By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Matthew Sisk: Pets are great but not as gifts
Placeholder Image

When I was a little kid, I was fortunate enough to have many wonderful Christmases.

I was awash in fabulous toys and games such as Transformers, He-Man and Nintendo. I even got some cool clothes that I appreciate now more in hindsight.

But one thing I never received for Christmas was a puppy. And for that, I’m thankful.

You see, Christmas is indeed a time for being thankful. It is also a time for giving gifts to show your love, even if you don’t celebrate the occasion in the most religious manner, or if you celebrate a different religion. You probably get the idea.

Excitement about receiving a gift can fade with time. Sadly, that gift sometimes has a cute little nose and a wagging tail. That marks the huge difference between living, breathing gifts and inanimate objects.

I once received a cactus for my birthday. I’m kind of prickly myself, so I appreciated the parallelism. But sadly for that plant, I’m better with the animal kingdom. In a few weeks, I’d managed to neglect it to death. Yes, I killed a plant that lives in the dessert with little to no water or other resources.

That isn’t to assume people will neglect a puppy, kitten or ferret to the point the animal dies. But please, reconsider any plan to give a pet as a gift.

You are giving a wonderful friend, yes. But you are also giving an obligation. The pet will require health care in the future. It will require food. If you want to live with it happily, you will have to dedicate time and energy to training it and developing communication so you understand one another.

Many pet receivers aren’t looking at the long-term responsibilities. Pets, especially young ones, are cute and cuddly. But in a few months, an alarming percentage of them will be unwanted. Many end up in humane societies in the spring. Unless all aspects of pet ownership are considered, please opt for another means of showing you care.

I highly recommend pets. But not as gifts.


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

Regional events