We love seeing joy and excitement on the faces of others. It’s why we give each other gifts, and ‘tis the season for gift-giving. A regular source of joy and excitement is a pet. Thousands of pets will be given as gifts this season, which sounds nice, but the reality is often not nice at all, particularly for the animals. Why is that? 

You’ll have heard the phrase, “adopt, don’t shop,” and that is especially important to our point today. Not because it’s a good thing that animals are being taken out of shelters, but because that’s where a lot of pets given as gifts end up – in shelters. Or on the street, in the woods, in homes where they aren’t loved and cared for as they should be, or in the cold ground. 

Why should we not give animals as gifts? One reason is that the recipient might not be ready with the right supplies. You wouldn’t show up to a Christmas party with a pony unless you could see fenced fields, a paddock, a barn, and all the other things we see where ponies live. So why would we do that with any animal? A kitten, for instance, needs proper food, water, dishes, treats, toys, a preferred vet, a litter box, a carrier, basic medical supplies, safe napping spots, and at least one safe hiding spot already set up when they arrive. 

Other members of the recipient’s family might not be ready. An animal should not be a surprise to anyone. Sometimes givers only think of one person, when they should consider the entire family. Someone might have allergies. Are there other pets? Suppose you’re considering giving a child a rabbit. Surely you would take it into account if there was a large dog already in the family who is not used to sharing the place with other animals. Rabbits scare easily and would not like being barked at. Even friendly, well-behaved dogs and cats might see a rabbit, hamster, or other such animal as prey. 

The recipient might not be up to the responsibility. A pet is not a toy. They are a responsibility and one must be well aware of an animal’s needs. Fish and reptiles, for example, suffer terribly when the many nuances of their care are neglected by someone who has not studied them. Just because a lizard likes to sit motionless under a heat lamp for hours at a time doesn’t mean it doesn’t need dedicated attention. A snake cannot cry to tell us that it’s unhappy like a dog can. Goldfish have no external ears to put back to tell us that they’re scared. 

It’s better for someone to pick out their own pet that will bond with them instead of having one chosen for them. Pets are a great way for children to learn responsibility, but much of that should happen long before they see the pet. Even a guinea pig should not be that kind of guinea pig. 
Gifts come from a place of love, so let’s make sure they go to places of love. To donate to Paw Pet Pantry, check out information about our needs here. Thank you for helping us show love to animals in need and their humans.

Sarah Wright, Paw Pet Pantry guest blogger sarahwrites.net


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