Monday, June 24, 2024

ANIMALS 101 – ANIMALS ARE NOT GIFTS

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PETS SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN AS GIFTS OR BE A SURPRISE

The holiday season often tempts well-meaning individuals to gift animals—puppies for Christmas, bunnies for Easter, or kittens for birthdays. However, this seemingly heartwarming gesture can have serious consequences for both the animals and their unsuspecting recipients. In this article we will explore the reasons behind this cautionary stance and delve into the essential considerations for responsible pet ownership.

WHY YOU SHOULD NOT GIVE ANIMALS AS GIFTS

Whether acquired for personal satisfaction or intended as a surprise for a loved one, purchasing or taking animals on a whim is a risky endeavor. Here’s why:

Animals Are Sentient Beings, Not Commodities: Animals should never be treated as mere commodities or impulse buys. They are sentient beings with emotions and needs, and gifting them sends the wrong message, perpetuating the idea that they are disposable toys.

Pets Are Long-Term Commitments: Animals typically live 10-20 years or more for some species, requiring a substantial commitment of time, effort, and resources. Impulse purchases can lead to neglect or abandonment when the reality of this commitment sets in.

Shelter Overcrowding: Studies indicate that more than 10% of animals given as gifts end up in shelters shortly thereafter. In an already overwhelmed animal welfare system, this percentage adds strain, making it crucial to avoid unnecessary contributions to shelter overcrowding.

Children’s Interest and Responsibility: Children’s fleeting attention spans often align better with stuffed toys than living beings. The responsibilities of caring for a pet, such as daily exercise and attention, can be overlooked or underestimated.

animal gifts
Image by The Paw Company

ESSENTIAL CONSIDERATIONS BEFORE “GIFTING” A PET

Before deciding to gift an animal, it’s imperative to consider various factors to ensure the well-being of both the recipient and the pet:

Interest: Has the person expressed genuine interest in owning a pet?

Cost & Resources: Is the recipient financially stable and willing to commit to the financial responsibilities of pet ownership, including food, supplies, and veterinary care?

Time & Energy: Does the recipient have the time and energy to dedicate to daily care, interaction, and play? Consider their activity level and how often they are at home.

Space: Evaluate the living environment to ensure it is suitable for the specific needs of the animal. Check for any restrictions on pets.

The Future: Consider future plans, such as potential relocations, family expansions, or changes in financial situations.

Compatibility: Assess the recipient’s lifestyle and choose a pet that aligns with their needs and capabilities, especially energy-levels.

Age and Health: Ensure that the chosen pet is appropriate for the recipient’s age and that there are no health conditions that may conflict with pet care.

Other Pets: Consider whether the new animal will get along with existing pets in the household.

HOW TO POLITELY DECLINE OR HANDLE AN UNWANTED PET GIFT

Politely declining or addressing an unwanted pet gift is crucial to avoid unintended consequences for the animal. Here’s how:

Express Gratitude: Thank the giver sincerely for their thoughtful gesture.

Politely Decline: Clearly communicate that you are not ready for the responsibility of pet ownership at this time.

Responsible Surrender: As a last resort, if the giver insists, you can take the pet and responsibly surrender it to a shelter that can find a suitable home.

animal gifts
Image by Dr. Karen Becker

ADDITIONAL GUIDELINES FOR RESPONSIBLE PET “GIFTING“.

If you are still considering giving a pet as a gift, adhere to these guidelines:

Direct Family Only: Limit pet gifts to direct family members who have expressed genuine interest in owning a pet.

Take Responsibility: Be willing to be the backup home for the pet if the recipient is unable to care for it.

Avoid Surprises: Never surprise someone with a pet; instead, ensure the new owner is prepared for the responsibility and all the animal’s needs.

Avoid Impulse: Resist the urge for impulse pet purchases. Consider adopting from a local shelter, and promoting responsible adoption processes.

Read more on having a pet emergency plan here.

The decision to gift an animal should not be taken lightly. The life of an innocent being is at stake, and your responsibility as a potential guardian is paramount. Remember, adopting from reputable organizations reduces the strain on shelters and contributes to responsible pet ownership.

THINK TWICE BEFORE GIFTING A PET

In conclusion, before presenting a pet as a gift, carefully weigh the implications and responsibilities involved. If you are not prepared to be a responsible pet owner or if the recipient is not ready for the commitment, it’s best to reconsider and not gift the animal. The joy of pet ownership should come from a well-thought-out decision, ensuring a happy and healthy life for both the pet and its owner.

Next week, we will look at pet loss and the grief that accompanies it.

WHEN YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER.