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adpoted puppy How many people have gotten a puppy, kitten or rabbit as a gift?  Animals, especially babies, are cute and cuddly.  Most people love the feeling they get when they give an animal as a present.  They feel really good inside.  That feeling only lasts a short time, and then reality sets in.

The person realizes the new owner now has a responsibility, lasting long after the holiday, or special occasion, is over.  There are issues that have be dealt with as well.  Does the person know how to care for the animal properly?   Many pet owners are not aware of the kind of food their animal should eat.  I see countless ferret owners feeding their ferret cat food.  That is very unhealthy for ferrets.  Ferrets are carnivores.  Their food should have at least 3 out of the first 5 ingredients be meat products.  Not soy, grain or oats.  Same goes for other animals.  You should do research to be sure your animal is eating the proper diet.

There are also illnesses and disease that different animals have.  Do you know what to look for?  Do you have a veterinarian who has had extensive training for your type of pet?   Many veterinarians say they treat your type of animal, until a major illness arises.  Then you find out they don’t have the proper experience or training.  By then your animal could be seriously ill.

kitty

If you do decide to give an animal as a gift, where do you get it?  There are millions of animals that are in need of a home.  You can find these animals at rescues and shelters.  25% of these animals are pure bred.  If the organization near you doesn’t have the kind of animal you are looking for ask them to refer you to an organization that does have that kind of animal.  There are small, home based rescues all over the country.  I’m sure there is one near you.

Another thing that should be taken into consideration is personality, size and color.  You find an animal you think is sweet, beautiful color and small (at least right now).  You give it as a present and find that the animal cowers with its new owner.  Maybe the new pet was abused by someone that resembles that person.  Animals have personalities just like we do.  They don’t forget the bad times.  BUT, with time, patience and love they can learn to trust again.  Is the new owner willing to do what it takes to transition the pet into the new surroundings?  The puppy you got is a large breed dog.  It was really small at 8 weeks old, so you were not thinking how big it would get.  At 4 months it’s getting to be very large.  What if the new owner is not allowed to have an animal over 35 pounds in their home?  Will the animal be given up again?

rabbits

If the animal develops an illness, does the new owner have the financial ability to pay for the bills and make sure the animal has a good, long life?

Are there other animals in the home already?  Many animals don’t get along.  The best thing to do, before bringing an animal home, is introduce them to each other.  You don’t want to get them home then there is the danger of one getting hurt because they don’t like each other.  If you have a hunting breed of dog, don’t get the family a new ferret or rabbit.   Do you have a small child?  Consider the size, strength and personality of the animal.

Another important issue is spay and neuter.   Is the animal fixed so there aren’t any other “surprises” that might come along?  Even if you have a fenced yard your animal could get out.  Look what happened during Hurricane Katrina.  A lot of animals that were in secure homes, and yards, got out.  They multiplied in a very short period of time.

There are a lot of considerations when giving a pet as a present.  If you have your heart set on giving one, think about a gift card.  In the card say “your present is the pet of their choice”.  Let them pick it out to be sure it’s one they really want.  I also recommend you get your pet from a rescue or shelter.

I look forward to any feedback, comments or recommendations you have.

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43 Responses to “Should You Give an Animal as a Gift?”

  • Sandi says:

    I think it’s a really bad idea unless everyone is certain that the dog or cat or bunny is a good fit for the new home. Giving a live being as a gift reinforces that idea that animals are things and not living, breathing individuals. And it often reinforces the practices of unsavory breeders because their puppies and kitties sell during the holidays. It would be a much better lesson to take the person who wants a pet to a shelter or rescue group maybe the day after Christmas, let that individual meet some of the animals and pick one out that is a good match. If the gift is for a child, that teaches them to be kind to animals and try to help those that already need homes instead of putting dollars in the pockets of those who breed only for money with no regard to the animal’s welfare.

  • Cheryl says:

    Having worked in animal rescue and witnessing the end result of most gifts, I say without hesitation that no animal should be a gift. Even a parent is unable to choose the best pet for his or her child. Visit any shelter in February or March and see the Christmas gifts that have been surrendered. Either take the recipient to the shelter or purchase a gift certificate. The same hold true for puppies as auction items at fundraisers. Let’s allow someone who has had too many drinks “adopt” a puppy. Any idea where those pups end up? As someone said, it’s frightening that we even have to discuss this. I’m surprised Diane would condone it under any circumstances. Successes are the minority.

