The Humane Society of the United States
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Adopting from an Animal Shelter or Rescue Group

Adopting is the best way to find a new pet

  • Your local shelter or rescue are the best places to look for your new pet. Mark Makela/For The HSUS

Did you know that shelters and rescues always have a great selection of animals looking for new homes? You can find cats, dogs, birds, small animals, even horses and livestock.

In fact, any type of animal available for sale at your local pet store or from a breeder is probably waiting for adoption in a nearby shelter or rescue.

Thanks to the Shelter Pet Project, it's become easier than ever to find them.



Shelters and rescues

  • 6–8 million animals end up in shelters each year, half of which will probably not be adopted.
  • 25 percent of pets in shelters are purebreds. Breed-specific rescue groups always have purebred dogs and puppies looking for new homes.
  • Most pets end up homeless through no fault of their own—"moving" and "landlord issues" are the top reasons people give for relinquishing their pets, meaning shelters and rescue groups are full of wonderful, family-ready pets.
  • 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 what a bargain an adopted pet really is!
  • Most shelters and rescue groups conduct thorough behavioral analyses of each pet to ensure that they will be the right fit for your family.
  • Shelters and rescue groups can provide advice on making your relationship with your pet the best it can be for the rest of their life, so you’ll never have to go it alone.

Looking for a pet? Find one at the Shelter Pet Project»

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.

Locating your local shelter is easy »

Once you have decided on the type of pet you are interested in, there are a number of websites out there that bring the world of animals waiting for new homes right to your fingertips. The Shelter Pet Project is the most comprehensive source of information on adopting a shelter pet. Don’t be surprised if you are inundated with options!

Waiting for the right one

If for some reason you don’t find who you’re looking for right away, don’t be discouraged. Sadly shelters and rescue groups receive new animals every day, so keep checking back with them. Some groups also keep a waiting list, so they can call you if an animal matching your preference becomes available.

Visit local shelters

Not every shelter or every pet is listed on the Shelter Pet Project, so it’s important to check the websites of your local shelter 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.