A puppy under the Christmas tree. A cute little bunny at Easter. Or maybe just giving an animal friend to someone who might need one.Puppy

People who give animals as gifts mean well, but their good intentions often misfire. Giving a pet as a gift usually is an ill-advised decision that can end tragically.

A successful adoption requires time and thought. Like a lot of gifts, animals can be impulse purchases.

Pet adoption is more successful when someone meets a few animals before finding the right match.

Ideally, adopters should research to learn what traits they want in a pet before visiting a shelter and making the important decision of choosing that pet.

Things to consider

While it is true that pets bring untold joy and wonderful companionship, they are a huge responsibility. People who receive a pet as a gift don’t pay, but the gift hardly is free. It means a long-term commitment of time, money and energy that might exceed their abilities. Among those costs are:

  • bedding and toys;
  • boarding or pet sitting costs;
  • food;
  • grooming expenses;
  • time to exercise, play with and train the animal;
  • veterinary care.

A better gift than pets

To help a loved one to find a pet, buy that person a gift certificate to use at a shelter when the time is right.Kittens

Pair the certificate with a gift basket filled with all of the things a new pet will need — toys, collar, leash, treats, food and bedding, to name a few.

One also can include books on training, breeds or living with a companion animal. Check out a pet supply store for endless ideas.

For more information on this subject, visit www.paws.org/get-involved/take-action/explore-the-issues/pets-as-gifts.

This information was provided by Katherine Spink with PAWS (Progressive Animal Welfare Society) in Lynnwood, Washington.