Commitment to Care: Pets are not Gifts

As people, we love to give pets as gifts.  While the cuteness of a new pet brings so much joy and excitement to the recipient, it is also inevitable that those giving the gift will experience that very same feeling of joy in return.  However, before giving a pet as a gift there are some things that you need to factor in: care, financial responsibility, and the family’s lifestyle.

Who will be caring for the new pet?  Usually, a pet given as a gift is for a minor and the parents will be the main caretaker of this unexpected new family member.  I personally know this firsthand; I would give my little nephew fish or rodents because he “wanted” them, and I would give him anything he wanted.  His mom finally told me, “No more pets because I have to care for them and clean their tanks and cages”.

Care is not just loving and playing with a new pet, it also involves financial responsibility.  Food, grooming, training, and medical care go hand in hand with being a responsible pet owner.  A very wise person told me years ago, “the cheapest price of a pet is the price you pay for it”.   It doesn’t matter if that pet is free, or you pay thousands of dollars for it, the cost of caring for that pet over its lifetime will end up being more than what you paid for it.

When bringing a new pet into a family, everyone in the household needs to agree on the type of pet, breed, and temperament.  Will they fit into the lifestyle of the family? If the family is active, consider an active breed that needs more exercise including hiking or running. A family with a quiet, more sedate lifestyle would need to look for a pet with a calm, laid back personality.

If giving a pet as a gift is still an option, there are several ways to go about it.  Consider purchasing a gift certificate from your local shelter or making your own gift certificate for a local rescue group or reputable breeder.  Presenting that to the family will give them all the opportunity to make their own choice for their new family member.

If you want to be a part of the adoption process yourself, go along with the receiving family and pick out the pet together.  It is very important to have that human animal bond when deciding on a pet. Keep in mind that a pet that may be the right fit for one person is not always the right fit for another.

All in all, giving a pet as a gift isn’t a bad idea as long as you consider the big picture and go about it the right way – a family happy with their choice means a happy future for that pet, which is the most important thing for all.