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Oklahoma State University

Consider all the factors before gifting a pet

Monday, December 2, 2019

Golden Retriever puppy asleep wearing a Father Christmas hat.

Christmas has a notable gift-giving component to the holiday. It seems gift ideas get more and more extreme. The idea of receiving a brand-new car with a big red bow in the middle of the driveway on Christmas morning is a great modern fantasy. Kids might fantasize about the coolest new toy or a pony. I wonder: should turning fantasy into reality always be the goal?

Some kids wish for a pony, a dog or a cat, or the next greatest technology for games and social media. With all of these wishes, parents have to consider what’s best for their child and the family before giving each child everything he or she wants.

Pets given as gifts is a perfect example. I often wonder if well-meaning friends, family or parents who obtain a puppy or kitten to give as a gift have considered the recipient’s circumstances — or do they have their own fantasy of the perfect gift for the person as the overriding factor in choosing a pet as a gift. “The Christmas Collie” is a great book to spark warmth and fantasy in anyone. But let’s face it: a puppy running around and scratching or barking behind a closed door before it can be given is the not-so-charming reality.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recently conducted a survey on holiday pet giving. The questions focused on whether the new owner of a gifted pet felt less love/attachment to the new pet than if they had obtained the pet themselves and if the animal was still in the home. The results concluded that for gifted pets from shelters, there was no perceived difference by the new owner in their attachment to their new pet. In addition, the majority of the respondents said the pet was still in their home.

If a pet is being considered as a gift, many shelters still advise that the long-term responsibility of having a pet be considered. If the recipient of a pet (and/or their family) has had a long-term interest in having a pet, has considered all the lifestyle aspects of owning a pet and can meet the financial responsibility, then a longed-for companion might be considered for a gift.

Even better, why not take your loved ones to the shelter and let them find their perfect companion? Think about the fun it would be to have a big box wrapped under the tree filled with essentials for the new pet. The dream is extended by thinking of names and looking into a pet that would be a match for your recipient. After the holiday rush and travel, you can enjoy the experience and make Christmas last a little longer!


STORY BY: Dr. Katrina Meinkoth, an assistant professor of shelter surgery at Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She earned her DVM degree from Oklahoma State University in 1988. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Derinda Blakeney, APR | OSU College of Veterinary Medicine | 405-744-6740 |

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