Before giving a pet as a holiday gift …

Surprising a loved one with a furry friend during the holiday season can make for the ultimate gift. However, there are some major things to consider when shopping for the perfect pet.

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Before buying or rescuing your new friend, make sure you’re ready for the commitment and you’ve done your research to avoid scams.

BBB offers these tips to help you pick the perfect pet:

• Make sure your family and home are prepared to take care of your new pet for the next decade or so. Can you afford the initial cost and ongoing costs, such as medical care, licensing, food, grooming and toys? Is your home large enough to accommodate this new family member? Does your family have the time to devote to this pet?

• Search for breeders and businesses that meet standards and maintain proper living conditions for their animals. Ask breeders for references and contact people who have bought puppies from them in the past. Consider adopting from your local animal shelter or buying locally. Check or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301 for a list of BBB Accredited Businesses and Charities, as well as detailed reports on ones you're considering.

• Avoid ads online or in newspapers that advertise low or special rates and ask for a wired or cash payment. Unless you can visit the owner or breeder before you pay and bring home your puppy personally, avoid buying from out of state. It’s very likely these are scams and you will be out the money you pay and will not receive your pet. Always verify paperwork from the seller and make sure the price you are given makes sense. If the price is unusually low, it’s a red flag.

• Find the type of pet that fits your family the best. Do you want a lap dog, a guide dog, a small cat or maybe a gerbil?

• After making your decision, ask for medical records for any treatment your pet might have received. Make sure to take this information to the vet within the first few days of bringing your pet home.

• Get everything in writing and keep copies of any records that relate to your new pet.

Seeing a loved one’s excitement for a sweet furry face this holiday season may seem ideal. But be sure to do your research before getting the little one, so you and your family are fully prepared for the major responsibility that is a pet.

John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau.

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