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The Perfect Pooch

Nov 21, 2010 08:17PM ● By Erin Frisch

Shelter Dog

Choosing the Best Shelter Dog for Your Family

Each year, millions of dogs enter our nation’s shelters, yet of the almost 59 million owned dogs in this country, fewer than 20 percent are shelter adoptees. “Nearly 60 percent of dogs in shelters are not strays, but pets whose families had to give them up because of a loss of income or a change in location,” says Dr. Nancy Pomerance, animal activist and author of seven books about pets. “These are faithful, loving dogs who just need a home and some love.”

Dr. Pomerance offers the following tips on choosing the right animal for your family:

1. Breed: Check online about the different breeds, their temperament, and physical characteristics. Find out all you can about the specific animal from shelter workers and volunteers.

2. Lifestyle: Think about your lifestyle and personality in terms of the kind of dog that would be more compatible with your home and your living situation.

3. Activity level: Assess the activity level and exercise requirements of the dog you are considering. Are you able to walk your dog several times a day and play with him?

4. Age: Do you want an active puppy that needs attention and training, a middle-aged dog with established behaviors, or an older, less-active dog?

5. Time: Do you have enough time for a quality relationship with a dog? Like children, they require attention, companionship, patience, and interaction. They also require socialization.

6. Budget: Research the costs of not only adopting a pet (adoption fee) but also veterinary care (spay/neuter, vaccinations, potential illness, regular checkups), toys, etc. Factor in costs of food and boarding while you’re away.

7. Space: Do you have sufficient room for a dog to move, eat, and sleep comfortably? Further, are you legally allowed to have a dog on the premises/in your community?

8. Shelter: Find out as much about the shelter from which you are adopting your pet as possible. What is its reputation? Is it a kill or no-kill shelter? What is the track record of the successful adoption of its dogs?

“Adopting a shelter dog is a lifetime choice, as these pets will likely spend the rest of their lives with you, and it is not something that should be taken lightly,” Dr. Pomerance adds. “That being said, it is a positive choice and one that will bring joy and love into your home and provide your family a loyal, caring companion.”

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