While gifting puppies or kittens can bring joy filled memories to children that are priceless (lasting a lifetime), it can also generate pets which are given away, discarded in shelters and ultimately euthanized across the USA post holiday if done willy-nilly.
All rescuers know how this works. We see it post Christmas (puppies, kittens and sometimes adult cats and dogs) and then post Easter (bunnies, chicks and ducks).
The issue isn't when a responsible adult decides to add a member to the family and picks a holiday to create an awesome surprise, but it happens when adults actually look at living beings as casual "toys" and do not consider the weight of the gift of a living animal.
Folks, pets aren't toys. They are responsibilities, and they are YOUR (the adult) responsibility, not little Bobby's or Sue's.
When your child decides taking the puppy out for a walk or feeding her or cleaning up poop isn't her thing, you, as the adult, are still obligated to see through your decision to purchase a living creature and bring her into the house as part of the family. This is true when it comes time to pay medical costs, too.
That is part of the package of responsible pet ownership. Animals are excellent ways to help children learn responsibility, but they should never be the sole responsibility of a child, and the decision to bring one into a home should never be based on whether the child follows through with care.
Frankly, if a child doesn't follow through, then neither does the adult, I guess we can see where the child gets it from, right? Except children have an excuse that is valid. . .they are kids. You, as the parent, should know better.
Last year, we gave two little pug mixes to our boys.
The joy has lasted the year. They have destroyed most of the things in the house. One sometimes will pee on the couch, too.
From the time they opened the gift bags until today when this photo was taken while one of the boys was napping with them, these little pups have been a wild adventure, and they will continue to be for years to come because we knew what we were getting into, and this parent (yours truly) knew most of the work would fall on me. . .the parent.
That is cool.
Proper planning prevents piss poor performance the Marine Corps says, and it is true.
As we approach Christmas, think long and hard about the long term commitment a pet of any kind is, and once you're sure that - hell or high water - you are dedicated to being a caregiver when the cute and new wears off, consider a dog or cat in a shelter or re-homing situation first, and regardless of where the pet comes from (These pups weren't from the shelter, though most all of our dogs are rescued), make sure you mean to treat him/her as a family member once he arrives.