Should I Buy My Grandchild a Pet for Easter?

Baby bunnies, chicks, ducks, and even kitties and pups are simply adorable! But do they make good gifts for grandchildren? Sounds great but not so fast. Find out why gifting pets may not be such a good idea after all.

Easter is coming and with that comes an uptick in the gift-giving of animals, particularly bunnies, chicks, and ducks. Some grandparents may wonder, should I buy my grandchild an Easter pet? The answer is no. Gift-giving pets is rarely a good idea because it is often done on impulse. Even with the parents’ blessings, bringing pets into a home is a giant responsibility. A director at the Humane Society issued this warning years ago that still holds true, “People don’t realize the level of commitment that these animals require.” He expounded, “These animals that people associate with Easter, like chicks and baby rabbits, have complex social and nutritional needs. They can’t be caged continuously or relegated to the basement or garage.” Despite being cute, animals require daily care for the rest of their lives, something that cannot be taken lightly. Children may lose interest in duties associated with pet care. Thus, it’s likely safer for grandparents to stick with chocolate or stuffed animals as gifts instead.

Animal experts point out that the giving of animals as Easter gifts can be dangerous for both pets and owners. Veterinarians report that small animals are prone to injury from accidents or mishandlings. Per KSLTV, Dr. Kelly of the Utah Valley Medical Association shared that adult rabbits who are held incorrectly and kick their hind legs can fracture their own spine. Thus, caring for animals is a large responsibility. Animal welfare advocates warn that animals make poor Easter gifts as many of them end up in shelters once the novelty wears off. Sadly, ducks may be dumped into ponds which yields a poor outcome for them as domesticated animals cannot aptly survive in the wild. Or left to fend for themselves, they may fall prey to other creatures. Pets such as chicks and rabbits may pose a risk to people as well, with ill ones shedding diseases like salmonella that can make handlers sick. Then there’s the whole psychological aspect of having to part with a hard-to-care-for pet. It is heartbreaking and traumatic, especially for children, to process the surrender of pets to shelters, and there is no guarantee of a pet’s survival where shelters are overwhelmed.

While pets are a source of joy, caring for them can be expensive, time-consuming, and overwhelming. The inability to handle a pet can cause stress leading to animal abandonment or neglect. Thus, families considering bringing animals into the home should do so independently and with great thought. They must fully understand the needs and requirements of the pet, consider their lifestyle and what changes may be necessary, and understand costs, expenses, and care. Prior to adoption, it is generally beneficial to speak to other pet owners, visit shelters, interview veterinarians, and learn all about the animals they hope to bring home. Additionally, they should secure funds to pay for and care for the pet in the long term and understand the amount of time required for training and beyond. Ultimately, the best way to bring a pet into the family is not by impulsive gift-giving. Rather it’s optimal for families to acquire a pet after careful reflection, knowing they are fully prepared for the long-term commitment ahead.

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