The holiday season is near. It’s a time of the year where many want to give the gift of a new pet. Dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, birds, fish and many other animals are often gifted to friends and family during the season. It also becomes a time of the year when more animals than ever are abandoned at shelters, or on the streets. Many months or years after the holidays, people give away or abandon the animals they’ve received or given as gifts during the holidays. If you’ll be giving the gift of a fur baby of any kind, always consider a few key things:
- Local requirements and/or laws for having an animal: All too often, pets have to be abandoned due to lease terms or other issues. Be sure to check with your local regulations as well as your leasing manager before you adopt to make sure that you can have a pet.
- Cost for owning a pet: Another issue with pet ownership that many overlook when gifting pets is the cost that can be associated with care. Food, shelter, toys, water, and veterinarian expenses can add up. Be sure to not just factor these costs in for the near term, but for the entire duration of the animal’s life (10 years or more). If you’re not 100% sure that you or whoever you are gifting the animal to can meet the financial cost of the pet for its lifetime, reconsider giving the pet as a gift.
- Time: Pets need attention, and they need time to get acclimated to new homes, training and other effort on their owners’ behalf. Do you have the time and patience to be able to ensure your new gifted pet can be trained, giving exercise, attention, etc.? What about if you travel frequently, do you have someone who can care for the animal while you are away? These are the questions to ask when giving the gift of a pet — especially with young children. Will your little ones be able to dedicate the time to help care for the dog, cat or other animal if you give it as a gift?
- Commitment: It is very traumatizing for any animal to be abandoned by its family. All too often, people assume that shelters will take care of the animals they do not want or can no longer take care of. But in reality, animals often languish in shelters, including for long durations for time, despite the care provided there. The stress from being in a caged environment can affect them, causing depression. Many shelters also euthanize animals if they are not immediately or fairly quickly adopted. Think twice before giving the gift of a pet or taking a pet in if you are not certain a commitment to the pet can be made for its entire lifetime.
For those who are ready to give or receive a pet, willing to make the commitment of time, cost and care over its lifetime, a dog, cat or other animal can be a great addition to your family. It’s certainly a gift for the animal too — millions of animals need homes every year. Please consider adopting a shelter, rescue or other animal in need, an older animal or even a special needs pet. Older animals, rescues, etc. can often be a better fit for a family and its time/needs than baby puppies, kittens, etc.