Do you remember asking for a puppy for Christmas when you were little? If you’re like most of the world, you probably did. It’s a common gift request among children. As a matter of fact, it’s probably just about as common as the baby brother or sister request. (Which, by the way, inevitably comes back to haunt you someday!)
The thing is that dogs are a great gift for a kid. They’ll love them and snuggle with them and protect them. They’ll be a friend, a companion, and even a confidant. They’ll run with your children and play with them and keep them active. Dogs are awesome in every way, shape, and form.
So why do so many Christmas puppies end up in shelters?
The problem lies with the well-meaning gift giver. As parents, aunts, uncles, boyfriends, etc., we all want to give great gifts, but we forget that live animals require a great deal of responsibility, and many times, the most well-meaning and adorable gift can end in heartbreak for everyone involved.
Remember that pets cost money. Even if you get a pet from a rescue or the local branch of your Humane Society with little or no adoption fee, a great deal of expense comes with pet ownership. Veterinarian care, food, shelter, toys, and other costs arise for each pet. Does the recipient of your gift have the means to take care of it? Giving someone a dog is like giving them a new car – with payments. It’s the BEST GIFT EVER, till the monthly bill comes.
Another reason many Christmas pets end up in shelters is because of the housing situation. People that rent houses or apartments aren’t often allowed to keep pets (hats off to the landlords that do!). If you’re planning on giving a pet to someone as a gift, please, please, please make sure that the person is a homeowner or that they’re allowed to have pets! The landlord always finds out, especially when it comes to dogs. When they do, will your loved one be faced with the choice of moving or getting rid of the dog?
Speaking of housing, does the person you plan on giving the pet to have room for it? Have you considered the size of the animal? Puppies don’t stay small forever, and even 150-lb dogs start out pretty tiny. What happens when that dog gets big? Will it have room to run and play? What about the activity level of the animal? Is it a very active breed of dog or a lazier one? Does the activity level of the dog match the activity level of the recipient?
How about time? Are you giving a pet to someone who’ll have time to take care of it? Dogs need to be walked, exercised, and trained. All of that takes time. If a person works 12 hours a day, who will let the dog out while they’re gone? Is there someone else in the house that won’t mind doing it? Have you asked them if they’d mind?
Be sure to also think about who you’re giving the gift to. Are you giving this gift to an adult that understands the responsibility, or are you giving it to a child who will run and play with it until the school break is over and then not want to be bothered to feed or walk the dog the second it becomes inconvenient? Kids are kids, and even the most responsible of kids slack off occasionally. What will happen to the dog when it’s “old news”?
It’s easy to look into the eyes of an adorable puppy looking for a home and an adorable child looking for a pet and want to put them together. It’s human nature. And when it’s well thought out and the right time, a pet makes an amazing gift. At the same time, it’s a tragedy when a child has to give up their best friend and a pup is sitting in a cage hoping to be rehomed because it “just didn’t work out” – especially when the situation could have been avoided.
A dog is a big commitment, and in most cases, that commitment lasts over a decade. Before you give someone a commitment they might not be ready for, maybe consider a nice stuffed animal instead?
Want access to insider promotions?
We promise it will be worth your while!