Why Animals Do Not Make Good Gifts
Animals, like us, require love and proper care to flourish. Although people who give animals as gifts invariably have good intentions, it is unfair to give an animal to anyone unless you are absolutely certain that the person wants that particular animal as a companion and is willing and able to give a lifetime of proper care.
Think Before Giving
Adding an animal companion to the family is an important decision. It means making a permanent commitment to care for and spend time with the animal and to provide for his or her lifelong care.
Before adopting, consider the time and money involved in proper animal care. Will your loved one have the time and patience to exercise and housetrain the animal? Is he or she prepared to pay for food, accessories (such as toys, grooming supplies, leashes and harnesses, and bedding), inoculations, and veterinary care, including spaying or neutering, flea treatment, deworming, and emergency care?
If a family decides to adopt an animal, every member of the family should go to the local animal shelter together to choose the animal, having already discussed the obligations and long-term commitments involved. Please, never buy from breeders or pet stores, and always practice your ABCs—animal birth control. For every animal purchased from a breeder or a pet shop, a potential home is taken away from a homeless dog or a cat at a local animal shelter.
Children May Not Be Ready
Small children may unintentionally harm animals, even breaking their fragile bones or causing other fatal injuries, when they think they are playing. Puppies, kittens, bunnies, chicks, baby ducks, and other young animals are especially vulnerable.
We have heard too many stories about families in which the child has lost interest in an animal, and the adult is forced to make the difficult decision on the best way to “solve” the problem. Often this means turning the animal over to a crowded shelter or pound or—worse—passing the animal on to a series of homes, causing trauma, psychological scarring, and behavioral problems.
Too Few Happy Endings
Animal shelters are filled beyond capacity with homeless animals, many of whom were former “pets” who, for one reason or another, didn’t fit into someone’s lifestyle. No matter how much they would like to, many people who receive animals as gifts find that they are unable to make the lifelong commitment to care for their new companion.
Sadly, many people end up turning animals they received as gifts over to an overburdened humane society or animal-control agency that is likely filled to capacity. In worst-case scenarios, some people even abandon animals on the road or in the back yard when they move away.
What You Can Do
- Don’t ever give an animal as a gift. If you have discussed the idea with the prospective recipients and know that they have the time, willingness, ability, and resources to properly care for an animal and make that serious commitment, consider offering them a gift certificate from the local animal shelter.
- If you attend a fair, flea market, or other event at which animals are being given away, educate those who are responsible. If people are offering free kittens or puppies, for example, explain the risks of giving animals to unknown passersby—some people sell dogs and cats to laboratories or dealers, and others abuse, neglect, or abandon them.
- Sign our pledge saying that you will never buy an animal from a pet store or a breeder and that you will always practice your ABCs (animal birth control) by spaying or neutering your animal companions.