Pet Adoption: Where Else to Adopt Besides a Shelter?


pet adoptionMost cities and counties have that one go-to animal shelter (often named after the city it’s housed in), where we know, no matter what, we can rescue a dog or a cat. And while it’s certainly a noble cause to rescue an animal from a shelter, there are a few issues that come into play.

For starters, perhaps you have a certain type of animal (or breed) in mind that you’d like to rescue, and your local shelter does not have this breed. What do you do now? For example, let’s say that you live in a small apartment and really need a small dog, like a chihuahua or pomeranian. Or perhaps you have small children and would like a dog you feel you can trust to be safe around your kids? There are many reasons why you may have a certain type of breed or animal in mind, but it’s not always a guarantee that your local shelter will meet your needs.

Does this mean you have to go to a breeder? Not necessarily. Whether you’re looking to rescue a pet for economic reasons or for altruistic reasons, you can still go the pet adoption route even if your local shelter doesn’t have the kind of animal you need. Here are some other options.


Of course the Internet would play a role in this. Sites like, and, are great places for you to browse potential pets, without feeling pressured or overly guilty as you stand inside a loud kennel. You can narrow your search to within driving (or even walking) distance of your house. Your search results will include private and publicly funded shelters, breeders, and individuals looking to give their pet a better home. One of the cool things about these sites is if you’re looking for an unconventional pet (ferrets, spiders, etc.) you’re more likely to find what you need online than if you were to go to your nearby shelter.

The Best Friends Animal Society at is based in LA and Utah, however, they transport animals to people across the US and Canada. This society began in 1984 by a group of people  who refused to accept euthanasia as a part of an animal’s life. The unique feature of this society is that they boast a gorgeous sanctuary at Kanab, Utah, where you can volunteer or sign up for a guided tour.

If you know you want a dog, then Hearts United for Animals ( is a great site to visit. HUA does rescue cats as well, but they focus primarily on dogs. They are located in Auburn, Nebraska, and are a no-kill animal shelter and sanctuary. They will transport animals to adopters if the dogs are in good health and travel conditions are safe.

You can also visit your local food store chains, namely Petco and Petsmart. These two companies refuse to sell dogs and cats. Rather, they team up with local shelters, and rescue groups, and provide space for adoption centers and informational meetings.

Stay pure

Here’s a myth: you’ll never get a purebred dog if you choose to rescue. If you have your heart set on a purebred, but also want to adopt, you’re in luck. The American Kennel Club offers a list of breed-specific dog rescue organizations on its website. Whether you want a Golden Retriever, Cocker Spaniel, or a French Poodle, there’s likely an organization who can help you out.

Use your local resources

The last place you may want to consider is nearby vets, animal hospitals, and doggie daycares. Oftentimes these places have their finger on the pulse of potential dogs and cats in need. Think of it like this: if you had to give up your dog, would you want to drop him off at a shelter? Likely not. You’d probably try to match your pet with someone who is loving and trusting. So, you might ask your local vet, or daycare if they know anyone who’s looking. Voila, the wheels have been set in motion. Perhaps that vet or daycare gets a few of these requests each month. So, they start to think: Maybe we should create a binder of pets in need, or a website? Now, all they need are people who want to adopt. That’s where you come in. Try visiting your local animal resources and expressing interest in adopting an animal.

Rescuing an animal from your local shelter is certainly a positive way to make an impact on that animal’s life. However, sometimes choosing a shelter isn’t always a viable option. Luckily you do have options. If your heart is set on adopting your next pet, you have many places to choose from, to make sure you find a pet that’s the perfect match.