In spring and summer, I see an abundance of people with new pets. Kittens needing homes are plentiful this time of the year, and a dog companion appeals as we take our activities outdoors.

I’d like to offer some ideas on how you might find the right pet, as well as some places you may have not considered looking.

Many of us don’t get a choice when we get a new pet – especially with cats! A stray will just show up and hang around. Meanwhile, you begin talking to, petting and soon feeding these guys, when – PRESTO! – you suddenly have a new member of the family. We really become attached to these loving, but manipulative little felines, and ultimately “choose” to formally adopt them (cinched with the first visit to the veterinarian).

Plenty of folks acquire a dog in much the same way. One client found Missy, an adorable pit mix (a breed with an undeservingly bad rap) in an unhealthy, hungry state, tied the entire day to a tree at Fair Park – obviously abandoned.

Another friend found each of her two magnificent pups on separate occasions while running around White Rock Lake. And you should see these guys now – they’re beautiful and exquisitely obedience learned.

I personally believe that strays, abandoned animals and otherwise homeless creatures make the greatest pets. There’s almost an element of gratitude in the demeanor of these once-cast-off animals. My first pet, a five-year-old miniature schnauzer, was returned to his breeder (my employer – I was a kennel girl) when his owners divorced, and neither wanted the dog. Their loss was most definitely my gain, and I have been hooked to schnauzers ever since.

My next two pets were also schnauzer rescues. “Jessie” was donated to the veterinary school during my last year of school. She is a veritable “lemon” genetically, but she is the cutest, sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.

“Susie” (not her real name) came to me as a result of the Humane Society’s intervention into an abusive owner’s situation, where he ultimately was forced to give up his neglected animals. Bob Dole has a schnauzer, “Leader,” that his wife rescued from the pound.

The pounds, SPCA facilities and Human Societies are great places to go for a pet. An unfortunate drawback can be the potentially higher risk of taking home an animal that may become sick. The high influx of animals at these places sets up a situation where stress and unknown health backgrounds contribute to a few animals succumbing to disease.

Such an experience is not the norm, however, and it shouldn’t discourage you from looking for your pet here. The good you do in helping an otherwise homeless, unwanted creature far outweighs this risk.