They’re cute, cuddly and beloved for their ability to make us happy with their mere presence. How could any animal be considered a bad surprise gift, especially during the holidays? Especially during this particularly stressful winter?
Actually, there are a number of good reasons why Fido should not be on your gift list, including:
1. Returning this gift could endanger a life
You think that doggie in the window is cute, but will the recipient of your gift feel the same way? If not, the animal could end up in a shelter and be euthanized if a new owner doesn’t claim it. Who wants that on their conscience?
2. It’s not a gift; it’s a responsibility
Animals are a gift that keeps giving, definitely. But they also keep on taking.
Like children, they require food, doctor’s visits, medicine, toys, plenty of attention and plenty of money. In 2019, American pet owners spent $95.7 billion on their animals. That number could reach $99 billion by the end of 2020.
Many pet owners opt for insurance, too. It can cost hundreds of dollars yearly. And then there’s the cost of behavioral training. Consider that the recipient of your gift might not have the budget for this level of commitment — in both time or money.
3. It’s a long-term commitment for someone else
Aside from the financial commitment of pet ownership, there’s a long-term commitment of time and love. For dogs, life expectancy varies by breed; smaller breeds generally have longer life spans. Birds are the opposite: The larger the species, the longer it is likely to live.
Parakeets can live 5 to 18 years, African Gray Parrots 40 to 60 years (or longer) and Amazon Parrots have a lifespan of 25 to 75 years, according to The Spruce.
4. Gifting can be unfair to both pet and recipient
Animals — especially ones who’ve previously been abused or neglected — can be sensitive to new surroundings. Even those with no bad history could have problems accepting children or other animals.
Bringing a pet home is a life-changing decision that requires input from others in the household. Will a large dog be happy in a cramped apartment with no yard? Can a new kitten coexist with the dog who rules the recipient’s home?
5. Animals can spark allergies
When you introduce an animal into a human home, there’s the risk of someone having an allergy to it.
6. You’re adding to holiday stress
For many people, holidays are a crazy time full of shopping, baking, parties, planning and even traveling. Much of that will be toned down this year, with the pandemic, but holiday stress is unlikely to completely disappear.
In the midst of it, who can find time to train an animal, particularly a new puppy? Ask anyone who has raised a pup: it’s challenging even in the easiest of conditions.
7. Injuries could result
Your good intentions could create a bad problem. What the animal injures someone — the recipient, a child or another animal?
Conversely, the animal could be shy or even fearful of its new owner, based on previous experiences or general personality traits.
8. Chemistry is required
Choosing a pet is a hyper-personal experience. An animal whose soulful eyes speak to you may not be a critter who moves your recipient’s heart.
It’s a risky choice to make for someone else.