How to Responsibly Give a Pet as a Gift
While the longstanding wisdom has been that you should not give pets as gifts, a recent study has upended that thinking. It showed not only are pets received as gifts less likely to be surrendered to shelters, but people typically feel more attachment to pets received as gifts from loved ones.
That doesn't mean you should start handing out puppies to everyone on your holiday gift list. There's solid reasoning as to why making gifts out of pets should be entered with caution. A pet is a major commitment, requiring daily care and feeding, and regular veterinary care. "That sort of responsibility and financial commitment shouldn't be sprung on someone who may not be prepared for it," says Andee Bingham of North Carolina's Brother Wolf Animal Rescue. "We believe that animals are best cared for when caretakers fully understand and agree to [our adoption agreement]."
So what's the right way to give a pet? Here are some guidelines to follow if you're thinking of responsibly giving a pet to someone as a present.
Tips for Giving Pets Responsibly
- A pet should only be given to someone who has expressed a desire for a pet. They should also have the maturity, lifestyle, and financial ability to properly care for one.
- Parents surprising children with a pet should accept full responsibility for the animal's care. "Many parents adopt animals for their children as a way to teach responsibility," says Bingham, "but at the end of the day, the parents will be responsible for making sure the animal is fed, clean, healthy, has a fresh litter box, etc. "
- Similarly, if you're giving a pet to your partner, be prepared to pitch in for the pet's care, or even to be the sole caretaker if your partner proves unable or unwilling.
- Consider giving your loved one the idea of getting a new pet instead of springing the live animal on them. You can make an event out of the adoption process. "Purchase a gift certificate in the amount of an adoption fee and set up a date to visit an adoption center," advises Bingham. "Give them a chance to meet the animals and see who they bond with. As we know, animals often choose us, not the other way around."
The bottom line is, gifting pets, if done responsibly, can be an excellent way to provide homes for many of the countless animals being cared for by shelters or breeders each day. When it's done right, you're not only giving a priceless gift to your loved one, you're also giving an animal the gift of a forever home.
Have you ever given—or received—a pet as a gift? How did you help the new pet-human relationship develop?
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