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3 Things to Consider Before Gifting a Pet this Holiday Season | Pets

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3 Things to Consider Before Gifting a Pet this Holiday Season
3 Things to Consider Before Gifting a Pet this Holiday Season

For many people, young and old alike, a pet for Christmas is the top desire for the season. For a long time, it was assumed that pets as gifts were a really bad idea, increasing adopted animals being returned to the shelter after the excitement of the holidays is over. Data supports just the opposite.

“It’s a myth,” states Trudy Jeffers, Executive Director of HSWM, “that giving a pet as a gift is a bad idea. In fact, with the right research, identifying the needs of the new pet, and knowing the person you are gifting to, helps make the right decision for both the pet and the person.”

A 2013 study by Dr. Emily Weiss says, “There is no increased risk of relinquishment for dogs and cats received as a gift.” In her research, Dr. Weiss found that over 87% of the pet owners in the study still had their pet in their home or had kept the pet in their home for the pet’s lifetime, even when the pet was given as a surprise or a gift, according to the ASPCA.

Concerned about the hectic, chaotic nature of the holidays when choosing a pet for someone you know? “Timing can be everything,” states Jeffers. “Keep in mind you may wish to give a pet as a gift, but your loved one may not be ready, the home may not be ‘pet-proofed’ or there may be other things going on in their life where it’s just not the right time. Being thoughtful is key, and a pet as a gift can still be a surprise if both of you visit HSWM together and find your new forever friend.”

Before gifting a pet this holiday season, consider the following:

1. Have you spent time researching and preparing? Adding a pet to your family or giving a pet to a friend should not be an impulse decision. When the time is right, seek a pet that matches lifestyles and needs of the other person or the entire family. Decisions should be made as a household – not individually.

2. Are you gifting the pet to a child? While pets are an excellent way to teach children responsibility, pets still require adult caretakers. If there is not an adult in the home willing to take on the responsibility of a pet, then it is not time to welcome a pet into the home. Additionally, in the case of adopting a dog, HSWM has required dog meetings with the child or children, as well as if there are other dogs in the house. This helps make the best adoption match, helping assure a lifetime of companionship that started off on the right foot.

3. Do you have all the items needed to raise a pet? Unfortunately, gifting a pet is not as easy as just handing over a cute, cuddly animal. Just like humans, animals need items to survive. The new owners will need food, water, shelter, a collar, leash and more. It’s best to be thoughtful about the environment for the new furry family member well before gifting a pet. Also, don’t forget that a relationship will need to be formed early on with a veterinarian you trust.

If your household does decide that it is the right time for a pet, adopt don’t shop. Animal shelters are full of wonderful animals and if the animals were saved from a puppy mill that would be a known element. During the holidays, many pet shops will be full of animals from puppy mills. If you buy puppies from pet shops, you are supporting the continued horrors of puppy mills.

To learn more about the Humane Society of West Michigan, please visit their website at www.hswestmi.com.