When it comes to purchasing the family pet, most turn to local pet stores or breeders for that one special animal. However, there are other options! Animal shelters, like the ones run by the Humane Society and local government animal control divisions, have large selections of almost any kind of animal imaginable.

There is a mindset when it comes to these facilities that they are full of adult, abandoned animals that are sickly and will need special care by its adoptive family. This is not actually the case. While all animals are in need of a home, many times there are young puppies, kittens and other baby animals available for adoption. In several cases, the only reason this perfectly good animal can be found in the shelter is because its previous owner did not take the time and effort before purchasing it to research its care requirements. When pet owners don’t make the effort to learn about the time, money and personal attention that is required of a pet, it is likely they will not hold realistic expectations and quickly tire of the responsibility of caring for it.

In many shelters, adoptive families can even find purebred animals, mostly when looking at the dogs located there. Recent statistics show that the number of purebred animals in these facilities can reach 30% of the animal population. Just as numerous are the friendly, mixed breed animals that can become the perfect family pet.

A family pet should be a perfect fit! Talk to the pet adoptive counselor or veterinarian of the shelter chosen to help determine the best animal. Do not get discouraged when the first trip to the animal shelter does not lead immediately to an animal being purchased. Just like with pet stores and breeders, new animals arrive on a daily and weekly basis. Keep checking back in with staff and volunteers to see if they type of animal wanted becomes available. Some facilities will even take a name and phone number and call when a particular animal comes in.

Research the shelter or facility you plan to adopt from beforehand. Responsible ones will make sure each and every animal adopted is both sound in health and temperament. Look for the history on the animal, as staff should find out about the animal’s life as thoroughly as possible from its previous owner. If an animal comes to the shelter as a stray, all the staff and volunteers working and caring for that particular animal should watch and interact with it, learning as much as possible about it before allowing an adoption to occur.

After an adoption occurs, some shelters also offer various follow-up services. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • Pet parenting courses
  • Medical services
  • Animal training

If a shelter doesn’t offer these kinds of services, most will have contacts of reputable, local service providers to be utilized.

In addition to saving an animal, using a shelter to find a pet can also save its human family money. The adoption fees from humane societies and animal control facilities are normally much less than a traditional pet store. When the animal is brought home from a facility like this, it is normally spayed or neutered, vaccinated and dewormed, as well. This can save the adoptive family a lot of time and hassle, in addition to money, in the long run, as veterinary visits can begin with the animals yearly check up.

Unfortunately, not enough families take the information from this article and put it to use. Statistics around the nation show that almost 50% of animals found in shelters end up being euthanized. This is due to various reasons, the greatest being the lack of a good home. Take the time to look into adopting from a shelter or animal control facility! These animals make great family companions!


NA. (2007). Adopting From An Animal Shelter. Available: http://www.hsus.org/pets/pet_adoption_information/adopting_from_an_animal_shelter.html. Last accessed 27 August 2007.

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Buying A Pet? Consider Adopting An Animal From The Local Humane Society Or Animal Control Shelter - Hospitium