As someone who has done dog rescue work for several years, I can’t stress enough how serious the pet overpopulation problem is in Los Angeles. There are way too many dogs and cats in need of homes and simply not enough good homes to go around. With that being said, I am always amazed when I see someone who has just purchased an adorable puppy from a pet store. I wonder how many of these pups will end up in a shelter when they reach maturity or when their owners need to find new housing. 

Sadly, the number one reason that animals end up in shelters is because their humans must move and choose not to find housing that will allow pets. Before deciding to give up your pet, I would highly encourage individuals to take the time to find pet-friendly housing.

I managed to find apartments throughout college that allowed me to keep a German Shepherd so I’m always shocked when someone brings their 10 pound poodle into the shelter because they have to move. It is important that you have it noted in your lease that you have permission to have a pet. Just because one manager gave you “verbal” permission doesn’t mean that can’t change.

If the language is included in your lease, you save yourself the headache of having to look for a new place on the whim of new management. If you’re having trouble finding housing on your own, there are several organizations that can also help you find pet friendly housing such as Pets & People Homefinders (

It is crucial to get your pets spayed and neutered as soon as possible. Puppies and kittens can be safely sterilized at eight weeks of age as is done to all coming out of the L.A. shelters. By having your pets sterilized, you help put a dent in the overpopulation problem.

One female dog and its offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in six years. One female cat and its offspring can produce 370,000 kittens in seven years. In the greater Los Angeles area alone, over 400 hundred animals are euthanized every day.

The city provides free spaying & neutering to certain individuals ( The Animal Birth Control Clinic at 11314 West Pico Blvd., (310) 444-3114 provides low cost spaying and neutering. You can also call SPAY USA – (800)248-SPAY (7729) for national referrals of clinics near you. Additionally, the licensing fee for a sterilized dog in Los Angeles remains at $10 while the licensing fee for an unsterilized dog is now $100.

If you feel that you have the economic resources to properly care for an animal by providing food, shelter and necessary veterinary care and are ready to make what can be a 15 year or longer commitment, then I hope you will consider adopting a companion animal. A great place to consider is your local shelter.

For a listing of local shelters, along with photos of pets needing homes go to Animal Match Rescue Team,, also helps to facilitate the adoption of shelter and rescue pets in the Southern California area. 

ShelterCare Pet Insurance is offering a great adoption incentive program.  Their program provides one month free coverage when you adopt a dog or cat from many shelters. This really comes in handy in case your new pet has an illness and gives you extra peace of mind about adopting a shelter animal.  You can obtain more information on the program at

You are truly saving a life when you give one of these wonderful animals a home. Two of my dogs are mixed breeds from the shelter, and they are the sweetest dogs around. 

Still, some people choose to adopt from the shelters since many times you are adopting a dog or cat without knowing its history (ie:  Is it house-trained? Does it get along with cats?) The one benefit in dealing with a rescue group is that you are often given background information on the dog’s behavior as well as the assurance that if things don’t work out (ie:  the new dog doesn’t get along with your other dog), you can bring the animal back to the rescue group.

For a list of rescue groups go to or is also an excellent source for finding rescue groups and dogs and cats that are available for adoption nationally. Another good site is since it allows browsers to find a new companion on their adoption  search page, get care advice or browse through upcoming events.

Whether you are interested in a new dog or cat, searching for a good vet or need to post a question, they offer help. Most rescue groups require an adoption application, home check and a standard adoption donation/fee starts at $150. This fee helps cover only a portion of the costs involved in rescuing an animal since many of the rescued animals require veterinary care and kenneling prior to placement in permanent homes. 

It’s great to be knowledgeable about your new animal. Sadly, many people spend more time reading the manual on their cell phone then on learning to understand their new companion. It is crucial to learn about proper training techniques with animals and begin implementing them as soon as possible.

One good book is the New Art of Dog Training by Shelby Marlo. It is great if you can enroll in a dog training class since I feel it really builds the bond between human and pet. I like training that uses treats as positive motivation. offers training lessons both in groups or individually. 

Finally, enjoy your new relationship and remember friends and sometimes even family can let you down, but your dog or cat are always loyal. 

Joy Calisoff has done independent dog rescue for several years. Some of her rescue success stories can be found at