Why Pets Don't Make Good Gifts 

It is never a good idea to surprise someone with a living, breathing bundle of fur, no matter how well meaning the thoughts that go with it.  Owning a pet carries with it a certain degree of responsibilities that will mean devoting time, effort as well as financial resources to maintain the pet. It is not a good idea to present a single friend who is living alone with a companion pet without first checking whether the pet will fit into the friend’s lifestyle.  What if his work takes him away from home for long periods of time?  Even one weekend alone, may spell disaster both for the pet and its new owner. A dog left alone in an apartment may bark all night long and be a reason for the neighbours to call the police in to intervene. Or worse, what if the new owner is allergic to the new bundle of fur? A new pet should also not be given as a replacement to someone whose pet has just died.  The owner may still be grieving not want a new pet to take the place of the one that passed away!! You may lose the friend instead of being able to offer consolation during this time of grief.  In general, if the giver really wants to present a pet gift to a friend, the latter should be in on the “surprise” and come along to the pet shop and be able to express her preferences. Or, should it be difficult to synchronize schedules, a gift certificate to a pet shop of choice may be given instead.  

Pet gifts should not be given as a surprise.  The receiver may not be in a position to deal with the new addition to her household. This is the fastest way for the pet to either be abandoned on the streets or to die from neglect. Pets should also not be given as gifts to very young children who are not in a position to care for their pets yet or to fully understand that they are not toys to be mashed and pulled every which way. There is also the hygienic aspect when confronted with very young children and their pets. Pictures or stories of very young children “feeding” or sharing food set out for the pets abound in the Internet. Parents who give in to their children’s desire for a pet dog or cat or even a pet bird should be ready to take over the major responsibility of caring for the pet on a daily basis, especially when the novelty of the gift has worn off or when the pet becomes too big for them to handle or fondle easily. Promises of “I will take it out for a walk everyday!!!”  “I will bathe it!” “I will clean its house!” are easily forgotten. Parents are advised to postpone giving their children pets as gifts until they are really old enough to take over the caring responsibilities. People who have friends that are devoted pet lovers may do well to gift them with pet accessories, gift cheques to a pet store or coupons to have their pets groomed, instead.

The welcoming joy that greets a pet owner when coming home to an enthusiastic four-legged friend nipping at his heels pet or the sweet meowing of a pet cat as it rubs against her legs or even the raucous chatter of a talking bird as she opens the apartment door should be reciprocated with daily tender loving care that may not come cheap in terms of time, efforts or resources.  The recipient of your pet gift should be willing and able to give these back to your pet gift.

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