When it comes to the perfect holiday scene, you may have always envisioned a family in their pajamas, gathered around a sparkling Christmas tree with heaps of presents underneath. As the children tear through the presents, one sits off to the side, the top slowly being nosed off by the tiny puppy inside it.
Yet for years, we’ve heard that you should never give pets as gifts - that the previous scene would be followed by the adorable little puppy being shipped off to the local animal shelter. And for years, we’ve believed that to be true. Should you give pets as gifts? We dive into why it’s not as terrible as you’ve been led to believe.
Should You Give Pets as Gifts
The ASPCA conducted a survey to learn more about what happens when animals are given as gifts. Here’s what they had to say, “In the survey, 96% of the people who received pets as gifts thought it either increased or had no impact on their love or attachment to that pet. The vast majority of these pets are still in the home (86%). The survey also revealed no difference in attachment based on the gift being a surprise or known in advance.”
Studies conducted during the 90’s and 2000 found that “pets acquired as gifts are less likely to be relinquished than pets acquired by the individual.” (Patronek, 1996, Scarlett, 1999 New, 1999, New 2000).
You can read more about the ASPCA’s position on pets as gifts here.
What to Consider When Gifting an Animal
Before you rush off and get a furball for every friend and family member on your list, there are quite a few things to take into consideration.
All gift situations are not created equal. Getting a puppy for your 10-year-old daughter is not the same thing as gifting an animal to a boyfriend or girlfriend you’ve been dating for all of 12 minutes. Take your relationship to the person into account before going down this route.
Do they want an animal? With all luck, you’re saddling this person with a 10-20 year commitment. If they’ve been vocal about not wanting an animal in their life, respect that.
Do they have the means to take care of them? Pets are the best companions in the world, but between food, vet bills, and whatever they destroy during the training period, the costs can add up.
How to Choose the Perfect Animal
Once you’ve determined that a pet would be the perfect gift for your loved one, it’s time to find the right animal. Every pet has their own personality, their own needs, and their own abilities. It’s important to find the right match for your gift recipient.
Adopt. Don’t Shop. There are hundreds of thousands of animals waiting for a good home in shelters and rescues across the country. If you are patient and a little bit flexible, you’re likely to find exactly what you’re looking for… without purchasing a dog or cat from a breeder or even worse, a pet store or backyard breeder. Pet store puppies have come from puppy mills, unhealthy, cruel places that see animals as products, not beloved family members. If you are in Las Vegas, there are a number of rescues and shelters to choose from such as On My Way Home Rescue, Hearts Alive Village Animal Rescue, and The Animal Foundation.
Dog or Cat. While there are a few “bi-petual” people out there, most animal lovers lean towards dogs or cats. Make sure that you are adopting the type of pet your recipient actually wants.
Choose the Right Activity Level and Temperament. Dogs (and even cats) vary widely in how much they want to be active, how much they want to be cuddled, and how much training they are going to need to be the perfect companion. Before you start looking, consider your loved one’s lifestyle. Are they super active or do they prefer to curl up on the couch with a good book or Netflix? Do they want to cuddle all the time, or do they need a more independent companion? Once you’ve got a good picture of their lifestyle, you can speak with adoption counselors to find a good match.
Take the Family and Home into Consideration. Are their small kids? Other pets? Is the home set up like a museum that wouldn’t handle a rambunctious puppy well?
Do Not Replace an Older Animal. This is so important that we’re going to say it again. Do not replace an older animal. If you are adopting a puppy or kitten, that’s wonderful. However, whatever pet(s) is currently in the home has the right to live out his days in comfort and love, and the owners have the responsibility to provide a wonderful life until the animal’s very last day.
Don’t Forget the Treats! What’s a new pet without healthy snacks? Once you’ve picked out the perfect pup, stop in to Mooch’s Munchies, a health-conscious pet store, for some healthy, all-natural dog and cat treats, food and toys. We’ve got holiday-themed treats like Gingerbread men as well as our year-round standbys like peanut butter cookies.
If you’ve got someone in your life who wants a pet more than anything, and who has the ability to take care of them, go ahead and gift them one! When you adopt a dog or cat from a rescue or shelter, you’ll not only be making holiday wishes come true for your loved one, but for the animal as well.