How to pick the right shelter pet



By Shafonda Davis



You've decided to add a pet to your family. Congratulations!


Now comes the big question. Which one should you choose?


More animals than you might imagine are available in Triangle shelters. Each critter has its own set of needs for daily care, nutrition, housing and grooming.


Is a dog or cat right for you? If so, which one? What about a rabbit? A gerbil, guinea pig or fish? Perhaps a mouse or a rat?


    To discover the answer, you'll have to ask yourself more questions, such as:
  • Do you like to travel?
  • Are you a couch potato looking for a cuddle bunny?
  • Are you a night owl?
  • Are you a morning person?
  • Do you work long hours?
  • Do you like to jog?
  • Do you want an angel that fits in your lap?
  • Do you enjoy grooming, or do you prefer low-maintenance hair care?
  • Will you appreciate a wild thing that's young and frisky?
  • Will you bond with a companion that's old and calm?
  • Are you a fan of wet, sloppy kisses?


It isn't about right or wrong. It's all about you. Carefully consider your lifestyle, and then decide which chum fits it.


Take into account your living situation. For example, do you rent or own your home? Animals really don't care, but you want to make sure that your love affair won't be stalled by a landlord's policy. Check before heading to a Triangle shelter.


Give thought to your work hours. Do you stick to a strict 9-to-5 schedule or are you frequently away? Choose a buddy accordingly. For example, puppies and kittens need a lot of time with you, but adults may be OK if left alone a little longer.


Your lifestyle research is done! Now you can start the adoption process because you know exactly what you have to offer a furry pal.


    Here is a small sample of how your lifestyle can help guide you through adoption.
  • You have young children so you need...
    ...a calm, patient adult or a hardy puppy.
  • You're very busy, have no yard and hate to exercise, so you need...
    ...a cat, rabbit, guinea pig, rat or fish.
  • You're an outdoors person who never met a trail you didn't want to hike, so you need...
    ...a young, athletic pooch who'll share your passion.
  • You have limited space, but you're a dog person, so you need...
    ...a small-breed canine (although there are a few large ones, such as the Great Dane, who are rumored to make great roommates in an apartment).
  • You're a couch potato by choice, so you need...
    ...an always loyal, forever grateful older mutt or kitty.
  • You have allergies, so you need...
    ...to get a fish.


There is a pet just right for every person. Please visit an animal shelter in the Triangle to discover your new best friend. There are many staff members and volunteers who would love to play matchmaker!


Shafonda Davis is executive director of the Animal Protection Society of Durham, a nonprofit that has been helping animals in our community since 1970 and has managed the Durham County Animal Shelter since 1990.


Photos of recent residents of the Durham animal shelter courtesy Aly Cat Photos & Video Services.