  • Pauline says:

    My opinion is that its so sad to see so many animals homeless right now that its a great idea only if the persons receiving them will take care of them and have them for a long time.

  • Ingo says:

    We are the lucky ones who got animals as a gift! We are very pleased that we received 2 German Pointers from American Clicker Dog Trainer Lynn Martin (Dog Obedience Academy Oregon) just two weeks ago. She personally delivered these dogs to our Nepalese Junior Rescue Dog Squad by flying them all the way from the USA to Nepal.Now the Christmas Season starts and I kindly ask others…time to give a gift to our Animals! Winter in Nepal is breeding time. We expect a lot of new puppies in January. They all need vaccinations against rabies and other doggy disease…who want to be god mother or god father of a Search and Rescue Dog in Nepal? http://www.hrdsnrescue.org.np

  • Thomas says:

    I have never given an animal as a gift.
    I have, however given all of the supplies as a gift and made the aquisition of the pet as a seperate event.

  • Roberta says:

    Give them the gift of life. A “mini” infrared travel mat. It is expensive, but well worth it. It will keep your pet healthy, because it expels worms, keeps there weight down, keeps them from getting cancer and Kills cancer cells! This works for humans as well. I have one for my cat. It seems rather crazy. But it has helped her with her health. She pushes me off of it at night time. I am now a distributor for the Infrared mats. Please read about it, consider it, if not just for your feline or Dog, for yourself. There is science behind the mat, and there is proof that thermographic heat destroys cancer cells. A book has been written on it. Also if your pet has arthritis, this is the perfect gift. I have a friend whose Dog had severe hip arthritis at 7 years old and her dog went on the mat for several days (about a week) on higher temperature. After the week, she was up an running. Either her pain was gone and she showed no signs of arthritis or the arthritis was gone. She acts like a puppy now my friend tells me and that is over a year ago! If you have the money, this is a gift that keeps on giving. Dog toys will be chewed up and cat toys will be gone, but this is an item that will and can save an animals life and meanwhile help the owners as well! My cat and I love the “Mat”. Read all about it at
    http://www.roberta.thebiomatcompany.com

    Happy Holidays,

    Roberta G..Boise Idaho

  • Shelley says:

    I have seen what happens to dogs that arent wanted or asked for, not a good idea at all to give a live creature to someone else…. it doesnt serve the person or the animal well.

  • Erika says:

    There is also a compatibility issue when choosing a pet, how can you have chosen the right pet for you if it’s given by a third party. I think gift certificates to shelters are a much better idea.

  • Diana says:

    Having worked at a county Animal Services facility, ALL of the above is true. Pets as a gift is NOT advisable. So many of those adorable puppies and kitten end up at the shelter several months after the holiday. Comments range from “I didn’t realize how much work a pet would be”, “Wow keeping a pet is far more expensive than I realized”, “The dog/cat isn’t housebroke/litter trained”, “Never thought that little puppy/kitten would get that big”, “The pet does too much damage”, to the saddest one, “I just don’t want it because it isn’t cute anymore”.

    The holidays is a very busy time for most families and pet might get ‘lost in the shuffle’, not getting the attention it should. Selecting a pet is a very personal issue. If nothing else, give a gift certificate for a pet. Most shelter will issue gift certificates year round. That is the wise choice.

  • Michael says:

    This is always a stumbling block not just in one but all countries. Pets have rights, they are living beings, being given as a present, I can agree with it as long as the families or people concerned a first vetted by The authorities, and due punishment dished out if problems occur after wards.

    I am a big animal lover, but yes i also feel they can and should be given as gifts and not thrown away like a toy when no longer required. Tougher laws need introducing everywhere.

    Michael

  • Fred says:

    Our organization and most Humane Societys and shelters do not do “Gift Adoptions”. Also most respectable breeders will not adopt/sell an animal to be given as a gift to some other unknown third party. So who does Holiday Gift Pet giving really support, Pet Stores and Puppy Mills for the most part. We have temporary pet shops which pop up in malls in our city just at the holiday times and are gone three months later, they sell puppies and kittens as if they were selling candles or toys to impulse buyers who later, will most likely bring them to a shelter. It is really rather sickening. The previous post about purchasing a gift certificate to a local humane society or shelter is excellent and this is a good idea. If a family after careful consideration decides they really can’t take on a new pet down the road they can probably get the refund for it, or if not, donate it to the shelter to cover the adoption fee for an animal and make it easier for it to find a new home with someone else.

