Are You Giving Someone an Animal For Xmas?

They look so cute and people are always ecstatic to get them, but do you really think giving an animal as a gift is a good idea?

As we enter the silly season, animal sanctuaries across the world are bracing themselves for the stampede. Before Christmas animals are dropped off by people who have exciting plans for their holidays, none of which included the pets they ‘love’. After Christmas there are the ‘return to sender’ animals. Those puppies, kittens, bunny rabbits and guinea pigs that looked so adorable when they came out of the pink box adorned with a blue bow, but soon became too much of a hassle for their owner to deal with.

As cuddly as baby animals seem to be, they are not made to order. They are sentient beings with needs and desires. They are not objects to be bought and sold. Giving an animal a home is a lifelong commitment. Some domesticated animals live for longer than 20 years. Can you really make this commitment on behalf of somebody else? Do you know where they will be in 20 years? If somebody wants to adopt an animal into their home, they need to get fully involved in making a decision that will change their lives forever.

Each animal is a unique personality. They are living beings with quirks and character traits. It is not as simple as choosing the colour that will match their lounge suite. Simply knowing the name of the breed they like doesn’t guarantee the temperament they are expecting. The animal and her guardian need to get along and have the same energy. They need to like each other to start with, and then work at building a relationship over time.

When your gift puppy grows up will his owners still think he's cute? It is not a good idea to give animals as presents. Photo © 123RF Erik Reis

If you have considered all of the implications and are still sure you want to give an animal as a gift, please do not buy someone from a pet shop or breeder. There are two reasons for this:

  1. Animals are sentient beings who have strong maternal instincts. Compassionate people do not exploit a mother’s reproductive organs and then steal her babies. Furthermore, when animals are seen as breeding machines, and their offspring as production units, then their right to moral personhood is totally ignored and their right to bodily integrity is violated. More serious abuse is bound to follow.
  2. There are 100’s of 1000’s of abandoned animals, of every breed and species, at shelters who will be killed if they are not rescued. Healthy animals are killed on a weekly basis at ‘kill’ shelters. They are desperate for homes and the shelters are desperate for your support. If you have an option about which shelter to support, please support a ‘no kill’ sanctuary.

Do you still want to give an animal as a gift? Why not take your friend or family member with you to a shelter and let them meet their future animal companion in person? That way both of you can experience the joy of saving a life. And you will be on hand to give the gift of covering the sterilisation fees and veterinary bills.

Thank you for caring about animals so much that you want to give somebody else the special experience of knowing an animal personally. Please also think about the effect it will have on the life of the animal, before making your final decision.


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