WARWICK-What is cuter than a new puppy sleeping under a Christmas tree on Christmas morning? Or a child's surprised face when that kitten she always wanted is curled up in a gift basket amongst her toys? These are memories a child will hold for a lifetime but how about the new pet? Will that commitment last a lifetime or, like so many of the other gifts under the tree, will your child tire of it before Valentine's Day? These are some of the considerations parents must ponder before going out and buying that much requested pet at the holidays. "I don't believe in giving animals as gifts," said Suzyn Barron of the Warwick Valley Humane Society. "Having a pet is a longtime commitment. It should not be a surprise." Barron suggests getting a gift certificate to the animal shelter instead of choosing the animal for someone. "Let them pick it out," she said. "They have to make a connection with an animal. It should touch your heart. This should be a full family commitment." Dogs and cats aren't the only animals given as gifts at the holidays. Dave Gaudreau has owned the Hometown Pet & Supply at Merchants Square in Warwick for about five years. Cats and dogs are about the only animals he doesn't sell. His store is full of pet foods and supplies and his back room has rabbits, hamsters, mice, guinea pigs, hedgehogs, iguanas, snakes, fishjust about anything you could imagine. Gaudreau said people should know what they can handle before they buy a pet. They should do their homework to see just what is involved in caring for the pet. "Snakes are very easy to take care of," Gaudreau said, "but many people don't like snakes. Fish are a great start for little kids. They can look but not touch. There is just enough responsibility to feed them and clean the tank once in a while." Hamsters and rabbits are good to start out with, he added, but need more care, such as cleaning the cage.