It’s now December and many people have started their holiday gift shopping.
While people are making their lists and checking them twice, they may find themselves thinking about gifting someone a pet for Christmas.
This is not a complete no-no, according to Junction City/Geary County Animal Shelter Manager Vanessa Gray, as long as both those doing the gifting and those receiving the gifts are prepared and 100 percent on board with it.
“I think getting pets, in general, can always be a positive thing,” she said. “It depends on the situation behind it. So I would say, as long as you are prepared, you’ve done your research, you’ve monetarily prepared, supply prepared, then I’m ok with it. I don’t think the rash decision to do it can really be a good thing just because you need to prepare for how much animals do cost.”
Gray suggests people who wish to gift someone a pet for Christmas consider that part of the gift needs to include supplies, medical care such as any relevant vaccines and food.
Necessary supplies include things such as food bowls, food, beds, toys, leashes and carriers.
If the person doing the gifting doesn’t want to provide those things, they should at least make sure the person who they’re gifting the pet to has money to cover those expenses.
People who are planning on a new pet in their household should set aside money in the event that their animal needs some kind of emergency medical care, according to Gray, so these are all things to keep in mind when considering a pet for Christmas.
“These are some things to think about before you do get a pet,” she said. “It does cost a lot. I mean, it really does, but it is very rewarding to get a pet. I would say, having it as a gift is not a huge deal as long as the other person knows about it.”
And that’s the other issue — communication.
According to Gray, gifting someone a pet as a surprise is a bad idea all around.
“I would say it’s a no-no for surprise gifts just because, with all due respect, if someone gifted me a dog or a cat, I would not be too happy, because only I know when I’m ready for one,” she said.
Animals have personalities not unlike humans and some of them just won’t mesh with their new owner. It’s a good idea for people to get to know their new animals before taking them home, according to Gray.
She said that during the holiday season when people come to the shelter looking for a pet to gift someone for Christmas, shelter staff asks if the other person is aware that they’re about to receive a living, breathing Christmas present and offers to let the soon-to-be owner come meet their future pet.
“It is going to be their pet, so they should be in the decision-making process to pick that pet out,” Gray said.
She encourages people to consider adopting a pet from an animal shelter if they still wish to go through with the puppy under the Christmas tree, in part to cut down on medical expenses.
“It’s just not as simple as just going and picking out a pet,” Gray said. “Now, granted, from shelters 90 percent of the time, they’re fully vaccinated, they’re fixed.”
Necessary vaccines such as rabies and parvo vaccines, spay or neuter surgeries and procedures such as microchipping and deworming, if necessary, can put people back a significant amount of money, she said.
“These are all separate costs that you’re going to have to endure,” Gray said. “I think that’s where getting (pets) from a shelter would definitely be helpful because everything is included and it’s still at a cheaper cost. But I’m not going to have people turn away from doing what they choose to do. So whether you choose to buy or adopt, that’s completely up to you. We just ask that you be a responsible pet owner and take care of those things to include vaccines, prevention, training — these things will come up. So wherever you decide to get your pet and if you do get it as a gift, just make sure that the people know and that you’re monetarily prepared or they’re monetarily prepared to take care of all the things that pets do require."