This time of year many people struggle to avoid the luring “impulse buy” of a companion animal. Everyone finds a kitten or puppy with a bow on its head absolutely adorable, and probably one of the biggest reaction-getting Christmas surprises possible. But the issue facing the animal welfare industry this time of year, is that too many of the decisions to adopt/purchase a pet are done on “impulse”, and the proper planning/research is not being done.
Why should you think twice before giving someone a pet as a holiday gift?
Let’s start with the obvious reason. The Holidays are a crazy time of year! Family visits, social gatherings, parties, holiday concerts. The first few days or weeks that an animal has moved in to a new environment are the most important. This is the time you want to make them feel safe, comfortable, and welcome. If the first impression of their new forever-home is a complete madhouse, then you’re not setting the right tone.
Have you done the appropriate amount of research, planning and discussion with your family before making this choice? Pets are not a new toy. They require a lot of work (especially at first), cost a lot of money, and are a big responsibility. If this is not something you have thought of, discussed with the kids, and planned for, you should not be jumping into a quick decision.
Animal welfare groups have mixed opinions on the topic. These groups are now doing an amazing job at screening/educating potential pet-parents, so if they feel that a person is perhaps being a little too impulsive, or has not made a right decision, they may take the time to educate them before allowing them to adopt a pet, if at all. For this reason, most of these groups still discourage pets as presents. Some, however, have faith in their ability to work with people, and do not discourage at all.
Kristin Williams, Executive Director from the Nova Scotia SPCA is one of those people. “We feel confident that regardless of the time of year, we can place animals responsibly. Bringing a pet into your home should always be an informed decision and never a surprise, but there are so many animals in need of loving forever homes and we need to start actively removing barriers to their successful adoption.” Williams added, “I know that all of us would feel better if more animals were enjoying this time of year with loved ones.”
The one thing we all can agree on is that companion animals are not something that should be bought on a “whim”. Please do your homework, and be sure that your family and lifestyle is ready for a new addition. If you do make that decision this time of year, please remember that there are many animal shelters with great pets available, with a lot of love left to give.