2007_01_kitten.JPGThis made us totally sad: Shelters are getting ready for many pets to be dumped in the next few months. Many people receive pets as holiday gifts, but aren't able to deal with them. Animal Care & Control says that while some people complain that dogs are unruly, they don't admit they didn't take the time to train the dogs in the first place. Here are tips from the ASPCA on how to deal with your new pets:

* Pet-proofing your house by blocking access to garbage, food and furniture that could be damaged.
* Keeping your pet in a small room at first, expanding their domain gradually.
* Providing tons of exercise, including mental stimulation with chew toys filled with treats.
* Training your puppy using rewards. Hitting it breaks the bond between you and could cause fear and aggression.

Here are more tips from the ASPCA on dog care and cat care. And if anyone has been thinking about getting a new pet, it sounds like many purebred pets are left at the shelter during this post-holiday period.

Other things to know:
- During the winter, pets can get very dehydrated - the winter air can be dry. So make sure your pet's water bowl is kept full and fresh - and not frozen, if the bowl is outside. Also be careful of your pet ingesting chemicals used to de-ice sidewalks and streets.
- And even though chocolate tastes good to humans, it can be harmful to pets.

Photograph of kitten BARC Shelter in Williamsburg by lisacat on Flickr