The ‘Pawsitive’ Way to Gift a Pet for Christmas
Five tips to help prevent a ‘ruff’ pet-giving experienceBy Rue Reynold
As the holiday season approaches, many families consider wrapping a furry friend in a festive bow and placing it under the Christmas tree. However, before you rush to surprise a loved one with a new pet, it’s important to remember the responsibilities, long-term commitment and the welfare of the animal. Here are five crucial things to consider before gifting a pet for the holidays.
1 Desire. Bringing a pet into your or someone else’s home is a significant and long-time commitment. On average, dogs, cats, rabbits and fish live around 10 to 15 years, while birds and reptiles may live even longer. Remember, the greatest gift you can give any person or animal is the promise of a lifetime of care, love and companionship. So before gifting an animal, find out how much the recipient truly wants a pet and whether this person has the ability and willingness to provide a loving “fur-ever” home.
2 Finances. Owning a pet entails financial responsibilities that extend far beyond the initial purchase or adoption fee, including quality food, grooming and veterinary care. Depending on your pet of choice, there may be additional costs to proper housing, heating and lighting as well. Expenses can accumulate over the years, so make sure the recipient is financially prepared for the ongoing costs associated with pet ownership.
3 Adoption over purchase. Consider adopting from a local animal shelter or rescue organization instead of purchasing from a breeder or pet store. By doing so, not only will you give a deserving animal a second chance at living a happy and fulfilling life, you’ll also help make room to save other animals in need.
4 Responsibility and commitment. Different pets have different needs, so ensure that future pet owners have done their research and are willing to keep up with their new pet's needs. For example: dogs have a lot of energy and need to be socialized and trained; rabbits should be kept in larger pens or given their own room to free roam; fish benefit more being in tanks than bowls (and some species don’t get along with others); and many reptiles require heating, UVB lighting and a larger space than is usually advertised.
5 Have a Plan B. Life is unpredictable and unforeseen circumstances can arise. Think about and discuss what happens if the recipient’s circumstances change and they can no longer care for the pet. Having a contingency plan ensures the animal’s well-being.
While the idea of gifting a pet for Christmas is heartwarming, it’s important to be responsible and thoughtful in your decision. By considering the recipient’s desire, lifestyle and willingness for the long-term commitment of pet ownership, you can make an informed decision and potentially save a pet from ending up in a shelter after the holidays are over.
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