Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Why Animals Should Not Be Given As Presents

The Christmas season is upon us and as we think of giving expressions of our love via gifts under the tree, we can be tempted to consider a brand new puppy or kitten for little Susie or Grandma as a gift.

The sentiment is sweet - for sure. And the bright eyes and happy smiles as that puppy or kitten is given can be extremely tempting! After all - who can resist the face of a sweet puppy or kitten? But sadly, giving an animal as a gift is a huge no-no. Often times we do not think things all the way through. (Remember the drum set you bough little Billy last year? You thought that was a good idea too!) We think about how cute these little critters are - in the moment. We neglect to consider the work involved. Especially with a puppy.

Animals are living creatures and are extremely time consuming. Not to mention costly. There is monthly food, treats, Vet visits, shots, and God forbid the animal should become unwell. You can then be sure to triple your expenses to make that pet healthy once again.  Of course in the case of kittens - you are talking about the regular changing of the litter tray. Not a fun job - and not one that many people want to do.  Puppies on the other hand require going outside at least three times a day. During the hottest day in the year, in the rain, blizzards, blistering cold.  Suddenly you are like the mailman - rain, sleet, sunshine - whatever the weather is, your little four-legged friend needs to go outside. And lets be clear - dogs are not goldfish, they not only need to be taken outside to take care of 'business', but they also need to walk. Dogs are explorers, they thrive on going for walks, they need to see new things, mark their territory, investigate the tree they've never seen before. Meet new people, meet other dogs. Remember, they are pack animals and need exposure to other doggies.

It is difficult to deny the 'puppy eyes' of your little son or daughter when they swear up and down that they will take little fluffy for a walk. That they will clean up after your new family member. They will change the litter box. Let's be clear. In the majority of cases - that will last about a week. Then the work will be re-delegated to you!

Please be aware that this is a lifetime commitment. Most dog breeds will live 12-15 years. Cats can live up to 20+ years. Rabbits will live about 8 years. When you bring an animal in to your home - in to your family, that choice needs to be considered extremely carefully - and with the understanding that the animal will be with you for the duration of it's life. Would you give away one of your children if you lost your job, or if one of them became ill? Of course not. So shipping fluffy off when times get rough should not become an option either.

Remember that animal is depending on you!

Do you have the time? Will you make the time? Will you be quick to anger when Fido is still in training and digs up your rose bushes? Or has an accident on your area rug while still being potty trained? How about that new pair of shoes that will inevitably become a favorite chew toy for your new friend?

These are all things that need to be considered.

Let's be clear. What you will get from your pet far outweighs what work is required.  My point is that if you choose to adopt an animal and have the time to devote to the needs of that animal. Then please do so!  I have always had pets in my life and although I do not always enjoy having to go outside three times a day with Bentley - especially when it is freezing out, I would not change my decision to bring him into my home.

What I am saying is that unless you are fully educated and making an informed decision - do not adopt a pet as a present for someone else.  Aunt Betty may not have the time to train and care properly for a new little friend. Kids most certainly will not follow through on their promises to do so. And let us remember that puppies grow. Please also consider the size of the breed you buy. Gifting Granny with a Husky puppy who will grow up to outweigh her - is probably not the best plan.

Be sure to research the breed before considering an animal to bring into your home. Be aware of how large they will grow. Be aware of whether the breed is one that requires lots of exercise - or is it a lap-breed.

Bottom line here is that IF you are not prepared to do the work. Then please do not gift an animal. The fact of the matter here is that 90% of animals who are gifted during Christmas (Or Birthdays) will end up in a shelter (many of which are kill shelters)

Please consider your choice very carefully and if you do not have the finances, the time, the love, the room in your life that an animal requires - dog, cat, rabbit - then please consider a goldfish or a chia pet.