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Should you give pets as gifts for the holidays?

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WASHINGTON — We recently went to the Humane Rescue Alliance in Washington to answer some questions about pets and the holidays. Specifically, is it OK to give a pet as a gift for Christmas?

We spoke with Becca Stern, the director of adoptions, to determine if there were any negative consequences to the practice. She said that it isn’t always a great idea, but there’s no hard and fast rule.

“It’s great to add an animal to your home for the holidays or a family or a friend’s home, but just remember nobody likes the gift of surprise responsibility,” Stern said.

What you might want to avoid is giving the gift of a pet when the receiver won’t be able to pay enough attention to it. New pets, especially young ones, need a lot of attention to get used to new environments. For instance, if the receiver of your gift is hosting a big holiday party soon, it would be best to hold off on gifting the pet until after the party.

However, people who receive pets as gifts seem to enjoy it. The ASPCA found that 96 percent of people who received pets as gifts thought it either increased or had no impact on their love or attachment to that pet.

The lesson is simple: If you want to give a pet as a gift for Christmas — or get one for yourself — just make all involved are prepared to care for it — just like any other time of the year.

COMING IN JANUARY

  • Pet Vet: Dr. Devon Smith answers questions about your furry, feathered or scaly best friend.
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