Vanderpump Dogs’ John Sessa Shares 3 Tips for Adopting the Perfect Puppy

Find a fabulous four-legged friend for less.

Vanderpump Dog Center in West Hollywood, California, isn’t your typical dog rescue center — the whole place is decked out in pink and sparkles, with the ambiance of a high-end boutique instead of an animal shelter. And that’s exactly what “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Lisa Vanderpump and her team had in mind when she opened the rescue, adoption, grooming and retail store.

“When we were designing Vanderpump Dogs, we really wanted to differentiate ourselves from [other] shelters, and the way that we wanted to do that was to really make it light, make it fun, make it airy,” said Dr. John Sessa, executive director of Vanderpump Dogs. “They said we could never have chandeliers or jazz music and shag rugs, and we did all of it, and it all ended up coming together and working.”

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So far, the West Hollywood center has adopted 900 dogs in the Los Angeles area to help them find new homes, 80 percent of which came from high-kill shelters, said Sessa. And the high-end dog goods sold in the retail part of the store help fund their mission to save more pups.

“One hundred percent of everything that we make goes right back to the dogs,” he said. “We’re really happy that we were able to reinvent the wheel for shelters.”

Read: How Adopting a ‘Used’ Dog Changed My Life

1. Why You Should Adopt, Not Shop

If you see a puppy listed online for sale, it could be the product of a puppy mill, a place that illegally overbreeds dogs in often inhumane conditions, said Sessa.

“I’d say never buy online,” he said. “We always recommend coming in and really feeling the connection with the dog, and so then when you go in, you can actually see what the conditions are, and you’ll be able to see if something’s amiss.”

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2. How Much It Really Costs to Be a Dog Mom or Dad

After the initial dog adoption costs, which could range from $0 to $250 on average, according to The Nest, be prepared to spend some serious cash on your pet.

“If you really want to be a great pet parent, it’s not a cheap thing,” said Sessa. “Every month there’s going to be a cost. You have to have flea and tick [prevention and treatment], you want to make sure you do your regular dental check-up. We say budget a couple of thousand dollars a year.”

And while you do need some expendable income to own a pet, having a house with a yard isn’t a requirement, he said.

“Some people come in and say, ‘I don’t have a big enough house,'” said Sessa. “It doesn’t really matter about the house, it matters about the love, and the ability to financially take care of the pet.”

Be Prepared: My Pets Suffered When I Didn’t Have an Emergency Fund

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3. How to Find the Best Dog for You

Sessa offers this advice for prospective dog owners looking to find the right breed to adopt: “If you are an energetic person, you’re going on hikes and you’re outdoors a lot, then I would say something like a Husky. If you are able to take your dog to work and you just kind of need them to sit them at your desk with you, then you might want a Chihuahua. I think you have to match what your lifestyle is.”

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert.