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Online Search For A Furry Friend

A visit to your local pound can be just a mouse click away. America Online's Regina Lewis talked about surfing the Web to find the perfect pet on the Saturday Early Show.

There are more than 25,000 animals available online, and the Internet can be a blessing for pet owners and pets.

Many shelters estimate the Internet plays a role in about 50 percent of their adoptions and that these tend to be more successful with fewer pets returned.

There are a lot of online resources to help people make informed choices so they know which pet is best for them and what to expect. This is critical, especially around the holidays when many pets are adopted and given as gifts. Many come back to shelters weeks later when people realize they didn't quite understand the commitment involved in having a pet. Look no further than the warnings now out not to impulsively adopt a Dalmatian after seeing the new Disney movie.

Offering a pet adoption gift certificate can be a good alternative to presenting a live animal. This way the recipient will make the choice, which experts say is important because it's such a personal decision.

Online personal-decision guides can help the prospective owner discern which pet is best. a division of America Online, can help you identify the pet that best fits your lifestyle by posing some key questions about travel schedule, personal space and whether you have children. For example, you might want a horse only to find out you're really a candidate for a fish.

Here are some sites to help you choose the pet that's right for you:

  • (AOL keyword: Pets) allows visitors to design a search for a certain type of pet in a particular area of the United States and Canada.
  • keeps up with the latest news on pets and pet care. It also has a searchable archive of hundreds of articles on animal health and behavior.
  • links together more than 1,100 shelters in the United States and in Canada.
  • is the official Web site for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, with information on training dogs, veterinary care and coping with the loss of a pet.
  • Specializing in dogs, the American Kennel Club's Web site, allows you to search for a breeder near you. It also has links to local rescue networks where you can adopt purebred canines that are at risk of being put down.

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