It’s very tempting to give a loved one a pet for the holiday. You adore your pet and know how much he enhances your life, so you figure your friend will feel the same way. But before you run out and choose a precious puppy or cuddly kitty to give as a gift, there are many things to consider. Most importantly, remember that you are giving someone a lifetime commitment.
ALWAYS Ask First
Surprising someone with a new pet is never a good idea, according to Marc E. Rosenberg, Veterinarian and co-owner, County Line Veterinary Hospital in Marlton, New Jersey. Adds Angela Messer, Director of Operations, Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA), “This is something that should be discussed at length with the recipient prior to acquiring the new pet.” There are many important things a pet-owner must consider first:
• Do you have time for a pet? — Animals can’t be ignored when life gets hectic. They require food, water, exercise, care, and companionship every day.
• Why do you want a pet? — If it’s because the kids have been begging for one, think twice. Be sure all family members are willing to help with the responsibilities that go with pets.
• Are there any allergies in the home? — While there are certain animal species that are hypo-allergenic, many people are allergic to a variety of pets.
• Are there any living restrictions? — Some apartment complexes forbid pets or have size requirements. Some landlords require declawing of cats.
• Do the personalities of the pet and owner match? — “It’s like getting a spouse unseen,” jokes Dr. Rosenberg. “If you don’t have interaction in the beginning, how do you know this is the pet that’s right for you?”
• Is the home properly set up for a pet? — Are there appropriate gates to keep the pet in a certain space, or a fenced-in yard?
• Can you afford the pet? — The cost of the pet is minute compared to the expense of feeding, training, and providing medical care.
• Carefully consider the breed — Be sure to take into account the breed of animal you select. A very active person may enjoy the high energy of a Labrador retriever over the laid back attitude of a basset hound. Always do research and meet many animals before settling on a specific breed or type.
• Shop together. — “The best thing is to take the person shopping with you to see if they really want a pet,” suggests Edward Wagner, owner of Seaford Pet Emporium in Seaford, Delaware. Pet stores will ask a lot of questions to ensure that you are making the right choice.
More to follow next week regarding pets for children.