It may be on your holiday wish list, but the Toronto Humane Society is asking you to think twice before bringing home a brand new pet, especially during the holiday season.
The city's pet adoption and care organization says that the holidays are a hectic time and bringing home an animal companion may be quite a bit of shock for the pet owner and the new furry friend.
"There's lots of moving parts, lots of people coming over to visit and not a whole lot of structure and consistency," said Hannah Sotropa, spokesperson for the THS.
The rule is even more important if you're considering adoption, Sotropa says.
"When adopting a shelter animal, one thing they thrive on is having that routine, that schedule and a calm environment," she said.
"If you're looking at adopting, it might not be the best time to do it around the holiday season and you might want to look at doing it maybe in the New Year."
Sotropa has come up with four major considerations for anyone thinking about bringing a pet home: longevity, lifestyle, environment and budget.
Bringing home a pet is a big responsibility, Sotropa said.
"They are about a 15 to 17-year commitment," she said.
She says many animal lovers have what she calls the "crave wave" — when you have the craving for a pet.
Her advice is to "ride the crave wave" until you know for sure that it's the right time.
"Maybe revisit that [craving] at six-months-time. If your circumstances at home are the same and it's still a good time to take a puppy home, by all means, come and adopt a dog."
Is your current lifestyle open for a new companion? That's a question Sotropa is hoping prospective pet owners will ask themselves.
"How active are you? How can you fit in a little puppy and their needs into your daily routine?" she said.
"Also looking at things like your partnership… Does the animal get along with every member in the house or with the child or whomever else is in the family?"
A new pet will need a good place to stay and according to Sotropa, the pet's environment is very important to consider.
She advises making sure your home is pet-friendly and has all the fixings for a new four-legged family member, along with considering the different temperaments of the animal if you are going to adopt.
"Does the dog have sensitivity with unfamiliar people and sounds if you're in an apartment?" she asks.
"If you, all of a sudden, get a new job that requires you to travel more often, does your environment support you having someone come in and take care of your animal?"
Lastly, can you afford it?
Sotropa says that prospective pet owners should make sure they have the funds to support the animal.
"At minimum, the animal will require a regular vet visit once a year as well as annual vaccines," she said. "And then there's food and additional costs as well."
She also stresses having a proper backup plan for unexpected incidents, such as accidents or illnesses.
"Thinking about insurance and what you would do if something unexpected happened is going to help with setting you best up for success."