  • Derek says:

    Pets should never be given as gifts unless the giver is certain that the receipient will love and cherish it for the rest of its life!

  • Melissa says:

    It’s a horrible idea to purchase a pet for another person – whether it be a holiday, a birthday present, or as a “replacement” for a lost animal. Choosing a companion animal is a very personal decision. Companion animals, rabbits and other “exotics”, can have life spans approaching 15 years – do you feel confident you can make a decision affecting a family’s next 15 years? Plus, your “gift” often comes with immediate, needed expenses such as vaccinations and spay/neuter which can cost hundreds of dollars.

    Most humane societies and pet shops offer gift certificates. If you think that someone needs an animal as a holiday pet, purchase a gift certificate to the local humane society that covers the adoption fee (most humane society adoption fees cover initial shots and spay/neuter surgery). This will allow the professionals at the humane society to help your giftee find a pet that will match his/her lifestyle best.

    Families should also re-consider purchasing/adopting animals during the holiday season. Most families do not have the time or money to properly train a new pet during the holiday season. Let your children unwrap a certificate you purchased from your local humane society, and explain the family will adopt an animal in February or March when things calm down. Then, your family can spend the next couple of months researching and planning for the new addition.

  • Angel says:

    The practice of gifting an animal is something my company strongly discourages. We encourage people who want to give an animal as a gift, to give the gift of pet research or assisting in locating the pet instead. This practice ensures that the recipient actually wants an animal, gets the opportunity to do the breed research ensuring that the pet matches their lifestyle and preferences. We also like to remind folks that the holidays are extremely stressful and chaotic…not the best time to bring in a new pet!

  • Janine says:

    I do not believe pets make good gifts. Many end up in the shelters. It is much better to give a cash or check to purchase the animal of the recipient’s choice or a coupon as Janet suggests. Many people don’t realize the long-term responsibility involved and some say they want a specific dog based upon a holiday movie they might see (101 Dalmations, for example) and then realize too late that this breed might not be the one for their lifestyle.

    I also think that rescuing a pet might be a better option. I’d contact the local Humane Society to see if they have a gift certificate they can offer. This way the gift has a two-fold purpose.

  • Carol says:

    Not a wise thing to give animals as gifts. It’s almost like dumping a child on someone who likes children but may not have the means to feed them, the space to house them or the time to nurture them. The new owner may not be mentally prepared for such a lifetime responsibility. It’s imposing on the new owner and it may be detrimental to the animal if it is not cared for properly. It definitely shouldn’t be a surprise gift that’s for sure. Agree with the compatibility issue. The choice/ type of pet is tied to personal preference. Also, having a pet is a huge commitment and needs a lot of consideration before one gets in over their head.

  • Shelly says:

    I have seen what happens to dogs that arent wanted or asked for, not a good idea at all to give a live creature to someone else…. it doesn’t serve the person or the animal well.

  • Kayza says:

    I always have a hard time with articles like this. It’s not the content that bothers me, but the fact that this even needs to be discussed. Shouldn’t it be obvious to any adult that giving a “gift” that comes with this level of responsibility makes no sense? Sadly, it seems that it is not so obvious, and that does bother me.

  • Paige says:

    I always have a hard time with articles like this. It’s not the content that bothers me, but the fact that this even needs to be discussed. Shouldn’t it be obvious to any adult that giving a “gift” that comes with this level of responsibility makes no sense? Sadly, it seems that it is not so obvious, and that does bother me.

  • Carol says:

    Pets are not good Christmas gifts. Our 14 y/o golden retriever went over the rainbow bridge a month ago today. He is sorely missed by my husband and I. Hobo was his name. He was an abandoned Christmas gift 14 years ago when I found him in the middle of winter during a furious blizzard (1st week of March), dropped off on our dead end street. He was dehydrated, starved, severely flea-bitten and afraid of little boys. You couldn’t go near his face to kiss him and he’d hide in the bathtub, we guess because he was tormented when he was asleep. It took us years to undo the hurt and gain his trust. No animal should be exposed to that. Pets are not good Christmas gifts especially for children.

  • Dianna says:

    Having worked at a county Animal Services facility, ALL of the above is true. Pets as a gift is NOT advisable. So many of those adorable puppies and kitten end up at the shelter several months after the holiday. Comments range from “I didn’t realize how much work a pet would be”, “Wow keeping a pet is far more expensive than I realized”, “The dog/cat isn’t housebroke/litter trained”, “Never thought that little puppy/kitten would get that big”, “The pet does too much damage”, to the saddest one, “I just don’t want it because it isn’t cute anymore”.

