It is our favorite time of year. The holiday season is in full swing and we have already begun to fill our days with holiday music, movies and plenty of Christmas cheer. It is certainly a magical time.
One of our favorite aspects of the season is finding new and fun ways to surprise our loved ones with thoughtful and special gifts we know they will adore. And it may seem completely harmless to present someone with a large box only to watch their faces light up at the sight of four fuzzy paws prancing out with a red ribbon tied to his festive collar. But unlike other gifts, living animals cannot just be returned or exchanged if it turns out to be a bad fit.
Call me Scrooge, but the truth is in most cases (not all, but most), the act is driven by impulse rather than by thoughtful planning. Gifting a family member or friend with a 10 to 20 year commitment to a live animal is never something that should be done on impulse.
So here are a few reasons why you should not gift an animal this season.
Pets Should Not Be Surprises. Surprising someone with a new puppy or kitten on Christmas morning is a romantic, but usually misguided idea. Sure, it can be immensely exciting to see a furry surprise under the tree but unless the “surprise” has been well researched and thoroughly planned for, the excitement can wear off very quickly. Pets are a huge responsibility and time commitment and it is best to let a prospective pet parent - no matter what age - be very engaged in every step of the process of selecting a new pet and preparing in advance for the homecoming.
Pets Are NOT the Latest & Greatest Toys. A living thing should not be considered a gift of the same caliber as say, the newest gaming console or an iPad. Dogs and cats are sentient beings and should be treated as such. Caring for a pet is, as I’ve already mentioned, a very big responsibility. It is important to stress to children the difference between belongings and a pet from the very first moment a new dog or cat enters their lives. Not to mention educating children on how to safely interact with a new pet.
Puppy Mills and Backyard Breeders. We recently spoke about puppy mills on the blog, but this is an important one to remember. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, certain disreputable individuals and businesses are bursting at the seams with the latest popular puppy models and hybrids. Most of them are shipped in from puppy mills. Some may be healthy, however many are not. And most importantly, ALL are bred and born in inhumane and unsanitary conditions. Every time a dog is purchased from an irresponsible breeder or mill operator, it is incentive for those seedy businesses to stay in operation. And as I mentioned above, this kind of gift giving is usually done on impulse without research into where those pets are coming from.
The holidays are crazy enough. Everyone has family gatherings, Christmas parties, volunteer work, etc, that keeps them extra busy this time of year. Shopping, cooking, cleaning, hosting… the list of time takers seems never ending. A new pet requires a great deal of time and attention to train and acclimate into a new home. It is in everyone’s best interest to wait for a less busy time of year to add a new pet into a home the right way.
There are honestly endless reasons to avoid gifting pets this holiday season, but I’ll leave you with one final thought. Impulsivity should never be a part of the equation when bringing a pet into your home. Pet ownership requires great research into finding the right kind of pet to fit your lifestyle. It requires patience, training for both you and your pet, on-going education to ensure you provide a safe and loving home for your new addition and a 100% commitment to the life of the animal. Unless you and the recipient have taken all the necessary steps, it simply isn’t a good idea. And if all of this has been done and you know for a fact that your loved one is ready for this great responsibility, then please consider adoption to help aid in the epidemic of the millions of homeless animals across the world.
Happy and safe holidays.