Kristen_LevineSo you’re thinking about adopting a pet over the holidays and you’re wondering…is it a good idea or not?

When I began my pet-centric career over a decade ago at the SPCA of Tampa Bay, we warned people about holiday pet adoption. After all, it’s already a hectic time with guests, house decorating, preparing food, vacations and irregular schedules. Adding a new pet to the mix isn’t always the best idea.

At the time, there was also the concern that animals given or received during the holidays would not be welcomed and end up being returned to the shelter. Or worse…dumped in the streets.

Since then, ideas about holiday pet adoption have evolved. These days, more and more shelters not only allow, but encourage, adoptions during the holidays. And that’s great news for the nation’s 7.6 million shelter pets who need homes all year long!

Of course, no matter what time of year you adopt a furry family member, preparation is key. So before you head off to your local adoption fair, ask yourself these questions:

Do you have time?

ThinkstockPhotos-467416967 (1)Although the holidays are busy, it can actually be a good time to adopt since your family may be spending more time at home. Take a close look at your schedule and be honest about whether you are able make special accommodations to welcome a new pet.

Have you done your research on Adopting a Pet?

It can be easy to fall for that cute little puppy you see online, but is it really the right fit for your family? Think about your family’s lifestyle (active, homebodies, etc.) and then make an informed decision about the age, size and breed of pet that would be best.

Do you have realistic expectations?

puppy-sleeping-on-pillowSure, the kids may the ones begging for a new kitten and promising they’ll be totally responsible for their care. But don’t be fooled! At the end of the day, the adults are ultimately fully responsible for that fuzzy little face.

Are you ready for the commitment?

Remember, pets are for life, not just for Christmas. Dogs can live 10 – 15 years, and cats even longer. Make sure you’re ready to devote the next decade or so to your furry family member.


Finally, if you decide that your schedule doesn’t allow you to bring home a pet during the holidays, why not take a different approach that might be even more fun?

Wrap up supplies like leashes, collars and bowls and put them under the tree for the kids. After the presents are opened, spend time getting your home ready and having family discussions about the pet. Then, head to the shelter after Christmas to pick out your next best friend!

To read more about how to welcome a new pet into your family, you can also check out our infographic.