It's essential to understand the costs of pet ownership before choosing an animal, experts say, adding that getting real about costs should stop owners from adopting -- and then surrendering -- pets they can't afford. Some 13 million U.S. households acquire a dog each year, but nearly half are taken to shelters within 12 months, according to Dogtime.com. Owners should be prepared for an initial investment that includes fees for adoption, sterilization, vaccinations and training. However, TV trainer Joel Silverman says families who can handle the costs will find dogs worthwhile: "This is your best friend, right?"
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