Should you give a pet as a present?

Americans have a long tradition of giving pets as gifts for numerous momentous occasions including birthdays, graduations, and holidays. We have all seen a puppy or kitten-in-a-box-under-the-tree as a gift on a holiday TV show or movie. How true to life is this? Have you ever tried to put a puppy or kitten into a box? It is no easy task. This is also a controversial topic, as there is a debate on how this impacts the animal’s welfare.

A recent survey by ASPCA indicates that 96% of the people who received pets as gifts thought it either increased or had no impact on their love or attachment to that pet. 86% of these pets are still in the home. The survey also revealed no difference in attachment based on the gift being a surprise or known in advance.  The ASPCA recommends the giving of pets as gifts only to individuals who have expressed a sustained interest in owning one and possess the ability to care for it responsibly. If the recipient is under 12, the child’s guardians should be prepared to assume full care for the animal. Adding a pet is a lifelong commitment, not a temporary gift.

Helping take care of pets teaches kids about responsibility. The ASPCA gives the following suggestion to forgo the puppy-in-a-box-under-the-tree moment: Create an IOU certificate for the new family pet, a puppy promise, or cat commitment. This allows a family to focus on finding a pet that best fits their needs and makes the search a family experience. There is also no holiday-gift deadline with this method.

Another important factor is choosing the right breed for your family. Different breeds have different needs and lifestyle requirements. For example, dog breeds including the Yorkshire Terrier or Havanese might be the best choice for a small apartment, while cat breeds including the Russian Blue, Birman work best for that scenario. Some breeds have infinite patience with kids, while others will play endlessly. Do some research on dog breeds such as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel or Bernese Mountain Dog if you’re looking for a family pet. Live an active life? Take a look at the Siberian Husky, Golden Retriever, or Labrador Retriever. The sky is the limit, but the important thing is to research and find out what fits best for your family and your new furry companion. 

While many Americans have been at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to consider a new animal’s schedule for when everyone goes back to their normal routines. Dogs and cats thrive on consistency and are very much creatures of habit. One way to help avoid separation anxiety is to mimic your pet’s schedule on a typical school or workday, each day. As a sudden decrease in time spent with family can be stressful for a pet, another tip is to gradually increase animal alone time to better prepare for longer stretches of time.

Another great way to show support for animal welfare during the holiday season is to donate to Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter in honor of the recipient. Visit our website to learn how you can adoptvolunteer, and foster.