Shelters and rescues

  • Breed-specific rescue groups have purebred dogs and puppies looking for new homes.
  • Many pets end up homeless through no fault of their own or of their previous family. Rather, a lack of affordable and pet-friendly housing tops the list of reasons pets are surrendered to shelters.
  • Pets adopted from shelters and rescue groups typically cost less than pets purchased or even acquired for free. Once you add in the cost of vaccinations, spay/neuter surgery, microchip, dewormer and other "extras" included in your adoption fee, you'll probably be surprised with the level of medical and behavioral care your new pet has received.
  • While some shelter pets may have some behavioral or medical challenges, your local organization can help you find the right fit for your lifestyle and family.
  • Shelters and rescue groups can provide advice on making your relationship with your pet the best it can be for the rest of your pet’s life, so you’ll never have to go it alone.

Looking for a cat or dog? Find One at the Shelter Pet Project

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Do your homework

So now you’ve decided to add a new pet to your family. The first question to answer is what kind of pet will be the best fit for your household? Do you have enough time to devote to the daily needs of a dog? Is there someone in your household who is allergic? Have you considered a non-traditional pet such as a rat or another small animal? Doing your homework in advance will make your search easier and increase the chances that your new pet will be a happy addition to the family.

Once you have decided on the type of pet you are interested in, there are a number of websites, such as The Shelter Pet Project, that bring the world of animals waiting for new homes right to your fingertips.

Waiting for the right one

If for some reason you don’t find who you’re looking for right away, don’t be discouraged. As shelters and rescues work to end pet overpopulation and support pet owners in keeping their pets, the number of cats and dogs in shelters will decrease—and this is a good thing! If your shelter doesn’t have a great match for you and your family, they may have advice on where to search next, including how to find a responsible breeder, or can connect you with other shelters and rescues in the area.

Visit local shelters

Not every shelter or every pet is listed on national websites, so it’s important to check the websites of your local shelters and rescues as well. Don’t forget to also visit in person—sometimes all it takes to find your perfect match is to look directly into an animal's eyes and fall in love!