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Pets As Gifts
A passel of kittens wrestling with red ribbon or a puppy peeking from a Christmas stocking. All the makings of a Kodak moment - and of misery down the road.
"The animal shelters are filled by February with pets that someone knew would be the perfect gift," says state humane officer Dr. Yvonne Bellay. "For every story with a happy ending about someone getting a surprise puppy for Christmas, I could tell you a dozen stories with unhappy endings. Pet owners must choose to be pet owners, and choose pets to match their lives and temperaments."
Before you choose a dog, cat, ferret, bird, or any other animal to give as a gift, remember:
- Pets should never be impulse purchases. Getting a pet must be a choice - and a commitment - made by the person who will care for the pet.
- The holidays are the worst possible time to introduce a pet into the household - too much confusion, too little routine, too many strangers, too many temptations that are bad for animals. If you've discussed and planned the gift with the recipient, settle for a photo, collar, supplies, or some other stand-in for the pet itself. Wait until life settles down in January to introduce the pet into its new home.
- Assuming you and the pet recipient have discussed and planned the gift, do the research. What kind of pet will fit into the recipient's life? A dog, a cat, a ferret? What breed of dog or cat? Be realistic about exercise, grooming, need for attention, and the potential for veterinary bills.
- When you've decided on a type of pet, consider adopting an animal from your local shelter. If you want a purebred, go to a reputable breeder. Look at the breeder's facilities. Get guarantees in writing and read them carefully - before you take the animal home. If the breeder says the animal is registered, don't go home without papers in hand.
More detailed information about buying or adopting pets.
Puppy shopping: Do you have the whole picture?
Advice from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection about what factors you need to consider when you’re thinking about getting a dog.
Breed selection guides for both dogs and cats walk you through a decision guide based on what traits you look for in pets.
Choosing a Ferret
Detailed information for the beginning ferret owner.