Pets as Gifts: Good Intentions, Bad Idea

A puppy under the Christmas tree. A cute little bunny at Easter. Or maybe you just want to give an animal friend to someone you think needs one. People who give animals as gifts mean well, but their good intensions often misfire. Giving a pet as a gift is usually an ill-advised decision that can end tragically.

While it is true, pets bring us untold joy and wonderful companionship, they are a huge responsibility. People who receive a pet as a gift don't pay, but the gift is hardly free. It means a long-term commitment of time, money and energy that may exceed their abilities. Among the costs:

  • Food
  • Bedding and toys
  • Veterinary care
  • Grooming expenses
  • Time to exercise, play with and train the animal
  • Boarding or pet sitting costs

Some people don't want a pet at all, or perhaps don't want one now. For those who are ready, it is crucial he or she picks a pet out for herself to make sure it's a good fit. A poor fit can mean the animal is sent to a shelter or another home which is hard on the pet and on the person who received the animal as a gift. Some pets suffer loneliness and neglect when their novelty has worn off. This is often the case for rabbits at Easter.

A successful adoption requires time and thought. Like a lot of gifts, animals can be impulse purchases. Pet adoption is more successful when you meet a few animals before finding the right match. Ideally adopters should research to learn what traits they want before visiting a shelter and making an important decision of choosing a pet.

A better gift

If you want to help a loved one get a pet, buy that person a gift certificate to use at a shelter when the time is right. PAWS has gift certificates available at our shelter in Lynnwood and at PAWS Cat City in Seattle.

Pair the certificate with a gift basket filled with all the things a new pet will need: toys, collar, leash, treats, food and bedding, to name a few. You can also include books on training, breeds or living with a companion animal. Check out a pet supply store for endless ideas.