There is a lot to consider before choosing a pet, especially if you're thinking about gifting it to someone else
PHILADELPHIA -- A pet can be a wonderful gift for the holiday season, especially for kiddos who have been begging for a furry friend, but it's only a good idea if the person you are buying for is ready for that kind of commitment.
Animal experts share some tips to make sure gifting a pet is a good idea.
Hundreds of animals, like Bear, are available for adoption this holiday season.
"He's a smart boy. But you're not allowed to have treats because you're too fat. You're too fat for treats," said Maddie Bernstein, director of lifesaving at PSPCA Philly.
The six-year-old pup is ready for an adventure -- while on a diet of course.
"He's a pretty good mixture of really high energy or moderate energy, so he'll play when you want to play, he'll walk when you want to walk, but he'll sleep when you want to sleep," Bernstein said.
However, Bernstein said there is a lot to consider before choosing a pet, especially if you're thinking about gifting it to someone else.
If the pet is for a child, parents should be prepared to take on much of the responsibility.
"We want the person who's going to be primarily responsible for caretaking for the pet to be the person meeting and choosing their pet, so the holidays are a really wonderful time to go as a family and think about what you're looking for and to meet pets together," Bernstein said.
Staff at ACCT Philly also say it's important for the entire family to meet a potential pet before an adoption, adding that there are still ways to surprise someone if it's their gift.
"You can give them a dog bone with a ribbon tied around it and say, 'My gift to you is I'm going to pick out the dog with you and pay the adoption fee,'" suggested Sarah Barnett, executive director of ACCT Philly.
Barnett said someone receiving a pet as a gift is more likely to keep it if they make that initial bond and are ready to commit.
The 6abc data journalism team found that recent studies show that more people have returned dogs more than any other pet within a six-month period. Data also shows 36% of people say behavior was the main reason, followed by 18% who said they weren't compatible with the dog and then 12% who realized after adoption that housing would be an issue.
Area shelters often find themselves at crisis capacity and say pets deserve to be welcomed into a settled environment.
"If you have a bunch of out-of-town family visiting, that is not the time to bring a dog home," Barnett said.
Those who are staying home for the holidays in a calm environment might also want to consider temporarily fostering a pet, providing a few belly rubs until you decide whether permanent adoption is right for you.