During this time of giving, it is tempting to give the box with the big bow on top and something scratching inside. Giving someone a pet for Christmas is a nice thought but all too often it does not have a happy ending. As a veterinarian I love meeting new furry family members, but those given during Christmas worry me.
Too many times those pets will be in need of a new home in 1 to 4 months because the owners don’t have the time or money for proper care, especially puppies and kittens. Often this is due to the fact that a pet under the Christmas tree is often an impulsive act rather than a rationally derived choice.
The impulse to give a little puppy or cuddly cat is tempting. What could be nicer? Well, I don’t want to look like a Scrooge but to me it seems rude. Giving a pet to someone may make you feel warm and fuzzy inside but this ONE gift is signing that person up for 10 to 20 years of commitment to another living creature. The recipient or the recipient’s parents will be expected to provide bedding, food, medical care, and a loving home to this ball of fur. Some may not consider the extra time and expense involved with proper pet care.
My advice would be to ask the recipient if they want to commit to a pet for 10 + years before adopting one for them. If so, I would ask if a particular pet is the individual pet they want? Different breeds have different characteristics and personalities. Instead of a pet, you could wrap up a book about adoption or even the specific breed they are interested in.
Pets are wonderful things, which bring joy and comfort to our lives. They can be given as gifts if planned properly. Consider adopting a pet from a local animal shelter instead of buying a puppy or kitten.
I realize this takes some of the fun out of the gesture but it will also prevent some not so happy endings.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Sunset Vet Clinic family!