CHICAGO (CBS) – Animal advocates are using September to raise awareness about responsible dog ownership. They are reminding people – especially potential new dog owners – that raising a happy and healthy dog is more than just playtime and pampering.

“People don’t do enough research for the breed or type of dog for their lifestyle,” says Lisa Peterson at the American Kennel Club. “They get a dog based solely on its look or appearance and they don’t realize how much exercise it needs or grooming.”

Peterson says AKC sponsored “Responsible Dog Ownership Days” events are being held across the country and right here in the Chicago area during September. Dog clubs, animal shelters and others are teaming up to remind people what really goes into caring for a dog.

“Many times people get a dog and realize they are in over their head and then they end up relinquishing the dog to a shelter or rescue group.”

Consider the commitment. Do research on breeds. And then prepare for the new arrival just as you would a member of the family.

“Once you get your dog it needs all of its stuff or gear. You will need a collar and a leash. You will need a dog food bowl and water bowl to make sure it has plenty of fresh water and good quality food.”

Remember to groom your dog as often as the breed requires. Make sure your new pup is wearing a collar with tags and is permanently identified with a microchip to maximize the chances of being found if it becomes lost.

“You have to think about things like annual veterinary care. Dogs need annual shots and then if unfortunate things crop up like an accident or illness, you will need the resources to be able to properly care for your dog at the veterinarian’s office.”

Peterson says consider adopting an older dog. Check with organizations that rescue purebred dogs and visit shelters. You could end up saving a life. And remember that your commitment will be a long one, depending on the breed.

“You have to understand when you get a dog that you are responsible for that dog for the life of the dog. A dog can live to be 10 or 15 more years.”

Also prepare for the worst. Part of the pledge you make to your new best friend will likely include making a tough decision at the end of his or her life.

“It’s so difficult for us to have to make the decision when a dog ages when it gets to a point where you have to make a decision for a dog. As responsible dog owners, it’s up to us to know when that time is.”

And have a plan in place should something happen to you.

“What’s going to happen to your dog after say you’ve passed away, perhaps unexpectedly? Always have plans should you be injured, incapacitated or die. Who will have your dog? Make those plans very concrete so that you know someone will be caring for your dog,” says Peterson.

The Northwest Obedience Club holds a Responsible Dog Ownership event Sunday from 11 a.m.-to-4 p.m. in Cary, Illinois at 735 Industrial Drive. The McHenry County Animal Emergency Services will have first aid demonstrations and pet emergency kits. There will be a microchip clinic with lost dog guides and tips and adoptable dogs from local animal shelters will be on hand.

You can find more info including the AKC Responsible Dog Owner Pet Promise at To listen to the full interview with Lisa Peterson, click here.

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