Who can resist the heart melting charm of a tiny wiggly puppy or kitten wrapped in a bow? Not many. But what happens once that holiday honeymoon phase is over? There’s a reason most shelters will not adopt out to people who are looking to give a pet as a present. It’s because pets are not toys or toasters, you can’t just toss them aside when you’re done. Before surprising someone with a puppy, kitten, or other critter for the holidays, consider the following:
Not everyone has the time or money to take care of pets
Pets can be a 10+ year commitment, some cats and dogs even live into their 20’s. That is a long time to spend with someone (Kim Kardashian was only married for 1/80th of that time span!) According to Pets for Patriots, the average pet costs between $9,400-$14,000 over it’s life. Even if someone really wants to get a pet, there may be factors as to why they haven’t yet. Are they a student? Do they like to travel? Do they end up frequently working 18 hour work days? Pets require a lot of time and money, and not everyone is able to give that.
You don’t know their tastes
Maybe you love Persian kittens. You’d never mind spending an hour every day brushing their gorgeous coats, and you vacuum all the time anyways. Guess what? Not everyone is the same. Another reason surprising someone with a pet is a pretty awful idea is because you don’t know what their tastes in pets are like! Maybe they’re looking for a couch potato companion, or maybe they’re looking for a friend to go on their daily jog with. Either way, you don’t know what they’re looking for in a pet, and all this will lead to is a mutual unhappiness between the pet and it’s new owner.
So if you still really want to get someone a pet for the holidays:
- Ask the person if that is what they really want. If they do, bring them to a local shelter so that THEY can pick out the new friend that is most suited towards THEM. Then offer to pay the adoption fee and for initial supplies.
- If it’s for a child, follow the same path. Make sure there’s a responsible adult to fall back on, because vast majority of the time it will end up being the parents pet.
Decided it’s a bad idea after all? Ways you can help pets during the holidays:
- Donate! Check out your local animal shelter and ask them if they are in need of food, litter or other supplies. You can also donate cash.
- Foster! Many shelters are willing to set up short-run foster periods, especially over the holidays so that the animals can get a break from shelter life.
- Volunteer! Maybe donating and fostering are both out of the picture. Why not give your time? Shelters can always use a helping hand, especially during the holiday season. There are plenty of jobs to do besides just cleaning up, so there’s bound to be a job that you’re comfortable doing!
So please remember that while they are adorable, pets are not presents! If you hear someone talking about giving anyone a pet for the holidays, remind them as to why it might not be the best idea!