Congratulations on your decision to open your heart and give a home to a new pet. Pet ownership brings immeasurable benefits to both ends of the leash, but is an enormous responsibility.

The first step toward you and your new pet enjoying a long and happy life together is finding a pet that suits your lifestyle, preferences, and goals—and the best way to find that pet is knowing where to look.

Then, when you have found your paw-fect fit, schedule your pet’s first appointment at WesVet Animal Hospital. 

Pet shelters, humane societies, and animal control centers

Adopting a homeless pet comes with the emotional satisfaction of knowing you have given a needy pet a second chance, and you have provided space in the facility for another needy pet. Shelters, humane societies, and animal control centers are great places to find a variety of dogs and cats of all breeds, mixes, and ages.

  • Advantages:
    • Adoptable species may include dogs, cats, small mammals, and pocket pets.
    • Pets are spayed or neutered and microchipped before adoption. 
    • Preventive care services (e.g., vaccines, screening tests) are included with adoption.
    • Pet adoption fees are typically low.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Facilities are busy and may know little about the pet’s temperament.
    • Pets may have been surrendered for behavior or chronic health issues.
    • Shelter environments can cause anxiety and stress, so assessing the pet’s true personality can be difficult.

Independent pet rescue groups

Reputable pet rescue organizations are nonprofit (i.e., 501c3) volunteer-run groups dedicated to saving unwanted, abandoned, and neglected pets. Rescues may specialize in specific breeds, species, or sizes (e.g., toy or giant breeds), which can simplify your search. Although larger rescues may have their own facility, most are run out of volunteers’ homes. 

  • Advantages: 
  • Pets in rescues are generally up-to-date on veterinary care.
  • All pets are spayed or neutered prior to adoption.
  • Pets are kept in a home setting by volunteers who can provide insight about the pet’s personality.
  • Adoptable pets may have received some training, such as potty or crate training.
  • Rescues may be receptive to overnight visits, trial weekends, and foster-to-adopt arrangements to ensure the right fit. 
  • Disadvantages:
    • Rescues may not have a return or rehoming policy if the pet does not work out.
    • Some rescues are overwhelmed and cannot provide adequate care or housing.
    • Some applicants find the adoption approval processes (e.g., questionnaires, references, home inspections) restrictive.

Also, some rescues are disorganized, dishonest, or disreputable, so research the organization, read reviews, and thoroughly review contracts before signing any paperwork. Try to meet the pet in person before paying a deposit or adoption fee.

Reputable dog or cat breeders

The term “breeder” has become a dirty word because of disreputable individuals, commercial breeding (i.e., puppy mills), and people looking to turn a profit from breeding animals. However, reputable, conscientious preservation breeders are a fantastic resource for finding your perfect pet match.

Most breeders are dedicated to preserving and protecting their chosen breed and strive to breed dogs or cats that uphold the breed’s original purpose and the American Kennel Club or Cat Fanciers Association breed standard. 

  • Advantages:
    • Reputable breeders prioritize temperament and health.
    • Reputable breeders will always take the pet back if you cannot keep them.
    • Reputable breeders conduct extensive health testing on their breeding stock.
    • Parents or family members are usually on the premises.
    • Purebred pets have predictable traits (e.g., size, temperament, energy level, intelligence).
    • Breeders provide early life socialization, which helps to ensure a well-adjusted pet.
  • Disadvantages:
  • Prospective pet owners must know how to spot a disreputable breeder to avoid scams.
  • Successful breeders may have lengthy waiting lists. 
  • Well-bred pets are expensive, but reputable breeders don’t make money from their pet sales because of the costs, such as the parent’s health testing and veterinary exams, that they incur while breeding, whelping, and raising the litter.

The best way to identify a reputable breeder is by asking your breed’s national parent club for a referral. Some clubs also have online directories or regional contacts to help you find a local breeder.

Service or working dog programs

Service, training, and working dog programs routinely offer dogs and puppies for public adoption. These canines may have been cut from their program for health or aptitude reasons—which do not impact their ability to make a great pet—or are being retired from active duty.

  • Advantages:
    • Most dogs have received some training, and some are highly trained.
    • Dogs are current on preventive care and spayed or neutered.
    • If the organization has their own breeding pool, the dog’s pedigree and health history are well-known.
    • Dogs are well-socialized from an early age.
  • Disadvantages:
    • Approval to adopt these dogs is typically rigorous and competitive.
    • Waiting lists generally exceed the number of available dogs. 
    • Select breeds and sizes are available. Most working and service breeds and mixes are medium to large-sized dogs.

The search for a new pet is exciting—but can also be emotional. No matter where you look for your next pet, do your research, ask questions, and don’t rush the process. Investing a little extra time, consideration, and preparation at the beginning can ensure a long and loving life with your new best friend.

For additional pet adoption resources or breeder referrals in our area, or to schedule your new pet’s first exam, contact WesVet Animal Hospital. We can’t wait to meet your new best friend.