‘Tis the season, and as the holidays approach, maybe you’ve decided to adopt a pet as a gift for someone close to you. As we all know, every pet is a gift. And at the holidays, it may seem natural to give a pet as a present. This can be a wonderful way to help shelter pets in need as well as add joy and fulfillment to the animal lover in your life.
The thought of a new pet can bring excitement, but one of the biggest mistakes people make is surprising their partner or child with a new pet. Although it may be a surprise, it may also backfire.
First Things First
The first thing to address is whether or not the recipient is ready to care for and commit to a new pet. Even the most dedicated pet lover may not be in a position to take a new pet into their home. Pets require a lot of attention, time, socialization, and money. Believe it or not, it’s important to actually ask the recipient if they want a pet. Once you’ve established that they do, and are in a position to responsibly care for a new pet, you are in a position to proceed.
If the receiver is a child, the ASPCA recommends waiting until age 10-13 before considering a dog as a gift for a child. At that age, children have a greater capacity for responsibility and more interest in taking care of a pet.
Remember that pet ownership is personal. Each species and breed of pet is unique and has its own needs, personality, and care requirements. Pets have different behaviors and tendencies. Puppies and kittens are a lot of work, especially during the busy holiday season. Adult pets have fully formed personalities that can be more easily and perfectly matched to their new pet parent.
Wrap Up Excitement
Although the thought of a child opening a box with a puppy inside may seem adorable, it is a bad idea for everyone involved. Instead of unwrapping a package with a pet inside, your recipient will get something even better: the chance to pick their perfect companion at the local shelter or rescue organization.
How you lead up to the visit is up to you! Consider these options:
- Wrap up a stuffed animal in the likeness of the pet you’d like to give with a note promising to visit the local shelter to pick out the perfect match.
- Give the necessary supplies for pet care, such as a collar and leash, food bowls, crate, brushes, cat tree, or aquarium.
- Wrap up learning tools such as books, videos, or magazines that discuss how to care for the pet. You could also give a gift certificate for puppy training classes or the like.
- A homemade gift certificate for wellness exams, grooming, dental care or even pet insurance costs.
Adopting a Pet for the Holidays
Consider that the holidays are very busy time, and it may be stressful to add a new pet to the chaos. Pets take time to acclimate to a new home and routine. Visitors from out of town and holiday gatherings can be stressful to any pet, let alone a new pet. It may be best for everyone to wait a couple of weeks until the excitement of holiday time has dissipated and a new pet can come into a quiet and low key environment.
Then, visit your local shelter or adoption event and pick out that perfect pet together. The good news behind all this planning is that pet presents generally work out. There is little evidence to suggest that giving pets as presents is a bad idea. A survey conducted by the ASPCA found that eighty-six percent of pets given as gifts stayed in their homes, and that 96% of respondents said that receiving a pet as a gift either improved or had no effect on their love and attachment to the pet.