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Why Pets Do Not Make Good Surprise Gifts

Alternatives To Giving Pets As Gifts

For weeks, even months or years, you hear, "Can we please have a dog?" or "When are we going to get a cat?". Then one day you're at the pet store or at the animal shelter. You see little round cat paws reaching out to you, just begging to be taken home. Or perhaps you're bewitched by the warm, gentle eyes of the dog gazing trustingly at you from his kennel. And you feel yourself starting to give in. But there are many reasons why isn't a good idea - least of all for the pet.

Your family has wanted a pet for a long time, and you start to think that maybe this is the right time: you can surprise your family with a new pet, and bask in their delight.

People often want to give a new pet as a surprise gift for a special occasion, such as a birthday or Christmas. But the unfortunate fact of the matter is, some of these pets are turned into shelters and rescue organizations before a year is up (or even sooner).

People surrender their pets for a number of reasons. In the case of "surprise pets", it's most often because the recipient (or someone in their family) didn't like the pet, couldn't care for the pet or didn't want to, or the novelty of having a pet simply wore off.

Adopting a pet is a lifelong commitment. When bringing a new pet into your family, everyone in the family should have a chance to spend time with it before adopting. Everyone needs to agree that it's a good idea.

Responsible Alternatives to Giving Pets As Gifts:

  • Ask the animal shelter if they sell "pet certificates". Some shelters will allow you to purchase a gift certificate good for the adoption of one pet. Give this certificate as your surprise gift - it's still sure to delight! The recipient of your gift will be able to go in with their family and choose a pet of their own.

  • Hand-make a gift certificate. Offer to pay for (or pay part of) the adoption fee of a new pet.

To add an extra special touch, package up the gift certificate in a gift basket that includes stuff for pets - a food bowl, pet toy, collar or leash, etc.

It used to be that holidays were considered too stressful and busy a time to introduce a new pet to the household. However, this isn't always true - many people have extended time off during the holiday season, and can thus spend more time helping a new pet settle into the household. It could very well be a perfect time to integrate a new family member!