Weekly challenge: use common sense when giving a pet as a holiday gift

The Humane Society recommends against giving pets as holiday gifts to unsuspecting friends or loved ones who may not be prepared to take on that responsibility. Gift receivers who don’t want the hassle or cost of taking care of a high-maintenance pet often wind up donating it to an animal shelter.

“We see a variety of animals that were gifts,” said the Humane Society’s Cherie Wachter in this video interview posted on MSN. “The most recent example was a chocolate lab puppy who came in with her toenails painted red.”

Parents who are considering giving children pets as Christmas gifts should plan ahead and prepare their kids in advance to determine who’s going to change the cat’s litter box or take the dog for daily walks.

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Petco, the pet supply store chain, recommends these tips before giving an animal as a gift to a child including:

1. Go over a child’s wish list together to see if he or she will appreciate and care for a new pet.

2. Take your child to an animal shelter to confirm what breed or type of pet he or she wants. Petco also hosts monthly Meet the Critters events to get to know different breeds.

3. Thoroughly research the animal’s care, cost, maintenance, grooming and training requirements.

4. Once you’ve decided to add a new pet to the family, identify a good veterinarian in the local community.