You Can Find a Well-Trained Pet at the Animal Shelter
Yes, many people go to pet shelters looking for puppies and kittens. But for plenty of pet parents, adult dogs and cats are a much better choice—and animal shelters are the place to find them. (Especially if you’d prefer to skip those time-consuming training sessions!)
“Many adult dogs will come to you with some training and may already know basic commands like sit, down and stay, or be housebroken,” says Julie Bank, former president/CEO of Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA. “If they haven’t learned proper potty manners, adult dogs are often easier to house train as they can ‘hold it’ longer than puppies.”
Adult dogs are generally easier to care for than puppies too, according to Bank. “Medically speaking, puppies require a series of vaccines to become fully vaccinated, and they are more prone to illness,” Bank explains. “Behaviorally, puppies require a lot of time and training as they develop to become well-socialized dogs.”
Kitties might not be as hard to potty train as puppies, but they do come with tons of energy and an incredible ability to get into trouble—so adopting an adult cat might make it easier for you to sleep through the night. Shelter staff can also tell you more about the cat’s personality when they are an adult, so you can find a cat that best suits your lifestyle and family.
You Can Find Lots of Purebred Pets at an Animal Shelter
One little-known animal shelter fact is that shelters often have purebred dogs available for adoption. There’s nothing wrong with “mutts,” of course. (They’re some of our favorite animals!) But some prospective pet parents have their heart set on a specific breed—and think that they have to buy them from a breeder. Spoiler: They’re wrong.
“There is a lot of debate about what percentage of dogs in shelters are purebreds, but I will tell you that in my experience we see all types of dogs at the Pasadena Humane Society, both purebred and mixed breed,” Bank says. “Golden Retrievers, Labradors and Boston Terriers are regular guests, and we even have the occasional designer dog, like a Labradoodle, adopted at our shelter.”
Plenty of pet rescues also cater to specific breeds that they pull out of the shelters. Dachshund Rescue South Florida, for example, focuses on saving Dachshunds in the Sunshine State. Find a list of all the places you can adopt a specific dog breed here.
You’ve also got a good chance of finding purebred cats amongst the domestic shorthairs (the feline equivalent to a “mutt”) at your local shelter. And many rescues are dedicated to saving cat breeds, too. Siamese Rescue, for instance, has rescue operations in Virginia, Colorado and California, all focused on finding forever homes for displaced Siamese cats.
Shelter Pets Are Health-Screened Before Adoption
If you’re concerned about adopting a pet with unknown health issues, take heart: Reputable shelters and rescues screen their animals for common illnesses. Plus, some of the medical expenses connected with bringing a new pet home are included in your adoption fee when you take a pet from a shelter.
“Adopted pets most often come spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped,” Bank says. “Cats are often tested for Feline Leukemia and FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus).”
Depending on the shelter or rescue, your pet may have also received treatment for fleas and intestinal parasites, as well as a heartworm preventive.
“Many shelters also have partnerships with local veterinarians where you may get your first exam free or other discounts,” Bank adds.
Animal Shelters Offer a Huge Variety of Pets
If you want a pet but aren’t sure what type of animal is best for you, shelters are the perfect place to start. Adopt-A-Pet lists thousands of animals at shelters in your area, letting you browse listings until you fall in love with your future cat or dog. And in-person shelter visits offer a similar experience. “When you walk through the kennels, you’ll see animals old and young, big and small, short-haired and long-haired,” Bank says. You’ll be able to interact with a variety of prospective pets firsthand, learning about your own preferences as you go.
Plus, Bank says, staff at most shelters can share their pets’ medical and behavior history. This is a huge advantage over getting a pet from a store, where you might not know much about the past of the animal and what you can expect.
“You may also get to spend time with your prospective pet outside of the kennel to see if you have a connection,” Bank says. Many shelters have special meeting rooms where you can spend one-on-one time with the dog or cat you’re considering, so you can get to know them better.
Shelter Animals Make Great Pets—And Sometimes Great Stars
While there’s no guarantee that your new furry bestie will have their name in lights, plenty of shelter pets have become household names—and helped to bring attention to all the major ways pets can change your life for the better. The original Benji, who starred in the 1974 film of the same name, was a rescue, as was Mauri, the dog who played Murray in the TV sitcom “Mad About You.” The Australian Cattle Dog Trike, who hits the road with Mel Gibson in the original “Mad Max” movie, was also found by a dog trainer at a local animal shelter.
Plenty of Internet-famous felines also came from shelters, like Nala, the Siamese and Tabby mix who’s one of Instagram’s most popular cats with over 4.3 million followers. Nala was adopted from a shelter when she was just 5 months old and has since charmed literally millions of people.
So who knows—maybe your pet’s the next cultural sensation! Find out how to set up an Instagram account for your new furry friend to launch their new career as a superstar.
Adopting a Shelter Pet Means Saving a Life
Our final animal shelter fact is also the most powerful reason to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue: Every animal you adopt is a life saved.
Even if you adopt from a no-kill shelter, you are still providing that pet with a life full of love and security that only a forever home can provide. “You are also supporting your local community in their efforts to end pet overpopulation,” Bank says.
There’s no feeling like knowing you’ve completely changed the life of a pet. So if you’re thinking about adding a pet to your life, find a shelter in your area and start your search there. Your future furry family member will thank you.