12/13/2013 02:48 pm ET Updated Feb 12, 2014

Tips to Help You Find the Perfect Pet

Picking the right pet can be tough. It goes beyond just getting "the cute one." You need to ask yourself some important questions before deciding. It also helps to have someone like Bonnie Tischler, the Adoption Director at the Humane Society of New York, who has been matching pets and humans for over 15 years. Bonnie has been responsible for thousands of successful animal adoptions and has a few tips to help guide you in the right direction.

What if...?
It's important to consider all the possibilities before you make a commitment. If there is a medical emergency in the middle of the night, where will you go? If you get a pet and work full-time, who will take care of him while you are gone? What if you discover that you are allergic to animals? Have you checked your lease? Some apartments have strict rules against pets. Just because your neighbor has a dog doesn't mean that you're allowed to have one.

Do your homework.
Pets bring much joy, but like a child, they depend on you for their well-being. It's a big responsibility, so make sure you know exactly what you are getting into. Pets can be costly, and you need to be financially prepared. Some animals are prone to food allergies. Are you willing to cook for them or buy special food? Did you know parrots can live up to 80 years? Or that cats won't think twice about jumping out a window to chase a bird?

Discuss with all parties involved, including other pets!
Make sure your roommate, spouse, kids, and anyone else who may interact with this pet is okay with it. Never give a pet as a gift -- you are expecting someone else to be responsible for the life of the animal. Because they may not be up for that responsibility, many of those "gifts" end up in shelters. If you have other pets in the house, how do you think they will react? It's always best for dogs to meet on neutral territory for the first time. Cats are a little easier to introduce to each other. But since they can be finicky about their territory, you want to make sure they are comfortable with each other.

Consider adoption from a shelter.
You can find just about every breed of dog or cat in your local shelter. What should you expect? A good shelter will know their animals medically and behaviorally. All of the HSNY animals are looked after by their vets until they get adopted. A skilled adoption counselor will make a match based on your lifestyle and personality, instead of just picking out "that brown one you saw online." Adopting an animal shouldn't be an impulsive decision; take your time. Many shelters also do some obedience training, so ask if a dog is housebroken or knows basic commands.

Not everyone needs a puppy.
Try to keep an open mind. At the Humane Society of New York, there are a range of ages from puppies and kittens to senior dogs and cats. Consider adopting an older pet. They're looking for homes too. All types of pets can end up in the shelter for various reasons, so you never know who could be waiting for you!

The Humane Society of New York is an independent, no-kill animal shelter and affordable animal clinic. Seven days a week, they are responsible for hundreds of animals with diverse needs, helping over 36,000 animals annually. For many, the Society is the only place they will find help. 100% of donations go directly to animal programs. Please visit for more information and to participate in their Crowdrise Holiday Challenge, click HERE.