For many of us, life with a four-legged creature is a wonderful, enriching experience that we want others to have, too. But think twice about gifting a pet.
First, our pets are very personal. Consider giving someone who may want a pet a gift certificate to the shelter instead so that they can make the right choice of breed, temperament, size, age, etc. About 15% of gifted pets are returned to the shelter, which can be traumatizing on both the person and the pet.
Next, having a pet is a financial commitment. Including general and routine care, plus emergency expenses, the annual cost of owning a dog is estimated at more than $1,500 per year, and for cats $900 to $1400.
Having a pet also impacts flexibility and cost of travel. Consider the planning needed, as well as the cost of doggy day care, pet sitting, boarding or cleaning deposits and fees associated with rental units or hotels.
Finally, owning a pet is a long-term commitment, and some families are not emotionally prepared for it. Kids may lose interest once the novelty of pet ownership wears off, and lack of attention can lead to behavioral issues. Our pets need continual attention and care to be physically and emotionally healthy members of our family. When those needs are met, and a pet has a secure and cherished role in the family, both people and pets flourish.
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Emily Kalenius, DVM