    The holidays is a very busy time for most families and pet might get ‘lost in the shuffle’, not getting the attention it should. Selecting a pet is a very personal issue. If nothing else, give a gift certificate for a pet. Most shelter will issue gift certificates year round. That is the wise choice.

  • Michael says:

    This is always a stumbling block not just in one but all countries. Pets have rights, they are living beings, being given as a present, I can agree with it as long as the families or people concerned a first vetted by The authorities, and due punishment dished out if problems occur after wards.

    I am a big animal lover, but yes i also feel they can and should be given as gifts and not thrown away like a toy when no longer required. Tougher laws need introducing everywhere. Michael Katowice Area, Poland

  • Michelle says:

    Unless someone has requested a specific pet for a long time, ie a dog, ferret etc and legitimately lacked the funds to adopt or buy one on their own, one should never buy a pet for someone else as an indulgence.or a whim. Moreover, an animal is a huge responsibility. Unless you know unequivocally that the person is up it (and has time and love to give), it is a terrible idea, and morally wrong to give a pet as a gift. Many if not most of these ‘gifts’ are found ditched on the side of a road, abandoned because the recipient lost interest.

    • Erika says:

      Completely agree with Michelle. There is also a compatibility issue when choosing a pet, how can you have chosen the right pet for you if it’s given by a third party. I think gift certificates to shelters are a much better idea.

  • Diana says:

    oh did not think about giving animals as gifts. I thought of giving the animals gifts. one should be careful where u give them as gifts. the receiver should be one who loves and desires to have them.

  • Chris says:

    A few weeks after every festival where part of the tradition is giving gifts – from Christmas to Valentine’s Day – animal shelters are overwhelmed by unwanted pets abandoned by their new owners. I think the simple answer is no, do not give give pets as presents unless the giver is willing to take on responsibility for the animal if it is rejected or neglected by the recipient.

  • Diana says:

    It goes without saying that animals too are in need of love, affection and care. the best gift to my opinion is to spare a major portion of out holiday time for animal welfare.

  • Kathy says:

    We have thought long and hard and are finally ready to get our kids a dog (for Christmas). We’d like to “rescue” a dog (under 40 lbs. grown) and would like a puppy. If you hear of a good dog for us, let me know!

  • Karen says:

    To give a gift of an animal is the same as adding a new family member.
    The family dynamics change once that animal is brought into their home.
    One wouldn’t bring a child into a home ‘as a gif’t, but in many ways the responsibilities are the same.

    In my experience as a domestic animal rehabber and rescuer, I’ve found that the number of people who adopt animals without knowledge of the animals needs and requirements (nutrition, medical care, living space requirements, behaviorial, emotional, etc.) is staggering and results in unhealthy, unhappy animals, frustrated caregivers and often removal of the animal from their environment, going from home to home or turned over to rescues, shelters and all too often, euthanized.

    Add to that the number of animals that were given as gifts and then discarded as if it was a sweater or lamp and it just magnifies the problem.

  • Robin says:

    I read your article and it was good. We don’t let people give our pets as gifts unless it is a parent living in the home of the children getting it. Anyone else we tell them the person who is going to be responsible for the pet is the one who has to sign the adoption contract. If some wants to pay for the pet as a gift it’s OK. You are also right the holidays aren’t the best time to take a new pet into your home. There are also a lot of thngs around that can be harmful to pets that new pet owners may not be aware of .

  • Melissa says:

    It’s a horrible idea to purchase a pet for another person – whether it be a holiday, a birthday present, or as a “replacement” for a lost animal. Choosing a companion animal is a very personal decision. Companion animals, rabbits and other “exotics”, can have life spans approaching 15 years – do you feel confident you can make a decision affecting a family’s next 15 years? Plus, your “gift” often comes with immediate, needed expenses such as vaccinations and spay/neuter which can cost hundreds of dollars.

    Most humane societies and pet shops offer gift certificates. If you think that someone needs an animal as a holiday pet, purchase a gift certificate to the local humane society that covers the adoption fee (most humane society adoption fees cover initial shots and spay/neuter surgery). This will allow the professionals at the humane society to help your giftee find a pet that will match his/her lifestyle best.

