Pets as presents
If you are thinking of giving a pet as a present, don't. The person on the receiving end may not be prepared to commit to the animal's lifetime, which could last any time between 3 years and 20 years (refer below for the lifespans of various pets). The temptation to get that cute furry pet may be hard to resist, but please consider the animal's welfare!
Often, animals that are gifted as presents end up getting abandoned when the novelty wears off. Many parents often make the mistake of giving into their child's demands and get a live animal as a gift to make the child happy. However, without the right mindset and preparation, this usually ends in tears and frustration.
Just like us, pets need balanced diets, a safe and secure place to call home, obedience training, exercise, veterinary treatment when they fall ill, annual check-ups and vaccinations, and plenty of attention from their owners. These responsibilities last the animal's lifetime. What happens when the person loses interest in keeping the pet? Are the parents willing to become the primary caretaker of the pet? Will the responsibility be transferred back to the person who gave the animal as a gift?
Pets as free gifts and prizes
We have also received feedback about animals (e.g. fish) being given away at promotions or used as prizes in games at fairs and events organised by schools or other organisations. These practices are not permitted in Singapore and violate animal welfare. Instead of fostering responsible pet ownership, it teaches people to take lives lightly. Acquired on impulse in an atmosphere of excitement, most do not have any consideration for the animals’ welfare. Some animals die shortly after, or face an uncertain future where provision of proper care is concerned.
Continuing such promotions gives our future generations the impression that living things can be regarded as play things used for amusement.
Give (and educate) the right way
Instead of trying to teach our children responsibility by thrusting a pet upon them, we can take them on trips to visit local animal shelters to understand the work that goes behind keeping a pet. Help them understand the challenges local shelters face and allow them a chance to experience for themselves how it feels to be around an animal. Parents can decide if they are ready for a pet after speaking to volunteers and staff at these shelters.
Give your friends and loved ones the gift of life not by giving them a pet. Donate to an animal shelter on their behalf or sponsor a shelter animal under their name. Meanwhile, let your friends and loved ones decide for themselves when they are ready for a pet.
Lifespan of popular pets
The following is a guide to the expected lifespan of popular pets:
Dogs and cats – up to 18 years
Rabbits – up to 12 years
Hamsters – 2 to 3 years
Gerbils – 2 to 4 years
Mice – 2 years
Guinea Pigs – 5 to 7 years
Red-Eared Sliders (commonly known as Terrapins) – up to 50 years
Note: We do not encourage the keeping of the Red-Eared Slider as pets due to the long term commitment needed. Many of these animals end up neglected, kept in plastic containers for most of their lives without any concern for their welfare. Others are illegally released into the environment and damages our ecosystem as Red-Eared Sliders are not native to Singapore.