For a Happier Holiday: A Note to Santa’s Helpers
Are you a parent or doting grandparent, aunt or uncle considering giving a child that pet she or he has been begging you for? Do you know someone considering buying a pet for their child or niece or nephew, godchild, grandchild or cousin? Encourage them to talk to the parents first…and to encourage the parent to do some research into the suitability and care requirements before they approve of such a gift.
The holidays are a time of giving, but please, don’t make a present of a living animal, especially to children. Instead, why not make a gift of a book about an animal they are interested in, the latest pet care video, give them a gift subscription to a pet magazine, or a gift certificate for books or equipment and supplies?
Every year, pets are given to people as gifts without those people knowing the first thing about them. Thousands are dumped every year on shelters.
Don’t assume that the parents of a child are willing or interested in caring for any pet. No matter how well you think you know the parents or the child, always ask the parents first, and give them time – and pet care information to read – to carefully consider it. If they say no, please respect their wishes. It really is a matter of life or death.
Animals are not disposable playthings. They are a lifelong commitment – both the life of the owner and the animal.
Alternatives to Live Animal Gifts
Individuals and organizations who do animal rescue, housing and rehoming of pet animals, as well as those involved strictly with domestic wildlife rescue and rehab, are always in need of funds, equipment, and supplies. If there is an organization your gift is particularly supportive of, or you know of one in need (and there isn’t one that isn’t in need!), then consider making a donation of money or goods. Most such organizations have a “wish list” of items they desperately need, with entries ranging from food for their patients and residents, to enclosures, heating and lighting supplies, veterinary supplies, etc. While some of these organization have a separate facility and so are listed in the phone book, many are completely volunteer run organizations. Reference librarians and the local volunteer center (check the County listings in the phone book) usually keep comprehensive lists of all nonprofit organizations in the area.
Pet Sitting and Go-fering
Sometimes our hearts exceed the depth of our bank accounts and so we must be more creative in our gifting. Consider giving a card entitling the bearer to a weekend, or even a week, of quality pet sitting (by you!) while they go on a much-needed vacation or business trip. Or, volunteer to make pet store runs for food and supplies, or to chauffeur people who do not have ready access to a car and who may have a problem lugging a sack full of food on the bus or subway, especially during the icy, snowy winter months. Equally needful are rides to the vets for sick animals when the keeper doesn’t have a car or can’t take their pet on the bus and taxis, for some reason, never seem to find their address on time…
Pet Store Gift Certificate
If the store your gift recipient regularly goes to does not have gift certificates, you can easily create your own, by hand or on the computer. Tuck it into a holiday card, decorate the envelope, and voila! a safe and sane gift! The nice thing is that pet owners can use the certificate to buy something their pets need, or special treats for them they wouldn’t otherwise buy, or they can apply it towards the purchase of a future pet or pet supply purchase.