It's Christmas morning, and inside a ventilated box with a big red bow on it is a small puppy in its new home.

While the scenario seems sweet and like a TV commercial, the moment does not last forever.

Cats and dogs are often adopted for holiday presents, which make great Facebook post and photos, but millions of animals are returned to shelters each year.

The dogs get bigger – sometimes more than one expects –, are hard to train, living situations change and people lose interest.

Make sure you and your child are ready to take in a pet by following these steps: 

1. Money – Cats and dogs can cost $300-500 a year between medication, food, boarding and other expenses. 

2. Moving – Southwest Louisiana is a military community with Fort Polk being right in the center. Soldiers and their families sometimes have to pack up and leave with little notice. Pets are part of the family now, but sometimes, moving with an animal in the military can be complex.

Going to places like Hawaii or Korea will force your animals to be quarantined for a period of time. Moving places across the country can be stressful for the animal and for the family. If a soldier is deployed, the spouse is now in charge of taking care of the pet.

Certain breeds of dogs – pit bulls and chows, for example– are not allowed in apartment complexes or rental properties. It could be the best dog in the world, but it is the landlord's property, and they make the rules.

3. Time – Pets require attention, check-ups, exercise and grooming, which takes up a lot of time. A parent may believe that their child will be the one taking care of the pet, however, in a majority of cases, it falls on the adult to take care of the animal.

4. Size – It seems obvious, but puppies grow. That small, 10-pound black lab you adopted fits perfectly on your lap for a month or two, but it's going to grow. . . fast. Checking with a veterinarian prior to adopting or just doing research on the type of dog you want can help. But, a dog's age or breed at a shelter is not always 100 percent accurate.

5. Want – It's another one that seems obvious. Do you want a pet? Does your child want a pet? Are you doing it just for Instagram? Would it be more beneficial to just go to a dog park and observe? 

Do not buy a pet for a family member without permission. You can return a sweater but it is a lot harder to return a pet.