Children especially love pets as gifts, but is giving a pet as a Christmas gift a good idea? Read on for one dog’s thoughts in his letter to gift givers everywhere.
Dear Holiday Gift Giver,
My name is Bailey, and I am writing to you from my current home in the animal shelter, where 6.5 million pets end up each year, according to the ASPCA. While the busiest day for shelters is usually July fifth, many pets are also relinquished in January. With the holiday season around the corner, many people are tempted to gift pets to loved ones. But, while a fluffy kitten or an adorable lop-eared rabbit may seem like the perfect present, I would like you to reconsider offering pets as gifts this holiday season.
People surrender pets like me for many reasons. Many gift recipients are not prepared for the immense responsibility of pet ownership. A tiny hamster, whose day-to-day care may seem simple, can be too much for someone who is not prepared for the care involved. It is not fair to the person receiving the gift, nor the innocent pet who may not receive proper care. For this reason, no one should unknowingly receive a pet as a gift.
My shelter neighbor, Charlie, was offered as a gift last year from one roommate to another. His official owner was initially shocked when Charlie bounded out of the car, although, happily, the two friends took care of Charlie equally and everything worked out beautifully—until the roommates decided to go their separate ways. Neither was prepared to take on full responsibility for my friend, and, the next day, Charlie was my new neighbor.
Pet gifts are popular for children, and a surprise holiday puppy or kitten is exciting for animal-loving kids. I vividly remember Christmas morning last year when Mrs. Wilson briefly put me in that box so I could pop out of the top and greet Tommy and little Susie. I will never forget the looks of delight on their faces. We spent the next several months playing, wrestling, and cuddling on the couch. But, as with most toys and games, the children’s interests faded and changed, and they became less interested in my daily walks and everyday care. I could sense Mr. and Mrs. Wilson becoming increasingly frustrated with bearing the bulk of my responsibility. Eventually, summer break rolled around and the family didn’t know what to do with me over the vacation. They ultimately decided it was too expensive, or too much of a hassle, to find care for me, and soon enough I found myself here, waiting patiently every day for my new family.
While most kids undoubtedly love their pets, gifting a four-legged friend to a child, and expecting the child to take full responsibility of caring for the pet, is irresponsible and unfair. Only when families discuss the matter, and parents bear the ultimate responsibility of the pet, is gifting an agreed-upon furry family member acceptable.
The holidays can be chaotic. With slews of people coming and going, family feasts, and piles of presents, this time of year is often anything but calm. Pets can be sensitive to this disarray, and some become downright stressed during the holiday season. I remember rarely having any quiet time when I was a new Christmas puppy. There were constantly new people in the house who wanted to meet me, and while I loved the attention, I never got a break to acclimate and settle in peace.
Adopting or purchasing a pet requires much thought and consideration. Pets need you to be steadfast in your decision to love and care for us. Don’t get our hopes up if you aren’t in it for the long haul.
I strongly urge you to reconsider gifting a pet this holiday season.
Contact us here if you have any questions regarding your pets this holiday season.