Indy Style

What to consider if you’re thinking of gifting a pet

Each year, online debates rage back and forth as to the wisdom of giving a pet as a gift during the holidays. While this might be a treasured memory or even a desired fantasy, remember that you must know whether or not the gift recipient is ready and willing to take care of their new family member.

Thomas F. Dock, Director of Communications/Public Information Office, Noah’s Animal Hospitals, shares what we should be asking ourselves BEFORE putting “a big red bow on a new pet.”

1) It certainly is a warm and fuzzy fantasy to think about a cute puppy or kitten with a bright red bow under the tree on Christmas morning. However, far too often, this fantasy ends up with a not so happy ending for the pet.

2) Giving a pet as a gift during the holidays may be a well intentioned thought, but many of these cuddly gifts end up re-homed or relinquished before the next Christmas.

3) Pets are a multi-year commitment and no one should assume that any friend or family member is ready to make that commitment without first knowing a few things…in other words, a SURPRISE pet is rarely a good idea.

4) The first thing to consider is the cost aspect. Many puppies and kittens will arrive at their new homes still needing more vaccinations and de-worming medications as well as the all important veterinary exam. And, unless you are adopting from a shelter or rescue, many of these furry friends will also need to be spayed or neutered. Will the gift recipient be prepared for any medical issues and costs?

5) Next, don’t forget about the accessories…food, treats, bowls, leash, litter box, toys, etc, etc. These all add up. If you have a pup like a poodle, bichon, maltese, or shih tzu, grooming costs will start soon too!!

6) Here in Indiana, with our chilly winters and early sunsets, is this the best time of year to try and housetrain a new puppy? Will the new owner commit to walks in the snow, rain, or wind chills below zero?

7) Beyond the housetraining, new pups and kittens need to work on social skills as well as learning the rules of the house. Perhaps the top reason for people relinquishing their pets often has to do with behavior issues. Can the new owner find the time to make sure his new pet has learned the proper manners?

8) Finally, how chaotic will your house be during these holidays? Is this environment going to startle your new friend?

9) It’s understandable that parents want to see their kids laughing and frolicking with a puppy or that you might think a cat is an ideal companion for a lonely senior, but the best advice is to NOT give a live animal as a gift, especially as a surprise.

10) Consider other options…donate to a local shelter or rescue in the gift recipient’s name (Remember, local…not national groups). Ask that person if you can take them to a local shelter to either consider adoption OR just to volunteer and spend some time with pets looking for homes.

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