Over the next few months, animal shelters are expected to fill up with unwanted pets that were given as holiday gifts, putting them at risk of being euthanized due to lack of space. Before you choose a pet as your gift to a loved one, there are a few things you should consider.
“It does sound like a sweet idea to have a little puppy with a red bow on Christmas morning,” said Dr. Jaimie Ronchetto of Cinema Veterinary Centre.
“Just be sure that whoever you’re gifting that (pet) to, that that’s what they really want and they know what is demanded of them.”
Whether it’s a dog or a cat, adopting a pet is a serious commitment, financial and otherwise, for the lifetime of the animal, which is typically anywhere from 10 to 20 or more years.
Potential pet owners should be prepared for everything that commitment entails before they actually take home the animal. This includes (but is not limited to):
The financial responsibility to provide a lifetime of adequate care
The ability to provide a loving home and adequate attention and playtime
Annual veterinary visits and necessary medical care due to illness or injury
Multiple short “potty walks” for dogs every day, longer daily walks for exercise and stimulation
Daily cleaning of litter boxes for cats
Boarding or in-home care for pets when pet owners are away
Potty training for puppies and kittens, obedience training for puppies and adult dogs
The commitment to live in pet-friendly housing in the case of a move
“It is a lifetime commitment for the lifetime of that pet,” Ronchetto said. “Parents need to understand that too, that you can tell your kids that this is their responsibility, but really in the end… it’s going to fall on the parent.”
In addition, choosing a pet for a friend or loved one who truly is ready to adopt a pet can be tricky.
It can be difficult to tell if the pet’s size, breed, temperament and other characteristics fit what the person is looking for, or if the person will feel a natural bond with that particular pet.
“Instead of giving them the actual live animal,” Ronchetto said, “give accessories or a gift certificate for that particular shelter or rescue, and then they can take their time and go and pick out the right pet for them if they choose to do that, because by February the shelters will be full of unwanted pets that wore out their welcome or weren’t really wanted to begin with.”
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