The popular slogan, “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas,” is now more than 40 years old and was started as an effort to reduce the number of pets returned to shelters after they were given as gifts for the holidays. According to a 2013 study by the ASPCA, the connection between pets gifted for the holidays and surrenders to shelters isn’t as strong as many people think, but it still happens. A pet is a wonderful gift, both for the animal and the new pet parent, but it’s also an important responsibility. Here are 4 steps to take to make sure animals find their forever homes for the holidays.
1. Talk About It First
There’s nothing better than giving the perfect present that’s a total surprise and watching that person’s eyes light up in total astonishment. Who wouldn’t want the same with a puppy or kitten? But it’s important to sit down with your children or family members and talk about the importance of caring for a pet to make sure it’s the right decision before the holiday.
2. Set Them Up for Success
“Here’s your new puppy! Good luck!” would be cruel to both the animal and the giftee, especially if that person is a first-time pet parent. Set them up for successful puppy parenthood with the right veterinary care, toys, and knowledge.
Arrange a first-time visit with a veterinarian to ensure the new puppy and kitten is in great health, up to date on vaccinations, spayed or neutered (or scheduled if its too young), and that your giftee has a go-to doctor for future needs.
Give the gift of care! Along with that new member of the family, consider gifting grooming or training.
Different breeds of dogs and cats have different needs. Make sure your loved ones are familiar with the good information and materials so they can read about new pet parenthood and the needs specific to their pet’s breed.
3. Consider the Finances
If you’re a parent gifting a pet to your son or daughter, you might be prepared to pay for the costs of your/their new pet, but families gifting a new pet to a niece or nephew might not consider the dollars and cents when the pet isn’t staying under their own roof. Gifting services and essential gear and toys helps in the beginning, but make sure the person receiving the pet knows about the long-term financial commitment.
4. Check Back & See How It’s Going!
If you’ve ever been to a wedding, you might remember the officiant asking the guests to commit be there for the bride and groom through their marriage. It’s kind of like that for a new pet parent too. Someone new to having a dog or cat is in for lots of love and great memories, but they might need help too. Don’t wait for your giftee to ask when times get tough. Be sure to check in and see how life as a new pet parent is going and help however you can.
The holidays are a fantastic time to find a forever home for a pet in need, support your local shelters and adoption organizations that work hard to give these animals home, and give someone you love a new best friend. Take these steps to make sure it’s done right and you can enjoy the holiday season knowing one more animal gets to spend a lifetime within a loving home.