Adding a pet to someone's family is a highly personalized, long-term decision. A family should feel a "click" with the pet and be sure this particular pet is a perfect match for their family. This can only be accomplished by interacting with the pet before making him or her a permanent member of your family.
So, sometimes surprising someone with the gift of an actual pet can backfire! A fun way to get someone a pet for Christmas without actually giving a live animal is to buy a stuffed dog or cat and have it sitting with the gifts. You can purchase some of the equipment for the pet like a carrier, leash or bed and have the stuffed animal all decked out in gear.
Then you can attach a note or "Pet Promise Certificate" saying everyone will go together to pick out their new pet after the holidays. That way you still keep the element of surprise, but in case it's unwanted, no animals are affected.
If someone is absolutely set on giving a pet as a gift, it's really important to make sure the recipient has expressed a sustained interest in having a pet, has the ability to care for him or her, and has the time and means to be a responsible owner.
We highly recommend pets be obtained from animal shelters, rescue organizations (like BHA) or responsible breeders where staff will work with you to make sure the fit is perfect and the animal is healthy.