Why pets don’t make good gifts

Gloria J. Towle, Special to The County
6 years ago

Every year thousands of unwanted pets are returned, given away, or abandoned to their fates. Some of these pets were gifts for birthdays, Christmas, or other occasions.

The giver is usually well-meaning.  It could be that they believe a single friend or relative could “use some company,” or that giving a new pet will help to ease the grief of someone mourning the loss of a beloved pet or a loved one. They also may feel that this person seems to “love animals” and will appreciate a pet as a gift.  And then there are the parents who “finally” give in to repeated requests from the kids to get a pet.

It’s just not a good idea.  Someone’s lifestyle may not be conducive to taking on the responsibility of caring for a pet. For example:

A person mourning a pet needs time to grieve.  They can adopt a new one if or when they are ready. Everyone grieves in different ways.

Many people who love animals may not actually want to have one, preferring to visit with their friends’ or family’s pets instead. Caring for a pet is a big responsibility – and that includes a financial responsibility

Parents can tell you how often the kids say, “But I’ll take care of him… pleeeease. I’ll feed him, and walk him, and brush him…every day.” But, of course, the adults end up doing the majority of the pet care. Wait until your kids are old enough to assume many of the responsibilities of owning a pet.

The temptation to give a cute pet as a gift can be particularly strong around Christmas.  Resist the temptation; the holidays are often filled with noise, crowds, and plenty of activity.  This is a stressful introduction for both the pet and for the people.  Wait until after things have settled down, you have done your homework, can make that commitment and have the time to spend with your new pet.  

People surrender their pets for a number of reasons.  In the case of “surprise pets”, it is most often because someone in the family didn’t get along with the pet or never wanted one to begin with — or the novelty of having a pet simply wore off.

Adopting a pet is a lifelong commitment.  When bringing a new pet into your family, everyone in the family should have a chance to meet and spend time with the pet before making the decision to adopt.  Remember, pets are family, too.

Please stop by the Central Aroostook Humane Society if you think you are ready to add that special fur baby to your family.  Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., closing for lunch 12-12:30.  Please be responsible: Spay and neuter your pets.

“Animals are like little angels sent to earth to teach us how to love. They don’t get angry or play silly games. They are always there for us.” (Whitney Mandel)

Gloria J. Towle is the secretary and a member of the Board of Directors of the Central Aroostook Humane Society.