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Adopting a Pet

May 18, 2000|ROBERT BURNS | Times Staff Writer

Pets are a good thing. They give you an excuse to get your pasty face out of the chat rooms. Take a walk in a dog park and you might meet someone whose name isn't Hot4U. And if you have kids, a pit bull is a great way to teach little Johnny some responsibility, not to mention first aid.

You can start your search for your fuzzy new friend by figuring out what type of fur you want, but not in a Cruella De Vil kind of way.

For example, SelectSmart (http://www.selectsmart.com) has pet picker. Answer some basic lifestyle questions, and it suggests what kind of animal would be best for you. There are also dog and cat breed selectors. A recent try on dog breeds turned up poodle and German shepherd as the top two choices. Huh? The Find a Therapist site should have been choice three.

SelectSmart also provides brief descriptions of the breeds and will compare your choices.

One of the better places to go for dog breed descriptions is Digital Dog (http://www.digitaldog.com). Most sites give you only the nice stuff. Digital Dog's mission "is to provide the public with honest observations about each dog breed's temperament and the possible physical or behavioral flaws found in every dog breed." OK, so maybe the pit bull isn't the best choice for little Johnny.

Once you decide on the kind of animal you want, the Net will lead you right to it. And, no offense to ferret, reptile and rodent people, but we're going to limit this to dogs and cats.

If you're really set on buying a purebred, you can type the breed into any search engine and get a bunch of choices. But do you really want to do that? Remember: puppy mills bad; rescue animals good.

We're so glad you've decided on a rescue animal.

A good place to start is the Humane Society of the United States (http://www.hsus.org). It has tips on pet care and behavior, lots of news about helping animals, and information on adopting animals from shelters. Make sure to check out its Web documentary on the cat and dog fur trade (http://www.hsus.org/current/dc

_fur/web_doc/fur_index.html) before buying any of those furry cat toys.

Ready to start looking? Here are just a few of the many shelters and organizations for pet adoptions. Most have photos of some of the dogs and cats available, often with personality descriptions. Some are regional; the national ones let you limit searches to your own geographical area.

* Petshelter Network (http://www.petshel

ter.org) connects hundreds of shelters nationally. You can search for specific shelters or by animal.

* Animal Match (http://www.animalmatch

.net) concentrates on Southern California shelters and rescue animals. There's also a calendar of pet adoption fairs.

* The Los Angeles Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (http://www.spcala.org) has info on its shelters and adoption, plus Ask the Vet and Ask the Trainer features.

* Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA (http://www.phsspca.org) is a well-designed site with the usual adoption features. Check out Pets of the Week.

There are also rescue groups that specialize in specific breeds of dogs and cats. The Pasadena shelter's Web site has listings of those groups for both dogs and cats, as well as birds and horses, at http://www.phsspca.org/adoptions

/breedrescues.htm. It also has a links page for rescue groups at http://www.phsspca.org

/links.htm.

But maybe it's too early for a commitment. Maybe you need some time to wean yourself from the computer screen. The answer, of course, is pet cams.

There's a long list of them at WebcamSearch.com (http://www

.webcam-search.com/links/Pet_Cams). And it's not limited to dogs and cats.

How about Guinea Pig Television (http://www.olywa.net/jandrews/beta.htm) or the Fabulous Goat Cam (http://www.teleport

.com/randyf/goatcam.html)? A personal favorite is the Live Deformed Frog Cam (http://freddo.pca.state.mn.us/frogcam2.html). Hey, it's sponsored by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. It's educational.

Got a subject you'd like us to explore or avoid? E-mail click.here@latimes.com.

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