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January Is Month Of ‘Unwanted’ Pets

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January is renowned for being the month where people return their unwanted Christmas gifts, and there seems to be no exceptions for pets. According to new research by Confused.com more than one in ten (11%) people who have received a pet as a Christmas present have given it away.

Despite many people opting for modern gifts like tablets and smartphones, it seems pets are also a popular choice of present. In fact, the findings from the leading price comparison site reveal that more than a quarter (27%) of Brits have given a pet as a present. And many people appear to be ignoring the age old adage that a pet isn’t just for Christmas, with the research estimating more than three million Brits2 admitting to having bought someone a pet as a festive gift.

And it would seem that many celebrities are setting the trend for giving animals as gifts. In the earlier days of their relationship, instead of giving Kim Kardashian some flowers or a bit of bling, singer Kayne West decided to give her a white Persian kitten as a surprise gift. However, as TOWIE star James ‘Arg’ Argent found out, giving a pet as a present does not always end well.  After receiving a micro pig from ‘Arg’, partner Lydia Bright described it as the ‘worst ever Christmas present’ and in the end she had to give it away4.

A present is supposed to be something that the recipient appreciates, but as these celebrities have shown this isn’t the always the case when it comes to receiving a pet as a gift. In fact, of those people who have received a pet as a present, almost one in six (16%) weren’t happy with their gift. And more than one in 10 (11%) people were shocked at receiving a furry friend as a surprise present.

Perhaps then it’s not surprising to learn that many people who have been given a pet as a present can’t cope with the reality of owning an animal. Unfortunately, one in 14 (7%)5 people who have received a pet as a present have had to give it up as they were too much hard work. A further one in 20 (6%) gave up their pets as they didn’t have enough time to look after them.

It’s no secret that owning a pet takes a lot of time and commitment, so giving a pet as a surprise gift might not be the best thing to do. In fact, nearly one in 20 (4%) people who gave a pet as a present admitted they would never do it again.

Despite some people showing remorse at giving pets as presents, people are still doing it. In fact, the most popular pets given as presents are:

1.)   Dogs – 31%
2.)   Cat – 22%
3.)   Fish – 14%
4.)   Hamster – 10%
5.)   Rabbit – 6%

However, its worrying to know that of those people who have given a pet as a present, one in 10 (10%) didn’t do any research before making such a significant purchase. In fact, more than one in 20 (6%) people who have bought a pet as a present bought it as a last minute gift because they ran out of time. Yet, with people forking out on average £193 for these presents, you’d think Brits would have put a bit time and effort into choosing the right gift.

When it comes to giving animals as gifts, people may have good intentions, but fail to realise the consequences of their actions. Nearly a quarter (23%) of people who received a pet as a present has had problems with their animal, including the pet being ill on numerous occasions (30%).

The problems also extend to the financial outlay. A pet is a gift that keeps on giving in terms of love and affection. But it’s also one that goes on costing throughout its life. Since being given a pet as a present, people have forked out an average of £1,101 to look after them in terms of food, pet accessories not including any medical care/ veterinary bills. Interestingly, nearly one in five (18%) have spent over £2,000.

As the research shows owning a pet can be expensive, however it’s worrying to know that nearly half (48%) of people who have received as pet as a present aren’t protecting themselves against further costs, as they don’t have pet insurance.

Alex Webb, head of pet insurance at Confused.com says “It’s worrying to see how many unwanted pets there are in January, and how many pets have been given away after receiving them as a Christmas gift. However, this might not come as a surprise, when almost one in six (16%) people who received a pet as a gift weren’t happy with it.

“Pets aren’t a gift that can be given and forgotten about quickly.  Having a pet requires long term commitment and careful consideration should always be taken when buying a pet, whether the pet is for yourself or a gift for someone else.  With this in mind it’s shocking to see that over 10% of people who bought a pet as a present did so as a last minute purchase or as an impulse purchase.”

“As a nation we seem to have a love for animals and our pets become valued and much loved family members, however they are a big responsibility. Therefore we recommend that people are allowed to make their own choice on whether they want to own a pet. We understand that people want to give a unique gift that no one else would, but we urge people to think of the consequences of buying someone a pet as a present, for both the recipient and the pet itself.”

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