With Christmas time upon us, many people think a cute puppy or kitten is the perfect gift. Before you find yourself with a new pet under the tree Christmas morning, consider the reasons to wait until after the holidays to bring home a new furry friend.

1. Adopting a new family pet is a lifelong commitment, not an impulse purchase. You need to make sure the entire family is on board and understands the responsibilities that come with pet ownership.

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

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

4. 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!

5. 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.

If you really want to add a new pet to the family, buy the collar, leash, toys, bedding and pet books and place those under the tree.

After the holidays are over, you can go as a family to adopt your 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.

Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a 501c3 nonprofit. ARNO operates a volunteer-based, no-kill shelter in the Elmwood Industrial section of Jefferson Parish and depends upon the generosity of people from all over the country who have followed them since Katrina. Contact ARNO at arno.advocate@gmail.com or leave a message at 504.571.1900