Pets are a gift to have and it is a pleasure to share our lives with them. However, pets are generally not good presents, especially unsolicited presents. The winter holiday season and birthdays tend to be popular occassions for which people give and receive pets as presents. This can be a tough situation for both the pet and its new owner(s). Therefore, if you are considering getting a pet as a present for someone, you may want to wrap up an adoption brochure instead. Let’s see why:
- Allergies/Health Concerns: Most individuals do not live alone in solitude. They have roommates, partners, spouses, childrens, family, and friends, some of which may be around on a regular basis. Within this group, there may be allergies and medical conditions that are not conducive to certain types of pets.
- Breed/Weight Restrictions: With regard to dogs, an increasing number of housing communities are imposing breed and weight restrictions on pet owners. This means that specified breeds and dogs exceeding a certain weight limit are not permitted. This is particularly problematic for people living in apartments, military housing or individuals who do not plan on staying in one place for very long. Also, home owners may confront obstacles with their home owners’ associiation or insurance company regarding certain breeds.
- Children as Owners: Children under the age of 18 cannot be considered the legal owners of a pet. They may seem enthusiastic about the prospect of a new pet and may be responsible, but a parent or guardian is ultimately responsible for the animal’s care and well-being. Also, children attend school, participate in extra-curricular activities, want to socialize with friends, and often are unable to drive or hold jobs that can support all the expenses of a pet.
- Species Restrictions: Not all housing communities permit all types of pets. For instance, some reptiles are small in size as far as pets go, but there are communities that do not permit residents to own reptiles.
- Surprises are, well, surprising: Pets given as presents are not always expected by their new owners. This means that the new owners have not had time to prepare for their new pet. A lack of preparedness, coupled with a lack of pet experience can lead to a stressful and hectic situation for all of those involved. Surprise present pets are not always as well received as intended.
Whether it is a horse, snake, cat, dog, bunny, guinea pig or any other companion animal, a pet is a responsibility. Animals are a joy to have in our lives, but they require love, attention and care. Think twice and three times over if you are considering giving a pet as a gift. There may be good intentions behind it, but there is a strong potential that it will not unfold as planned.
If you are looking to give an animal a home for the holidays, make it a family gift, where everyone is part of the decision-making process. Visit your local shelter or rescue and do your research to find the right match for your lifestyle. If the right match does not come along until after the new year, keep looking because it will be well worth it in the end.
Don’t shop – adopt! Here are some local organizations with adoptable animals:
- Chesapeake Animal Control
- Chesapeake Humane Society
- K9 Justice League
- Virginia Beach Animal Control
- Virginia Beach SPCA