You gotta love New Yorkers. We live in one of the most crowded cities on earth, mostly in apartments that are only slightly larger than a normal-sized walk-in closet. And yet, according to a recent estimate, one in three households in the Big Apple owns a pet. What can we say? We have big hearts. And fur-covered futons.

As commonplace as it is, though, pet ownership is a huge responsibility, especially in a place like Gotham City. Adopting a pet — and we believe you should always adopt one from a shelter, as opposed to buying one from a pet store — requires a great deal of time, patience, consideration and even money.

First of all, before you even start looking for a pet, make absolutely sure you live in a pet-friendly building. As The New York Times recently reported:

Even when a building advertises itself as “pet-friendly,” there is no guarantee that a particular pet will be a shoo-in. Condominiums that permit animals may prohibit subrenters with pets. Many pet-friendly co-ops and rental buildings impose restrictions regarding number, size and breed. And since many people are devoted to certain breeds, choosing one half the size is rarely an acceptable compromise.

Ask your landlord or management company for clear, specific rules and guidelines before adopting an animal. The last thing you’d ever want is to have to return an animal you’ve adopted to the shelter, as this is heartbreaking for both you and the animal.

Once you’re sure you can adopt a pet and are clear about any breed or size restrictions, the next step is finding a shelter from which to adopt. There are many good shelters in the NYC area, but our favorite is Animal Haven, located at 251 Centre Street, in Lower Manhattan. Founded 1967,  Animal Haven finds homes for abandoned cats and dogs throughout the Tri-State area. They also provide programs that enhance the bond between animals and people. You can check out all the pets available for adoption at their web site or simply stop by the shelter to meet them in person during regular business hours.

Most shelters, including Animal Haven, will have you fill out an application and check your references to ensure that you’ll be a good parent and provider, and that you live in a pet-friendly home. They also charge an adoption fee, which covers the animal’s spaying or neutering and any other preliminary medical screening. It’s more than worth it to know that you’re adopting a healthy animal!

Before you bring your new animal companion home, make sure you’re ready to care for him or her. This includes a trip to the pet supply store to pick up food, flea and tick treatment, toys, a pet bed and anything else your new best friend may need to stay happy and healthy on a day-to-day basis. For dogs, you should also make sure you’ve arranged for a dog-walker (unless you’re one of the lucky few with the freedom to walk the dog yourself 2-3 times a day).

CBS Local News has put together a wonderful guide with just about everything you need to know about owning a dog in NYC which you can find here. It includes such topics as:

  • Ten Questions You Should Ask A Potential Dog Walker
  • Top Picks For Pooch Pampering
  • Where To Go With Your Dog
  • Dog Runs and Off- Leashed Parks in all 5 Boroughs

And remember, pets and their stuff take up a lot of space. So if you need to put some of your things in storage in order to make room for Rover, you know where to find us.

Wishing you and your furry friends lots of love and happiness together!