Pets as gifts? Experts say consider the responsibility first

Posted at 9:52 PM, Nov 24, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-25 00:59:41-05

SALT LAKE CITY - While having a cute puppy or kitten jump out of the box on Christmas morning, experts say giving pets as gifts isn't a good idea.

If a family has considered the responsibilities of getting a pet, there's nothing wrong with surprising the kids on Christmas, but giving animal gifts to another family is a big no-no.

"We strongly discourage people from ever surprising another adult or another family with the gift of a pet," said Temma Martin.

Tens of thousands of pets wind up at animal shelters in the U.S. every year. Martin says that a lot of animals acquired around the holiday are sent to a shelter by the end of the next year.

"A lot of animals that are acquired around the holiday time probably make it through the summer, and by the beginning of the school year the family might be over them," Martin said.

Animal advocates say that pets require a lot of responsibility and that the owner will be making a lifelong commitment to the animal, and some pets will live for a long time.

"Know not only what the animal looks like when it's a puppy and cute, but how big it's going to get, how long its hair is going to be, what kind of energy level it has, if it tends to get along with other dogs. Just really know what you're getting when you choose a pet," said Martin.