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Ask a Vet: Carefully consider giving a pet as a present
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I went to the mall today. As always, it was a bad idea at this time of year.

But I managed to avoid any riots and sat down to have lunch in the food court. An older couple was sitting beside me with a package. The package was whining. They had been to the pet store in the mall and purchased a puppy. 

As I sat there, I heard the lady saying she didn’t know if they should have gotten it. She was worried their granddaughter would be thrilled, but her parents would not. Apparently, they had purchased a puppy as a present for Christmas, without checking with the recipients.

Quite the quagmire. I believe pets are a wonderful gift. But sort of the same way a child is a wonderful gift. Or tickets to Wrestlemania are a wonderful gift. Some things aren’t for everybody.

The problem with a puppy or kitten is they have needs. If you get the wrong video game, it can be returned. If you get a book the person doesn’t like, they can put it on a shelf and ignore it. The book won’t suffer. But an animal will.

When you own an animal, you become its soul source of reliable care, be it through shelter, food or emotional care. You are all-powerful to that animal. If it ever gets old and is suffering, you would even have the ultimate power of life and death through euthanasia. And with great power comes great responsibility.

Please, if you are considering a pet as a gift, make sure the recipient wants one and is capable of having one. Parental permission is essential. So is the need for someone to be willing to care for the puppy once it’s not so tiny and maybe not so cute. I myself used to be much smaller and much cuter.

Your Xbox won’t need vaccines once you buy it. Your Elmo won’t need to be neutered. Neither one will ever have pneumonia. But a puppy or kitten might. So be prepared. And Merry Christmas!

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at