October is the ASPCA's Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, designed to raise awareness of community programs and services and promote shelter pets as "the first option for adoption."
Dr. Lila Miller, senior director of animal sciences for the New York-based ASPCA, works with the organization's National Shelter Outreach Program and with shelter veterinarians on behavioral and health issues.
"One of the things veterinarians in private practice can do is direct their clients to shelters when they are looking for a new pet ... A lot of shelters and humane societies also offer a two-week medical warranty."
The ASPCA Web site has a link to www.petfinder.com, an independent online resource for pet adoption. The society has a set of Internet adoption guidelines, and Dr. Miller notes that most online adoptions still require the prospective owners to go to the shelter to be screened.
"Shelters are interested in finding a good home and matching the prospective owners' lifestyle to a pet," she said. "Unless you're going through a reputable breeder, most other places don't do that."
For more information, visit www.aspca.org or call (212) 876-7700.