The idea of giving a pet as a gift is not a new one. We’ve all seen movies or read stories depicting the adorable new puppy or kitten waiting under the tree or popping out of a gift box, tied with a pretty red bow.
Although the excitement of a new pet can’t be beat, giving pets as gifts should not be taken lightly. Not everyone is ready for the years of commitment that come along with all of that cuteness, so it’s important to do your research ahead of time.
Rules of Engagement
Buying a pet for your kids, parents, or significant other sounds great in theory, but if the recipient isn’t willing or able to devote the time and energy into caring for the pet, he or she is at risk of joining the millions who are surrendered to shelters each year. Consider the following before giving pets as gifts:
- Don’t be sneaky – Pets are an invaluable addition to life, but not everyone is ready for the commitment. Always ask and receive permission before giving someone a pet as a gift.
- Ask for specifics – Before getting a pet for another person, take the time to ask the recipient what type of pet he or she would like, including details like energy level, size, age, and species.
- Consider the cost – Owning a pet comes with a significant cost. Besides food, there’s yearly wellness exams, vaccines, parasite preventives, and many other unexpected expenses.
- Offer your help – If the pet is very young or has not been spayed or neutered yet, set up an appointment and pay for it ahead of time.
Alternatives to Giving Pets as Gifts
Even if you’ve decided against giving a pet as a gift, there are still many ways to give something meaningful to the animal lover in your life, including:
- Making a donation to the recipient’s favorite animal charity in his or her name
- Taking the recipient to a farm or nature preserve
For kids, consider a stuffed animal as a fun and cuddly replacement for a live pet. Along with a stuffed version of the child’s favorite animal, include fun accessories or a book relating to the animal.