Do pets make good gifts?

It may seem like an innocent question on the surface. After all, how many movies have we seen where a husband gives his beloved wife an adorable puppy for Christmas? Or a daughter is given a kitten for a birthday gift? Or that scene where a boyfriend proposes to his girlfriend with a puppy that has a diamond ring attached to its collar? Such romantic and unspeakably cute gestures. Who doesn’t love a cuddly, furry bundle of joy?

Therein lies the trouble. See, while puppies and kittens look like the perfect gift package, they come with a lot of unexpected baggage and potential problems if the gift isn’t thought through more clearly.

Puppy Wearing Bow

Now, pets can make excellent gifts–but they shouldn’t be given in any situation (for Christmas, birthdays, or otherwise) without the ramifications being fully weighed. This is a problem pet shelters and adoption program face every year during the holiday season. Thousands of puppies and kittens are given as gifts, bringing bright smiles to kids and other family members…until the initial surprise and delight wears off and the person realizes all the work that can go into actually properly rearing their new pet. Once this reality settles in, the new pet is often abandoned at a shelter within weeks (if not days) after the gifting.

The other problem is: What if the person didn’t want a new pet in the first place? This is a very different scenario from the parents who are hearing endless begging from their kids for a new puppy or kitten. If you’re considering getting someone a pet as a present, you should make absolutely sure that the recipient knows what to expect. Yes, that somewhat spoils the surprise, but it doesn’t make the actual gifting any less thoughtful. It’s better than bringing them their new pet only to find they either don’t want to or simply can’t care for them…forcing the animal to once more be dropped off at the nearest shelter.

In the end, thoughtfulness is the biggest factor that can impact a pet being given as a gift. Think about the responsibilities the recipient will be taking on with the puppy or kitten (training, feeding, cleaning, vet visits, etc.). Have you determined that the person in question actually wants a new pet or not? Have you researched the various breeds or mixed-breed varieties out there to determine if one or the other makes the best match for the person getting the gift? Is the gifting decision purely emotional…a way to bring about some brief happiness that quickly fades once you realize the puppy isn’t house-trained?

If you can readily answer all these issues, then maybe going ahead with a pet gifting is a fine idea! Otherwise, it might be time to step back and consider other non-living options to place under the Christmas tree this holiday.

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