We’ve all seen the commercials on TV about online dating services that will take your information and find the most compatible “love match” for you. For a growing number of people, adding a little science into the process works better than just relying on a random meeting or dating someone a friend or family member sets you up with.

The same logic holds true when you are looking for another type of love match – your next four-legged addition to the family.

We see it too often. When emotional connection is the only reason for adopting, the match dissolves when the emotion wears off.

This thought process is natural and understandable. You look into the eyes of that cute little puppy or kitten and bond with it instantly. We’ve all been hypnotized by these little guys. However, sometimes in those emotional moments, people forget that those little puppies may grow up to be very large dogs.

Whenever you walk through a shelter or look at a picture on Petfinder.com, it isn’t easy to project how that pet will fit into your home. That cute little puppy may pull at your heartstrings at the shelter but later will pull at the strings of your favorite sneakers at home, while he chews them up. If you have other animals at home, there may be jealousy and a period of adjustment. Lots of training and patience will be needed.

Other animals, which often are a little shy, don’t show well at a shelter but may almost instantly fit into your home and will make you extremely happy if you give them a chance. The problem is that simply walking down the aisle at the shelter you are less likely to notice a shy dog, while the more outgoing dogs and puppies are competing for your attention.

At the SPCA Albrecht Center we try and help avoid bad matches by speaking with potential adopters about what they are looking for. Often, the best matches are made by speaking with our adoption counselor or kennel staff before you start looking on your own. There are a lot of questions to consider including:

• What other pets do you already have at home?

• Do you have small children at home?

• How much time will you have to spend with the animal?

• Do you work full time?

• Do you have experience raising a young puppy or kitten?

• Do you live in a house or an apartment?

• Do you have the resources to invest in preventative care, training, crates, food, etc.?

• If you are looking for a dog, do you want a couch potato, someone to jog with each day or something in between?

By getting to know your needs and you a little better, the SPCA can do a much better job of introducing you to dogs or cats that will easily fit into your lifestyle. The staff and volunteers spend a lot of time with these animals and get to know their individual personalities.

Nearly each time someone at the SPCA has worked with a potential adopter who first described the type of animal they were looking for, the staff has been able to identify a dog or cat that provides everything the adopter is seeking. A compatibility test is then conducted with the adopters’ other animals, and, if that goes well, the dog or cat gets a wonderful, new permanent home.

Whether you adopt from us or somebody else, take the time to talk to the people who care for these animals. They know them well and, by spending a few minutes getting to know your needs and you, they will help you make a match that works for everyone.

To learn more about the available pets at the SPCA Albrecht Center, visit www.spca-albrecht.org or stop by 199 Willow Run Road in Aiken.

Gary Willoughby is the president and CEO of the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare.