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🐕🐈 Is it Okay to Give a Pet as a Gift?

🎁 Considering giving a pet as a present? Here’s everything you need to know.

We’ve all seen the movies and holiday-themed commercials that feature an adorable puppy with a big red bow (or even in a wrapped box) given to giggling children on Christmas morning. Everyone is happy. The kids, the dog, the parents. But unfortunately, this is rarely the reality of giving a pet as a holiday gift. Kids may not form a bond, the animal is frightened and confused, and once it is realized that the animal is not the right fit, they end up back at the shelter. Unhappy outcomes are much more common than happy ones. However, there are some great ways to give someone the gift of a companion animal, during the holidays or otherwise, without jeopardizing the animal’s wellbeing.

Why you should not give a pet as a gift.

There are a few reasons why putting a bow on a puppy or kitten and giving them to a loved one for a holiday is not a great idea. The first consideration is the animal’s wellbeing. Adopting an animal is a huge responsibility. Surprising a person with a long-term commitment which will require a significant investment of time and money assumes that the person is willing and prepared to meet those responsibilities–and that is a huge assumption. Also, that may not be the animal they would have chosen for themselves. This is not just an ugly sweater that will be returned; this is a living creature. Often it results in embarrassment and discomfort for the gift giver and the recipient, and a great deal of distress for the animal.

Another consideration is that when adopting an animal, we all want to feel the connection with the furry friend we are bringing into our home. At Dutchess County SPCA, adopters meet potential pets in person, so that they can see if they feel that magical connection with a companion animal. If you were looking for a human companion, you would not commit to living with them on the basis of photographs and descriptions–you would want to meet them first. The same applies to a pet that could be with you for the next 20 years. Meeting your future companion animal in person is a very important part of making a successful match–the chemistry has to be there, and that can only happen when it is the pet’s caretaker that makes their own choice of animal.

Can I still surprise someone with the gift of a companion animal?

Yes, you can! You don’t have to distress everyone by putting an animal in a box and possibly making the wrong choice in order to surprise your kids or another loved one with a new furry family member. Here are two great ways to delight your loved one with the gift of a new pet:

Give a gift certificate

Put a gift certificate under the tree that covers the cost of an adoption. Then the recipient will be able to come to the shelter at their convenience and find their four-legged soulmate. The entirety of the fee goes to the care of the animals here at the shelter. You can purchase a gift certificate by visiting our shelter in Hyde Park. Gift certificates for adoption fees should only be given to those 21 years and older, and adopters will still need to apply to adopt. Gift certificates are also valid at our thrift store in case the recipient decides against adopting at this time.

Take your family on a surprise trip to DCSPCA

You can surprise your whole family with a trip to DCSPCA to pick out a new furry family member. First, submit your adoption application well in advance of your trip (you can fill out a general application for cats, dogs, or small animals). Applications typically are processed within 2-3 days and once approved are good for six months. Once your application has been pre-screened and our team has let you know you’re approved, you may come in with your family to find your new furry BFF. To make it a surprise, don’t tell your family where you’re taking them–make them think they are going to the grocery store or some other boring place. Then enjoy their delight when you turn into DCSPCA’s shelter (open Tuesday-Sunday 12pm-5pm) instead, where together you can pick out your newest furry family member.

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