Shelter staff can help you find just the right dog

Published2/10/2009 12:03 AM

Q. I want to adopt the right dog for my family. How do I choose?

- Tamika Williams, Bartlett


A. Looking for a dog can be overwhelming when there are so many bright, wide-eyed pooches to choose from.

Whether this is your first dog or another addition to your pack, the choices available at local shelters and rescues abound.

Local shelters have many methods to help you identify personality traits, even within the stray population of dogs in their care. Some examples involve "Cosmo" style surveys.

One such program is "Meet Your Match." This program evaluates not only a dog's behavior, but also takes into account your expectations (and those of your family members).

This combination proves a great guide to finding just the right "Fluffy" or "Fido" for your home.

While the formal research programs are helpful, enough can't be said about the dedicated shelter staff, fosters and volunteers that get to know the animals daily and are eagerly waiting to help you in your search.

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Many shelters also evaluate an animal's temperament using tools geared at identifying aggressive tendencies in dogs. This evaluation helps identify how a dog reacts in simulated life situations, such as when you reach down for their rawhide, adjust their food bowl or simply offer a hug.

This is "need to know information," especially for a family with children.

While these tests and tools are not a guarantee, they can still aid in your decision-making. Remember that even the best tools and predictors are no replacement for common sense - most importantly to never leave your children unattended with your dog.

Our goal is to help create matches that result in forever homes with strong bonds that last a lifetime. Pets are not disposable items, but remember you're not expected to know it all either.

Reach out to your local shelter for advice as you need it and remember, we are here to help.

• Kerry Vinkler is director of DuPage County Animal Care and Control. To ask her questions about the animal community, e-mail "Ask the Director" at or visit

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