Pets under the tree are asking for troubleSurprising a loved one with a new puppy may sound like a great holiday gift, but local pet store and animal shelter employees say to check first to see if a pet is on their wish list.
By: By Brandi Jewett, Forum Communications, The Jamestown Sun
Surprising a loved one with a new puppy may sound like a great holiday gift, but local pet store and animal shelter employees say to check first to see if a pet is on their wish list.
Giving pets as a surprise gift is an absolute no-no, according to Nancy Miller, owner of the Pets R’ Inn pet stores in Grand Forks and Fargo.
“It’s not the right thing to do,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas.”
Miller and Arlette Moen, executive director of the Circle of Friends Humane Society, do not recommend giving pets as gifts.
“There’s a lot of pressure that comes with adding a pet to the family (during the holidays),” Moen said.
Though Circle of Friends has a December special lowering adoption fee for some cats on Tuesdays, Moen said she hasn’t seen any go home with people as gifts.
Called Tiger Tuesdays, the shelter lowers adoption fees on tiger-striped cats to $15. The normal adoption fee for a cat is $55.
Miller said she occasionally sees people buy pets as gifts throughout the year, but not many during the holiday season.
“We don’t sell all of our puppies in December,” she said.
There are a number of factors that go into selecting the right pet — factors a gift giver may overlook when trying pick out the purr-fect present.
“Choosing a pet is a very personal thing,” Moen said. “You want that pet to be the one you want.”
A pet should be compatible with its owner’s personality, activity level and overall lifestyle, especially if the pet will be living somewhere other than the gift giver’s household, she said.
If the pet doesn’t fit in, there may be no other option except returning it to the pet store or placing it in a shelter.
“Our animals need to go to forever homes,” Miller said. “We don’t like to see people bring animals back.”
Animal shelters across the country care for about 6 to 8 million cats and dogs each year, according to the Humane Society of the United States. Of that number, it is estimated 3 to 4 million are euthanized.
Instead of choosing a pet for the recipient, Moen suggested the giver and the intended owner visit pet stores or shelters together. The giver also could purchase a gift certificate that can be used for adoption fees.
Both Miller and Moen agree the gift giver should have a conversation with the recipient prior to purchasing or adopting a pet.
“They (the recipient) need to be aware of the responsibilities that come with pet ownership,” Moen said.
The recipient also should express the fact a pet is something they desire instead of the gift giver assuming, she added.
Parents also should be ready and willing to care for the pet if it is given to their child as a present — especially if the child is younger than 12.
If the parent is the one planning to give the gift, he or she should consider assigning pet care tasks before the animal is brought home.
Households also should be prepared for the time and financial commitment required by pets.
Pets such as cats, dogs and large birds can potentially live for decades. In that period of time, pets would need food, toys and medical care — which may require a significant financial investment from the owner if their pet has an ongoing medical condition.
The average dog owner spends about $1,500 annually on basic expenses, according to the American Pet Products Association. Cat owners spend about $1,200 on average.
So far this year, Americans have spent an estimated $52 billion on their pets, according to APPA.