Pets as Holiday gifts; Naughty or Nice?

During the first few weeks of the new year, animal shelters and humane organizations see a steady stream of cats, dogs, small animals and other pets that were given to someone as a Christmas present or holiday gift.

In the vast majority of cases, giving an animal as a gift for Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter or another holiday is a bad idea and very frequently, the ordeal ends with the dog, cat, pocket pet or other animal at the humane society’s animal shelter. But fortunately, there are a few responsible alternatives for people who like the idea of giving a pet as a gift. This article will explore the reasons to avoid giving a puppy or kitten as a Christmas gift, while providing humane and sensible alternatives that will make for a happy pet and happy pet owner.

Why is it a Bad Idea to Give a Puppy or Kitten as a Christmas Present?

There are several reasons why pets that are given as holiday gifts rarely remain in their new home. Consider the following reasons why kittens and puppies make bad Christmas gifts.

  • The holiday season is hectic. This makes it difficult to bond and care for a new cat, dog, rabbit or other pet. Kittens and puppies require a strict schedule, lots of attention, training, care and love. Combine the pet’s needs with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and the result is often a pet with behavioral issues, an overwhelmed pet owner, or both.
  • It’s important for a new pet owner to connect with his new pet. It may seem like a good idea to pick out an adorable puppy or kitten for a parent, child or significant other, but this should always be avoided. Picking a pet for another person is much like arranging a marriage. The new pet owner must personally select his/her new cat, dog, guinea pig, hamster, ferret or other pet. When an animal lover decides to adopt a particular animal, there is always an underlying attraction – a reason why that particular person picked that specific pet. This initial attraction is vital – it’s the first step in the bonding process between a human and an animal who will be sharing each other’s home and lives for the next 1, 2, 5 10 or even 20 years. Selecting an animal to adopt is a very personal process that should be left to the new pet owner.
  • It may not be the right time for a new pet. It’s one thing to say “I’d love a dog.” It’s another thing to actually visit a breeder or animal shelter to adopt that new dog. Giving a dog, cat or other pet to another person can thrust the new pet owner into a bad position: the new cat, kitten, dog, puppy, ferret or other animal may be cute, and it may have a great personality and this may compel the new pet owner to keep the pet. The emotional element of pet ownership can override the sensible, logical mind that says “I don’t have enough time for a puppy,” “I don’t have enough money to afford the vet bills,” or “I travel too much to keep a cat.” This can place the pet owner and the animal in a less-than-ideal situation that’s unfair to both animal and human.

Alternatives to Giving a Dog, Cat or Other Pet as a Christmas Present

While it’s never a good idea to give a live animal as a Christmas gift, Hanukkah present, birthday gift or Valentines Day gift, there are a few creative alternatives for someone who wants to give the gift of animal companionship to a loved one.

Give the gift of a few basic pet supplies or a small gift certificate to Petco or PetSmart. This will evoke the question of “What do I need this for? I don’t have a dog/cat/hamster/ferret/iguana/etc.” It’s then that the gift giver can explain that his real gift is an all-expenses-paid trip to the animal shelter or breeder to select his new companion. This enables the gift recipient to select his own pet and it also gives the soon-to-be pet owner an opportunity to postpone the addition of a new pet to the household until the time is right.

Another idea? Create a homemade pet gift certificate, entitling the recipient to the kitten/puppy/ferret/etc. of his choice at the local animal shelter or humane society.

Copyright Mia Carter

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