Think twice before you give a pet as a present

Posted by Whiskers101 on

Holiday shopping is in full swing by now, and for some folks, their lists may even be nearly complete.

There is one gift, however, that normally isn’t purchased or wrapped until the very last minute. It’s a four-legged present that usually comes with a price tag to include years’ worth of upkeep for feeding, medical bills and general comfort.

Yes, we’re talking about pets — dogs and cats, to be more precise.

There are many animal lovers out there who commonly shake an admonishing finger at those who plan to give a pet as a surprise gift. And with good reason. Dogs and cats bought in stores can be quite expensive and, depending on the animal’s breed and age, can require hours of work every day on the part of their owners.

In addition, most people generally aim to gift puppies or kittens, which need even more time, training and care. Remember, they’re baby animals. And in the case of children who receive pets as Christmas presents, it’s no secret that the ones who wind up devoting the most time to caring for the animal are often the parents.

But don’t entirely rule out giving a pet as a gift this holiday season. Just make sure you think about the commitment it entails and that you’ve done your research to bring home a breed that’s best for your family, or for the family upon whom you plan to bestow this playful, furry gift.

Does the animal have all its shots? Is it spayed or neutered? Does it require any special medication or care? Is it spunky and active, or is it a better couch companion? Does your home and property have room for it? All of these are questions worth asking before making the investment in a pet. Otherwise, you may find the pup or kitten just isn’t a good fit and could wind up on the gift return list — an avoidable situation no one wants to see. The Linda L. Kelley Animal Shelter and Humane Society of Calvert County don’t need more abandoned animals. They’re trying to get people to adopt the ones they already have.

Believe it or not, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reported a few Christmases ago that its latest research actually supports giving pets as holiday gifts. In fact, one study revealed 86 percent of the surveyed subjects’ gifted pets were still in the home, and 96 percent said the fact that they received their animals as gifts either increased or had no impact on their love or attachment to their pets.

So if you’ve done your homework, and you or your potential gift recipient are prepared for the cost and commitment it takes to care for a cat or dog, you can still give the gift of a furry friend to someone you love.

However, we encourage pet shoppers to visit a local animal shelter or rescue organization. Not only will adoption be cheaper as far as upfront costs and medical costs go, but it will save a rescued animal who is in need of a loving home.

And that’s a win-win for everyone — especially for that new four-legged family member who comes tumbling into your life at the holidays with a big bow attached, ready to offer pure, unconditional love for years to come.