Pets are not Presents

by Cloud @ lifeofcloud.net

Anyone who knows me knows I am a passionate animal lover, saving mice from the hallways of my work, bunnies from abandoned nests, and birds with injured wings. They also know I am an advocate for animal adoption whether it be for a puppy, kitten, dog, cat, bird, bunny, guinea pig or more. But one thing I am not an advocate for is giving someone  you love an animal as a gift for the Holidays.

Owning an animal is not a walk in the park; take it from me, owner of two dogs, a cat and a bird. Animals are living, breathing things with emotions and needs. They are not a disposable object like a doll off a WalMart shelf. Getting an animal is a process that should be thought out and considered by all members of a family.

By giving an animal as a gift, you are immediately associating the animal with something that is as temporary and disposable as a Christmas Fruitcake. You are not allowing the individual you are getting the animal for consider the animal that is best for them (all owners should meet and interact with an animal prior to owning it because compatibility is not something you can force) and putting a financial burden on them against their will.

Owning animals is a stressful thing and by no means a clean and easy one. By gifting an animal, you are forcing an individual into a stressful situation that they did not agree to (despite the excitement they might have in the moment which blurs the reality of animal ownership).

Often, after the initial excitement of receiving the animal, the accidents, the cleaning of cages and the expenses of vet visits often shakes people up, and the stress becomes too much to handle. Sometimes, it just ends up being that the animal and the individual simply aren’t compatible; maybe they are too high energy for their busy lifestyle, perhaps there are unexpected allergies, or maybe they simply don’t have the time to spend with it. There are many factors that could mess up a parent-animal relationship, and giving a pet as a present increases those chances.

So many animals who end up in a shelter were a “gift” gone wrong. So many people give pets as gifts without truly recognizing the responsibility, the time, the money, and the potential chaos that comes with pet ownership. Some people receive these gifts with love and excitement, only to find that it is way too much to handle or simply doesn’t work for them.

Yes, the thought of a fuzzy animal sitting by your Holiday fire is a warm and beautiful thought, and one that certainly increases adoption and sales of animals, but it’s not one that truly puts the pet first, as all animals should be in these situations. So if you’re considering adding an animal to the family (and I definitely suggest adoption; you can ask me more about this if you have questions about it), wait for the “holiday shopping rush” mindset to fade, discuss it as a family or with the individual who you think might be interested, and go together to meet the animal, weigh the options, consider the financial and stress impact, and then make a decision. Pets are live, pets are precious, pets should not be presents.

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