Tis the season of giving, and for many of us, a pet seems like a wonderful gift to bestow on a deserving family member. Unfortunately, many of these animals will be surrendered to shelters across the country in the weeks and months following the holidays. Certainly, it’s nice to picture a precious puppy or cuddly kitten popping out of a beautifully wrapped box on Christmas morning, but the team at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital urges you to consider whether giving a pet as a gift is really a good idea.
Skip the Surprise
When it comes to giving a pet as a gift, perhaps the most important factor is the element of surprise. We all want to delight a loved one with the perfect present, but pet ownership should always be carefully thought out ahead of time. A surprise may be more fun in the short-term, but ultimately, everyone will be happier if a plan is in place prior to welcoming a new pet into the family.
Parents who gift a pet to their children should do so with the understanding that the adults of the household are ultimately responsible for the care and wellbeing of a pet.
Things to Consider Before Giving a Pet as a Gift
Before you take the plunge, make sure the recipient of your furry present understands all that comes with caring for a pet:
- Time – Walking, grooming, feeding, training, playing, and cleaning up after a pet are all important factors that can take significant amounts of time.
- Money – According to the ASPCA, the average pet owner spends about $1,800 each year on pet care, not including the cost of emergency medical expenses.
- Lifestyle – If the intended recipient works long hours, is frequently out of town, or is always busy with other hobbies and activities, pet ownership may not align with their lifestyle.
- Commitment – Remember, animals can live a long time, so the commitment to any pet should be for life.
For people with little or no pet care experience, fostering a shelter dog or cat may be the best way to decide if pet ownership is right for them. Fostering not only helps someone get used to caring for a pet, it also provides a positive living experience for a pet, which could ultimately make them more adoptable.
Make it Fun
Even if you can’t surprise someone with a new pet, there are still plenty of ways to make the holiday fun and festive. Consider going to a shelter or rescue and picking out a pet together. Surprise them with a gift basket of toys and treats or a gift card for grooming or training. You could also pre-pay their adoption fees or schedule the pet’s first wellness exam at Oakhurst ahead of time.
As always, please contact our staff with any questions or concerns. We hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season!