Here's what you need to know before adopting a dog

By Tara Evans - Executive Producer

ORLANDO, Fla. - By now, everyone knows the New England Patriots won Super Bowl LIII, but the real winners are the playful and loving pups at Orange County Animal Services.

The News 6 Morning team stopped by to play with several of the dogs and put on a puppy bowl-esqe competition to determine the winner of the Super Bowl.

At the time of this writing, all but one, a polite female with a spunky side and a great set of manners, Sugar, have either been adopted or reunited with their owners. (Sugar's animal ID is A421422 if you want to meet and play with her.)

Sugar the dog.

[RELATED: Wanted: Home for 'Cat' the tutu-wearing dogAfter years in shelters 'Cat' the dog is adopted from SPCA of Brevard]

While there, the News 6 team learned that although the OCAS shelter does not breed designate, just by walking through the kennels or playing with potential furever furry friends, you can see they get in a variety of animals. A News 6 producer just adopted a doberman, and while the team was there, they saw everything from German shepherds to Chihuahuas, so even if you're looking for a particular breed, checking your local shelters first is always a great option.

They also had quite a selection of puppies. Puppies do go fast, but again, many people don't realize they can head to their local shelter if they'd like a puppy. 

Adoptions are first come, first served. They upload animals to their website as they come in, so if you see one that strikes your fancy, head down quickly to play and put in an adoption application. OCAS does accept backup applications in the event the first applicant falls through. 

Typically, adoptions are $55 or less, depending on any specials running, and including spay/neuter if necessary, initial vaccinations, small bag of food and microchipping.

Alyssa Chandler, the public information officer for OCAS, also said they're in need of volunteers. So if you can't adopt a new pet, you can always volunteer to play with and take care of them. 

Here are some key things to be aware of before you adopt:

1. Make sure you play with the animal outside their kennel. Understand that being in a shelter environment can be very stressful, so sometimes, the personality of an animal may not be an 100 percent accurate representation of what they'll actually be like when you get them home. So you'll want to get the best picture of who they are before you get them home to prevent any problems

2. OCAS does not currently allow people to bring dogs they already have down to meet a new one ahead of an adoption. Their website indicates that's due to a lack of volunteers. So you'll want to make sure you get to see how the new pup interacts with other animals at the shelter so you get an idea of if they like other animals. Again, this doesn't mean they'll like every animal, or a guarantee they'll get along with yours, but it's better than nothing. Pay attention to things like tail wagging, raised fur, growling, ear placement, etc. 

3. When do you get home with your new animal, slow and monitored introductions are best. Since many of the adoptable pets will have just had spay/neuter surgery, they typically need their own quiet, clean space to relax, anyway. 

[MORE: Take me home Tuesday: Sky, deaf dog, in shelter for more than 1,025 daysTake me home Tuesday: Bobbie the boxer mix ready for life outside shelter]

4. If you have children -- especially small children -- bring them down to meet the new dog in the yards they have at OCAS. Make sure to hold onto small children and introduce slowly. Don't let them yell or run around until you're sure the animal is OK with them, and even then, don't take your eyes off your kids. Even the sweetest animals could be out of sorts in a shelter environment, so it's a good idea to have your kids take it easy.

5. If you're opting to adopt, there could be an adjustment period at home. That could include accidents, some behaviors that need training out of, etc. Understand your new dog's life has been turned upside down several times in a short period of time and have a little patience. Teach them what they need to know and give them the time to show you how good a boy/girl they can be.

6. Dogs can live a long time-- we've known several small dogs to live up to 18 years old. So just remember, this is a lifetime commitment. 

7. Since your new pet comes with a microchip, make sure you follow up and register the chip with your current information. You can mail the form in and save a few dollars, or just do it online if it's more convenient. It's inexpensive, and will assist in reuniting you with your pet if you're ever separated. 

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