A woman in a yellow sweater kisses her new rescue dog.

Want to Get a Dog? Here Are the Best Places to Find Them

You want to welcome home a new dog? Depending on where you live and what kind of pup you’re looking for, you may have several options for purchasing or adopting your pet.

Read on to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of some particularly popular options.


Shelters either allow healthy animals to live out their lives there (no-kill) or they keep animals for a predetermined time after which they euthanize them. No-kill shelters are usually run by private, non-profit organizations, while municipal shelters operated with tax dollars typically euthanize animals.

No-kill shelters generally vaccinate and spay or neuter dogs prior to adoption. These shelters have more time to work with individual animals to solve behavior problems. Staff members usually know the history and personality of the dogs and can tell you about those that interest you. The space in no-kill shelters is limited, so you may see many of the same dogs week after week.

Shelters that euthanize have a greater turnover of animals so the selection is better. Some may provide dogs with veterinary care, so ask before adopting.

All shelters ask for an adoption fee to help offset their costs and to determine whether you are making a serious commitment.

Rescue Groups

Rescue organizations generally place animals without operating a facility to house them. Organization members will provide foster care in their homes to dogs until they can be permanently placed.

The amount of veterinary care given to a dog can vary according to the means of the foster parent. The advantages to adopting from a rescue group are that dogs will be accustomed to living with people, and the foster parent will be knowledgeable about the dog.


If you want a purebred dog, find breeders in the national dog magazines, visit a dog show or surf the Internet. Many breeders, dog clubs and pedigreed dog associations maintain Web pages.

When you’ve identified breeders, call to make an appointment to see their puppies. Like good shelters, breeders will interview you to make certain you will provide a good home and ask you to sign a contract.

The Internet

Finding the right dog may be only a mouse click away. Many shelters have Web sites on which they post photos of dogs available for adoption.
The “cybershelter” available from the American Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Petfinder.org makes it easy for you view adoptable dogs in your area without leaving the comfort of your home. After finding a dog that appeals to you, go to the shelter to complete the adoption process.

Breed Rescues

Purebred dogs occasionally turn up at shelters or in newspapers. Groups have sprung up to rescue purebred dogs from shelter situations and find them homes with people who would prefer a purebred. Contact your local animal shelter or veterinarian for contact information of local purebred rescue groups.


Check the classified section of your local paper for dogs put up for adoption or sale. Visit the home to interact with the dog and make certain the dog is healthy. Ask the owner for the name of the dog’s veterinarian and for vaccination certificates.

Pet Stores

Pet stores often sell pedigreed pets to appeal to the impulse buyer. Because buyers have not thought through what it takes to care for pets, the pets are often turned over to shelters when they become too much for the owner to handle.

Pet store pets are often obtained through puppy mills – breeders who care only about making money rather than the health and well-being of the animals produced. These pets are kept in deplorable conditions, not socialized, and often receive little if any veterinary care. Their health can be questionable and genetic defects are common.

Forward-thinking pet stores have become off-site adoption agencies for local shelters and animal organizations. If you are hesitant to go to a shelter to adopt, visit a pet store that has shelter animals available in the store.


There is no shortage of free-roaming animals in the world. They may find you instead of the other way around. Many of these are grateful for being brought indoors, and saving a dog from a life on the street carries its own reward.

Wherever you decide to look for a dog, you will be starting down a path of friendship that will endure for many years to come.