Every year – especially around the festive season – dogs, cats, rabbits and other small mammals are given as presents. This should not be done to sentient beings, as all too often, they are abandoned or given away to shelters once the celebrations are over.
Pets are gifts in a deeper sense
In a deeper sense, companion animals can be seen a gift. They enrich our lives and bring us great joy. However, while life with a pet can certainly be a gift, you shouldn’t give a dog, a cat or a guinea pig as a present without fully thinking it through beforehand. This is especially true if the recipient is a child, who may not be aware of the responsibilities that come with looking after an animal. Although children feel an emotional attachment to animals, they are usually unable to take full responsibility for their care and well-being. Though many parents might consider a pet a great birthday or holiday present, the truth is, that many children will lose interest in the pet after a short while.
Pets are a long-term commitment – up to 20 years of responsibility!
An animal is not an inanimate object – it’s a living, sentient creature with its own needs, which will vary from species to species as well as breed to breed. A new owner must make a long-term commitment to meet those needs for the whole lifetime of the animal (up to 14 years for a dog and up to 20 years for a cat).
- a well-balanced and appropriate diet
- a suitable environment with space to move around
- regular visits to the vet
- a lifelong financial commitment
- time to socialise, train and play with a pet
- an acceptance that there may be an impact on the owner’s lifestyle
Find out more about responsible pet ownership.
A pet is not a good surprise gift idea
Don’t give an animal as a gift, especially as a surprise. Discuss with the new owner first, if this is something they want and can commit to for the pet’s entire life. When you give an animal to someone, you are entrusting a life to them – and with that life comes a huge responsibility.
Thinking carefully about these questions is the only way to prevent a well-intentioned gift from becoming just another unwanted pet. If things go wrong, the pet owner could feel overwhelmed, and in the worst-case scenario, the animal could even suffer from neglect or abandonment. The then unwanted pets might be given up to animal shelters, that are often full to capacity.
Gifting an animal to yourself
If you want to give an animal as a present - give it to yourself, and only after you've asked these important questions:
- Are you aware that today's energy bundle will grow old and have age-related illnesses?
- Do you have a serious and lasting interest in caring for and keeping an animal companion in "good and bad times"?
- Are you open to animal-related "damage" such as scratched hardwood floors or hair on the sofa?
- Can you provide for the pet in terms of finance, time, and environment?
- Can you share your life permanently with an animal, with all its responsibilities and obligations?