.
Busy Season Brings Additional Health Hazards for Pets
Seasonal health hazards add to the list of reasons why a pet shouldn’t be given as a Christmas gift. Electrical cords dangling from Christmas trees (electric shock), food and houseplants (chocolate can be toxic; some houseplants can cause stomach upsets and even death), gift bows, ribbons, turkey bones (choking) are just a few examples. Keeping an eye out for a new pet during this busy season can put even the most organized person over the top.
Wrap Up a Promise Instead of a Pet
Instead of wrapping up a pet, wrap up a promise to be redeemed after the holiday season. Give a gift certificate from an animal shelter or an accessory such as a toy, bed, treats, collar and leash, or a book on pet care and health.