Is a pet on your Christmas List? Ask yourself these 4 questions first.

With the holiday season coming up, many people may consider getting or gifting a pet.  After the holidays, the numbers of animals returned or abandoned at shelters increases at an alarming rate so make sure that you, your friend, or family member is prepared and committed before bringing home a pet or giving one to a loved one.


As a starting point, read on and make sure you can check off these boxes before you go down the road of adopting a new furry family member.

1. Are you ready to make a  lifetime commitment?

Dogs typically live for 10-13 years, and cats live for up to 16 years, so this long-term commitment should be taken into consideration. Over that time period, you may move, change jobs, even get married or have a child.  None of these are reasons to get rid of a pet, so make sure that you are willing to do what it takes to be dedicated to the animal you adopt for the rest of its life.

Is a pet on your Christmas List? - Time Management

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2. Are you or the potential owner ready for the financial responsibility?

On average, you can expect to spend somewhere around $1000 in the first year of owning a pet, if they are in good health & need only routine care.  This accounts for veterinary expenses, vaccinations, food & toys, collars and leashes, adoption fees, crates, and other incidentals.   If you travel frequently you may need to invest in a good pet sitter or safe boarding facility, and if your pet has a medical condition or needs training you’ll want to make sure you can provide that as well.  You should consider the cost of any pet rent or additional fees you may have to pay to your landlord if you are a renter.  If you can’t commit to the financial aspect of pet ownership right now, fostering can be a great alternative until you’re ready for a pet of your own.   Rescues will typically provide the medical care and supplies your foster pet needs while you provide  a  loving home and shelters often need fosters to provide temporary homes to young or recovering pets.  While the value and joy pets bring to our lives can’t be measured, financial considerations are necessary before adopting a pet.

Is a pet on your Christmas List? - Safety Concerns

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3. Has there been a long term interest or experience in owning a pet?

It’s clear that owning a pet comes with responsibilities, so it’s important you ensure this is a well-thought-out decision. If someone you know has only recently developed an interest in owning a pet, take everything into consideration. Ask them, or ask yourself, the hard questions:   Could this just be short term interest from a cute video or photo? Have they thought about the responsibilities of  bringing a pet into their family? Has this person owned a pet before?  Is everyone in the household committed to taking a pet into the home? You want to help make sure they’ve considered all the aspects of pet ownership to ensure they don’t find themselves dropping the animal off at a shelter if they decide it’s “not for them.” 


Dogs especially need training and socialization so they can feel comfortable in their new home, with strangers and with other animals. People with no experience owning a dog may need to invest in training and learn about caring for a pet.

4. Do you or the potential pet owner have the time to give to a pet’s care?

Pets require and deserve our time and care. While everyone may want to have a furry friend, it’s important to consider the time and energy needed for an animal’s health and happiness. Ask yourself or the potential pet owner: Do you have the time and resources to take them out for walks, spend time playing with them, to feeding them on a schedule and to give them the love and attention they need?


If you’re considering getting a dog but you work long hours, make sure you’re paying attention to their energy level to ensure you’re meeting their need to be active. If you’re unable to spend time with them outside for exercise and fun, you should probably wait to get a pet until you can commit to the time necessary to have a healthy, happy pet.

Is a pet on your Christmas List? - Which pet is right for you

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Anyone can be a good pet owner, whether or not they have previous experience. But, it’s important to seriously consider all aspects of owning a pet before moving forward to get a pet — during the holidays or any other time.

If you’ve checked all these boxes and you feel ready to own a pet, remember to adopt, don’t shop!  You can fall in love with your perfect holiday pal – dog or cat – during our Facebook Live Adoption events with Miami-Dade Animal Services, every Thursday at 11 a.m.! Click here to RSVP.

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