Receiving a pet as a gift is an honor, but it can also be a precarious situation if not thought through properly. Animals are not disposable, nor can they easily be repackaged, regifted, or returned if the recipient is not pleased. Now that doesn't mean you should necessarily scrap the idea; just do it wisely. Here are five important considerations before you decide to gift a pet.
Caring for pets isn't cheap. In fact, the ASPCA estimates that the minimum cost of humane care for cats and dogs for the first year is over $1,000 (slightly less for other animals). It's therefore extremely important you consider the financial obligation of a pet before you unknowingly burden someone with thousands of dollars in expenses they can't afford.
Pets are a lifetime commitment — and that often means years, if not decades. This is a wonderful thing for pet lovers. They get to love and dote on cute animals, maybe even make them a part of their family. But a pet is definitely not a cheap, quick thrill. Think twice about gifting a pet to someone who avoids long-term relationships. You wouldn't want to inadvertently add to the overpopulation of animals in shelters.
Are you absolutely certain the recipient is not allergic to animals? Does anyone else at the residence suffer from allergies? Allergies to dogs and cats, for example, are not uncommon. Do your due diligence and consider any possible health restrictions before gifting a pet.
Speaking of restrictions, many Home Owner's Associations (HOAs) and apartment complexes have pet restrictions (e.g., size, breed, type). Your would-be pet recipients may even be renting from a landlord that expressly forbids any pets in the residence. If you can't surreptitiously learn about these restrictions, forgo the gift giving.
Deciding when to gift a pet is almost as important if you should gift a pet. The winter holidays, for example, is just about the worst time because there is usually so much else going on that little time can be dedicated to training and acclimating a pet to his or her new home. Pets need to bond with their new family — and this takes time, patience, and, of course, love.