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Animals to take home and love

North Shore Animal League, Port Washington, has dogs

North Shore Animal League, Port Washington, has dogs and cats to adopt. On an average week, 250 animals are rescued. Joey is a 10 week old lab terrier. Shelter manager Rich Hollcraft gets a kiss. (Nov. 18, 2012) Credit: Bruce Gilbert

If you are asking how much is that doggy in the window this holiday season, perhaps it might be best to start at local animal shelters.

Shelter dogs and cats, many of whom were abandoned or rescued from bad situations, often make the best house pets, advocates say.

"Shelters are not as sad as people think," says Melissa Tiska, adoption coordinator for the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons. "Shelter dogs are amazing. You can almost see the 'I love you' on their faces," she says.

Shelters also offer support -- some even after the adoption -- often in the form of animal behavior specialists who assess each animal for certain traits, to see if they fit in well with families and other pets. Potential adoptive families should expect to provide detailed personal information. Many shelters ask for references and will check in with your veterinarian about the care and condition of the household's other animals. Renters may even be required to furnish a letter of permission from the landlord. The idea, experts say, is to cut down on the number of animals returned.

Shelter officials often extol the benefits of adopting older pets, as well. "They are a lot calmer, and more loyal," says Richard Parrinello, Brookhaven Town's interim animal shelter director. Shelter managers say the "pit bull question" often comes up. Indeed, a large number of dogs in shelters are pit bulls.

"We promote the adoption of pit bulls," says Hempstead Town animal shelter director Cindy Iacopella. "We temperament-test all our dogs with a certified dog trainer . . . We make sure they are safe for the family."

Costs are anywhere from free to $175, but include spaying and neutering, rabies and some other vaccinations, plus a checkup from a veterinarian.

Most shelters have cats for adoption, too. And the fees are generally lower.

Experts offer these tips for finding your next family pet at shelters:



People might think they want a Jack Russell terrier because of the cute factor, but, in fact, many are high-strung and need lots of attention. That might be good for some families, but not for others. "It's like," jokes North Hempstead animal shelter director Sue Hassett. "They look good now, but can you live with them later on?"



Puppies can be hard to resist -- but they also are a lot of work (think housebreaking, teaching them not to chew on furniture). Adult dogs, even those a year old, are more settled and might make a better fit, shelter officials say.



In some instances, there may be instant love, but don't fret if not. Many times, it is necessary to return to see other animals.

All shelters have a meet-and-greet room, where the family can spend quality time with the animal away from the din of the other barking dogs. "If they have children, we require that the children come to see how the dog reacts to them," says Oyster Bay town animal shelter supervisor Laurie Scarpa.



Some shelter experts say it's better to wait until the holidays are over to adopt since it can be a chaotic time. Others say, go for it. "To bring the gift of life into the home, as a family decision, I think there is no better time than the holidays," says Joanne Yohannan, of the North Shore Animal League in Port Washington. Either way, make sure there is time to spend with the new pet and try to establish a routine, experts say.



A dog is not a sweater -- it's not a good idea to surprise someone with a pet. In fact, most of the shelters insist on meeting the person who will be responsible for taking care of the pet.

Shelters -- both municipal and private -- have lots of animals to take home and love.

They also have an application process. Some ask for references, letters from landlords granting permission to keep a pet -- and some will even place calls to a family's veterinarian if they have another pet. Certain shelters will require a meet-and-greet between potential adopted animals and other pets already living in the home. Such checks, officials say, are designed to cut down on returns of animals.

The fees listed below include spaying and neutering, appropriate vaccinations and -- in most cases -- microchipping. Municipal shelters fees include cost of town dog license.

All the shelters have adoption specialists on hand, meet-and-greet rooms for the family to be alone with the animals, and websites to see which dogs are available.


Adopting shelter pets



25 Davis Ave., Port Washington

INFO 516-883-7575,

HOURS 10 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.

FEES Dogs and puppies between $100 to $175. Cats and kittens $100 to $75, and 30 days of free follow-up medical care.

AVAILABLE 200 dogs, 150 cats

GOOD TO KNOW One of the largest no-kill shelters in the world, the organization often does outreach by visiting other parts of Long Island, and does puppy mill rescues all over the country.



