With the approach of the holidays, everyone’s thoughts turn naturally to the happy chore of gift giving. While most people opt for the tried and true, hoping another gift certificate isn’t too impersonal or another scarf or bottle of perfume isn’t too predictable, they are much safer choices than those being considered by some this season: the purchase of a pet.
The gift of a dog or puppy is not the same as the gift of a large, stuffed plush toy. More often than not, wrapping a red ribbon and bow around the neck of a living, breathing dog signals only one thing: trouble. Dogs and cats are NOT toys, and should never be anyone’s holiday surprise. Unlike other holiday purchases, there are no refunds or exchanges on pets. Only serious, possibly dire consequences. Although the idea of a pet as a gift may sound thoughtful, it is, in reality, thoughtless.
Why? Because the gift OF a pet means accepting the responsibility FOR that pet. It must be more than a well-meant whim, the desire to be different. It must be a carefully considered choice. An informed decision made by everyone involved in what may ultimately be a 10 to 15 year commitment.
Such decisions require homework and due diligence. Before you choose a dog you have to consider the size, age, and energy level that would best suit your family, your lifestyle, and your home. Do you have a fenced in yard? Do you have time for a dog? Does anyone in your family suffer from allergies? Does everyone even WANT a dog? Do they understand what it means to share in the training, feeding and raising of a dog? Because adding a dog to your family not only involves time and money, it means providing that dog with a loving, secure and stable home. These can be difficult questions to answer, and they are not decisions that anyone should be making for someone else because it is not in the best interest of the animal.
Those well-intentioned gift givers – often the parents – will now be that puppy’s full-time caregivers, and, sadly, many of them weren’t prepared for this eventuality. The result: one more puppy either abandoned by the side of the road, dropped off at a pound or surrendered to a shelter. Probably to be euthanized. Neither respectable breeders nor responsible rescue groups will either sell or adopt out a pet as a holiday gift. They’re all too familiar with the heartbreaking results of such dangerous impulse buys. (TAGS uses a comprehensive adoption process to avoid this exact circumstance.)
Enter the ultimate puppy purveyors: those small, but inviting pet stores found in almost any mall. These are the puppies whose appealing exteriors mask appalling interiors. These are the puppies with the health and behavioral problems disguised by a holiday wrapping. These are the puppy mill dogs, bred for profit, nothing more. These will be the first puppies abandoned by the side of the road, dropped off at a pound or surrendered to a shelter. Probably to be euthanized.
Never buy a dog (or cat!) as a gift for someone else – whether it’s a close relative or an even closer friend. The same rules apply. Only doubly so. What you consider an act of generosity will, in all probability, be seen as an imposition. If any of them want a pet, it’s up to them to make that choice. That same, carefully considered choice and intelligent, informed decision.
To make certain that your holidays are happy, make certain that your gifts do not include a pet.
By Nomi Berger