Pets as Presents – Yea or Nay?

Calder, Pippi and Daisy!

We’ve all seen the photos and videos; a child opens a gift box and out comes the most adorable puppy or kitten in the world! The best gift ever, right? This is a long debated subject in the animal world and often thought to be a terrible idea. However, in recent years, many shelters have changed their position and policies on giving pets as gifts. They’ve found that the majority of the time, an animal given as a gift, finds responsible, loving, caring homes.

If you want to give a gift of a pet, there are important things to consider.

I co-taught a puppy class for years. Week after week, well intended people were dragged in by his/her puppy. Many of those same people said “I’ve always had Labs” or “This is my seventh Border Collie”, we don’t realize that our ability to properly exercise and manage a high energy dog changes with time. Or the well intended families that love animals but are gone all day at work and school. Their dogs are left to their own devices and often times become destructive and unruly. In both of these cases, considering an adult dog that is a bit mellower might have been a better choice. This applies with our feline friends as well. Typically, the younger the cat, the more energy and time demanding they are. This is fantastic for an engaged, active family but not so much for the mellower household.

Here are several things to consider before giving a pet as a present:

  • Has the gift recipient expressed interest in a certain type/breed of dog or cat? If so, for every breed there is a breed rescue. Try that avenue first and save a life!
  • Is the recipient ready for a 10-15 year commitment? If not and a 5 year commitment feels better, consider an adult or senior animal.
  • If the recipient is a child, are the parent(s) willing to take full responsibility? No matter how strong the intention that it’s ‘Billy’s buddy’, it will most always fall onto the adults’ lap.
  • Is the recipient able to financially support the cost of owning an animal? (vet, food, training).
  • What is the recipient’s ability to care for the animal? Some types of animals are easier than others; cats can be exercised in a variety of ways without leaving the home, whereas many dogs need activity outdoors.
  • Choosing an animal is a very personal experience. Consider wrapping a cat/dog toy in a box with a gift certificate to your local animal shelter and let the recipient choose for themselves.
  • Ask the animal shelter/rescue group/breeder about a return policy before adopting.
  • Consider a ‘Senior for Seniors’ program for the wonderful senior in your life!
Sandy Santa
Sandy and Santa!

When you adopt from an animal shelter or rescue group, you are saving the life of two animals, the one you adopted and one that you just created space for. Please adopt.

The upside to have animal companions is obvious; they enrich our lives in a multitude of ways.

Please, make good choices. These living, breathing beings are counting on it.


Written by: Charlotte Tunstall Pearce ~ Owner of Affinity Pet Services, LLC and Development Manager at Dogwood Animal Rescue Project

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