Having a pet in your life is a gift, to be sure, but giving a loved one a pet as a gift this holiday season might not be the best idea. Pets make for great companions, but anyone who has one knows that they are substantially harder to look after than an Xbox or a sweater. Here’s what to consider before you give someone a pet this holiday season.
Don’t Give the Gift of Years of Responsibility
Depending on the age and the breed of the cat or dog, this gift could be one that needs to be fed and looked after for upwards of a decade. Jumping this major life change on someone might seem exciting at first, but you never want your holiday to end with a sad return trip to the shelter. If you are going to give a pet as a gift, make sure the recipient is ready and willing.
What Kind Do You Get?
A pet is a companion you will have for years to come, so it makes sense that you would want one that matches your personality. No matter how well you presume to know the person you plan on gifting, this may end up being a “blind date gone awry” situation. And as the shelter doesn’t exactly hand out gift receipts, this could make for an awkward exchange rather than a heartwarming gift.
If, however, you are still bent on getting that special someone a pet this holiday season, here are a few tips to follow:
Avoid Puppy Mills or Irresponsibly Bred Pets
They may look cute in the pet shop window, but chances are your purchase is going to line the pockets of those unscrupulous people running puppy mills or employing other irresponsible breeding practices. If you see a representative from a shelter offering up pets for adoption at your local pet store, that is one thing, but otherwise, it is safe to assume that pet store pets are the product of an unsavory breeding operation that you should not support.
Give the Recipient a Head’s Up
Make sure the person you are giving the pet to is open to the idea and is prepared to take on all the responsibilities of ownership. And if you’re giving to your own kids or spouse, just remember — if they don’t want to take care of the pet, that care falls to you.
Go With Them to the Shelter
Rather than getting someone a pet right out of the gate, maybe first get them some supplies (bowls, toys, a bed, a litter box, etc.) and the promise to accompany them to the shelter to pick out their new pal. This way there’s no chance for a mismatch.
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