90 Daniels Hole Rd., Wainscott.

INFO 631-537-0400,

HOURS 11 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. Tours until 2:30 p.m.

FEES Dogs $125. Puppies $250, Cats $100. Puppy mill dogs are $300 since they usually need intense medical care. Prices could be lower under certain situations, officials say.

AVAILABLE 70 dogs and 80 cats

GOOD TO KNOW Since May, the group has been around Long Island with its mobile animal shelter. Check their website for upcoming dates and locations. Does puppy mill rescues.




51 Lamar St., West Babylon

INFO 631-643-9270,

HOURS 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday

FEES $95 or less for a dog; $65 or less for a cat.

AVAILABLE About 60 dogs and 70-80 cats.

GOOD TO KNOW Walking trails, meet-and-greet room to get acquainted with potential adoptive families.



300 Horseblock Rd, Brookhaven

INFO 631-286-4940,

HOURS 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays except Wednesday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday

FEES Dogs are $120. Cats are $75. Could be less if the animal has already been neutered or spayed. Vaccinations, license and microchipping are included.

AVAILABLE Has about 200 dogs and 120 cats.

GOOD TO KNOW Meet-and-greet room, outside area.



Does not have its own shelter, but brings its abandoned animals to the Animal Rescue Fund (ARF) in Wainscott.



3320 Beltagh Ave., Wantagh

INFO 516-785-5220, tohli/

HOURS 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m. Monday-Saturday

FEES Free during its "Home for the Holidays" events through at least the middle of January.

AVAILABLE 130 dogs and 30 to 50 cats.

GOOD TO KNOW All the dogs are "temper-tested" for behavioral problems by a qualified animal trainer.



106 Deposit Rd., East Northport

INFO 631-754-8722,

HOURS 8 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends

FEES $103.50

AVAILABLE 30 dogs. No cats at this shelter.

GOOD TO KNOW Full-time trainer works with dogs before adoption.



210 South Denver Ave., Bay Shore.

INFO 631-224-5660,

HOURS 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday

FEES Dogs are $111 for residents, $105 for nonresidents (but does not include the dog license.) Cats are $40.

AVAILABLE 79 dogs and 50 cats.

GOOD TO KNOW Must have a notarized letter from landlord if a renter, which states the owner of the home agrees to have the animal reside there. Families usually do not take the animal home the same day.



75 Marino Ave., Port Washington

INFO 516-869-6311,

HOURS 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday

FEES $29.50 (no microchipping)

AVAILABLE 45 dogs. No cats.

GOOD TO KNOW Agility park, nature trail and a "real-life room" that looks like a living room.



150 Miller Place, Syosset

INFO 516-677-5784,

HOURS 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday

FEES $65 for dogs, $59 for cats.

AVAILABLE 28 dogs and 49 cats.

GOOD TO KNOW No references needed, but requires children in family to meet dog at shelter to see how they react to one another.



Youngs Avenue, Riverhead

INFO 631-369-6189,

HOURS 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily

FEES $54 for dogs. No cats.



Does not have its own shelter, but brings its abandoned animals to the Animal Rescue Fund (ARF) in Wainscott.



410 E. Main St., Smithtown

INFO 631-360-7575,

HOURS 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday

FEES $55 to $140 depending on size of animal and other factors.

AVAILABLE 35 dogs and 100 cats.

GOOD TO KNOW Outdoor and indoor meet-and-greet areas.



102 Old Riverhead Road West, inside Red Creek Park, Hampton Bays

INFO 631-728-PETS,

HOURS 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily

FEES $80-$150 depending on type of animal

AVAILABLE 60 dogs and 120 to 140 cats

GOOD TO KNOW Staff will supervise a meet-and-greet at the shelter.



165 Peconic Lane, Peconic

INFO 631-765-1811,

HOURS 10 a.m.-3 p.m. daily.

FEES $96 for dogs, $60 for cats.

AVAILABLE 25 dogs and 125 cats.

GOOD TO KNOW Like many shelters, you can't adopt a pet as a gift or for a third-party.

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