Give Puppies Responsibly, Experts Say
American Humane suggests dogs and cats don’t always make the best holiday gifts.
Posted: December 11, 2008, 5 a.m. EST
For those people who are considering giving pets as presents this holiday season, most would agree that there’s nothing cuter. However, selecting a dog requires work, and while some urge proper planning, others suggest that a puppy or kitten is never a good surprise to find under the Christmas tree.
According to counselors at Petland stores, giving a pet as a holiday gift is a unique and good idea, but it requires careful thought and research. Dan Star of Petland in Hoffman Estates, Ill., said that Christmas Day is not the best day to introduce a dog into a new home.
“Young pets are like babies,” he said. “They need some time and extra attention just to adjust to a family routine.”
Because the holidays involve many visitors or activities away from home, this leaves little time to spend caring for a new pet, he said. Therefore, he recommends introducing a new pet into the household days before or after the holiday.
According to the American Humane Association (AHA), pets as gifts can often lead to a lonely cat or dog facing an uncertain future at the local animal shelter. For that reason, the organization dedicated to protecting animals and humans does not support giving a pet as a surprise gift, said Marie Belew Wheatley, president and CEO.
“The holidays are stressful for everyone, including animals,” she said. “By surprising people with a pet, you are assuming they have the financial, emotional, and time resources necessary to care for an animal, as well as the desire to care for a living being for the long term.”
For those looking for the ideal pet for a friend or family member, American Humane offers the following advice:
- Picking a pet is personal. The choice should not be made by anyone other than those who will care for the pet.
- Pets, especially puppies and kittens, require time, energy, and money. It can be overwhelming, particularly when it’s a surprise.
- Before buying or adopting a dog or cat, take time to look into different breeds, how to give an animal a safe home, and the time commitment of owning a pet.
- Because many dogs and cats can live 15 years, the pet becomes part of the family. It’s important to ensure that everyone in the house is willing to provide a healthy environment for the pet.
- The holidays aren’t a vacation for new pets. Children can confuse proper treatment of an animal with the excitement of new toys around the holiday. Pets need a place where they can feel comfortable and start to acclimate to their new home. A less-hectic time of year is probably a wiser time to add a pet.
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