Shortly after Valentine’s Day, and again around Easter, there is a surge in the number of pets that are brought to animal shelters and rescue organizations. Why? These are animals who were Valentine’s Day and Easter gifts.
Pets that are given to another person as a gift are much more likely to end up in a shelter due to several factors.
Firstly, there’s the matter of being ready for a pet. It’s one thing to say, “I’d love a pet cat,” but it’s something else entirely to take the initiative to go to the shelter or breeder to adopt one. In short, there’s a good chance that the pet gift recipient isn’t ready for a pet.
Secondly, there’s the matter of chemistry. When you meet “your” pet — the animal that you are “meant” to be with — you’ll experience this unique, hard-to-describe connection. It’s an instantaneous affection; a feeling like you “know” this animal and that you’re meant to be together. It sounds kind of corny, but it’s one of those feelings that you’ll know when you experience it.
When another person selects a pet, you’re cheated of the opportunity to select the animal with whom you have good chemistry. This can make the initial bonding and getting-to-know-you process a bit more difficult.
What’s more, when another person picks a pet for you, you may end up with an animal who doesn’t really fit your lifestyle. For instance, a puppy or kitten may be cute and energetic, but this pet will require lots of patience, training and so forth. For someone who is older, or who works a lot, an older, already-trained pet will be more suitable. When you visit a shelter, the staff can provide valuable guidance on picking an animal that’s most apt to suit your lifestyle and temperament.
Alternatives to Giving a Pet as a Gift
Instead of giving a pet as a gift, it’s best to purchase a gift certificate to a local animal shelter or breeder. This way, the recipient can opt to pick out their own animal. And what’s more, the individual can wait a little while if they realize that adoption isn’t going to work at this specific point in time.
While it’s cute to put a little bow on a puppy’s collar, resist the urge and buy a few pet essentials — a bed (or cage, if it’s going to be a small animal), food bowls and so forth. Present these, along with the gift certificate.
While it’s really tempting to give a cute pet as a gift, consider the emotional distress that your loved one may experience if things just don’t work out. It can be extremely difficult to give up a pet, even when you know that this animal isn’t right for your lifestyle. And it’s traumatic for the animal too.