If you're considering adopting a four-legged best friend, you have a few options. Adopting a dog form a shelter or rescue center will save a dog's life, and be much less costly than purchasing from a breeder or pet store. Approximately 7 million animals arrive in shelters per year; up to 4 million never find homes and are euthanized, according to the ASPCA.
Decide which breed and personality will best fit your lifestyle and if you'd prefer a puppy or more mature dog. Dogs have different temperaments, and certain breeds require more upkeep and attention than others. Visit animal shelters, parks with dog runs and animal rescue groups to learn which breed you feel most compatible with. Research dog breeds on interactive websites, such as those of The American Kennel Club and Animal Planet, which offer personality profiles, temperament and other behavioral information to help you make the best decision.
Check animal rescue centers and shelters in your area. Shelters usually have a large selection of puppies and adult dogs, which have been screened for good behavior and health. Meet with the animal shelter staff who handle the dogs on a daily basis and ask for their input on the dogs' temperament and behavior, and learn which are their favorites. Search the databases on the websites of The Humane Society of the United States, ASPCA and The Shelter Pet Project to locate shelters and rescue groups that may have the pooch you're looking for.
Research nonprofit organizations that take some of the dogs off the hands of shelters and rescue centers to relieve overcrowding, and work to find them good homes. Rescue Me! Animal Project acts as a middlemen to find loving families for dogs through websites, like Petfinder. The adoption fee often is higher than those of shelters, which covers spaying or neutering, vaccinations, a microchip and initial pet supplies. Use the Petfinder database to help locate the dog who will steal your heart.
Call vets in your area for a local breeder recommendation if you're searching for a purebred to adopt. Don't rule out adopting a purebred from a shelter, as 25 percent of purebred dogs can be found in animal shelters and rescue groups, according to the ASPCA. Type the breed into a search engine, such as Google, along with the words "breeder" or "rescue" to locate a purebred pup for adoption. You also can check the database on the website of The American Kennel Club, which will help you find a breeder.
- Ask the shelter if you can take the dog you're interested in adopting for a short walk. You can learn more about his behavior and personality while you spend time with him outside the shelter.
- American Kennel Club: Breed Matters
- Animal Planet: Dog Breed Selector
- The Humane Society of the United States: Adopt a Shelter Pet
- ASPCA: Adoptable Dogs in Your Local Shelter
- The Shelter Pet Project: Find Your Pet
- Rescue Me! Animal Project: About Us
- PetFinder: Search for a Pet
- American Kennel Club: Breeder Referral Search
- ASPCA: Pet Statistics
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