Pets as Christmas Gifts

Picking up that new furry addition to your family is a beautiful and fun-filled experience. But receiving a fur bundle can be extremely upsetting if you weren’t expecting it.

Gifting a living being to someone without their knowledge can be traumatizing for both the fur baby and the new ‘parent.’ They may have had plans of travel, coming and going as they pleased (especially with empty nesters!), saving for an item they need or want, or welcoming the feeling of no responsibility for anyone other than themselves. Finally, after 20+ years they can pick up their lives and do what they want to do! And suddenly in walks a well-meaning friend or family member with a cute little bundle of fur. They were thinking that their friend or family member needed something to keep them company. Their heart was in the right place but this, in a lot of cases, is the opposite of what they wanted or desired.

I’ve spoken with many parents whose sons or daughters have done just this. Although the parent feigns happiness and surprise, because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, the last thing they wanted was another 10 – 15+ years of having to look after something. Deep down they are very upset and angry that now plans for a happy ‘come and go’ future of travelling (for example), going out and deciding to stay over at friends, or just being later coming home, have disappeared. Now their thoughts are clouded with who will look after the pet, ‘I can’t stay as I have to go let the dog out,’ or I can’t go because I have the dog or cat, etc. etc. One should never assume what another needs or wants in their life. Children need to speak honestly with their parent/parents about what they want. Do they want the responsibility? Do they want the extra bills? There is a lot more to having a pet than playing and cuddling.

Another is the boyfriend who buys the girlfriend a puppy. Usually, it is a spur of the moment decision.

Yes, she’s happy and delighted with the new addition and loves it to pieces! Yayy!!

BUT…….then something happens, and the puppy gets sick or hurt. Oops, we don’t have money to spare. What do we do now? Nobody expects a new addition to get ill or hurt, but we see it all too frequently. Before you decide to get her that cute little bundle of fur, think it through.

This is the same as purchasing a pet for a child. Once the thrill wears off, the pet is yours to look after. Do you have the time? The pup will need training, walking, playtime, in and out for washroom breaks and of course feeding. When buying for a child, it cannot be assumed that the child is able or wants to do the work involved. All a child sees is cute and furry and can we play.

How much are the vaccines, deworming, spay/neuter, is the breeder legitimate or just someone making money (this can lead to all kinds of medical issues), insurance costs, illness, accidents, food, dishes, beds, leashes, etc. The list goes on. This applies to everyone wishing to give pets as gifts. Can they afford it? The first year can easily cost $1,000.00 in vet bills alone. Now calculate food and supplies. It can be expensive. Is it fair to saddle someone with a ‘free’ pet? Nothing is free.

This is one reason pets need to be rehomed. Then they quite often have training issues as the new owner wasn’t able to train due to health reasons/limitations, knowledge, time or want. This makes it harder to adopt them out.

So please, please, please, do not buy a pet as a gift unless it has been thoroughly discussed and thought through. The pet is the one that will pay the price in the long run.

Written by: Sue, Receptionist