Find a New Best Friend

50 Ways to Improve Your Life in 2008

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First came the lurid truth about Michael Vick's abuse of pit bulls in a dogfighting business. Then Ellen DeGeneres tearfully pleaded on air with a dog adoption agency to return a terrier she gave to her hairdresser. Animal welfare was in the news in 2007, so why not consider adopting a pet in the New Year?

Apart from the satisfaction that comes from saving an animal, dogs "are an antidote to loneliness and offer unswerving loyalty," says Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society.

Mixed breeds found at a shelter often have fewer health problems than purebreds and have been given lots of extra care, including attention from staff behaviorists. Adoption fees typically fall in the $50-to-$150 range, which often covers vaccinations, deworming, and spaying or neutering.

Local shelters are the obvious place to start, but don't overlook the Internet. offers a database of animals from 11,000 North American organizations, searchable by age, breed, and animal type (dog, cat, barnyard, "small and furry," etc.), with results sorted by distance from your zip code.