“How much is that doggie in the window”… these oldie-but-goodie song lyrics conjures up the image of cute puppies in a pet store being purchased as a gift for a loved one.

Great song, but the reality of buying a pet as a holiday gift is a bad idea. If you are planning on buying a new puppy or kitten for a loved one or friend, please reconsider.  There are several reasons not to give a pet as a gift.

Time to Get Personal

Many times when asked how someone chose their pet, the response is “he chose me.” It’s a very personal thing and requires a bond between human and animal. As a third-party, you can’t guarantee that bond. Another sound reason is allergies you may not know about. Just because the intended recipient isn’t allergic doesn’t mean other family members within the household aren’t – so far better not bring in a furry little creature if you’re not sure.

Hectic Holidays

Think of the puppy or kitten itself – with all the holiday chaos, households are typically noisier, busier and there are food and decorations unsafe for pets. Puppies and kittens are babies – they get stressed out in normal situations when brought into a new environment – imagine how these tiny little beings feel when brought into a home with a lot of noise, movement and blinking lights.

Pay the Price

Pet ownership can be expensive. Sure, you paid for the puppy, but that puppy will probably live 15 years or more and the expense required over its lifetime is substantial. Within a few short months of bringing a kitten or puppy into your home, it will need various vaccines, worming, and a spay/neuter surgery. The total costs can be several hundred dollars depending on location.

When a pet is brought into a home without careful planning and consideration, the results can be disastrous for the pet. Check shelters a few months after the holiday season – they are overflowing with “gifts” that are unwanted, and many of these poor animals are killed simply because there are not enough homes for all of them.

A great alternative is to give a card with a picture of the type of animal you will be giving, and the promise of a trip to your local shelter so a pet can be chosen at your expense, when the recipient is ready for a pet. Another option is to give a leash, collar, pet bowls and perhaps a gift certificate for a future vet visit for the pet you will be gifting in the near future.

Don’t make the choices for someone else when it comes to a living creature – they pay the price when they aren’t “right” or allergies develop, or they “get too big” or “chew things.” It’s fun to get a new puppy or kitten, but it comes with a life time commitment – and you, as the gift-giver, simply cannot provide that commitment to the pet. The future owner must be in on the decision-making. When carefully planned and chosen, the gift of a pet can provide a lifetime of mutual love and be the best gift ever for both pet and new owner.