Skip to content

Surprise pet Christmas presents are ill-advised, BC SPCA warns

Pet ownership a decision that should be looked at as a 10 to 20 year commitment

Cats and dogs do not make for good Christmas presents, according to a spokesperson for the BC SPCA

Owning a cat, dog, or even rabbit comes with a lot of responsibility and is a huge undertaking, especially if you are not used to caring for a living animal, Emma Hamill, Animal Centre Manager at BC SPCA’s Victoria branch said.

“Surprise presents are especially advised against doing such a thing,” Hamil said. “In our application, it says, Are you going to give this animal as a gift?”

Adopting an animal from a shelter or an organization like the BC SPCA can be excellent. Still, it is important to remember that rescue animals can come with massive trauma, said Hamil.

“What I recommend to folks when they bring a rescue animal into the home is the 333 rule,” said Hamil. “That’s three days to settle in, three weeks until they’re feeling safe, starting to show their personality, and then three months until they’re completely safe.”

If someone does decide to buy a pet as a present, it is important to remember that this gift can be a 20-year commitment, especially if you are getting a kitten, she said.

“It’s a decision that you should look at as a commitment for 10 to sometimes 20 years. They can live quite a long time if you’re getting a cat. So really doing your research is important.”

Generally, the BC SPCA does not have people returning animals because they were a gift, according to Hamil. The pets surrendered to the BC SPCA are being given up due to lack of housing, behaviours or medical problems.

Cats, dogs, rabbits or birds all come with their separate challenges, Hamil said.

“Cats are a little bit more independent, whereas dogs take a little bit more work, training, adapting, you have to be prepared to exercise and stimulates their brains.”

Hamil said that if a parent is thinking about getting their child a present, it will most likely be the mum and dad responsible for feeding, walking and any vet bills that might arise.

“Research, educate and ensure that whoever receives that present is prepared.”


READ MORE: ‘People are seeing the need’ Demand for fostering animals increases in B.C.