The Official Houston SPCA Humane Education Blog

Teaching us about our animal friends

Why it’s Best Not to Give a Live Animal as a Gift


This holiday season you may be thinking of getting a new animal companion for your family or friends. Pets can make fantastic forever friends but only if you are prepared for the long term commitment and responsibility of pet ownership. The best part about getting a pet is knowing that they will be there for you for their entire lives!

Pets can live a really long time – seriously! Some smaller pets may live for only a couple of years but when you choose a cat, dog, bird, or reptile you are making the choice to spend 9-15 years or more with your pet! That is a really long time!

You are your pet’s person from the moment you bring them home. They will need you to provide all food, veterinary care, boarding, grooming, toys, beds, and so much more! If you give the gift of a pet, you are putting all of that responsibility on someone who may not be ready. While giving that pet would give that person a feeling of happiness and joy, that feeling would probably be temporary if they have not made all the proper preparations for bringing a pet home.

Many people make the mistake of giving a live animal as a gift over the holidays and each January animal shelters all over the world see more and more pets given up as ‘unwanted gifts’ who will need to then find new forever homes. You can help to avoid that situation!

Don’t put the responsibility of taking care of a living animal on someone who is not prepared – let’s take a look at some other options you can consider if you want to give a pet as a gift:

  1. Go with your prospective pet owner friend to the Houston SPCA, let them pick out the pet they would like to take home, and you can pick up the tab.3 girls with a kittie
  2. If your children want a pet but you are not ready financially for the commitment, buy a really cute, big stuffed animal for your children to hug and hold on to until the family is ready to adopt a new forever friend.kid with stuffed dog toy
  3. Help a local animal shelter by giving a gift in honor of your friend or family. They will appreciate you helping pets that need a new forever home even if they cannot give them that home right now.2013-Holiday-Card-Crop-893x1024

A couple of things to remember:

The only person who should adopt a pet is the person who will be taking care of the animal for the rest of his/her life. Do not surprise anyone with the gift of a pet who is not ready to take care of them.

christmas puppy

Also, do your research on what kind of pet would be best for you and your family’s lifestyle. Check out our past post on How to Choose the Purrfect Pet for Your Family:

We hope that you and your family have a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year!

Christmas Cat


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