    Families should also re-consider purchasing/adopting animals during the holiday season. Most families do not have the time or money to properly train a new pet during the holiday season. Let your children unwrap a certificate you purchased from your local humane society, and explain the family will adopt an animal in February or March when things calm down. Then, your family can spend the next couple of months researching and planning for the new addition.

    Posted 1 hour ago | Reply Privately

  • Bunny says:

    Animals should only be given as gifts if you know the family or individual is ready and totally dedicated to bringing a new animal companion on board, and they are fully committed to taking full responsibility and providing love and acceptance for a lifetime! The gift of an animal should not be a surprise, but discussed beforehand with their involvement in selecting the right animal for their living situation. It must be an equal match for both animal and human, and arrangements should be made, prior to adopting, for the animal to be taken back to their shelter or rescue in the event it does not work out.

  • Debra says:

    not a good idea

  • Cynthia says:

    I don’t like the idea of people giving animals as gifts. In two words: Ellen Degeneres. Not to mention, pets like spouses are a very personal selection choice. No one can determine how one animal will bond with the person receiving the (pet) gift. And frankly, if someone is rescuing an animal from a shelter (which I hope they choose over a kennel, private owner, etc.), many of them, do not want anyone but the person/people adopting the animal to take possession of it. I don’t have a problem with the shelters taking this stand, though I know of some people who do.

  • Angel says:

    The practice of gifting an animal is something my company strongly discourages. We encourage people who want to give an animal as a gift, to give the gift of pet research or assisting in locating the pet instead. This practice ensures that the recipient actually wants an animal, gets the opportunity to do the breed research ensuring that the pet matches their lifestyle and preferences. We also like to remind folks that the holidays are extremely stressful and chaotic…not the best time to bring in a new pet!

    For a more detailed list of why we don’t recommend giving pets as gifts, please read our article, Pets Don’t Make Good Gifts at http://www.pawsintraining.com/gifts.php

  • Patricia says:

    I agree with the above posts. Your new 4 legged best friend should be introduced to the houshold when you have the undivided time and attention to help acclimate the pet. The Holidays are too hectic, guests and family members coming and going – too great of a chance that your new four legged family member will get out the door, become lost or get hit by a car. Plus there are all of those holiday treats around – candy, chocalate – all tempting for our new furry friend but also lethal in cetain doses.

    Wait until the holidays are over, research the type of pet you want, make sure you are willing to make a lifetime commitment to care for your pet, and please, pretty please consider all of the loving animals waiting in the shelters for a home. To give one of these animals a new forever home is the greatest holiday gift of all.

  • Bernadette says:

    Aside from all the awful stories that can be told about animals who were unintentionally injured, killed or lost during holiday festivities, just think of the animal’s needs first, coming from a shelter to a chaotic home where its new people may not even be aroud too much, and the confusion and fear that would cause in most animals. Instead, give a “gift certificate”, clean up the food and gifts and anything the new member of your household can get into, and visit the shelter, foster home, breeder or other agency a day or two after the holidays. Then come home and get to know each other.

  • Janine says:

    I do not believe pets make good gifts. Many end up in the shelters. It is much better to give a cash or check to purchase the animal of the recipient’s choice or a coupon as Janet suggests. Many people don’t realize the long-term responsibility involved and some say they want a specific dog based upon a holiday movie they might see (101 Dalmations, for example) and then realize too late that this breed might not be the one for their lifestyle.

    I also think that rescuing a pet might be a better option. I’d contact the local Humane Society to see if they have a gift certificate they can offer. This way the gift has a two-fold purpose. Janine Gregor

  • Tony says:

    I don’t believe that animals should be given as gifts.

    Sure, it is a cute idea to give a puppy or whatever to a person on face value.

    But unless the recipient of the gift is totally ready to make the kind of commitment it takes to care, feed and look after an animal it has been given, the gesture could be harmful to the pet.

    One may discard a crappy looking tie or a shirt, or put things away like that and never have to deal with them again. Same can’t be said of an animal.

    To me, this question is a no-brainer. No way, Jose’, as our friends from across the border might phrase it.

  • Janet says:

    I am of two minds about this. I really think it would be better to give a “coupon” for a pet to someone, then let them find the perfect dog/cat/rabbit/whatever for themselves. However, on the other hand, my father gave us kids a Siamese Kitten for Christmas when I was 2. That Cat (Ally) and I become inseparable buddies for 16 years, until his death.

  • Charlene says:

    Do you think that animals should be given as gifts?

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