Image: Pixabay
The holidays are a time for giving,  but be warned, some gifts require a  lot more responsibility than others. 

Every child’s wish, after watching  Disney’s Lady and the Tramp, was to receive  a puppy wearing a big red bow in a hat box  for Christmas. And when 101 Dalmatians hit  screens, requests for dappled pups soared.  Although giving a pet as a surprise  present may seem like a grand gesture, the  reality is you’ve just left someone with a  huge and unexpected responsibility. 

Chantall Giliomee, marketing assistant at  Durban and Coast SPCA, says, “We do see a  very slight increase in adoptions during the  festive season, however we have a very large  number of of unwanted and stray animals  taken in over the holidays, too.” 

According to Giliomee, it’s never  advisable to surprise someone with a pet as  gift.  “Pet ownership is a big responsibility and  a lifelong commitment. 

“Having a pet requires an emotional  and financial commitment. And the person  receiving the pet may not always be in a  financial position to take care of the pet’s  needs. 

“A pet owner has to also prepare for a  pet joining their home. It is always best to  choose your own pet as you need to have an  emotional connection,” she said.

THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF A PET OWNER:
  • Clean drinking water – this should always be available to your pet and should be changed regularly (more than once a day, especially if left outside).
  • Food – the proper diet required by your pet in order to provide them with all the nutrients needed. Dietary requirements will depend on the brand of food and pet. Different brands of food will have a feeding guideline on the packaging.
  • Shelter – somewhere warm, dry and safe from the elements. If your dog will be staying outside, a raised kennel must be provided in order to keep them away from rain.
  • Exercise – pets should be able to run and move freely. They should NOT be chained.
  • Your property should be fully fenced.
  • Veterinary treatment – vaccinations and sterilisation should be done. Medical attention must be provided if your pet falls ill. Regular flea and tick medication should be given. There are different varieties of this on the market, dosage will depend on each individual brand.
  • Kindness – you must be kind to you pet and affectionate. Animals are sentient beings and can experience pain, sadness, joy and loneliness.
  • In addition to food and pet supplies, there will be often unexpected veterinary costs that you will need to budget for. 
Aside from all the responsibilities, pet-parents  can also prepare themselves for a  rewarding experience.  “A pet will love you unconditionally and  give you longlasting friendship. Having a pet  can even reduce stress levels.  “When adopting a pet, you also have the  knowledge that you have saved a life and  given an animal the  greatest gift it could ask  for,” said Giliomee.