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MJ's Animal Blog

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Pets Are Not Toys

    A box with a big, red bow is moving under the tree. No, it’s not that pesky squirrel from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation but a surprise for a loved one – a new puppy! You have the best intentions, but pets are not toys. This gift is a long-term commitment, and the new owner may not be ready for all the daily responsibilities the new dog brings. 
A dog’s life is approximately 10-13 years for mid-sized dogs. A surprise gift of a dog may be perfect for Christmas morning, but caring for the daily necessities may be as exciting as getting fruitcake as a gift for an unexpected pet owner. Unfortunately, when pets are unwanted they can end up being abused, neglected, and surrendered to shelters. In an American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals, approximately 86% of pets given as gifts remain in the home, leaving a portion of pets who are unwelcome. Many shelters have guidelines in place to reduce the risk of impulse homing, but the local pet store will sell to anyone who has cash or a plastic card.
A puppy can be the perfect present, if the potential owner has expressed a genuine interest in owning a dog and can provide for its daily needs. Make a calculated list to decide whether the recipient is ready for the role of a pet owner: Can they be the leader of the pack? What type of breed would be a good fit? Can they exercise the dog? Can they afford a dog? Do they want a puppy? Do they have the time to bond with the dog? Are they allergic to dogs? 

Dog ownership is simultaneous with responsibility. For adults, a gifted dog can seem like a great idea for companionship or maybe to add another dog to the pack, but don’t make a guess that is what they want or that is what is best for them. The extra care may become overwhelming, or if you pick out a puppy, it can be difficult to determine the future temperament.
            Maybe a dog was the #1 item on a child’s Christmas list. Never give a dog as a gift without parent permission or analyzing whether the child can handle the day to day commitments. A child has promised he or she will feed, walk, and give the dog a bath, but yet you know they can’t remember to make their bed in the morning. If you, as the parent, give a dog as a gift to your child, ask yourself if you are ready for the responsibilities of the pet and all the financial obligations too.
           Instead, consider giving a dog adoption certificate, along with an adoption kit or a dog obedience training gift certificate. Pick out a dog pillow and toys for the person to unwrap with a certificate to cover adoption costs. Allow the future pet owner time to figure out which dog is the best fit for him or her when the hustle and bustle of the holidays are over. This gift supports shelter efforts to end puppy mills and overpopulation – a win-win for both parties!

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