Let’s set a scene. It’s Christmas, and your little cousins are tearing into their presents. After the dust has settled and every gift in sight has been unwrapped, you announce that one gift has yet to be opened. Your cousins’ expressions transform from expectation to glee as you go into the spare room and emerge carrying a tiny wiggly fur ball.
It makes a pretty rosy picture, right? Nothing could bring more joy to holiday celebrations than introducing a furry little bundle, and rare is the child who doesn’t want a puppy or kitten of their own.
Unfortunately, giving a pet as a gift at the holidays can be a risky move. While most pets are given as gifts with the best of intentions, those intentions don’t always play out quite as expected. Before you run out to buy your grandmother a new parakeet, take a moment to consider the following:
Reasons Not to Buy a Pet as a Gift
- They may be unwanted.
While many people love animals, there are many possible reasons why your gift may not be well-received. The recipient may be allergic, have enough pets already, want a different species, or simply not have the room or time. The reason doesn’t matter. The important thing is that a pet should always go to an individual or family who actually wants and is prepared to care for them.
- They’re an expensive gift.
A pet is the gift that keeps on giving, in terms of love, but it’s also a gift that will ultimately cost the recipient a lot. Unless you’re prepared to continue covering the costs of the pet’s food, toys, and veterinary care, you’re saddling the recipient with a lot of responsibility and expenses.
- They might be a poor fit.
Just because you love the gentle kitten you found at the pound, doesn’t mean they’re the right choice for the family with two infant children. Pets come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities, and ultimately, the person who will be responsible for that pet should be the one picking them out.
How to Responsibly Purchase a Pet as a Gift
- Ask ahead of time.
Not every gift has to be a surprise, and when the gift is another life, it should never come as a shock. Ask the recipient ahead of time whether they would like to receive a pet, and make sure you’re getting the right kind of pet for them.
Another good rule of thumb is to only give pet gifts to family members. A friend might be too polite to turn you down, even if the pet is unwanted. If you don’t think the recipient would be comfortable rejecting the pet, then a pet isn’t a good gift for them.
- Allow the recipient to choose the pet.
As we stated above, not all people and pets are going to be good matches. The best way to make sure the pet is a good fit is to allow the recipient to choose their own. Give them a gift card for their local humane society, or promise to cover the adoption and neuter/spay costs when they find the furry friend of their choice.
- Wait until after the holidays.
Even if your gift is intended as a Christmas or Hanukkah present, delay actually picking out the perfect pal until after the holidays are over. The holidays are a hectic time, often filled with a lot of visitors and health hazards to pets. In order to spend the necessary time with your new furry friend, it’s always best to wait until things settle back into a routine before introducing a new pet to a home.
In the place of a live body, wrap a collar or chew toy for the recipient to open on the day of, and wait to make the actual purchase after the holidays.