Thoughts about choosing a pet for Christmas

Christmas petsMy best advice about getting your children a pet for Christmas? Don’t.

Christmas morning “Kodak moments” can become nightmares in just a few days. You may deserve this, but the poor animal is just an innocent bystander who deserves love not abandonment. 

In this post, I’ll bullet-point some top-of-mind ideas about the down side of a puppy or kitten as a Christmas gift and a few tips for humans who simply won’t listen.

I don’t think there is enough time to properly select and adopt a new animal before December 25. But in a few days I will post some thoughts and suggestions — good anytime — about how to proceed with adopting your new best friend.

11 thoughts about a pet for Christmas

  1. Giving pets as Christmas gifts — even expected ones — leads to a large number of now emotionally-abused animals returned to shelters in January after “things just didn’t work out” with the new pet. Overcrowding results in many of these animals being killed. Could you live with yourself? What lie would you tell the child?
  2. The child and the pet may not be compatible, mostly due to the age and temperament of either or both.
  3. Companion animals are a 15-year commitment. Not a spur-of-the-moment decision. Give pets the consideration and happy lives they deserve.
  4. It is YOUR pet, not your children’s. Face it, your kids — even with the best of intentions — are not capable of giving an animal the care it deserves. That means the adult — YOU — will have to do this. Are you able and willing to raise a new canine or feline child?
  5. It’s not the animal’s fault if a child abuses/torments/frightens the animal and a minor bite results. Supervise your children when they interact with animals and accept that minor bites, scratches, etc., will happen. Especially if the bratty kid deserves correction that the adult did not provide. Don’t make the dog raise your kids for you.
  6. Match the animal to the living situation. If an older person falls and breaks a hip it can be a life-threatening situation. Choose the animal wisely.
  7. Likewise, small kids and large dogs can be a problem.
  8. Never leave an animal alone with an infant, toddler, small child, infirm adult, etc. Many tragic incidents start this way. Adult supervision is key.
  9. Make sure the animal is fully vaccinated for everyone’s health and safety.
  10. Microchip the animal and register the chip — forever free — at Every animal also needs a tag with two or more telephone numbers engraved on it. Make sure the numbers are current and will reach a responsible human 24x7x365.
  11. You love selfies, right? So take some with your pets as a way to prove ownership if they become lost. Also, photos from all sides to use for “lost” posters and handouts. More than just the animal looking up at you. Show the sides and markings that make your animal special.
  12. (BONUS) Give the gift of training for the new puppy or dog. Dogs like being trained.

So there are my thoughts about the cons and cons of giving an animal for Christmas. But none of this changes the importance of the bond between kids and “their” animals. Next time, I’ll tell you how to make it work. And offer and idea that could still bring a dog or cat home for Christmas.

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