If you’re thinking about giving a pet as a holiday gift…you may want to think again! Some people, while animal lovers at heart, may not have the time, space or financial ability to care for a pet. There are several things to consider when surprising someone with a gift they may not find so cute & cuddly once the novelty wears off.
• The recipient should always be a part of the decision & selection process. A new pet owner needs to fully understand the lifelong commitment it takes to be a pet owner. Communication & proper planning ahead of time can result in a positive, happy relationship between human & pet. It doesn’t end when the gift is given, actually it’s just begun.
• Consider their lifestyle. Someone who works long hours, has a small yard, allergies or is unable to financially care for a pet may not be willing to take on the responsibility of a pet owner. For instance, puppies require a lot of time & effort to develop good habits. Those who don’t invest the time, may end up with a pet who exhibits undesirable behaviors. It’s not the pets’ fault. Yet these are the pets who end of in shelters and are at risk for euthanasia.
• Cost of owning a pet. While the pet you give will be cute & cuddly, it is also an expense. There are costs associated with pet ownership: collar, leash, kennel, litter & litterbox, food and medical expenses. According to the AVMA, a pet owner should expect first year medical expenses to be approximately $1500 for a dog and $1000 for a cat.
• Research the type of pet as well as the breed. Like humans, dogs, cats & shelf pets come with their own personalities and interests. You veterinarian should be able answer questions on specific breeds.
Remember, pets are not commodities. They cannot be put on a shelf and forgotten about. The element of surprise may be well intentioned, but reaction to your gift may not be as well received as you expect!
Our Star Expert
Dr. Nancy Soares VMD, founder and owner of Macungie Animal Hospital, takes very seriously the significant roles that pets play in our lives. She traces her own passion for animals and aspiration to be a veterinarian back to the age of eight, when she met Harvey, a black lab owned by family friends. Nancy Soares graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in veterinary medicine. While still a student, Soares helped found and direct the Pet Visitation Program at the University. Modeled after the human patient program at the University of Pennsylvania hospital, this program allowed for the first time owners to visit their hospitalized pets. The program honors the bond between pets and their owners and the integral role this connection plays in the healing process. Dr. Soares also adds being a proud co-founder of We Are Pet Nation to her list of achievements.