Is there anything better than a puppy under the tree on Christmas morning? I totally understand the thought behind it. Animals are the best. Plus, studies have proven that growing up with a pet makes children more empathetic and teaches them responsibility. BUT, before you make that decision for someone, whether it's your kiddos, your grieving grandmother, or a family friend, there are a few things to consider.

1. Don't make it a surprise. Involve the person(s) that you want to gift the pet to. When we met Mika at the shelter (my beautiful pitty), she immediately jumped into my kiddo's lap and smothered him with kisses. It's extremely important that all parties are on board. I know what you're thinking - I know my kid wants a dog. Yes, but do you know if your kid will get along with the dog you pick? Let them bond before you bring him/her home. Plus, being able to pick an animal is all part of the fun, right? If I had a dollar for every time my kid reminds me that he picked out Mika, I'd be rich. ;)

2. Adopt. There are so many sweet and loving animals without fur-ever homes. I go to Paws and Claws every week and I can't believe the number of precious furballs that are left behind. The amount of love those animals have for those that take them in is legit off the charts.

3. Make sure your other pets are happy. If there are other animals in the house, this can't be stressed enough. How terrible would it be if you brought home a new dog, and the dog you've had for 5 years hates this new four-legged "enemy?" Serious question. Paws and Claws will let you come in with your other fur-babies for a meet and greet. It's worth the extra time.

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