Pets are our best friends and heroes-they are the epitome of the gift that passes on. During the pandemic, with people facing desperate feelings of Isolation and loneliness, pets have become life-affirming companions. And now that the heart of the holiday season – a moment to give and thank – is upon us, pets are literally given as a gift. While this cuddly kitten or this happy dog seems to be the perfect gift at first glance, we urge you to make paws and think carefully about this process before giving an animal.
Unfortunately, cats and dogs that are given as gifts are much more likely to be found in a shelter. At American Humane, we want all animals to find their perfect home forever, but we understand that pets have enormous financial and emotional responsibilities. It is important to be aware of this responsibility and to participate in it, before a new four-legged friend is brought home.
Adopting a pet is a great life-changing step. And for those who are not part of the decision-making process, the pitfalls are deep.
For example, the recipient of this unexpected package of wags and purr might not have the time, energy or money needed to devote to the pet, they might not have wanted this specific type of pet, the pet might not be adapted to age, or the new parent of the animal all these factors increase the risk that a given animal will leave within two years and end up alone in a shelter.
Like children, pets are completely dependent on their owners for all their needs — food, water, medical care, exercise, shelter and, above all, society. With good care, most dogs can be 12 to 15 years old and most cats 15 to 20 years old. The choice to commit at this time must be made by the chief guardian, and you alone.
If you know someone who wants a pet in their life, encourage them to do their research and find out if their lifestyle and personality would make them a better dog or cat owner. You can then make the ultimate decision and find the animal that best fits into your life and benefits both the animal and the owner.
Animals deserve our utmost respect, and although they are gifts for our lives, they may not be the best gift you have to offer this holiday season.