ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- According to the ASPCA, shelters nationwide experience a spike in adoptions around the holiday season. But as you finish up your holiday shopping, local shelters are urging you to think twice before putting a four-legged friend under the tree. 

"We really don't want to see pets end up back at the shelter," says Arynn Brucie, Community Engagement Manager with the Chemung County SPCA. "If someone does get a pet as a gift and they decide down the road they don't want that adorable puppy when it's crazy, they usually come to us and we try to avoid that." 

Experts say the decision to add a pet to the family should be a well thought-out one; that means being sure your loved one is ready for the responsibility.

"What fits in their lifestyle," says Brucie. "[The] time commitment, finances, are they going to be able to pay for vet bills, food, water, that sort of thing."

That's why animal experts say surprising a loved one with a new furry friend may not be the best approach. But you can still make it fun. 

"The surprise element of it is the fun part," says Brucie. "If someone wants to come in and make the trip to the shelter a surprise, [you can] grab your significant other or your kids, come down to the shelter and pick out a pet as a family."

But if you do know your loved one is looking and ready for a new forever friend, there are still a few things to keep in mind--especially during the holiday season.

For example, is now the best time to adopt? If you'll be traveling, experts advise waiting until the holidays are over. 
This can also give you, or your loved one, enough time to be sure everyone is ready for such a commitment.