7 Things to Consider Before Gifting a Pet
This time of year is very busy for our pounds and shelters. Not only is there the typical influx of pets at the start of the holiday period with families going away on holidays, but also that heartbreaking time after Christmas when all the pets given as gifts end up being surrendered. According to the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) 50% of dog owners buy their new pet for a special occasion, including as a Christmas present.
Before you decide that your nanna would love a puppy to keep her company, there are a few things to consider. Well, many more than a few. Today we discuss 7 things to consider before gifting a pet.
- The first is of course the most obvious. Does your nanna really want a puppy? Is she perfectly happy as she is? Ask her first! While you may have very good intentions, a pet is a huge time, financial and emotional commitment to take on without good consideration. Your nanna may be perfectly happy dog-sitting during the day for you while you take on the actual commitment of a pet yourself. Make sure the recipient is fully on board with the idea and avoid any awkward moments on Christmas day.
- Does the person you are gifting the puppy to actually have the money to look after a dog or cat? The AVA estimates that a pet will cost $880-$5220 per year, with the total lifetime cost of a dog estimated to be $25,000. Paying the adoption fees is a very small part of the cost of pet ownership. Consider paying the cost of pet insurance as well as the adoption fees to help offset some of those costs for the new owner. This is particularly useful if you end up buying a ‘lemon’ who has multiple undetected health problems that cost thousands in that first year.
- Is the person an adult? Young children should never be gifted a pet, particularly without the permission of the parents. Ultimately the parents have financial responsibility and most likely will end up doing most of the work when the novelty wears off. Trust me, you will never hear the end of it if the adult of the family has to spend their time poop-scooping the back yard after a dog they never really wanted.
- Does the person really have the time for a puppy or kitten? Training, exercising, socialising and caring for a furry companion takes time and commitment. A puppy really needs 2 hours minimum a day and while an adult dog or cat can be easier to care for, they do still need lots of attention. A person who spends little time at home and has many hobbies and interests may be happier without a pet to care for as well.
- What will they do when they go on holiday? Having a pet can make travel difficult. Boarding costs are usually a minimum of $20 a day for a cat and $30 per day for a dog, usually with much higher rates for the fancy places and over public holidays. I have known many people who have put travel plans on hold due to pets, particularly as their pet ages and boarding is not such a great option. Getting a pet for someone recently retired or planning to travel could significantly impact their future adventures.
- Do you know what sort of dog or cat your intended recipient would like? Consider paying the adoption fees at a local shelter and letting the person pick out their own pet rather than choosing for them. Not only are you helping find a much needed home for an abandoned dog, but many of those initial costs will be covered, like desexing, microchipping, vaccination and worming. An adult dog also has a fully developed temperament, which can be matched to an ideal owner so that both end up with a perfect companion. Many shelters will help to find the perfect match, taking into account lifestyle needs, size and finances.
- Is your intended receiver allowed to have pets? Gaining rental accommodation or living in strata properties can be more difficult with a furry housemate in tow. One of the reasons people relinquish their pets to shelters is due to a change in housing circumstances, so we would hate this new pet to be part of that statistic. If you are thinking of a pet for an elderly person, think also about what should happen if that person wanted to move into a retirement village or needed higher level care in a nursing home.
Despite all of this doom and gloom, buying or adopting a pet is a very exciting time for the family. Pets make such wonderful companions and are great for our physical and emotional health. Matching the right pet to the right person is ultimately the key to the start of one of the most rewarding relationships in someone’s life.
With 7 years of small animal vet practice in Sydney, Dr. Eloise Bright from www.lovethatpet.com is an animal lover and advocate for all animals from baby birds to stray kittens. Chat with her and her dog, Duster and cat, Jimmy on Google+.