Think Twice Before Giving A Pet As A Gift

Thinking of putting a new pet under the tree, you better think again.

Deborah Wood, animal services manager for Washington County, which operates the Bonnie L. Hays Small Animal Shelter, advises “never, never, ever give a live pet as a gift “Remember how much your friend hated you when you set her up on the blind date with the ‘perfect’ guy? It’s worse than that.”

Finding the right match is a very specific process between the person and the animal, she says.

The staff also coaches new owners well to ensure they’re prepared for their new addition, says Barbara Baugnon, public relations and marketing director. Oregon Humane Society adopts only to the primary caregiver.

As a result, they don’t see many post-holiday returns. The returns they see are puppies adopted in the summer who have become too big and messy for owners to handle, and not in January when the puppies have been presented.

Al Holzer, a dog-behavioral therapist and trainer, cautions to keep in mind that the puppy is not a toy. Make sure the intended recipient knows the responsibilities involved, such as training, nutrition, veterinary care, dog walking and other duties. A “wow for now” surprise is a 15-year responsibility.

Some better gift alternatives:

Most local shelters, including OHS and Willamette Humane Society, offer adoption gift certificates, which are a nice alternative to a surprise. Once the holiday hubbub is over, you can go to a shelter together and allow your child or loved one to pick out the perfect pet, Wood suggests.

Do you really Want to put something substantial to put under the tree?

Wrap a dog-training book or a kitty-litter box “starter” kit, food dishes, leashes, cat toys or other fun items to help prepare for the pet.

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