Consider adopting a shelter animal this month

October is "Adopt a Shelter Dog/Animal" month, a time when the entire country is encouraged to look for new pets at local animal shelters, humane societies and non-profit organizations.

Doing so can decrease overcrowding, euthanasia rates, and get animals off the streets and into someone's home.

Animal shelters are a great place to start and a great resource when trying to find the perfect pet for you or your family.

Before adopting any pet, however, there are a few things that you should consider:

•Family: Are there any members of the family that are allergic to animals or asthmatic? Are there any small children who might be overpowered by a large dog or who may play too rough with small cats or dogs? Is there a family member willing to play with and housebreak the animals?

•Home: Is the home and yard large enough to support a large dog? Does the landlord or homeowners association allow pets?

•Time: Would the adoptee have time to regularly exercise a dog, groom a long haired cat, or play with the animals? Would he or she have time to clean up after accidents and vacuum animal hair?

•Budget: Can the adoptee afford the financial burden of owning a pet? Animals need: food, toys, regular pet care supplies, routine check-ups, shots, medication, grooming, licensing. When the owner goes on vacation, he or she will also have to consider finding a place for the animal to stay, which may include kennels.

Once you've decided to adopt an animal, filled out all the paperwork, and paid the adoption fee (if applicable), you must be willing to take your new pet to a veterinarian within seven days of the adoption.

If you have a specific pet in mind and haven't found it yet, you can put in a pet request at your local shelter. There, you can specify the type, size, breed, sex, or age of the pet you'd like to own. The shelter will contact you when an animal comes in that you might be interested in.

There are two local animals shelters that currently have pets up for adoption.

•New Kent Animal Shelter (NKAS): NKAS, located at 6301 Olivet Church Road in New Kent, and run by New Kent Animal Control, serves New Kent, King William, King & Queen, Charles City, James City, Henrico and Hanover counties.

NKAS is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Information on New Kent Animal Shelter can be found at: http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/VA382.html or by calling (804) 966-9500 (New Kent Animal Control).

•Regional Animal Shelter (RAS): RAS, located at 20201 King William Avenue in King William, serves both King William and King & Queen counties.

The lobby is open: Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday evenings until 6 p.m., and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The kennel hours are: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday evenings until 6 p.m., and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Information about the shelter can be found at: http://www.kingwilliamcounty.us/animal_shelter.html or by calling (804) 769-4983.

During the month of October, when you trick-or-treat at RAS and bring in a "treat" for the animals, during lobby hours, you will get a treat too, for being kind to animals.

Suggested shelter animal treats: Dogs - rope toys, squeaky toys, nylabones, rawhides, milkbones, etc. Cats - catnip mice, kitty treats, tiny stuffed animals, shower curtain rings, etc.