The Regina Humane Society (RHS) supports pets as gifts only for individuals who have expressed a sustained interest in owning them, and have the ability and preparedness to care for them responsibly.
Breed characteristics such as size, energy level and grooming requirements as well as the prospective pet owner’s lifestyle need to be taken into consideration when selecting a pet as a gift.
Because pets are typically more than a decade-long commitment, RHS encourages gift-givers to provide gift certificates so the gift recipient can be involved in choosing their future pet.
Turning away someone interested in adopting a pet for a gift, likely will mean they will turn to another avenue (internet, pet store, classifieds, etc.) to obtain the pet, which could support an irresponsible breeding operation and unsterilized pet. Pets given as gifts are not a new concept, however many animal organisations disagree on the practice under the notion that someone given such a gift is ill-suited to care for it. It is understandable to have concerns over allowing someone to adopt on behalf of a third party. The assumptions are that the animal will be returned to a shelter or rescue, be abandoned or face neglect and abuse.
However, research indicates that this fear is based upon anecdotal and unsubstantiated assertions. There are no statistical findings that support that giving animals as gifts are not in their best interest. This misconception may not only prevent the movement of rescue animals to potentially loving homes, but may also drive potential adopters toward unscrupulous and inhumane sources for pets. Contemporary research has resulted in a re-evaluation of this belief and sufficient evidence has been presented supporting the giving of animals as gifts.
Research indicates that the highest majority of pet owners who received pets as gifts thought it either increased or had no impact on their love or attachment to that pet and the vast majority of these pets are still in the home, further supporting the notion that pets given as gifts are not at higher risk for abandonment.
Studies also reveal that pets acquired as gifts are less likely to be relinquished than pets acquired by the individual and identified “unwanted gift” as a reason given for pet relinquishment to be less than 1% of all animals entering the shelters surveyed.
References and Resources:
- Scarlett JM, Salman MD, New JG, Kass PH. Reasons for Relinquishment of Companion Animals in U.S. Animal Shelters: Selected Health and Personal Issues. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. 1999: 2: 41-57.
- Weiss E, Dolan ED, Garrison L, Hong J, Slater M. “Should Dogs and Cats be Given as Gifts?” Animals 2013: 3(4): 995-1001.
- New JC, Salman MD, King M, Scarlett JM, Kass PH, Hutchison, JM. Characteristics of Shelter-Relinquished Animals and Their Owners Compared with Animals and Their Owners in U.S. Pet-Owning Households. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. 2000, 3, 179–201.
- New JC, Salman MD, Scarlett JM, Kass PH, Vaughn JA, Scherr S, Kelch WJ. Moving: Characteristics of Dogs and Cats and Those Relinquishing Them to 12 U.S. Animal Shelters. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. 1999, 2, 83–96.
- Patronek GJ, Glickman LT, Beck AM, McCabe GP, Ecker C. Risk Factors for Relinquishment of Dogs to an Animal Shelter. Journal of the American Veterinary Association. 1996, 209, 572–581.
- Patronek GJ, Glickman LT, Beck AM, McCabe GP, Ecker C. Risk Factors for Relinquishment of Cats to an Animal Shelter. Journal of the American Veterinary Association. 1996, 209, 582–588.