Animals are not mere objects; they are sentient beings that require love, care, and commitment to thrive. While intentions may be noble, gifting an animal to someone without absolute certainty of their willingness and capacity to provide lifelong care can lead to unfortunate consequences.
The Vulnerability of Animals with Children
Children, often unintentionally, can be cruel to animals. Young animals such as puppies, kittens, bunnies, chicks, and ducks are particularly vulnerable. Small children may accidentally harm animals, leading to serious injuries or even fatalities. Initial fascination may morph into indifference or hostility when a child loses interest in the pet, leading to neglect. Adults, in their impatience, may resort to handing over the neglected animal to a shelter or a sequence of homes. This creates trauma and psychological distress, which can further trigger behavioral issues in the animal.
Considerations before Gifting
Bringing an animal into a family is a significant decision. Adoption signifies a permanent commitment to caring for and spending time with the pet, as well as arranging for its care in case of the owner’s absence. This commitment extends over the entire lifetime of the pet. Potential pet owners should consider the cost, in both time and money, of proper animal care. Responsibilities include exercise, housebreaking, food, accessories, vaccinations, and veterinary care, including spaying or neutering and emergency care.
If a family decides to adopt a pet, every member should visit the local shelter together to select their new addition. They should have a clear understanding of the obligations and long-term commitments involved. It is also important to understand local, state, and federal regulations that govern pet ownership.
Overcrowded Shelters and Unhappy Endings
Animal shelters are overfilled with homeless pets, many of whom were impulsively acquired and later abandoned due to a change in lifestyle. Unwanted pets often move from one irresponsible home to another as their novelty wears thin. Unfortunately, these pets are frequently surrendered to already overloaded animal shelters or abandoned when the family relocates.
Your Role in Helping Animals
Avoid gifting animals. If prospective recipients are committed and capable of caring for an animal, consider offering a gift certificate from a local animal shelter instead. If you encounter instances where animals are being given away irresponsibly, take a moment to educate the individuals involved. Encourage businesses using animals for promotional activities to opt for stuffed toys instead.
In recent years, several countries have taken legislative measures to improve animal welfare. For instance, the U.K. proposed a law in 2004 to prohibit the practice of giving fish as prizes and selling animals to children under 16. Similarly, Italy has implemented strict animal welfare laws, including fines and imprisonment for crimes against animals. However, in the U.S., the existing laws provide inadequate protection for animals. Contact local and state officials about introducing and passing more comprehensive animal protection laws, and support animal rights and welfare groups working towards this cause.
By embracing responsible and humane practices, we can make a significant difference in improving the lives of animals. Your involvement can contribute to their wellbeing and safety.