NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – If you’re thinking of giving a pet for the holidays, there are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.

Nothing is more adorable than the “surprise” of a new pet, but Sandra DeFeo from the Humane Society of New York says that’s not the way to go.

Web Extra: Furry Friend Finder

“We’ve had several interesting stories over the years of how we received animals for adoption because they were a gift to someone and they weren’t ready for the responsibility,” she said.

She says it’s much better to have the person help pick out their dog or cat, and that’s after researching the breeds you’re considering.

“Maybe you have a dog that needs to be walked a lot, or a lot of exercise and you don’t have the time to do that. Then your dog is going to become neurotic and destructive in the home,” DeFeo told CBS2’s Cindy Hsu.

Pablo is a New York City dog, and his owner is Rora Tanaka. Tanaka actually got Pablo last year for her 84 year old mother in California. She thought he’d be a good companion.

“But when my mother saw the dog, she just looked at me and just said ‘Uh, I can’t do it,'” Tanaka said.

So Tanaka ended up keeping him, which was not the plan.

DeFeo says if you’re determined to surprise someone, you can give them a stuffed animal with a note.

“So here’s the stuffed animal and my promise to help pay for the adoption donation,” DeFeo said. “Buy the harness, the leash, the food, get you started.”

That way everyone can be involved in the process of finding the right pet, and making sure it’s the right time to get one.

Two years ago for Christmas, Hsu adopted her dog Lilo for her daughter Rosie. That was after years of Rosie begging for a dog. But before Lilo joined the Hsu family, Rosie had to write an essay outlining her responsibilities of feeding, walking and cleaning up after Lilo.

The contract is posted front and center on the refrigerator, and so far, so good, Hsu reported.

It’s important to remember that caring for a pet is a commitment that can last 15-20 years.