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The Wildcat Tribune

Animals given as gifts suffer in the long run

Lily Houlston, Staff Writer

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Animals are an all-too commonly received gift during the holidays, and are given by people who have good intentions but are making an ultimately poor choice, as these animals have a higher chance of being mistreated or abandoned. Animals are generally not a suitable gift to give anyone.

Getting a new pet is a responsibility that deserves considerable consideration and mindfulness from the owner. But there are too many people who simply fail to recognize that significant aspects of the receiver’s life will be affected by such a change. Giving an animal to someone who can’t handle the responsibility is more than a mere inconvenience to the person; it entails many financial and social adjustments. It is also important to recognize the severe problems that improper pet ownership can inflict on the pet, which would likely be poorly taken care of. Its owner might fail to provide an adequate amount of attention that will make the animal’s life livable. Or worse, the owner may abandon their pet.

While the popular Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) insists on having information about a potential owners lifestyle and household before they allow for animal adoption, it’s not uncommon for someone to give a pet as a gift to someone with no such qualifications. ARF’s method is popular because it is the safest way to adopt a pet: people will  be paired with animals with whom they are compatible and can take care of. ARF’s lifestyle questions, which give volunteers insight into how much time one can spend with their pet, who they live with, what type of home one lives in, etc., are answered by the subject so it can be ensured that  a person who obtains a pet actually knows how to care for one, and plans to. This guarantees that the pet adoption process, and what follows, is pleasant for all parties involved. But during the holiday season, people receive animals and are utterly clueless as to how they should be cared for as well as unmotivated to care for it. This leaves an animal stuck with nobody to take care of it and no real ability to take care of itself.

One major factor people overlook is the price of raising an animal, which can be greatly underestimated. This is a mistake with disastrous results. According to Kiplinger.com, the total average cost of raising a rabbit is between $6,980 and $8,300. The total average cost of raising a cat can be anywhere from $4,521 to $18,322, according to PetEducation.com. According to the American Kennel Club Association, the total average cost of raising a dog is a whopping $23,410. The most costly aspect of these totals is veterinary bills, the expense that goes unconsidered, as people tend to factor in only the cost of food and supplies. Because basic vet bills are expensive, and an unforeseen accident could cost more on top of that, it is only sensible for the owner to decide on their own whether or not they are fully capable of being held to such financial responsibility. Otherwise, the animal runs the risk of needing veterinary care that the owner can’t provide, and the owner could feel forced to leave his pet at the vet or simply not provide the care that is needed. Either outcome is  unfortunate for both the pet  and the owner.

And what is a person to do with an animal that they were just given if they don’t want to care for it, or can’t? Sadly, the solution for many is to abandon their pet. The obvious truth is that this animal will have to go back to a shelter and live a less fortunate life there. No shelter is ever as good as a home with a loving owner. The fact that these animals are removed from such a place to be put in an inferior home is incredibly sad for the pet.

Around the holidays, shelters receive many animals given up by their owners. According to Lake County News, the Lake County Shelter, located in north-central California, had an influx of abandoned animals coming in during the 2016 holiday season, a pattern that has continued for years now. And this is not unique to the Lake County Shelter. This is an occurrence that has led animal rights organizations such as Paws.org and PETA to advise against giving pets as presents for quite a while now. This kind of poor judgment has caused many animals to be left alone — and it’s time for it to stop. The holidays should be a happy time. It is a season for giving, yes, but giving someone an animal is unnecessary and unsafe. It sets up a situation that has the potential to be heart-breaking for both the owner and the animal.

Adopting a new pet is a big deal. It’s a decision that needs to be thoroughly thought out, and made by the potential owner themselves. Animals are not insignificant, not solely for our own entertainment and not disposable. They should not be handed to people as presents, but rather respected and taken seriously as the living beings that they are.

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The official student news site of Dougherty Valley High School.
Animals given as gifts suffer in the long run