Saturday, December 21, 2013

Pets Are Forever, Not Just for The Holidays

When it comes to holiday gift giving the one thing you should not give is a pet. Adding a dog or cat to the family is a serious and personal decision. It is a lifetime commitment to the pet. 
Photo by Claire Clayton
Do you know if the person wants a pet? Do they have the time for a cat or dog? Every pet needs time, attention, and a lot of care. 
Can they afford a pet? I don't mean just the cost of buying or adopting a pet. If you're giving the pet as a gift, you are handling that expense. I mean the ongoing expense of food, veterinary care, training classes and all of the things a pet needs, the basics like food and water dishes, a harness, leash, toys, scratching post, litter boxes, cat tree, clicker, breed books, pet care books, treats, a bed, a carrier, a crate.  And that's just the tip of the iceberg. That list grows and grows as the pet ages. Can they afford pet insurance or to have a pet savings account in lieu of insurance to cover any emergencies? 
Photo by Mary Slaney
What if the person or couple has at least one child? Is the family willing to supervise the child and the pet to be sure that the child isn't injuring the pet?  If the child hurts the
pet and the pet bites because of pain who is going to get the blame?
Are they going to get rid of the pet because of something that is, 
essentially, their fault for not supervising more closely and for not
teaching the child how to behave properly around a pet.
Is someone in the family allergic to pets? 
If someone wants a pet, that should be their decision. They should choose the type of pet and be sure it fits into their lifestyle. They need to decide what size pet, what sort of personality, activity level and whether or not they are willing to do the training and give the pet attention for its entire life. This is a major commitment for the life of the pet which can be anywhere from eight years for a Giant breed dog, to 12 years, 15 or 16 years and even 20 years or more for a cat. 
If someone wants a pet, they should not bring it home for the holidays when there is so much going on, so much activity and so many people in and out of the house.  Better to buy the pet supplies they will need, have those wrapped and wait until after the holidays to bring the pet home when things have calmed down and the new owner(s) can spend time helping the new family member settle in, begin training and start to build that all-important human-animal bond.

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