The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that 37 percent of U.S. households own a dog. That’s not surprising, considering that studies have shown that people who own pets have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, less stress, and depression than those who don’t own pets. A study conducted at Kean University in New Jersey found that people feel better after just watching a Lassie movie because of a drop in their cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress. Research has proven that owning a pet can also benefit children by teaching them about love and responsibility. However, before you run out and adopt a dog, there are a few things you should consider:

Research different breeds before choosing a dog. You may have your heart set on a particular breed of dog, but unless the breed matches your lifestyle, it won’t be a good fit. For example, after seeing the movie 101 Dalmatians, the breed was purchased impulsively by many owners who weren’t aware of the high-energy dog’s needs. This resulted in animal shelters and rescue organizations being inundated with Dalmatians once the dogs became too hard for the owners to handle. And it’s important to spend time with the individual dog you are considering adopting to make sure that it’s a good match, since temperaments can vary.

Make sure the whole family meets the dog. If you have children, make sure they accompany you when you are choosing a dog to adopt. You want a dog that doesn’t just put up with children, you want one that is happy and wants to be around your children.

Be ready to part with your time. Adopting a dog, especially a puppy, takes a lot of work and shouldn’t be entered into lightly. If you’re not ready to sacrifice 30 minutes each morning and late evening for walks, as well as a few night wakings (if you have a puppy), you may not be ready for a dog. Dogs are not fond of isolation, and they want to spend time with you. So make sure you’re ready to make that commitment. If you are thinking of adopting a puppy, be ready for a very needy creature for the first several months of their life. After all, puppies are babies. Several years ago, one of my friends adopted a puppy at the same time that my son was born. I think she was getting up during the night more than I was!

Dogs can be expensive. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, on average, dogs cost anywhere from $1,000-$2,000 per year. In addition to food, treats, toys, training, and veterinary care, there are also pet sitters, dog walkers, and unexpected veterinary care that can be costly. Many dog owners are opting to purchase pet insurance, which can help alleviate the cost of medical expenses later on.

Dogs become part of the family and all the above are totally worth it. Once you adopt a dog and they inevitably become part of your family, you will question why you didn’t do it sooner. Most dog owners I know say that their dogs are like their children. Even though they eat your shoes, pee where they’re not supposed to, and eat that soufflé you just spent hours making, you will still love them unconditionally. After you have a dog in your life, you will wonder how you ever lived without one.

Adoptable Pet of the Week

Collette is a very sweet Rhinelander who is looking for a permanent home. Rhinelanders are very personable and have beautiful coats. Every rabbit sheltered at B.U.N.S. is spayed or neutered prior to adoption.

Bunnies Urgently Needing Shelter (B.U.N.S.) is a volunteer organization that cares for abandoned rabbits. B.U.N.S is located at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter, 5473 Overpass Rd. B.U.N.S. works to find bunnies permanent homes, and educates the public on caring for a companion rabbit. You can call the County Shelter at 805-681-5285 or call BUNS at 805-683-0521 and leave a message for someone to call you back. For more information, visit

Lisa Acho Remorenko is executive director of Animal Adoption Solutions,


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