Giving Pets as Gifts

Posted December 18, 2018 @ 11:33am | by Janine Barnes, AERC Marketing Assistant

At this time of year, it can be difficult to come up with the perfect holiday gifts for all of your loved ones. Giving a pet as a gift, while well-meaning, can be an unwanted surprise that will end in the pet ultimately being rehomed or brought to a shelter. Because of this, we DO NOT recommend gifting pets

On the other hand, if you are certain the recipient absolutely wants a pet, here are a few rules:

1. Triple Check
A pet should NEVER be a surprise gift. You and the soon-to-be pet parent should have a discussion to make sure he or she is 100% ready to be a responsible pet owner. Sometimes people may say, “That puppy is so adorable! I wish I had one!” but don’t mean for the comment to be taken literally. No pet deserves to go through this. We advise you and your family member or friend to do the research on the financial costs of owning a pet, the daily tasks (like going for walks or cleaning the litter box), and other responsibilities. Adopting a pet should be taken as seriously as adopting a child. If your friend or family member has any doubts or reservations, DO NOT move forward with the idea. 

Check out our “10 Things Every Pet Owner Should Know” and “Are You Ready to Own a Dog?“ blogs to get started on your pet owner responsibility research! 

2. Pay the Fees but Don’t Pick Out the Pet
If your friend or family member is ready for pet parenthood, you could pre-pay an adoption fee, provide a gift card for some start-up items, or offer to pay the first veterinary bill. These types of things are okay, but don’t pick out the pet. Accompany your loved one to the local shelter or connect with a rescue, and let the expecting pet parent choose the pet.

3. Kids are NOT Pet Owners
Let me say that louder for the people in the back: KIDS ARE NOT PET OWNERS. If you are a parent picking out a pet for your kid, you must also accept the responsibility of that pet. Your child may promise to clean the litter box or take the dog for a walk every day, but if this doesn’t happen, it’s up to you to complete the duties. There’s no “well, I guess we will bring the puppy back” or “you promised to do this, and I won’t do it for you”. When you bring home that pet, that living creature is YOUR responsibility. If you want to gift a pet to your grandchild, niece, nephew, or any other kids, you MUST talk to the parents beforehand to ensure they are ready to accept the responsibility. Then go back to Rule #1. 

4. Pets are NOT an Impulse Buy
If you go to an adoption fair and see a cute dog that your mom will love, DO NOT adopt him. We know your heart is in the right place, but if your mom really wants a dog, send her a photo and tell her to join you at the event. Then, go back to rule #1. 

5. Adopt, Don’t Shop
If you made it this far, we hope that means you and your friend or family member have had the long discussion about pet owner responsibilities and have made certain that he or she really wants a pet. When it’s time to adopt the pet, we encourage you to go to a local animal shelter or pet rescue. They have many options of dogs, cats, rabbits, and even pocket pets. 

Please strongly consider all of our points before covering the adoption fees for a pet. After all, pets are family, not gifts that can be exchanged or returned. 

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