Oh, You Shouldn’t Have: Reasons to Think Twice Before Giving a Pet as a Gift
With the holiday season in full swing, you may be running out of steam when it comes to gift ideas. Then, you remember that friend or family member that expressed so much interested in your chameleon and you wonder, “Should I give them a chameleon as a gift?”
While the idea of giving someone a chameleon (or any pet) as a gift initially seems like an awesome idea, it is better to think twice before going forward. To help you determine if giving a pet as a gift is a good idea, consider these points first.
Do They Want a Pet?
The first step before giving a pet as a gift is determining if the recipient even wants one in the first place. Just because a person admires and enjoys your pet doesn’t mean they want one in their own home. Some people aren’t in the best place for bringing an animal into their lives, while others may have no interest in actually owning a pet at all. You don’t want to give a pet to a person that doesn’t actually want one, as that can be unfair to both the recipient and the animal for which they will soon have to care.
Are They Allowed to Have a Pet?
Rules about pets in rental properties can be very strict. Some types of pets will be banned outright, while others must meet certain restrictions. Sometimes, the information is covered clearly in a person’s lease, especially when it comes to common pets like cats and dogs. However, more exotic pets, including chameleons, may not be covered as explicitly. That means a call to the landlord may be in order. Since it would be inappropriate for you to take this on yourself, it is better not to surprise any renter with an unexpected pet.
Can They Afford the Costs?
A pet costs more than its purchase price. You may need to get a suitable habitat, and you will definitely need to pay for food and other basic necessities. While relieving someone of the cost associated with buying a pet can be helpful, the gift essentially saddles the person with a long-term financial obligation. If you don’t know for a fact that this is a burden they will happily take on, then bypass this gift idea, at least for the time being.
Do They Have the Time?
Even if they want a pet and are allowed to have one, that doesn’t mean the timing is right. If someone travels a lot for work, having a pet at home may not be practical. Even though some pets, like chameleons, don’t require a lot of interaction, that doesn’t mean it should be left unattended long-term. This is particularly the case if the local climate doesn’t resemble the chameleon’s natural climate, as greater care is required to ensure the environment meets their needs.
Similarly, if the recipient may be moving soon, giving them a pet may make that process more complicated. This is especially true for anyone who may move to a state or country where exotic pets aren’t allowed or people who may find themselves in a college dorm soon.
Did You Check with Them (or Their Parents) First?
Before giving a pet as a gift, it is better to get permission than to hope it will work out. For adult recipients, consider asking them directly. While you may think it spoils the surprise, they will be elated if the gift is the right choice for them and their life now, and may be relieved that you didn’t surprise them with a pet if it isn’t a good time.
When it comes to giving pets as gifts to children, always check with the parents before going forward. While a child may promise to manage all of the associated care, unless they have their own source of money, at least some of the support will be coming from another member of the household. You want to make sure that they are onboard with the idea before even suggesting it to the child.
If everything reviewed above checks out, then giving a pet as a gift might be the right choice. However, if there is any hesitation, it is better to go with plan B. A pet is a huge responsibility, and it shouldn’t be given to another person lightly. When in doubt, consider giving a book about the care of their ideal pet, or a gift certificate that can be used to help them prepare for bringing a pet into their lives. This is an area where it is better to be safe than sorry.