Over the years numerous movies and television shows have taken the view that giving a puppy, kitten, or other pet is a loving and/or romantic gesture; however, before giving a fuzzy faced puppy or kitten as a gift this holiday season, we encourage gift givers to give their wiggly bundle of joy thorough consideration first. Thousands of unwanted pets find their way to shelters every year, and many face euthanasia due to over crowding and their inability to find a new home. Pets are often traumatized when separated from their families and do not adapt well to a shelter setting, which may make them appear unadoptable. Depending on the recipient, there are many things that must be taken into account prior to giving a pet as a gift. A few things to consider before giving a pet as a gift:
1. Lifestyle of the person that would receive the pet – Do they travel a lot or work long hours that would prevent them from having the necessary time to spend with the pet? How will the pet fit into their existing family?
2. Lifespan of the pet and the person – Birds can live exceptionally long lives, and in many cases will outlive their owner; however, the same can be true when giving an elderly person a puppy or kitten, which may live 15 – 20+ years. Research breeds and their estimated life expectancy.
3. Expenses the pet will encounter – Don’t just consider if the recipient can afford to provide food and shelter for the pet, you also need to consider necessary veterinary care including vaccinations, medications, examinations, and potential unexpected medical conditions.
4. Pets as presents for children – Having a pet can be a great way for a child to learn responsibility; however, children often become bored with a pet after a short period of time, which may leave parents to care for the pet.
Alternatives to giving pets as presents is to purchase gift cards or gift certificates for a pet store or shelter in the recipients’ area or make a contribution to a shelter or non-profit organization in honor of the recipient. Another option is to take the recipient to pick out their own pet versus selecting a pet for them.
Ask us at Animal Central for more information on pet ownership or visit: http://vetmedicine.about.com/library/weekly/aa113000a.htm
Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff