Did you add a new pet to your family? Some tips on helping a furry family member make the transition

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Whether by adoption or purchase, many families add a pet to their home during the holidays. Sadly, some of these animals are later abandoned after not "working out."

With that in mind, we spoke with a local animal advocate about ways new pet owners can help the animals adjust to their new environment.

Ideally, Maranda Mink with the Spay/Neuter Action Project (SNAP) says owners would spend time researching their decision beforehand. Is this animal a good fit for our home? Do we have the time needed to devote to a new pet? Can we afford the expense of food and necessary veterinary care?

But even if you've done your homework, you may be surprised when your new dog or cat exhibits stress, which can manifest in perceived behavioral problems.

Mink says an adjustment period must be expected.

"A lot of people will adopt a kitten or a cat or a dog and take it home and then, they're calling us back within 24 hours, saying I just don't think this is going to work out. It takes longer than 24 hours to let an animal adjust to a new home," she explains.

Many times, Mink says pets will hide. That's especially true of cats.

"They'll go hide under a bed or a sofa for days and you think, 'oh my gosh, what am I gonna do?' and then, you know they usually come around."

In rare instances, it becomes clear to the owners that the pet is not the right one for their family. In these cases, if the animal was a rescue, Mink urges the owners to contact the group leaders. With the animal's best interests at heart, they should be willing to take the pet back.

She also urges anyone who may have added a pet to their home to please have it spayed or neutered.

"There's so many advantages...with cats, of course, the males aren't going to mark like they do when they're not neutered and they're less likely to roam."

And, ultimately, it is the only way to reduce the unwanted pet population.

The Spay/Neuter Action Project (SNAP) is working toward that goal, by helping funding surgeries for the pets of low-income owners.

To support the need, SNAP will begin a new fundraiser on January 1. Participating businesses will offer "paw prints" for donations of $1 or more. Donations may also sent by mail to:

SNAP
P.O. Box 4450
Huntsville, Alabama  35815

And, there is a secure online donation site available that utilizes PayPal.

If you're an animal lover who would like to do more, there are also many volunteer opportunities, including fostering, adoption counseling, working in the SNAP Thrift Shop and more.