One of the best gifts is the companionship pets can provide. Unfortunately, notes Agnes Leavitt, people tend to go about giving other people this kind of gift the wrong way – especially during the holidays.
Leavitt, the branch manager for the Pictou County SPCA, said that surprising someone with a pet for Christmas is generally a bad idea because the person and the animal they are surprised with on Christmas morning might not bond.
“It may not be a good match. It could be that the animal is not what that person is looking for in a pet – or that they change their mind,” said Leavitt.
Often, an awkward situation results from people buying animals for other people during the holidays, Leavitt noted. Some people go in thinking they’re doing a good thing, but end up adopting the wrong animal, perhaps one the person they’re buying for doesn’t want to keep.
Animals can also undergo a great deal of stress, when experiencing the changes involved in transitioning from a shelter to a home – and often, back to a shelter again.
“It can have a significant psychological effect on the animal,” said Leavitt, “when they’re taken from a shelter to a home environment, they get used to that environment – only to be taken back to the shelter once the holidays are over.”
Leavitt said some people are very particular about the kind of pet they want, and that “some people only want a certain colour cat, or a certain breed of dog. Or maybe they only want their pet to come from a certain pedigree.”
Another problem arises when a person with a very busy lifestyle is gifted with a pet that needs a lot of attention.
“You won’t know whether a person will be a good owner for a pet, unless you know their lifestyle. People who are busy end up getting puppies and putting them in kennels,” said Leavitt. “You need to know their lifestyles. If they’re busy, you shouldn’t get them a busy dog – it’s just not a good idea to get busy people a busy animal.”
The best approach, if you want to buy a person a pet for Christmas, Leavitt noted, is to leave the actual adoption part of that until after Christmas.
“If a person wants to buy someone else a pet, they should buy the supplies for the pet, and come in after Christmastime, like on Boxing Day – we’re open on Boxing Day,” said Leavitt. “At that point, the rush has simmered down a bit, and the people can come as a family and pick an animal.”