By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Dogs are making homeowners out of millennials, according to a recent survey.

For years, 30-year-old Paul Hughes has dreamed about adopting a dog.

Hughes found Fiona, a 4 month-old pit bull, at a shelter. But before he made the decision to adopt, he had to find the perfect location for his new family.

“One of the biggest things was having a yard,” Hughes explained. “I also wanted to have enough space for it to not be too cramped. My previous apartment was so small.”

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Dogs are driving many millennials into home ownership.

In a recent survey from Suntrust Mortgage, a third of millennials said having a better space or yard for their dog influenced their decision to purchase their first home.

“Whenever we take buyers through the initial consultation, we always ask them do they have any children and the very next question is do they have any pets,” Ray Ellen, a realtor, said.

Ellen says home purchases among millennials is on the rise.  And as many are waiting longer to get married and have children — their focus is on their pets.

“They need something that is fenced in, easy access to their backyard,” Ellen explained. “A lot of them are looking for larger laundry rooms, so they can put a kennel or cat box or something like that.”

Hughes admits he’s had to adjust his lifestyle a bit since adopting Fiona but says it was well worth it.

More millennials are also making pet ownership a priority.  A recent report from the American Pet Products Association found  millennials make up the largest pet-owning demographic at 35 percent. Baby boomers come in a close second at 32 percent.

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