Sometimes it’s tough getting a gift for someone who has everything. Another pair of socks, another action figure toy… these are pretty unoriginal ideas that may not have the ‘wow’ factor you’re looking for. A pet, many people think, is a wonderful gift that can bring joy, excitement, and even love into a household. Pets can make great gifts, but you must be sure that you’ve considered all the options before deciding to check one off of someone’s Christmas list.
The fact is, the number of dogs and cats that end up in pounds in December and January is 15% higher than the rest of the year. This is because of unwanted animals being given as gifts to homes that can’t or don’t want to take care of them, or people going on holiday and cannot afford to put their pet in a kennel. So if you’re thinking of a pet as a Christmas gift this year, make sure you’ve read through the rest of this article and be 100% certain you’ve considered everything before making this important decision.
Most important is to remind yourself that a pet is a long term commitment, and not suitable for people who are likely to be travelling and moving.
1. Do they want a pet?
A pet is not the same as a normal ‘unwanted’ gift. If you receive a blender you already own, for example, you can always just wrap it up again and give it to someone else. Regifting an animal is not as simple, however. Animals need to be well cared for and treated like a member of the family. Giving a pet to someone who doesn’t want one puts unnecessary stress on everyone involved. The pet may not be properly cared for, or worse, it may be given away or abandoned.
2. Can they take care of a pet?
Of course there are many people out there who want a pet but may not be in a good position to care for one. Sometimes they may not even realise this themselves. They may not realise the work involved in raising a pet; their work hours or travel schedule may not leave much time for feeding, walking, and caring for a pet. And then there’s the cost – not just of day to day care, but for vets bills when the unexpected comes up. It’s up to you as the gift giver to determine whether the person you’re buying for is financially secure, and is in a living arrangement that will provide stability for the pet.
3. Can they keep a pet its whole life?
A dog can live for 15-20 years, and a cat maybe longer. Is the person to whom you plan to gift a pet able to care for it for the rest of its life? It’s probably not a good idea to give a bouncing new puppy to an elderly person, or someone with uncertain living conditions, such as a student. Of course, an older rescue dog could suit an older person who is seeking companionship.
4. Do they have health issues?
Pets are great friends and wonderful family members. Unfortunately, however, they can also make some people feel sick. Asthma and allergies can make it almost impossible for some sufferers to keep a pet at home. There are many people who would be willing to give it a try, and sometimes it does work out, but it’s not always a good idea to take the risk. Too often an allergy or asthma sufferer thinks that having all that dander and fur in the house will be fine, but end up giving the animal away after some time. Even if they don’t give it away, there could be serious health ramifications as time goes on.
5. Can they continue to pay for the pet?
Pets are expensive. There’s a cost in feeding them, grooming them, and keeping up with their health care. Unless you offer to pay for all of these things, giving someone a pet means that the person receiving it will have to pay out of their pocket. This may be an undesired and unexpected cost, and could cause either financial issues for the receiver, or health and safety issues for the pet.
There may be no better sight in the world than a child’s face lighting up when they open a box and meet their new best friend. The smiles, tears, and joy can make up a moment that parents will cherish forever. Having a pet to care for can also teach a child responsibility and independence. However giving a pet to a child also comes with its own set of considerations to ensure that these happy moments can continue throughout the pet’s life.
For one, kids have a tendency to want something very badly only to be bored of it soon after. Make sure that this isn’t the case with a pet. Talk with the child to make sure that a pet is something they really do want, and that they have a responsibility towards as well.. A pet should never be a complete surprise.
Even if you’ve spoken with the child several times and it really seems as though they do what a pet, they may not realise all the work that’s involved. Kids tend to make a lot of promises about walking and feeding to get the pet that they want, but a lot of the time don’t end up following through. If you’re thinking of buying a pet for your child, make sure you’re prepared to do a lot of the work if your child doesn’t follow through with their promises.
When and how to buy?
If you do decide to give someone a pet, try to adopt one from a local shelter, rescue, or reputable breeder. There are many puppy and kitten ‘mills’ that make bit profits off pets, and their breeding stock are often grossly mistreated. Avoid buying a pet online or from a pet shop – these are often the sources of dogs and cats from pet mills. Make sure you know where your pet has come from, and don’t be fooled by pictures on a website! For the animals sake, try to not bring the pet to its new home on the day of the Christmas gathering. It can be stressful enough going to a new place as it is; with lots of people around the animal could get even more stressed or feel neglected during all the festivities.
Our pets give us years of love, devotion, and memories. They’re our friends and family and rely on us to provide for their every need, and they deserve a caring home in which to live. If you’ve gone through all this information and still feel that the gift of a pet will be fantastic for both the animal and your loved one, then happy gifting!
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