Happy Paw-lidays: Before giving a pet as a Christmas gift, there’s lots to consider

Maggie Hoppel, Staff Writer

Whether a puppy, a hamster, or a bearded dragon, nothing brightens the holiday season like a new pet in the family. However, a pet isn’t always the best gift idea. Like any gift, plenty of thought and preparation must be put into the adoption process. Here are just a few ideas to get you started ….



Ask about allergies. 

A medical emergency is never a good Christmas gift. So, stay informed about the recipient’s allergies to ensure they can safely care for the pet you give them. Additionally, some pets require special accommodations as well, so don’t forget to familiarize yourself with the medical history of the animal you intend to give away.


Consider the recipient’s lifestyle. 

The ideal pet is one that fits the recipient’s schedule and financial situation. Pets are a huge time commitment and some cost more money than others. Additionally, different pets have different personalities and interests just like people, so it’s important to think about which one will best compliment the recipient’s style. 


Look for trustworthy adoption sources.

Animal shelters, rescue organizations, and responsible breeders are all trustworthy sources. These groups are knowledgeable about the backgrounds of the animals they recieve and will be able to provide information that keeps you, the pet, and the recipient safe. 



Surprise them. 

When you buy someone a pet, you are also buying them an enormous commitment: of time, money, and space. Discuss these issues extensively with the recipient before buying them a pet. When the recipient is well prepared beforehand, they will be more likely to welcome the pet into their home. 


Take the responsibility lightly. 

The ASPCA reports that 920,000 pets are euthanized yearly. If gifted to the wrong person, your pet could be one of them. Therefore, you need to be absolutely certain that the recipient will be able to provide the animal a forever home. Anything else could land the pet right back at the shelter—or worse, on the streets. 


Mistreat the animal. 

Pets are not toys. Sure, nothing is more adorable than a dog in a sweater, but don’t forget that the animal’s well-being comes first. Adopting a pet should be about building a lasting relationship with that animal as a companion, and that only happens when both you and the recipient treat it with love and respect. 



For the ASPCA’s statement on giving pets as gifts, visit www.aspca.org/about-us/aspca-policy-and-position-statements/position-statement-pets-gifts

For information on reporting animal neglect or abuse, visit www.hamiltonhumane.com/resources/report-abuse 

Sometimes, pet supplies and accessories are a more suitable alternative to “present” pets. For more gift ideas, visit www.petsmart.com