8 things to consider before adopting a pet this holiday season

Adopting a pet for the holidays couldn’t be easier at Gwinnett Animal Welfare and Enforcement’s Bill Atkinson Animal Welfare Center, 884 Winder Highway in Lawrenceville or the Atlanta Humane Society at 1565 Mansell Road in Alpharetta.

The Atlanta Humane Society in Alpharetta currently lists adoption fees ranging from $75 to $375 depending on the type and size of the pet.

All adoptions at Gwinnett Animal Shelter are free this month and include spay/neuter, microchipping and each pet’s first round of vaccinations. Heartworm medication, if needed, is also provided at no cost. All saving new pet owners hundreds of dollars.

“If folks aren’t ready to adopt, maybe they want to try out the animal -- we’re always in need of fosters,” said Gwinnett County Deputy Director Community Services Lindsey Jorstad. “Even if that pet still needs additional medical services or follow-up treatment we work with that foster family to keep the pet ready to be fully adopted.”

Unwrapping a new kitten or puppy on Christmas morning can easily be a lifelong special memory for a family, but before making that cuddly commitment we’ve gathered a few practical questions your family should consider:

· Do your work and family activities allow time to bond and care for a pet?

· Do you have enough living space to accommodate a pet?

· If you rent, does your property allow pets?

· If you own a home, does your HOA have any restrictions on number or size of pets?

· All communities have noise ordinances. Will you be able to train your pet to avoid disturbances?

· For a dog, will you have a safe location to walk and play with your pet? Consider the size, age and needs of your pet.

· Can you afford crates, collars, leashes and pet food?

· Can you afford ongoing medical care? (Many adoption centers offer discount vaccinations.)

“With the cost of everything increasing, we’re seeing a lot of our families coming to us needing additional animal food,” noted Jorstad. “If there is ever a need our residents have to safely keep their pet at home, we’re going to try to accommodate them.”

On Dec. 17, Gwinnett Animal Welfare will hold its annual Home for the Pawlidays event. “From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. families and individuals can bring their pets to the center and get their photos with Santa,” said Jorstad. “We’ve got cute little backdrops and of course anyone adopting that day gets this photo opportunity.”

The Atlanta Humane Society has a similar event, Holiday Pet Pics at 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at The Works, 1295 Chattahoochee Avenue Northwest in Atlanta.

Find a pet, see shelter hours and all the details at www.tinyurl.com/GwinnettAnimalShelter and www.tinyurl.com/AtlHumaneAlphartta.