Many people purchase pets as gifts with good intentions only to discover their new pet takes more time and care than anticipated or the recipient isn’t as thrilled as they’d hoped. Caged animals need daily handling to become loving members of the family. Puppies and kittens left in unfamiliar surroundings may get into more trouble or discover possible dangers in the home.
Giving pets as holiday gifts is especially unfair to the recipient and the animal. The holidays can be extremely stressful for pets, as most families spend a lot of time away from their homes or will have many guests. Pets may interpret holiday decorations to be toys, and end up eating them and becoming sick. Often, well-meaning new owners may feed a pet a "special holiday treat" that is inappropriate and makes their new pet ill. Here are some tips on how to give a pet as a gift in a way that works for both the pet and the new owner:
- Make sure the person receiving the pet really wants one. Many animals end up in shelters each year because someone didn’t want the pet in the first place. Make sure the person receiving the pet wants the breed or species you are buying. Help the new owner match a pet’s needs and temperament to his lifestyle.
- Research pet possibilities. After purchasing a pet and bringing him home, the last thing you want is to discover you don’t know how to properly care for him. Improper care makes the animal suffer and you will invest more money in the long run trying to rectify the situation if something should go terribly wrong. Make sure there is enough time to spend properly training the animal. If the new owner of a puppy is gone 12 hours a day, who will house-train him? The number one reason pets end up in a shelter is for behavioral issues. Many of the issues people face with new pets can be avoided with proper training.
- Purchase supplies as gifts. Instead of purchasing a pet for the holidays, buy the necessary items for keeping the pet happy and healthy. Purchase care/training books, containment, food, feeding supplies, toys, etc. Obtaining all the necessary equipment as a gift will allow the new owner to be prepared for his new pet.
If you still would like to give a pet as a gift, try giving a gift certificate for the price of the animal so you can pick out the perfect pet together when you have more time to devote to socializing and training. Take your friend or family member to a selected breeder, shelter or pet store after the New Year and help him select a pet. You can also give a photo of a particular type of pet as a gift and let him know that you would like to purchase him this pet after the holiday chaos has settled and the house has returned to its normal routine.