New Jersey animal welfare advocates warn against gifting a dog or cat for your family this season without thoroughly thinking it through.

Ross Licitra, of the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, says after the holiday seasons is over and the good cheer is gone, the animal still needs to be cared for.

"We do see an increase of returned animals after the holiday seasons," he said.

"We do not like to see animals ever returned to the shelter, because, even though this is a beautiful facility, it is not place for an animal to be. An animal wants to be home with its family in a loving situation."

Licitra says the pet needs continued care, and that includes the cost of food and veterinary care. If it's a dog, it needs walking.

"People have to understand that there is a huge responsibility that comes with having a pet."

"You have to consider your space, you have to consider your neighbors, you have to consider your time.

"What is your lifestyle like? Do you have the time to properly take care of this animal? Does it need to be walked, or do you have a fenced in yard?

"And you know the other big expense that we see that a lot of people do not account for, is the veterinary costs that come along with taking care of an animal."

Licitra says the big responsibility is the biggest thing that people lose sight of.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.

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