ANIMALS 101 – WHY PETS SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN AS GIFTS.
The festive season is not too far away, but whether it is a puppy for Christmas, bunnies for Easter, a kitten for a birthday or something else, animals should not be on the shopping list!
There are people who buy animals for themselves and those who buy them for others. Both can be equally dangerous if the person who has to take care of the pet is not prepared to be a proper pet guardian/owner. Buying pets for someone else is a particularly bad idea!
SHOULD ANIMALS BE GIVEN AS GIFTS?
NO!!!! and here is why:
1. Animals are not and should never be seen as commodities. They are sentient beings and not disposable toys. Giving them as gifts sends the wrong message and is usually an impulse buy.
2. Animals are not gifts, they are 10-20 years (or more) commitments.
3. Many animals given as gifts find their way to shelters a short time after. According to some studies at least 14% if not more. This sounds low to you, but in an overwhelmed animal welfare system, this is 14% on top of crowded shelters and it could have been prevented.
4. Children’s attention span will fit better with a stuffed toy than a sentient being whose needs should be a priority. Children lose interest quickly.
HAVE YOU CONSIDERED THE FOLLOWING?
- Interest: Did this person already express interest in owning a pet?
- Cost & Resources: Is the recipient financially capable, stable and willing to pay for food, supplies, veterinary care, and other services over the animal’s lifetime? You don’t want to give them a gift of debt.
- Time & Energy: Does the recipient have time for daily exercise, interaction, and play? How active are they? How often is this person at home? Although you might love the animal, they do not come without work.
- Space: What kind of environment will the animal live in? How big is the yard or space to move in? Does the building or residence have any restrictions on pets?
- The Future: Do they plan to move locally or possibly overseas? Are there kids on the way or job changes coming? Could their financial situation change soon?
- Compatibility: What kind of animal would fit this recipient’s lifestyle best? Are they right for that animal? It is not just about the owner, but also about the needs of the animal.
- Age: Is this pet age appropriate? Some kids are too young to take responsibility for the pet and buying pets for elderly parents can be just as irresponsible.
- Health: Does the recipient have allergies or other conditions that would conflict with caring for this pet?
- Other Pets: Will this new animal get along with other animals in the household?
HOW TO SAY NO & YOU SHOULD IF YOU ARE NOT READY!
They say you don’t show gifts away. When it comes to animals as gifts, you should, if you did not plan or want them at that stage. The animals usually pay the price if you take them.
- Thank them.
- Decline the gift.
- Worse case (not ideal), you take the animal and tell the giver you are going to surrender them to a shelter that can find a suitable home. This is probably not the first time this person did this and they need to learn to take responsibility for their choices.
WHEN IT COMES TO ANIMALS WE ARE RARELY FOR EXCEPTIONS, BUT WE WOULD RATHER ADVISE IN ADVANCE OR PROVIDE SOLUTIONS IF SUCH A SITUATION DOES OCCUR.
If nothing from above convinced you then….HERE ARE SOME OTHER KEY CONSIDERATIONS:
- Only give animals as gifts to direct family.
- Take responsibility for the life of that animal. If you are not willing to be the back-up home for the animal you gave as a gift, then please don’t do it.
- Animals as gifts should never be a surprise as the new owner needs to be prepared.
- Avoid impulse. You went to the store for milk, not a puppy.
- Give without giving. We mentioned picking a suitable pet for the recipient and the best way you can do that is through adoption. Go to your local shelter and pay the adoption fees and let the potential owner go through a responsible process of adoption with the shelter.
THE LIFE OF AN ANIMAL IS IN YOUR HANDS……ARE YOU WILLING TO RISK THEIR LIFE AS A GIFT?
REMEMBER if you bought or took a pet for free and did not adopt through a reputable organisation……then you just fuelled the overpopulation crisis and made the work of a shelter harder.
WANT TO GIVE A PET AS A GIFT? PLEASE THINK TWICE!!!
Next week we will look at humane animal control.
WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER!