Magazine article USA TODAY

Think before Giving Pets as Presents

Magazine article USA TODAY

Think before Giving Pets as Presents

Article excerpt

Pictures of a bright-eyed youngster hugging a Christmas puppy or Grandma cuddling a purring kitten tend to conjure up a Norman Rockwell-like, "feel-good" image. In reality, giving a pet as a Christmas gift should be done only after some serious thought about the consequences, maintains Eric Dlugokinski, a psychologist at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

"Giving pets at Christmastime is not necessarily good nor bad. It very much depends on the individual situation. Problems arise when pets are given without warning to the recipient. Even though the giver may mean well, it's disrespectful not to consider the well-being of both the animal and the recipient, and to carelessly bring animals into a situation that may become abusive."

Gift-givers should consider the nature of the animal and whether its temperament and physical requirements are appropriate for the setting in which it will be living. They also should consider whether the recipient truly wants--and is able to care for--the animal.

"Many times pets are very therapeutic for older people. However, just because you may feel that Grandma wants a kitten doesn't necessarily mean that she actually is willing or able to shoulder the responsibility. …

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