With Christmas coming, a lot of people wonder whether it’s ok to give someone a pet as a gift. For years, animal shelters discouraged this practice. The fear was, if a person didn’t chose the animal themselves, they would be less likely to bond with it. Also, surprise gifts might not really be welcome surprises. All of those “gifts” would probably wind up back at the shelter.
Recent research has shown that this isn’t necessarily true. In fact, reports from the ASPCA show there’s less likelihood that a pet will be surrendered because it was an unwanted gift than for most other reasons (allergies, no time, etc.).
So, gifting someone with a pet can be a wonderful idea. However, there are still questions you should be able to answer before you do.
- Do they really want a pet? Just because you think your mother needs a companion doesn’t mean she wants a cat. Pets are a responsibility that some people aren’t looking for. If the person has never expressed a desire to get a pet, you probably shouldn’t get one for them.
- Can they afford a pet? Food, supplies, and medical bills are obvious expenses, but there may also be expenses you don’t know about. For example, if they live in a rental property, they may have to pay additional rent or other fees.
- Can they care for a pet? Will your child really care for the pet? If not, are you willing to do it? Is your father physically capable of handling that active dog? Does your sister have a work schedule that’s suitable for a puppy?
In other words, you should feel confident that the gift you’re giving will be a welcome addition to the person’s life, not a burden.
The Big Surprise
- If you’re giving a pet as a gift to a child, consider choosing the animal yourself so that you can make sure to pick one that’s appropriate for your family and lifestyle. You don’t want your child to fall in love with an animal they can’t have. In this case, surprising them with a pet might be a good option.
- If you’re giving a gift to an older child or an adult, they may want to choose the pet themselves. Surprise them with dog or cat supplies and card letting them know you’ll take them to the shelter to pick out their new companion. In this case, not surprising them might be a good option.
Helping someone experience the love of a companion pet can be one of the most wonderful things you’ll ever do. Just be sure to think it through and ask yourself the right questions first.