A feeling of safety and unconditional love... it comes in a small package.
Dogs are the criminal's worst enemy. Gayle Helms of the Humane Society of Smith County says it can give you a factor of safety.
"A larger dog or even a smaller dog can really provide that sense of security or even protection as well as just companionship or just a family."
Between them, shelters across East Texas and the Humane Society of Smith County have hundreds of dogs up for adoption. Helms says having an canine friend is a living, breathing alarm system.
"Dogs have a keen sense of hearing, so they hear sounds that are unfamiliar and alert people that something is going on."
Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith agrees.
"Those little dogs will start barking and they won't shut up until whatever it is that's bothering them leaves," he said.
Smith says most criminals are looking for "victims of opportunity" -- that they'd be able to commit an easy crime. A dog gets in their way.
"When we talk to prisoners and ask them what are deterrents to prowlers, what are deterrents to burglars, they'll always say it's the sound of a barking dog."