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By John Lamb
Unleashed! reporter@large

Just as a classified ad for a "cozy" apartment likely means "cramped," the search for a new family pet can be frustrating and time-consuming if left to the vague offerings of the local newspaper. And everyone knows how distressing a trip to the local animal shelter can be.

That’s where a new publication, the ANIMAL SOURCE, comes in handy. You’d be hard pressed NOT to find the pet of your dreams in this free, twice-monthly magazine — it’s chock full of descriptions AND photographs of just about any animal that’s suitable as a pet, from dogs, cats and fish to snakes, lizards, horses and livestock.

"There’s never been a magazine that encompasses all animals," notes Sharon Smith, a former mortgage banker who started the publication earlier this year. "And the great thing is, you get to see the animal."

Smith said her biggest source of pride is the growing interest from San Diego County animal shelters and local pet-rescue organizations. Each edition showcases dozens of adoptable pets from these hard-working agencies, which ANIMAL SOURCE publishes for free. The proof is in the pages, which have doubled since the first edition hit the streets. Sponsors — Smith says she can always use more — help offset the cost of the adoption pages.

In addition, the magazine devotes sizable space for prospective pet owners searching for a specific breed of pet. "We offer pages of purebred and thoroughbred animals for sale from reputable sources," Smith says.

Owners seeking a new home for their pets — Smith says the magazine has a large military following — also advertise in the ANIMAL SOURCE. A photo ad costs $12 ($25 if a large picture is requested) and can include a photo (taken by the owner or, if needed, by Smith herself using a state-of-the-art digital camera) and 25 words or less, 25 cents for each additional word. The ad runs for two issues.

The ANIMAL SOURCE also contains a lost-and-found section (those ads are also free, Smith says, because "there is no greater reward than the reunion of a child, family or person with an adored pet"), a more traditional classified-ad page, cost-saving coupons, and helpful articles to ensure the well-being of your pet.

So pick up a copy of the ANIMAL SOURCE and check it out! You’ll find the free magazine at all Petco shops, Circle K stores and many other outlets. Contact the ANIMAL SOURCE at (619) 444-3525 for more information.

copyright 2006 Unleashed!