Animal column: Should I gift a pet? |

Animal column: Should I gift a pet?

Niki Congero
Tribune Opinion Columnist
Dorito is a beautiful mini -Panther shoulder cat. He is does well with other cats and well-mannered dogs. He is happiest when he is in a person’s arms and loves affection. Please come visit him at The El Dorado County Animal Services, 530-573-7925. For Spay-Neuter services and other support, call the Lake Tahoe Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at 530-542-2857.
Courtesy photo |

Dear Henry,

I want to get my 5-year-old son a puppy for Christmas. What do you think? Is it a good idea or not?



Dear Marvin,

Great question! A puppy or a kitten under the Christmas tree may be very cute — with that little face peering out of the wrapping paper and boxes — but is it really a good idea? Mom and Dad may want to give a pet to the kids or maybe you just want to give an animal friend to someone you think needs one. People who give animals as gifts mean well, but their good intentions often go bad. Giving a pet as a gift is usually not a good decision that can end tragically, which most often includes the animal being returned to a shelter or even worse with the animal ending up getting injured (like being accidentally stepped on) during all the Christmas morning excitement.

While it is true that pets bring us untold joy and wonderful companionship, they are a huge responsibility. People who receive a pet as a gift don’t pay, but the gift is hardly free. It means a long-term commitment of time, money and energy that may exceed their abilities. Among the costs:


Bedding and toys;

Veterinary care;

Grooming expenses;

Time to exercise, play with and train the animal; and

Boarding or pet-sitting costs.

Here are some alternate ideas for pet-giving this holiday season. If you are a parent that wants to get your family a pet as a gift for the holidays, we suggest making it a family adventure. Take a day and go together as a family to your local shelter, then pick out your new furry family member together before the hectic holiday time begins. This will give your new pet time to adjust and settle in so you can all enjoy Christmas morning. If you want something for the kids to unwrap Christmas morning, wrap up some pet toys — not the puppy or kitten. If you are considering giving a pet to friend go to the local shelter and get a gift certificate to cover the adoption fee, put together a basket with pet gifts in it and include the gift certificate. Keep in mind the Lake Tahoe Humane Society has a lovely selection of pet toys, collars, beds and other things that make great gifts.

Speaking of fun gifts for the holidays, join us Dec. 19 for “Paint Your Pet,” a sponsored event by Paint & Sip. You get the opportunity to paint a picture of your pet, or paint a picture of a friend’s pet. Either way it could make for a fun, thoughtful gift. Don’t worry, you do not need to be a Michelangelo to create your own masterpiece. The hosts of the event will pre-sketch your pet’s photo onto the canvas and guide you through the process to insure you end up with a great painting. There is limited space, so sign up fast. For more information, go to the events page of our website:

I’m hoping you have a fun, family adventure picking out your son’s new puppy.


This is a friendly reminder the extremely popular Tahoe Pets 2016 Calendars have arrived; be sure to get your own before they are all gone. Come by the office at 884 Emerald Bay Road or order it online. They make fabulous gifts for friends and family.

Hopeful Henry is a column managed by Niki Congero, executive director of Lake Tahoe Humane Society & S.P.C.A. Submit questions or letters via e-mail to or by mail to P.O. Box PET South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158. For more information, visit SocietySPCA, or

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