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It is not a good idea to give pets as gifts without a great deal of thought to assure that the recipient is interested and ready for the responsibilities that pet ownership entails. Remember, pets are for life, not for Christmas.

The time has come to get an animal. But before you rush off, we urge you to slow down and think! Getting an animal represents a commitment that may last well over a decade. Far too many animals are abandoned because people are guilty of acting first and thinking later. There are several factors that you should weigh carefully BEFORE you make your selection.

Think WHY do you want an animal? Introducing a pet into your household will not work unless everyone want it to work- adults as well as kids. No matter how faithfully the kids promise , it's unrealistic to expect them to shoulder the full responsibility for the pet's needs.

Think SIZE-where you live and how you live are important factors in selecting a pet; i.e., rural vs. city living. Many apartments have restrictions as to which animals, if any, are allowed.

Think CARE- Consider the differences in walking a dog several times a day vs. feeding a bird daily.

Think COST- In addition to food and other pet supplies, consider vet bills, vaccinations, training classes.

Think SOURCE- Where is a reputable place to buy your new pet?

Think BREED- What type dog would have the characteristics that would best suit your lifestyle? A good book to check out is THE PERFECT PUPPY by Lynette and Benjamin Hart. In their book they rate each breed on a scale from one to ten on a long list of characteristics including: demand for affection, trainability, aggression, playfulness, and tendency toward destructiveness.

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