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Buyer Beware

Buyer Beware

My family is a little crazy when it comes to our dogs. Actually, a little crazy is a bit of an understatement—we are absolutely obsessed with them to the point that my husband thinks we (mainly my mother and I) should be committed.

For us, Rocco and Cosmo (both Malteses) are members of the family. We have birthday parties for them, buy them Christmas presents, and dress them in costumes at Halloween. They even wore little doggie tuxes for my wedding a couple of years ago.

But as much joy as they’ve brought to our lives, caring for them is also a lot of work—not to mention incredibly expensive. This thought brings me to my current pet peeve (pun intended): giving animals as holiday gifts. While putting a cute puppy under the tree is a good idea in theory, it’s not something you want to spring on another person, regardless of how much you think they might love the surprise. “There are definitely risks associated with giving an animal as a present, including traumatizing an innocent animal that must be 'returned' or unintentionally placing the animal in a neglectful home,” says pet trainer Joan Mayer.

And the current economy makes this practice even trickier. In fact, MSNBC recently ran a story on how some pet owners are cutting back on vet visits as a way to save money. While I understand the need to save money, this tactic is just plain stupid. According to the article, infectious diseases, parasitism and degenerative diseases such as heart problems, kidney disease and arthritis in pets can go untreated or unnoticed when people skip well-pet visits.

What do you think about giving a pet as a present? Share your thoughts below. –Linda DiProperzio

Posted: 12/17/08

This was a great article. Too many dogs that began in good homes as puppies end up in shelters or worse. Remember when thinking about giving a pet for any kind of present, pets are a lifetime commitment and if it doesn't work out you have potentially robbed that pet of a good life somewhere else. Better to take that person out and allow them to pick out the pet themself. Alot of people talk about wanting a pet, but they don't stop to think seriously about the lifetime maintenance it will take and that needs to be considered first. Then there is the housing issue and exercise. I agree in the current economy a dog or cat is a financial burden that a lot of people cannot afford and I wonder how many pets will find themselves transported to a shelter or worse.

  • By Reborn
  • on 12/24/08 12:51 PM EST

How could anyone think that's a good surprise gift idea? That's like bringing home a baby and saying "Merry Christmas! You're an insta-parent!"


As someone who was given a puppy as a present for Christmas three years ago, I have to say this is really tricky!

Unfortunately for me, my lease was specific about no dogs and even more unfortunately for me, my landlord insisted on my moving out!

The good news is my dog and I are happily together in a new apartment, but you can see how someone else might have "dumped" the dog or made a different decision.