There are some occasions in which receiving a gift is far more stressful than it is flattering. Nobody likes having to repackage unwanted gadgets or clothes, search for receipts and find a way to get them back to the retailer. But when you’ve been given a pet you did not ask for, you’ll need to do more than print a packing label to find an appropriate home for your new gift. When you receive a pet as a gift, it becomes your responsibility. That is why it is not a great idea to give a pet to someone unless it is completely certain that the person wants to care for it and has demonstrated that they can be trusted with it.
But still, it happens, and if you find yourself in this situation, it is important to remember that even though you didn’t choose to receive the gift, it wasn’t the animal’s choice either, and it is still important to do everything you can to make sure it ends up in a good home. Before you make any decisions, assess whether you could in fact care for the animal. But if that simply is not an option for you, there are resources to help.
If Possible, Get Help from the Person Who Gave the Pet
Depending on the kind of relationship you have with the person who gifted you the pet, you’ll likely want to let them know as soon as possible that you cannot keep the pet. Though they surely had good intentions, they should understand that it is not a fit and help you find a proper home for the pet. Don’t be afraid of hurting their feelings.
It may happen that you have reservations about whether or not the person who gave you the pet will indeed seek a good destination for it. After all, many people choose to dump or abandon unwanted animals, or give them out to anybody who shows interest, without vetting their suitability. If you are unsure or doubtful that the person will have the pet’s best interest in mind, it is probably best to proceed without their help.
Contact Local No-kill Animal Shelter
If you do not have time to seek out and vet potential adopters, or the means to adequately care for the pet temporarily, the best option is to contact a local shelter, but you’ll want to make sure it is a no-kill shelter for the sake of the animal. If you can, review more than just one to make sure you choose a shelter with ethical practices and a good reputation for re-homing animals successfully. The shelter may have resources to help you find a new owner to take good care of the pet, as well as training resources and other help if you do decide to keep the pet.
Asking Friends, Family, Neighbors
You may want to check with friends, family, and neighbors to see if anybody is interested in taking the pet home. As mentioned above, local shelters can often advise on how to vet potential adopters. Make sure anybody who shows interest is capable of taking good care of an animal long-term. Ask questions about their pet history, their living situation, whether they have other pets and how they plan to care for them.
Know the Dangers of Giving Away Pets to Strangers
It may be tempting to offer the pet on community discussion boards, at a fair or flea market, etc. But it’s important to know that many people who aim to harm pets, deal dogs for fighting, or have other cruel intentions are often looking for verbiage such as “Free Pet to A Good Home.” If you plan to search for potential adopters by these avenues, be prepared to vet them carefully as well. State expectations up front, such as conducting a home check and obtaining veterinarian references.
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