Q: Our daughter recently moved into her own home and has been talking about getting a puppy. I’d love to see her face when a cute little puppy sporting a big red bow wiggles out from under the Christmas tree—but I’m also nervous about giving a live animal to anyone. What’s your advice?
A: My answer contains both good news and bad news.
The good news is that the ASPCA surveyed people who received pets as gifts. They found that 96 percent of these people felt their bond to the pet was the same as or stronger than if they’d chosen the pet themselves.
More importantly, 86 percent of the gifted pets were still members of the family. Several studies have shown that pets received as gifts are less often relinquished to shelters than pets chosen by the owner.
Now the potentially bad news.
The holidays are a busy time for families, so it may be especially challenging for your daughter to accept a pet during the holidays. For one thing, house training is more difficult during cold winter weather when puppies prefer to stay indoors where it’s warm. During the holidays, people are away from home celebrating with family, friends and co-workers, which leaves less time to socialize and train the new canine family member.
When thinking about gifting a living creature, it’s important to remember that a pet should be given only to someone who has made the desire clear and is in a position to care for the pet for the remainder of its life. If the recipient is a child, the parents should give their permission first.
If you decide favorably, give your daughter a leash and a gift certificate to her local shelter. You can help her choose her new puppy after the holidays.
Editor’s Note: Nothing is more exciting than adopting a new pet during the holiday season, but too often that pet is discarded in an animal shelter. Review these tips and considerations before you buy or adopt a pet as a gift.
Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.