With the holidays and the gift-giving season upon us, many people think a cute puppy or kitten is the perfect present. Before putting a new pet under the tree on Christmas morning, however, consider the reasons for waiting until after the holidays to bring home a new, furry friend.

Adopting a family pet is a lifelong commitment, not an impulse purchase. The entire family should be on board and understand the responsibilities that come with pet ownership.

Pets should not be surprises. An aunt may seem lonely, but that does not mean she wants to clean a litter box and have the expenses of vet care, medication, food, grooming and more that come with owning a pet.

A new pet should be introduced to the family in a calm atmosphere. The hustle and bustle of the holidays do not make for a calm environment.

Puppies grow up to be dogs and kittens to cats. Long after the new toys have been tossed aside, the new, once-small puppy, which is now 50-plus pounds, will still need love, care and attention. Pets can live upwards of 20 years!

Pets are members of the family and should live indoors with the family. Once the newness wears off, Fluffy does not want to be tossed outdoors and forgotten.

Those who really want to add a pet to the family should consider buying the fun accessories that come with a new pet — the collar, leash, toys, bedding and pet books — and placing those under the tree. After the holidays, the family can go together to adopt its new furry friend. Pet ownership is a wonderful experience, and when the whole family is involved and knows the responsibilities and commitment that come with owning a pet, the experience will be a positive one for all.

Events

PET ADOPTION EVENT: The LA/SPCA will hold a pet adoption event and bake sale from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20, at Clearview Mall, 4436 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie. Adoption counselors and volunteers will be on hand to help families select the right pet. For information, call (504) 368-5191 or visit la-spca.org.

HEARTWORM FUND SUPPORT: The Louisiana SPCA will be wrapping gifts in exchange for donations to the Heartworm Fund from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday through Wednesday, Dec. 20-24, at Clearview Mall,4436 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie. For information, call (504) 368-5191 or visit la-spca.org.

REDUCED ADOPTION FEES: The Louisiana SPCA has reduced adoption fees to $12 through the end of 2014. The reduced fee will apply to adult cats, adult dogs and kittens adopted at the Louisiana SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., and offsite. For information, call (504) 368-5191 or visit la-spca.org.

LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, you can send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact information to lostandfound@la-spca.org. In Jefferson Parish, email molsen@jeffparish.net and bbourgeois @jeffparish.net, and in St. Bernard Parish, email cluna@sbpg.net.

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at animal rescuecolumn@gmail.com, www.animalrescuenew orleans.org or call its recorded information line at (504) 571-1900.