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6 Reasons Never to Give Animals as Surprise Gifts!

animal gift, dogs, cats, pet overpopulation, stray dog, stray cat

After the holiday season, shelters often report an uptick in animals who are given up to shelters.

In fact, the animals who are abandoned are usually on the younger side…they are the puppies and kittens who were given as gifts, and then abandoned when the recipients realize the amount of work and commitment that is required to care for a companion animal.

So what are the ethical implications of giving a companion animal to someone as a present? 

At first glance, surprising a loved one with a companion animal might seem like a heartwarming gesture. After all, who wouldn't want to witness the sheer joy on someone's face when they're presented with a dog, cat, or other animal companion?

However, what some people fail to realize is that giving an animal as a gift is a decision filled with potential risks and ethical considerations.

Let's unravel why this well-intended present might not always be the gift that keeps on giving.

1. Overlooking Long-Term Commitment:

Animals are not objects that can be exchanged or given away when the feeling of newness wears off. They are living beings with complex needs, requiring long-term commitment, attention, and care. This means a dedication of years, sometimes even decades, of responsible companion animal  guardianship. If the receiver of the gift is unprepared or unable to make this commitment, the animal's welfare could be seriously compromised.

2. Ignoring Financial Implications:

Caring for a companion animal is not just about cozy cuddles on a rainy day; the responsibility comes with big financial commitments. From food, routine veterinary care, and emergency medical expenses to the day-to-day supplies, the costs can be significant. Gifting someone a companion animal essentially means you're imposing an unforeseen financial obligation on them, which they may not be prepared for.

3. Mismatched Lifestyles and Temperaments:

Just like humans, each animal has their own personality, energy levels, and needs. What happens when a rambunctious puppy is gifted to someone with a very relaxed lifestyle or a small apartment? Or a social animal finds themself with a guardian who's barely home? These mismatches can lead to behavioral problems, stress, and unhappiness for both the companion animal and guardian.

4. Allergy Concerns:

Allergies are a serious concern that many might overlook when gifting a companion animal. The recipient or a family member might be allergic to certain types of animals. Discovering this post-gift can create a distressing situation where giving the animal away becomes a painful necessity.

5. Ethical Considerations and Animal Welfare:

Surprise gifting of companion animals promotes the idea that animals are just objects. This attitude can contribute to people impulsively deciding to get companion animals, and ultimately perpetuate the tragic cycle of companion animal overpopulation. Shelters are overwhelmed post-holiday seasons with abandoned companion animals from guardians who couldn't handle the responsibility they hadn't asked for.

6. Missing a Teaching Opportunity:

Choosing a companion animal is a personal journey and an educational one. When you gift a companion animal, the recipient misses out on learning about what kind of companion animal matches their lifestyle, and preparing themselves for the upcoming responsibility. This preparation is crucial in building a strong, lasting human/animal bond.

animal gift, dogs, cats, pet overpopulation, stray dog, stray cat

The Right Way to Gift:

If you're confident the recipient is eager and well-prepared for a companion animal, consider alternatives to a surprise gift. 

You can give an "I owe you," a "companion animal promise," wrapped with a bow — maybe paired with a book on companion animal care. After the excitement of the holidays is over, together you can search online (for example, on to see the animals available for adoption from local rescue groups and shelters. Then, together, you can visit shelters to meet animals and make the exciting decision of who will become the newest member of the family!

Another heartfelt and responsible approach could be sponsoring the recipient's adoption fee, accompanying them to the animal shelter, and letting them choose their companion. 

Regardless, make sure to always put the adoption of a homeless animal at the center of the gift and do not support breeding/puppy mills/kitten factories. This way, you’re not only giving the gift of meaningful companionship, but also saving a life at the same time! 

Alternatively, if the person says "no gifts" but cares about animals, you could donate to a local animal shelter or charity in the recipient’s honor. This gift allows the recipient to take part in helping to save the lives of many animals. 

Companion Animals are Family! 

Gifting a companion animal, while well-intentioned, can have unintended consequences for the animal, the recipient, and society's view on companion animal  guardianship. Animals are living, feeling beings that thrive on love, care, and stability. They should be treated like family! 

By choosing more responsible gifting methods, we respect their intrinsic value and their right to a committed, loving home. This shift in our gifting culture will contribute to a more compassionate society, promoting animal protection and ethical responsibility above fleeting moments of surprise.

How 600 Million Dogs Works to Prevent Animal Suffering

This holiday season, and every season, 600 Million Dogs is working to prevent the suffering of companion animals…before it starts. 

For-profit drug companies have the resources needed to create a game-changing nonsurgical alternative to surgical spay/neuter, but they have neglected to do so. So far they have shown little interest in addressing the biggest crisis facing dogs and cats around the globe: companion animal overpopulation. Hundreds of millions of dogs and cats will be born into a world where they will only ever know starvation, pain, and intentional cruelty.

We cannot give up on these animals.

That’s why 600 Million Dogs is working to solve this crisis. Our nonprofit science-centered mission is to significantly reduce animal suffering on a global scale by developing a safe, edible, one-dose, permanent-lasting birth control Cookie for stray dogs and cats.

When completed, this will be a truly life-changing gift for homeless animals.


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