The image of a child awakening to a brand new puppy on Christmas morning is timeless. So is the picture of a man standing outside his girl’s door, snow softly falling on his shoulders and a squirming kitten in his arms.
While these images are charming and heartwarming, they are best left to Hollywood. In reality, giving a pet as a holiday gift carries the possibility of a sad ending.
There are many things to consider when you or a loved one wants to add a pet to the family and for this reason, the person who will be the primary caregiver should always be involved in the decision making and adoption process when choosing a new pet.
Very often, the SPCA becomes involved when a pet that was an emotional, impulse purchase during the holidays is no longer wanted. Many animals that are brought to a shelter end up being euthanized do to overcrowding.
To avoid this sad fate, a pet should always be a well thought out purchase. Here are some questions that deserve serious consideration when buying a pet.
What is the cost of keeping the pet going to be and can the future owner afford it? There is the cost of food, supplies, grooming, veterinary care and possibly boarding the animal to be considered.
Will the pet fit into the family and is anyone going to be allergic to the pet? Not all pets are a perfect fit for all families. Cats, big dogs, small dogs, bunnies and other pets will not all fit in with any family situation. Children and other pets should also be considered. This is not a one size fits all purchase.
A pet is a gift that can last up to 20 years. Dogs can live anywhere from 8-18 years depending on the breed and some cats will live even longer than that. Owning a pet is a very long term commitment that should be made with love and careful consideration.
After the holidays have passed, take your loved one to the local shelter and let them be involved in choosing the pet they will adopt. You can even wrap a pet “gift certificate” that lets them know what you will be doing. This will give both the future pet and pet owner a better chance at a happy ending.