1. Because you'll help a pet in need.

Each year, millions of pets enter shelters and rescues in the United States, many surrendered by loving families who can’t access pet-friendly housing or veterinary care, while others find their way as victims of cruelty. While the number of animals who are euthanized has dropped drastically over the years due to the hard work of shelter and rescue professionals and a growing number of people who choose adoption, hundreds of thousands are still in need of a home each year. While adult cats and neonatal kittens make up a large portion of animals looking for a home, you can find dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, companion birds and even horses at many local shelters. 

2. Because you'll find a great addition to your family.

Animal shelters and rescue groups are brimming with happy, healthy pets just waiting for someone to take them home. The majority of pets in shelters were brought there because of a severe lack of affordable, pet-friendly housing and access to veterinary care; issues that will require long-term and systemic change. While we work to keep pets and their families together, remember that many of the animals in shelters lived in loving homes and may even come to you house trained and/or ready to live with other pets.  

3. Because it’ll cost less.

Many shelters and rescues provide a significant amount of medical care prior to adoption including spay or neuter, first vaccinations, parasite prevention (ex. fleas/ticks/heartworm disease) and microchipping and adoption fees typically don’t cover the costs incurred by the shelter. With so much medical care provided ahead of time, you can focus on long-term preventative care with your veterinarian. In addition, free or low-cost adoption events are becoming increasingly popular and are a wonderful way to talk with a shelter or rescue about whether a pet is a great match for you and your family.

4. You'll encourage others to adopt from shelters when they see how awesome your own pet is.

Not too long ago, adoption was rare but thanks to decades of advocacy, including through a partnership between the Humane Society of the United States, Ad Council and Maddie’s Fund, adoption is now the most popular way to obtain a new pet. We want to keep it that way. 

5. Because it's one way to fight puppy mills.

If you buy a dog from a pet store, online seller or flea market, you’re almost certainly getting a dog from a puppy mill.

Puppy mills are factory-style breeding facilities that put profit above the welfare of dogs. Animals from puppy mills are housed in shockingly poor conditions with improper medical care and are often very sick and behaviorally troubled as a result. The moms of these puppies are kept in cages to be bred over and over for years, without human companionship and with little hope of ever joining a family. And after they're no longer profitable, breeding dogs are simply discarded—either killed, abandoned or sold at auction.

These puppy mills continue to stay in business through deceptive tactics — their customers are unsuspecting consumers who shop in pet stores, over the Internet or through classified ads. Puppy mills will continue to operate until people stop supporting them. By adopting a pet, you can be certain you aren't giving them a dime.

Top 10 tips

Sign up to receive our exclusive e-book full of important information about caring for your pet, including training techniques and answers to frequently asked questions.

Person holding an iPad looking at the HSUS Pet Tips eBook

6. Because you’ll have access to long-term support.

When you adopt from a local shelter or rescue, you have a long-term resource if you run into challenges with your pet. Many organizations offer free behavior support, may negotiate with a future landlord with you, provide free pet food if you’re facing challenging times and may even have a veterinary clinic to help keep your pet healthy the rest of their life. Each organization is different so be sure to ask what resources may be available after you’ve adopted. 

7. Because pets are good for your health.

Not only do animals give you unconditional love, but they have been shown to be psychologically, emotionally and physically beneficial to their companions. Caring for a pet can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment and lessen feelings of loneliness. And when you adopt, you can also feel proud about helping an animal in need!

8. Because adoption may be your introduction to your local shelter or rescue.

When adopting a pet, you may be meeting your local shelter for the first time. Maybe they’re overwhelmed and you learn they receive no or very little local or state funding to care for animals, so you help them with a fundraising event or collect pet food donations for their pantry. Or maybe you find that your local shelter is so much more than a place to adopt an animal and you begin volunteering at their low-cost spay/neuter clinic. Perhaps you learn that they are developing ways to keep pets out of the shelter through temporary foster programs and you sign up to foster a pet from someone who needs to be hospitalized. Learning about your local shelter can open your eyes to the vast array of programs available to your community and all the ways you can help.

9. Because you’ll have support in finding the best match.

Here at the Humane Society of the United States, we promote Adopters Welcome, a conversational approach to the adoption process. We know that amazing adopters come from all walks of life and we love seeing local organizations throw away their black-and-white application process and replace it with a dialogue centered on finding you the best match for your lifestyle. Regardless of how your local shelter does it, many provide lifelong support for the pet you’ve welcomed into your home.

10. Because you're helping to build a humane society.

When pets are adopted faster than they arrive at a local shelter, it allows your local organizations to focus on the root causes of pet intake. When they have fewer animals in the building (or in foster homes), they can strengthen programs to reunite lost pets with their families or meet with elected officials to create more pet-friendly housing in your community. Only together can we build a more humane society for pets and people alike.