Pets are not just for holidays. Pets are a lifetime commitment, not just for the month that they are received. Getting a pet or adding an additional one to your household is a highly personal decision; one not to be taken lightly nor on the last minute shopping frenzy just because those puppies in front of the supermarket were so cute. Just as you wouldn’t let someone pick a best friend or spouse for you, be respectful and not pick a family pet for someone without the input of all the family members involved. Does the receiver have time for proper care (usually involving grooming, play, exercise, training, medical care) and enough finances to do it properly? Most people do understand that animals need proper physical care but animals also need proper mental care as well. Dogs need daily mental stimulation that comes in the form of play, training and socialization. Cats, as well, need daily play and socialization. All of these things spell out time and money. Pets are great if you truly know what you are getting into. Pets do enrich and enhance our lives, there is no doubt! Scientific studies have shown how just petting a furry, four-legged critter can lower our blood pressure and respiration rate. Caring for one can help abate depression and gets us out to exercise and meet other people. Ask the receiver first before making a plan to give a pet as a gift. Just because someone finds a puppy cute doesn’t mean that they want to care for an adult dog for its lifetime. An animal is going to be an adult for a much longer time than a baby, so give a stuffed animal if the receiver wants small, cute, and cuddly and no mess. And let’s talk about children. They mean well, they beg, plead and cajole. They look at you with those big innocent eyes with the adage, “I will take care of it, really I will! You won’t even know that it’s here!” Pets are a huge responsibility even for an adult. Unless your child has demonstrated exceptional maturity and responsibility, remember that you, the parent, are the real caregiver for an animal brought into your family. Animals who become homeless just because little Johnny lost interest or didn’t live up to his agreement with you in caring for his pets are commonplace in many shelters around the country. Don’t add to these statistics. You, the parent, must want and accept ultimate responsibility for any animal brought into your home no matter how many promises little Susie has made to you.
Try these ideas instead:
- Wrap a toy or pet item as the gift.
- Give a book on pets instead, preferably on choosing a pet.
- Give a Humane Society Gift Certificate and let them choose their own pet.