Christmas will soon be upon us with family meals and parties and gift exchanges. The holiday brings a lot of excitement with planning and searching for the perfect gift for the people we love and cherish. What so many do not understand is that purchasing a live animal as a gift is a tremendous mistake, for the person receiving the gift and the animal. Our companions need time to settle into the household routine while it is quiet and we have time to comfort and support them. The busy holiday season does not provide for either of these important transition needs. Many see a beautiful puppy, kitten or baby bird or even the adult bird in a pet store and think wow, how cute and what a perfect gift to keep Grandma, Grandpa, Dad or Mom company. Do you know for sure that the receiver of the gift really wants a companion animal? Are they physically capable of caring for the animal? Was it something they mentioned in passing when seeing a young animal at a pet store? Do they have the financial capability to provide for the animal? These are all questions you should ask yourself. How would you feel about receiving a companion animal without warning and time to prepare?
All companion animals require much preparation on the human’s part as well as a large amount of education in order to provide a good, stable and loving home that provides the animal with all it needs. I believe most recues and shelters actually dread Christmas season because they know by February they will be caring for another large population of animals that were given as gifts. You will find that many rescues do not allow adoptions during the month of December and many carry it over to January to prevent the use of gift money to allow for impulse adoptions.
Sometimes I am asked why it I so “hard” to adopt a parrot and many want a “free bird”. Here is the problem with both concepts. We do not intentionally make it hard to adopt a parrot. Yes, it is a multi step process. There is the adoption application, home visit and then the required bonding visits that must be completed before the adoption is finalized. This is all to help ensure that the adoptive family is serious, educated and committed to provide the care their companion parrot will require. Not everyone is able to provide the time, attention, medical care, diet, etc that a parrot requires. As for a “free bird”, there is no such thing! When you take your companion parrot home there will be the expense of the adoption fee/purchase price, if a pet store, an appropriate sized cage, appropriate base pellet diet, multiple toys, perches, a play stand and a vet exam with blood work. To adopt a Macaw the expense can be around $1500, if purchasing from a pet store, almost double that cost. Does this sound like a “free” bird to you? All of thee factor are the same if you give a parrot a gift.
Parrots live 15-80 years depending on the species. The beautiful little Parakeet you saw at the pet store and purchased a gift will possibly live to be 15 years old. Will the human have that much life span left? Do they know that birds are messy, loud, destructive and extremely intelligent, yes, even Parakeets? Large birds are a lifetime commitment, are you sure the person wants that type of commitment? Please do not give parrots as gifts EVER! Rescues are already full and overburdened with unwanted companion animals, do not add to that travesty by giving a companion animal as a gift.