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Pets Should Not Be Given as Gifts

Updated on April 8, 2009

Giving Pets As Gifts

There are so many people that give animals as gifts, but personally, I've spent too many years volunteering with animal shelters to know that it's just a bad idea... Too many people think that it is a good idea to give puppies and kittens as holiday gifts and birthday gifts, but about half of those animals just get returned because the gift receiver didn't want the pet.

There are many shelters and pet stores that will refuse adopting or selling certain pets during certain times of the year, such as bunnies and chicks during the Easter season and black cats during Halloween. Granted black cats during Halloween is more of a prevention of sacrifice on All Hallow's Eve, versus being given as pets.

But, anyway, I've tried to give the basics below as to why giving pets is a bad idea, and although it is pretty much the same for both adults and children, there are some diferences.

Just remember that the reactions will depend on the individual person. The below reactions are the average person's reaction.

Flickr Image by ReneGuz
Flickr Image by ReneGuz


There are essentially going to be two different situations as to when you would give someone a pet as a gift- 1) as a surprise and 2) as a planned gift due to the other person's want for the pet.

Also, depending on who you are giving the gift to, the reason as to why giving a pet as a gift is bad.

Here's the simple breakdown:

Giving Pets to Adults:

As a surprise: Typically, when one adult gives another adult a pet as a gift, it's typically because the gift giver thinks that the gift receiver needs to have the pet to help "get over" the loss of a previous pet (no matter how long it has been since the loss), which is inconsiderate in itself. The gift receiver will either appreciate the gift and keep the pet, or he will refuse the gift, as he is not ready for another pet after the loss of the previous pet (this is the more common reaction).

Another reason to give another adult a pet is because the gift giver wants the pet and chooses a birthday or holiday the perfect reason to get the pet because it can be given as a gift. But, what if the gift receiver really doesn't want the pet, and it is not welcome in the home?

As a request: So, your spouse, mother, father, aunt, whoever has mentioned to you how he/she would like another dog, cat, etc. So, you may think that you're doing something sweet by giving a pet as a gift, but the problem comes when you pick out an orange tabby when your wife wanted a Persian. What happens then?

Giving Pets to Kids:

As a surprise: It may sound like a great idea to surprise your child with a pet as a gift for his/her birthday or holiday, but it's really not the best idea. That's how tons of bunnies and baby chicks get released after Easter. Plus, what happens when you pick the wrong color, size, breed, age, etc.? Will your child still accept the pet? Many wouldn, but many won't. Also, when you surprise a child with a pet, the pet will typically be doted on for the first few weeks, maybe even the first few month, but that's it; in most cases, the pet gets neglected and ignored when the child gets bored.

As a request: Similar to the concerns of giving an adult a pet because he/she mentioned or asked for it, you'll find that it can be hard to please some children, and if you pick a lab puppy, your child may be devastated because you didn't bring home a poodle.

Flickr Image by Ronan Johns
Flickr Image by Ronan Johns


Surprise Gifts

Leave hints and clues. Find out if the person is ready, or at least if the person, wants a new pet.

But, in reality, I wouldn't recommend giving pets as surprise gifts; more times you will find that the person really doesn't want the pet to which the pet ends up at a shelter or released in the wild. Many breeders will not take back puppies for refunds, which means it'll be up to you to find a new home for the pet.

Request Gifts

Make sure that you know all the details before you get the gift; these gifts can still be surprises, but make sure that you get what the person wants so that there's no disappointment.

Take the adult or child to a pet store to view the hamsters, snakes, geckos, etc. Find out if the person likes long or short haired, solid or spotted guinea pigs, as this will cut down disappointment of getting a short haired guinea pig that's spotted, when the person wanted a guinea pig with crazy hair and solid brown fur. (This typically works better with a child.)

Check out the puppies and kittens at the pound and figure out what the person may be interested in.


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    • profile image

      mary 7 years ago

      Don't give a pet as a gift unless you know for sure that is what the person wants. My daughter surprised me with a new dog. I had two maltese in the past....she got me a dachshund!!!!!!I really dislike this dog but because it came from my grandson and daughter, I don't have the heart to hurt their feelings and tell them I wish I had another maltese.

      If you're even thinking about giving someone a pet....ask them first, please.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 8 years ago from Georgia

      That;s a great ida KT. A gift card for a pet store, or even the pet supplies and take the person shopping for the actual pet... This would work if the person had mentioned they wanted the pet.

    • KT pdx profile image

      KT pdx 8 years ago from Vancouver, WA, USA

      Good points. You can also give "hint gifts", like a certificate to a pet store, collar, pet dishes, certificate to a pet shelter, then go with the recipient after the holiday/occasion to let them pick out exactly which one they want.

    • Mike the salesman profile image

      Mike the salesman 8 years ago from birmingham alabama/sherwood oregon

      Very true!