Animal shelters are your best source when looking for a pet. Not only do they have a great selection of adult animals for adoption, but they also have kittens and puppies, even purebred animals. In fact, on average, purebreds account for about 25% to 30% of a shelter's dog population. Many pets at your local shelter are waiting for new homes because they were obtained by someone with unrealistic expectations of the time, effort, and money required to sustain a lifelong relationship with their pet. National figures indicate that about half of the animals in shelters must be euthanized for lack of homes. Animals at your local shelter are eager to find a new home and are just waiting for someone like you.
You can depend on responsible shelters to screen the animals for sound health and temperament. When animals are relinquished by owners, the shelter staff makes every attempt to collect a thorough history of that pet. Then, while caring for animals, staff and volunteers try to learn as much as they can about these animals as well as those who come to the shelter as strays.
Don't be discouraged if, when you first visit the shelter, there are no animals of the breed or type you want. Shelters receive new animals every day. Your shelter may also have a waiting list and can call you when an animal matching your preference becomes available. Before choosing your pet, you can even speak with an adoption counselor about whether your choice of a particular type or breed will be best for you.
In an effort to make good matches between people and animals and to place pets in lifelong homes, many shelters provide adoption counseling and follow-up assistance, such as pet parenting and dog-training classes, medical services, and behavior counseling. Or they may be able to refer you to providers of these services.
Another advantage is that shelter adoption fees are usually much less than an animal's purchase price at a pet store or breeder. And your new pet is more likely to be vaccinated, dewormed, and spayed or neutered. To locate your local animal shelter, check the Yellow Pages under "animal shelter," "animal control," or "humane society."
Many shelters have web sites on which they display the animals they have available for adoption. Some sites allow you to download adoption forms and read about responsible pet care. A growing number of shelters also promote their web sites, and the animals they have for adoption, on sites such as Pets 911, Petfinder, and 1-800-Save-A-Pet.com.