Eager Christmas shoppers who think it might be cute to give a pet as a gift this year are urged to think again.
Often, such gifts wind up in the pound or animal shelter.
Brandon Humane Society shelter manager Tracy Munn said she fields about 10 adoption requests throughout the year from people who want to give an animal as a gift.
It’s just not a good idea, she said.
“They just don’t think it through,” said Munn, who estimates that she receives four to five gift-related adoption requests around Christmas time.
That’s just the requests she receives; other staff may receive more.
The rate of former gifts taken to the city pound amounts to a few dogs, cats and other creatures per year.
“It happens … we get a few,” said poundkeeper Shane Macialek. “They get a puppy or something like that and then later on they say that it’s bigger than they wanted it, or they didn’t wind up wanting it, or they’re allergic.”
The odd rabbit has been known to be offered as a gift.
“Sometimes they’ll go to a pet store and get a male and a female — you know what happens there,” Macialek said.
The pound tries to find homes for the animals it tries to keep as long as it can, but after 96 days they may be euthanized.
The pound is already at its capacity of 15 cats and eight dogs.
The Brandon Humane Society shelter tries to rescue as many pets as it can from the pound, Munn said, and once in a while gifted animals find their way to the shelter.
Munn said the gift recipients may find themselves ill-equipped to care for their “surprise” and get frustrated.
Or the animal costs more to care for than expected, or the recipient wasn’t allowed to have pets in their rented home in the first place.
Munn doesn’t entirely rule out adopting an animal to be given as a gift, but she'll make sure it’s a good fit for the prospective owner.
Macialek has a bit of advice for anyone thinking about buying a pet for a present.
“Make sure that the person actually wants what you’re getting them,” Macialek said. “It goes for any present, really.”
Munn also has a tip for anyone who insists that a pet may make a great gift.
Instead, wrap a stuffed toy that represents the dog, cat or animal to be given.
Hand that toy to the recipient as a gift to make sure they want a pet. They can then pick their own animal later and the gift-giver can pay for it.