Pets not good gift ideas

Published 8:18 am Friday, December 9, 2016

Thinking about getting someone a new pet for Christmas?

Don’t; it’s probably a terrible idea.

Pets, unlike presents, require maintenance, time and money. Also, pets, unlike presents, can tear your house apart, gnaw on furniture, claw up the carpet and/or relieve themselves in less than ideal areas.

In addition, when picking a new member of the family, everyone should participate and no one should be surprised. Some dogs and cats don’t react well to children and some children do not react well with dogs and cats.

Pets can bring years of happiness, but they require more planning than the purchase of, say, a jacket. Ideally, every pet will be spayed or neutered but even if they’re not regular vet checks and basic medical care isn’t necessarily cheap.

In addition, whether or not the pet is indoor or outdoor will require further investments of time and money. Cats and dogs are intelligent, curious animals and so they have a tendency to get into things and can cause harm unless the home is secured.

While most pets require some human interaction, be it pets or walks, younger dogs can have a considerable need to play. This means the owner must be willing to walk with the dog, play with the dog and purchase the dog toys and whatnot so the dog will not chew up furniture. Ideally, the owner of a younger dog should be willing to train the dog — or pay for training — or run the risk of raising a disobedient pet.

Once again, not everyone wants this sort of a present.

Years ago I worked for the animal shelter in Oxford, Miss., and every February or March we’d get unwanted presents left at our doorstep. Worse than a single drop off, however, was the frequent box of puppies or kittens we’d see on our doorstep once or twice a month — the unplanned product of an unplanned pet.

The best way to prevent unplanned pet crises is to plan better.

So, if you are getting a new pet this season (or any season), the first thing to do is talk about the decision with everyone in the household. If you’re renting, talk to the landlord.

Then, take some time and read up on various breeds and temperaments. Remember, younger animals generally need more attention than older pets and there are distinct advantages and drawbacks to old and young animals.

Regardless of what you’re getting, make sure you get your animal spayed or neutered. The surgery is minor and it will likely increase the lifespan of the animal and improve its temperament, too.

Finally, consider adopting from a shelter. Shelter animals need homes, but they’re also often stocked with well-bred dogs and cats of any age and temperament. In fact, rescue groups are common for most breeds of dog, so if your heart is set on a particular breed, it shouldn’t be hard to find a rescue.

Another benefit from shelter adoptions is the option to foster the pet first. If you don’t know how your family will take to an animal (or how the animal will take to your family) you may usually foster the animal to find out.

Jesse Wright is the managing editor of The Daily News. You can email him at or call him at 985-732-2565, ext. 301.