Addabbo: Think before you decide to purchase a pet as a holiday gift this year

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By New York State Senator Joseph Addabbo

As the holidays approach and people are thinking of what types of presents to get for their loved ones, I feel it is important for people to know the significance of buying a pet as a gift for their family members or friends.

We have all seen the heartwarming commercials where a kitten or dog is the big, surprise holiday gift.

While I really like the idea of an appropriate pet as a present, the gifted animal can come with unexpected care, procedures and costs.

Any pet — whether a cat, dog, bird, fish or reptile — are a true responsibility, so it is vital to find out if the recipient actually wants a pet and has the adequate resources to provide it with the care it needs.

Owning a pet is a long-term commitment, and giving an unexpected or unwanted animal for a present can lead to great heartbreak for both the recipient and the animal itself. To prevent such unhappy circumstances, I suggest:

– When considering whether to buy a pet for someone, first make certain the person actually wants one. If you are not confident that someone wants a pet as a gift, the best thing to do is ask. Find out what type of pet they would like and what type of pet they can handle.

– Be sure potential recipients can handle the varied costs and responsibilities associated with a new pet. There will be veterinarian bills, food costs, grooming, walks, the need for accessories and toys and much more. Depending on the animal and its needs, annual costs may be upwards of $1,000 a year. If the person appears unable to shoulder these costs and responsibilities, or may not have adequate time to dedicate to the animal, it may be best to consider a different gift.

Surprising someone with a pet can be a very bad idea. Taking in a pet means taking in a new family member, and it is a commitment that can last for many years.

The new pet owner must be ready and able to accept that responsibility.

In addition to my thoughts on the subject, the ASPCA’s official position on giving pets as gifts states that they should only be given to those who have expressed interest in owning one, and who have the ability to care for it adequately and responsibly.

If you do decide to get someone on your list the pet they have always wanted, make sure to get the animals from shelters and responsible breeders.

There are many wonderful and reputable animal shelters and rescue organizations right here in Queens, where the perfect pet can be adopted, and they are also always in need of volunteers and donations – another great avenue for improving the lives of animals this holiday season.

Making the right choice of whether to give a pet as a Holiday gift should make someone very happy for many years and give an animal the proper caring home.


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