Everyone says man's best friend is a dog.
But in today's society, there are thousands of K-9s housed in shelters, unable to run free and give the love and affection they so desperately want to share with a family.
That's why the American Humane Association has proclaimed October as Adopt-A-Dog Month, with the hope of giving a few of these caged-up pups a second chance.
"Dogs are some of the best companions you could ever ask for," said Lindsey Croll of the Hazleton Animal Shelter. "So many of them are homeless because of the economy, poor ownership, and just plain old bad judgment. All of them deserve a second chance at a lifelong home."
If you are considering adopting a dog, now is the perfect time to start looking. Your new best friend may be only a shelter visit away.
Is a dog right for me?
Dogs are wonderful creatures, but they come with a lot of responsibility.
Unlike their feline counterparts, dogs need more attention, such as being let out to go to the bathroom, taken for walks, and trained.
"Don't adopt a dog unless you are 100 percent sure you are willing to commit your time and energy to helping a homeless dog become a lifelong family pet," said Croll. "It's very traumatic for them to be adopted out, only to be returned in a few days or weeks because they aren't working out for whatever reason.
"Make sure you want to take on the energy it requires for training a dog or don't go through with getting an animal's hopes up, only to have them come back into a shelter environment."
Julie Stevens of Julie's HUGS (Helping Us Get Safe) in Barnesville also stresses that the person must be willing to commit to the dog and provide a safe and loving environment, and take it to the vet.
"They must be willing to take the dog at least once a year for an annual checkup and shots, to have the dog heartworm tested if needed and to supply the dog with Interceptor or equivalent to prevent heartworms," she said. "They must also be willing to exercise the dog, take it for walks, (give it) access to food and water, and love it and keep the dog inside."
Stevens says when someone is looking at adopting one of the animals she cares for, she likes to sit down and discuss the person's lifestyle to see if a dog is right for them.
Some questions she provided that potential pet owners can ask themselves before deciding to adopt a dog include:
• What breed of dog do you want?
• Do you or anyone in your family have allergies?
• Are there young children in the home?
• Does your spouse want a pet?
• Does everyone want a dog?
• Do you have the time to spend with a dog?
• Do you want a puppy or adult dog?
• Are you willing to house train a dog if needed?
Time to start looking
You've thought about getting a dog, weighed all your options, and reached a decision.
Now it's time to start looking for a new member of the family. But what's the next step?
Check out local animal shelters to see if there is a dog that you want to make your own.
"There are more dogs out there in shelters that need homes, than people out there w