I grew up in a family that loved and cared for animals. My mother was a farm girl, and though our house in the almost-suburbs and our financial situation made it difficult for her to replicate her idyllic childhood for my sister and me, she sure did try.
A Lesson on Pet Care
One of the most valuable lessons my mother taught me on the subject of animals was that you must never, ever give them as gifts. Everyone thinks that getting a baby bunny or a hen for Easter is adorable, but how adorable will it be next month? Next year? A animal is a responsibility, and you don’t foist responsibilities on people as gifts.
I wasn’t particularly open to hearing that message as a kid. When I was ten years old, my best friend, Sara Simmons, got a kitten from her aunt and uncle for her birthday, and I was positively mad with envy. Again and again, I told my mother that everyone else got animals as gifts, and couldn’t I please get a pet of my own?
Pets are a Responsibility
When I did get a pet of my own, it was a rabbit, presented to me as a grave responsibility. Though was no card or bow around its neck; this was a great honor.
I’ve been caring for animals for a couple of years now, and I’ve come to appreciate my mother’s lesson. Animals are a commitment, and you can’t give someone a commitment unless you know that they’re not only willing but happy to take it on.
Every year after Easter, countless bunnies are unceremoniously dumped in the streets. The amount of puppies being abandoned spikes after Christmas. A lot of us have romantic notions about our pets’ ability to survive in the wild, but the fact is that the vast majority of those animals end up dead.
So, in conclusion, don’t give animals as gifts. Frankly, it’s only marginally more acceptable than giving a child as a gift. It may seem like an act of kindness now, but you have no way of knowing that it’s not going to cause heartache down the road.