TV commercials, movies, and popular programs all romanticize the magic of a puppy or a kitten under the Christmas tree, waiting to be welcomed by a happy child. We live in an age where videos can capture the most private moments and make the viewer feel warm inside simply by envisioning the joy that will be experienced by the pet, the donor, and the recipient of the gift.
The reality can be very different. And the one that will suffer the most will be the 'living gift.' As animals rescuers, we know that the joy of Christmas may be short-lived for animals given as gifts or suprises. We found an excellent article on the subject, written by Robin Tierney for Partners for Animal Welfare (Washington DC Metropolitan Area). Robin is a PAW's volunteer and graciously gave us permission to include portions of her article here:
"Pets should never be an impulse purchase. Individuals and families thinking of getting a pet should research, prepare and then, when the time is right, seek a pet who realistically complements their lifestyle, schedule and energy level. Many people do not have the time, energy or money to care for a dog over the long term. A new owner may enjoy the animal for a few weeks, but then resent the gift once the novelty wears off, and the cute puppy starts growing into an active, needy, larger dog.
"Also, discourage parents from giving pups and kittens to their children as gifts. While children can help with some age-appropriate responsibilities, pets require adult caretakers. Remember, even bright youngsters typically don't have the strength, attention span, self-discipline and physical strength to care for a dog...or even a cat. Older children typically wind up redirecting their attention to friends, school, social activities and eventually dating and planning for college. Unlike with other holiday presents, owners cannot just pop in a fresh battery or put the pet away in the closet after the novelty wears off. In nearly all cases, one of the parents becomes the primary caretaker, doing the feeding, walks, litter scooping and all of the other chores the children once promised to do themselves."
To read Robin's article in its entirety, please visit http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_giftpet.php. And share the link whenever possible.
Help us to help animals by reducing the number of discarded pets reaching shelters in January... Having an animal is a long-term commitment - and nobody can make that commitment for somebody else!