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Pet Place: Opt to adopt a shelter pet

By Kathy Antoniotti
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Otis, a five month old wire hair terrier mix, one of the animals available for adoption at the Humane Society of Greater Akron during National Adopt a Shelter Pet Month. (Ed Suba Jr./Akron Beacon Journal)

Recently, the folks at Purina, makers of Purina Dog Chow, conducted an online survey of 1,500 U.S. adults age 25-45 to get their perceptions of how a dog can affect a family. The survey examined everything from how a dog can change the family dynamic to common perceptions that dog owners and nonowners have about canine companions.

Eighty-three percent of respondents said they believe dogs provide unconditional acceptance within the family. An overwhelming majority said they believe a dog makes each member of a family feel important, fuels communication, helps build relationships and teaches children responsibility.

The Humane Society of the U.S. estimates there are 78 million owned dogs in the U.S. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 63 percent of all households have at least one pet, so many Americans are already aware of how a pet affects a family.

Based on those results, people who believe in strong family values would do well to bring a dog into their homes, and in the Akron area, finding the right animal for your family should be a cinch.

Early last year, I contacted local animal shelters and rescue groups in the Summit County Animal Coalition and asked them to provide the number of animals they placed into permanent homes in 2011.

The figures they reported were staggering. More than 7,000 homeless animals were placed in homes by the Summit County Animal Shelter, the Humane Society of Greater Akron, and two of the higher-volume rescue groups: One of a Kind Adoption Center in West Akron and Paws and Prayers, a Cuyahoga Falls-based group of dedicated volunteers who provide foster homes for animals. Smaller rescue groups also contributed.

Most communities would be proud to claim those numbers. It leads me to believe that people have discovered that wonderful animals are available through shelters and rescue groups to anyone who will give them a loving home.

As a matter of fact, Summit County is probably the best place for a homeless dog or cat due to the efforts of the people who provide a second chance for lost or abandoned animals.

According to, the largest online, searchable database of animals, there are more than 320,000 adoptable pets in more than 13,700 animal shelters and rescue groups in North America.

And since October is Adopt a Shelter Pet month, I thought I would give you a few reasons why adoption is a better alternative for most people who are looking for a pet.

Often, when people decide to get a dog, they think they must buy a particular breed based on a dog’s appearance. But a dog’s temperament and personality and how the animal will fit into your home and your lifestyle is much more important than its looks. Even so, as much as 25 percent of dogs in shelters are purebred animals that ended up there because the owner failed to understand the nature of the breed before he or she brought it home.

“I challenge anyone who says they are looking for a purebred dog to walk through a shelter before they buy one. I guarantee they will find a dog they want to take home,” said Betsy Lambright, receptionist and event coordinator for One of a Kind Animal Clinic.

Still, if you are set on a particular type, there are many breed-specific rescue groups that are represented on where you can see photos of animals and learn about their temperaments.

But unless you want an elite animal to compete in dog show circuits, most people would do well with a mixed-breed shelter animal that may be healthier than those purchased from a store or a backyard breeder, according to veterinarian Jules Benson, vice president of Veterinary Services at Petplan Pet Insurance.

“Many people tend to think that shelter pets aren’t as healthy as pets who come from breeders or pet stores. On the contrary, most shelter pets receive veterinary care — and often some basic training — to ensure they are healthy and ready for adoption. Many shelters also offer to spay or neuter each adopted pet, which is shown to reduce the risk for certain illnesses, including mammary and testicular cancers,” Benson said.

Also, purebred dogs have breed-specific health problems, such as hip dysplasia often found in Labrador retrievers and heart problems often found in Chihuahuas.

“Since the majority of rescue or shelter pets are mixed-breed pets, it’s possible that their ability to avoid unexpected vet visits might be due to them having fewer of the hereditary diseases we see more often in purebred pets,” Benson said.

Locally, animals in the rescue system are altered prior to adoption because the people who operate the shelters believe it is the only humane way to stop the proliferation of unwanted pets in our society. The animals have received veterinary care and are up-to-date with shots.

As an added advantage, many shelter animals have been taught basic commands to increase their chances of getting adopted and unless they are puppies, many, if not most, come into the family housebroken.

Aside from all the positive aspects of adopting a shelter animal, you can feel good about providing it a home and help put dreadful and inhumane puppy mills out of business.

Other pets in the news:

Blessing of the Animals — 10 a.m. Sunday service, Christ Episcopal Church, 118 S. Mantua St. (state Route 43), Kent. All types of animals and their owners are invited. Pets should be in carriers or on leashes. There will be a separate quiet space inside for shy pets in carriers who would not be comfortable attending the entire service. Prayers will also be offered by name for pets who have died or who cannot be present. The service will be followed by a reception with refreshments for both people and pets. For more information, call the Rev. Julie Fisher at 330-256-8994.

Everything Goes With Black — Continues through today at PAWSibilities, Humane Society of Greater Akron, 7996 Darrow Road, Twinsburg. Adoption fees will be waived for one adult (1 year old and up) black or predominantly black cat per household. A second black cat and all other kittens and cats will be $20. All available animals are neutered or spayed, have received age-appropriate shots and flea treatments and have been tested and de-wormed.

 Fifth Annual Walk With Your Best Friend Against Abuse — 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today, Medina Square in downtown Medina. Men, women and children are invited to bring pets and join a walk to help bring awareness to the link between domestic violence and animal abuse. 9 a.m. registration. $10 registration fee. For information, call 330-723-9610.

 Birdies Fore! Bullies — 10:30 a.m. Oct 13 at Sweetbriar Golf Club, 750 Jaycox Road, Avon Lake. A golf outing to benefit Rescue Ohio English Bulldogs. $80 per golfer includes: 18 holes of golf, cart, T-shirt, lunch and dinner. To reserve a spot, call Jessica Fawley at 419-307-1561 or email

 Medina County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Furry Frolic — 6-11 p.m. Nov. 3 at Medina County Country Club, 5588 Wedgewood Road, Medina. Fund-raiser includes buffet dinner, auctions, raffles, dancing and more. Advance reservations only, $45 each. Reservation deadline is Oct. 20. For more information or reservations, call 330-723-7722.

Viva Paws Vegas! — Nov. 3 at Guy’s Party Center, 500 E. Waterloo Road, Akron. Proceeds from Paws and Prayers fundraiser will help pay for medical expenses for homeless animals. The organization is currently accepting tax-deductible silent auction donations. Business sponsorships are available. Contact jen@pawsand

Kathy Antoniotti writes about pets for the Akron Beacon Journal. She is unable to help locate, place or provide medical attention for an individual animal. If you have an idea or question about pets, write her at the Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640; call 330-996-3565; or send an email to


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