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6 reasons not to give pets as gifts

When you’re an animal lover, the thought of having more pets evokes such joy that it can sometimes overshadow common sense. Caring for another life is a huge responsibility and lifelong commitment – not one that should be taken lightly and certainly not one that should ever be made for another person. These days we are constantly exposed to long lists of animals needing good homes, but, to give an animal as a gift is doing them a huge disservice, not to mention putting the receiver of the gift in a very difficult position.

If you are thinking about giving a pet as a gift this Festive Season, please think about the Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa’s (PFI) top 6 reasons to reconsider.

  1. As a gift, there is no cost to the recipient when receiving the animal, however the costs that are involved in caring for a pet, for their entire lifetime, are huge – from feeding a good quality diet from a PFI member brand, to annual vet checkups, pet medical aid / emergency vet visits to regular tick and flee control to accessories, grooming and training costs – if receiving a pet as a gift, consideration of one’s budget or ability to afford these necessary things is often overlooked.

  2. Your perspective is often not the owner-to-be’s perspective. From where you sit, you may feel very strongly that the person you wish to gift the pet to could really benefit from a companion, like a dog or cat. Without discussing this perspective with them first there’s no way of knowing how right you are and springing a surprise pet on them is not the right time to find out that you had it all wrong to begin with.

  3. Your choice is not necessarily the right choice. Even if you’re right about the receiver of the gift wanting a companion, the choice you make may not be the right one. So many factors go into matching the right type or breed of pet to an individual, and it’s certainly not a choice you can make on behalf of someone else. Aside from the costs, one needs to consider the type of pet preferred, the environment and space available for the pet, the pet /breed’s individual needs and the time available to interact with the pet etc. It’s precisely for this reason that one should never make impulse decisions when purchasing a pet.

  4. Pets are time consuming; kittens and puppies especially! We often forget how much time, effort and patience is needed in raising a pet from their puppy or kitten years, but let us remind you, it’s hard work!

  5. This time of year is potentially the busiest of all, leaving little room for bonding between the pet and new owner – an extremely important part of pet ownership. It will also be very tough to establish any type of routine between yearend functions and New Year’s parties, which pets truly thrive on, so it’s quite possibly the worst time of year to get a pet, especially if you were not prepared for it.

  6. There are more responsible ways to make a difference, such as making a donation to a rescue center on behalf of someone else, or, at the very least, ensuring the receiver does indeed want a pet, and then rather gifting them pet supplies so that they can make their own decision about the pet they finally adopt.

There is nothing worse than great intentions that backfire. Don’t let a cute kitten or puppy under the Christmas tree be your misaligned good deed. Unless you have spoken to the recipient about the gift or are buying a new pet for the family (so you can take on the responsibility of caring for them) rather reconsider. The last thing you want is for your well intentioned gift to end in tears – either for the pet who may be dropped off at a shelter or for the person who received the gift having to make this terrible decision. Worse still, you don’t want to be the reason a gorgeous pet is neglected due to lack of interest or resentment about a pet that was not wanted in the first place.


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