Pets As Gifts: A Cute Suprise Or A Big Risk?

You’ve seen it in movies, or in adorable holiday commercials: a child picks up a beautifully decorated box and squeals in delight as they realize the box is moving. When they open it, a fluffy puppy or kitten hops out! Watching scenes like this, or hearing stories from friends who surprised their children with pets, it’s easy to get caught up in the cuteness. But before you head to the animal shelter or call up a breeder, keep some things in mind.


Everyone makes impulse buys. For example, you buy a fancy new car, but after a few weeks, realize that its gas mileage is not very good, and that the car costs more than expected. This is a disappointing realization, but when you regret buying a car or piece of jewelry, other living beings are not impacted. When you impulsively buy a pet, only to later realize you or the recipient cannot afford it, the animal suffers, too.

When you get a pet, you are not only paying for it. You also need to factor in

  • Food
  • Bedding and toys
  • Veterinary expenses
  • Boarding or pet sitting costs

You also have to take into account any exercise the pet is going to need, or how much space it will require in someone’s home. If you buy a pet for someone, but know they cannot afford to take care of it, you are not doing anyone any favors.


This is especially important if you are picking out a pet from a breeder. Unfortunately, pets from breeders are more likely to have health problems. However, since these problems might not manifest right away, it’s important to know the breeder’s stance on returning the pet. If they allow returns, offer a guarantee on the pet’s health, or offer to pay for any veterinary bills, be sure to get these promises in writing. When you gift a pet to someone, make sure they are aware of all documentation. If you can, have them listed on any contracts or agreements.

Animal Cruelty Issues

When you put a pet in a box to give to someone, you probably have the best intentions. But leaving a pet in the box for too long can seriously harm it. In a box, an animal could suffocate. They could also consume any wrapping materials, like ribbons or bows, which pose choking and suffocation hazards. In the best case scenario, the small, enclosed space creates a very stressful time for animals!

Additionally, when you give an animal as a gift, the recipient might not want it. In some cases, people are just too busy to have a pet, or are not adequately prepared. When this happens, the pet may experience neglect. Other times, someone might accept a pet as a gift, but return it to a shelter afterwards. During the holidays, though, shelters are extremely full, and might not have room for another animal. Sometimes, overcrowded shelters are forced to euthanize animals.

According to Florida Statutes, animal cruelty is a serious crime. Cruelty does not have to mean death or severe mistreatment, but can still arise from neglect or denial of necessities. To avoid cruelty or neglect, make sure someone is suited for a pet before you give it to them.

If you want to give a pet as a gift, there are still ways to do so without confronting liability or abuse problems! Give someone a gift certificate to a local shelter, and go with them to pick out the special friend that suits them best, or give them the basic necessities that will allow them to go pick up a pet when they’re ready to do so.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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