The focus of Best Friend's "Puppies Aren't Products" campaign isn't giving puppies as gifts (it's the awful practice of puppy mills) but the sentiment still applies.
I've been asked multiple times by different people for advice on buying a cat or dog as a gift for someone. I always tell them not to do so. If you want to buy a gift for someone who loves animals, maybe ask to help pay for their adoption fee on the animal they pick out themselves, but don't go buying them a cat or a dog as a gift. Period. They Should Not Be Gifts.
I know that we see images of the kitten or the puppy with the big red bow at Christmas. I know that it seems sweet. But think about it for a minute. Would you ever give someone a child as a gift? A pet means years of responsibility, vet bills, and more. Yes, there are great aspects about pet ownership, but there are a lot of responsibilities as well. When you give someone a pet, you're taking away a chance for them to really think whether they're up for all the work involve--teaching kids how to behave toward the animal, handling allergies, buying appropriate food, training the animal, caring for him/her, etc. It's easy for people to forget all that when handed a cute puppy with a bow around his neck.
Plus, it diminishes the value of that animal. Animals, even pure-bred animals, are unique and have their own personalities. While a great deal of that personality is based on nurture, it's no more immune to nature than my or my sister's very different personalities. We're great people, both of us, but many who would happily deal with her for 10 years might not want to deal with my quirks for that time period and vice versa. When you give an animal as a gift you remove the opportunity for the new pet parent to really look and find an animal with whom the bond and can get along.
Why this topic now, in the middle of my family vacation at the beach where I've been mostly offline? Because a friend of a friend is looking to rehome a dog she was given as a gift. . I'm not going to get into the reasons for the rehoming here because I'm standing by my belief that it will do no good for me to judge and the girl is trying to find a new home for the puppy which is responsible. The dog is pure-bred so I first suggested contacting the breeder because most reputable, good breeders will take back their dog However, the girl apparently can't do that because the breeder is across the country where the mom lives and she can't get back across the country to return the dog. I don't think people consider that outcome when they give animals. Apparently the dog is sweet and cute and I'm sure she'll find a new home soon--cute, pure-bred puppies with papers don't lack homes long. I'm just frustrated by the situation.
Don't give animals as gifts. Don't accept an animal as a gift if you aren't 100% prepared to commit to that animal for the span of his or her life. If you really want to give someone a gift and they want a pet--make a donation to a shelter in their name and sponsor one of the animals there. It costs about the same and it'll help save a life instead of putting one potentially at risk.