ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — Escambia County Animal Welfare wants you to to be cautious before giving the gift of a new pet this holiday season. 

“Adding an animal to your family is an important decision, so you need to research it makes sure it’s right,” said John Robinson, director of Escambia County Department of Animal Welfare. “You don’t want to just surprise someone with something they’re not expecting or not prepared for.”

They want to remind you of the lifelong commitment that comes with being a pet owner, and its many responsibilities so that these animals do not end up back in the shelter.

“Some people just can’t,” said Robinson. “They’re not in the financial position or their living arrangements aren’t right so they end up returning the animal or trying to find another home for it, or they’re just not cared for the way they should be cared for.”

If you are ready to welcome a new pet to your family, you’re encouraged to adopt not shop.

“We have lots of great animals here, whether it’s dogs or cats, and I think it’s important that you adopt,” said Robinson. “There’s a lot of animals that are needing homes in our community.”

Any pet that is adopted from the Escambia County Animal Shelter is spay or neutered, microchipped and has their initial vaccinations.