There are countless benefits of introducing a pet into a household. When children must clean cat litter boxes, feed fish and take dogs on walks, they learn to be more responsible. Some dogs may also offer protection, not just for children, but for adults who live alone. Additionally, when it comes to seniors, loneliness is one of their biggest struggles. Pets make excellent companions and can help to fill an empty nest.
With benefits like these, it’s no wonder that so many people give pets as Christmas gifts every year. That said, not everyone makes a good pet parent. Not matching the right pet to the right parent is why so many animals end up on the streets, in shelters, or worse, put down. So, before you give someone that cute bunny in the pet store, consider these pointers.
There are three types of responsibilities that come with caring for a pet, no matter what type you choose:
- Time: The household should have enough time to spend with the pet, especially if they require a lot of attention or maintenance. This is especially true for households with dogs.
- Money: The household should have a high enough disposable income to care for the kind of animal you choose. Rabbits, for instance, are more expensive to care for than goldfish.
- Effort: The primary caretaker must be ready to put in the effort necessary to care for pets. Cats need clean litter boxes and dogs need walks. Rabbit hutches and guinea pig cages also need to be cleaned regularly or they start to smell.
When gifting pets to a household, at the very least, you should ensure no one in the household is allergic. This would make it almost impossible for the pet to remain with their new family. That said, there are many households across America where family members who are allergic have voluntarily learned to cope with allergies. Rather than surprise a household where someone has an allergy, discuss your intentions.
If the pet-parent-to-be is either a child or a senior, then consider their agility. Hyperactive dogs may have more energy than a senior can keep up with. Cooped up inside, dogs like this can develop behavioral problems. They may also gain weight. Children and adults with special needs may also struggle to handle large dogs.
3. Living Arrangements
We’ve all seen the videos of people living fulltime in an RV with two dogs and a cat while traveling across America. Sharing less than 200 square feet with three or more pets is not for everyone. In fact, even 2,000 square feet of space may not be enough for some fur parents and their pets:
- Is there a backyard for hyperactive dogs to play and work off that energy?
- Is the fence high enough to keep a big dog from jumping it?
- Is there space in a small apartment (or RV) for a litter box?
- Does the person have any pet restrictions in their lease?
- Does the person plan to remain in their home or one like it for the next few years?
- Does the person have roommates?
- Does the person work a lot outside the home or travel often?
These are just some of the many things to keep in mind. Note that one of the most common reasons pets end up in shelters is because the pet parent’s lifestyle and the pet’s needs did not align.
Some households have none or just one pet for a reason. Adding more to the mix may not be on that household’s wish list. They may accept your gift out of politeness, but that animal may end up back in an animal shelter in a few weeks or months. The best way to find out if people are ready to accept a pet into their home is to ask. Never assume.
Note also that people do have preferences. Someone who owned a cat for 10 years may not take well to the idea of caring for a German Shepherd. Similarly, someone who shared their homes with large dogs for the majority of their lives may not want to care for a teacup dog. They may also not fall in love with the pet you choose just because you have, so choose wisely.
If the household the pet will move into meets the criteria above, then they will be delighted to have a new addition to the family. You can also rest assured that the pet will be well-cared for and that there is a very low chance of abandonment.
Access to affordable pet care services is one of the best ways you can ensure families have the support they need. These services help to ensure someone can walk the dog while the family is out or even pet sit the cat when the family goes on vacation.
At Dog Gon’ Good Time, we do this and so much more for fur parents in Massachusetts. Contact us for more information about our rates and services.