So, you have decided to adopt a new pet? Yippee!
I am super excited for you – and for the pet that is about to join your family. But, at this step in your journey you may be confused as to where to begin your search to find the perfect match. This guide features some information about the best pet adoption websites to help you find a starting point for your search.
While there are local animal rescue organizations and shelters all over the world you can also adopt from, there may be very few options in some areas, which is why going online may be a great option. Many of your local organizations also post to these websites so you will see them in most cases on these sites as well.
Homeless animals are a big issue and there never seems to be enough homes for them all, so thank you for choosing adoption!
Important Things To Know About Online Adoptions
The only downside to many of the online tools for finding pets to adopt is that the animal rescue organization or shelter is responsible for keeping the information updated. This means you may find pets that are no longer available because the pets information is outdated.
Never be concerned about asking questions before adopting, whether about the pet or the organization you are adopting from. The more you know, the better outcome you will have with your pet adoption.
A few things you will want to look for when evaluating adopting options include:
- Adoption fees – make sure they are inline with what is reasonably fair for the care of a dog. Every adoption organization will have some kind of fee so they can cover their costs, so you should expect to pay something. This fee would include costs for any medical needs, span or neuter, vaccinations etc. Puppies and kittens are usually a bit more since they need more care.
- Health records – you will want to know that the pet you are considering is up to date on all required health care needs. Make sure they have been spayed or neutered and have their vaccines as well.
- Adoption agreements – some organizations may require letters of recommendation or some other type of references, while others may require a post adoption update. Make sure you read – and are comfortable with – any requirements the nonprofit has when adopting a pet. Also be sure you understand their complete adoption process. Also, find out what will happen if the pet turns out to not be a good fit for your family? Will they take it back? These are a few things you should consider and know the answers to!
Best Pet Adoption Websites
All of the resources below are platforms that allow animal shelters and rescues to upload their pets that are available for adoption. Which one you decide to use will depend on what you are looking for and the general usability and filtering options.
Most of the options on this list are serving North America, Canada and Mexico and there is one for the UK, but I will add others as I find more.
Petfinder and Adopt-A-Pet are the 2 biggest and most well-known with the largest selection of dogs, cats, reptiles and other animals and are my recommended go-to options for starting your pet search!
Petfinder has one of largest database of adoptable animals from the United States, Mexico and Canada and is one of the oldest resources on this list.
What kind of animals can you expect to find? Dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, farm animals and more!
It is an easy to use platform where you simply enter your preferred pet criteria and zip code and the system will return results that match your requirements and location.
Once you click on the type of pet you want to adopt, there will be so many more options for you – starting with entering your location and distance you will be open to traveling to get your new addition.
In the sidebar you will see options to filter by breed type, age, gender, color, good with and so much more to make it easy to find the perfect fit for your family.
All shelters and rescues go through an application and screening process before being allowed to post on the website.
Adopt-a-pet.com is a huge non-profit pet adoption website that covers North America inluding the United States and Canada. They have animals ranging from cats and dogs to rabbits, horses and more.
The website is pretty intuitive and also has a variety of filtering options to help you find the perfect pet and you can enter a city or zip code to find animals near you.
One feature I like on Adopt-A-Pet is the Rehome A Pet feature where owners can list pets they can no longer care for. So you can potentially search rescues, shelters and pet owners for your new addition.
ASPCA (NYC & Los Angeles Only)
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was founded in 1866, making them one of the oldest animal welfare organizations on this list to help animals.
The ASPCA has two adoption center locations, one in Los Angeles and one in NYC. There are also a few opportunities for local adoptions with pets that may be in foster care.
The ASPCA website does not have any fancy bells or whistles like some of the others on this list, but if you are in those 2 areas it may be worth it to take a trip to an adoption center near you.
Best Friends Animal Society
The Best Friends Animal Society has been saving animals since 1984. They are a no-kill facility, so every animal in their care will never be euthanized for space.
Their main location is in Kanab, UT and is home to about 1,600 animals that are looking for homes. They also have several satellite locations including Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Atlanta and NYC. Finally, they do also have network partners that they work with that are located throughout the country, so you can search with them as well.
Besides cats and dogs they have a lot of other options including pigs, birds, rabbits and more.
There are filters to help you find a pet that matches criteria like age, size, color and sex.
Another neat feature is their Pet Match where you can take a quiz and find what pet might be the best for you based on your answers.
Petango is one I did not find a ton about but they mention having 1,800 animal welfare organizations partnered with them to post the animals they have available. They have a basic search for breed and zip code and seem to allow any shelter or rescue to post.
AKC Rescue Network
While I am not a fan of the AKC due to issues with puppy mills that have been proven, I do like that have created the AKC rescue network so that those who want a purebred dog can save one.
You can filter by letter for the breed of dog you are looking for and you will see a list of rescues for that specific breed that you can contact. But be sure to ask questions about the original breeder and the background of the dog so you can be sure the dog is healthy!
Dogs Blog (UK)
Dogsblog.com is a UK resource for finding dogs to adopt. You can search by location, breed, age, sex or use their matchmaker tool to have them help you find the best match based on your requirements. They have some cool filtering options like “house trained dogs” and “good with cats” to help you really refine your search.
Powered By Database Feeds
There are some animal databases that actually pull their feeds from other websites, so you will get the same results from either website. This means the animals available for adoption will be the same on all sites.
Below are the ones that use these kinds of feeds and where the feed comes from.
Petsmart Charities, Petco Foundation and Shelter Pet Project all pull their animals in from Adopt-A-Pet. So if you search on any of these sites, you should get the same search results.
Petsmart in addition to offering the online search also offers opportunities to adopt pets at their stores through adoption partners that showcase animals at the adoption centers within stores. This is all done through the Petsmart Charities program.
Petco also hosts adoption events in conjunction with local shelters or rescues in their stores areas. Some Petco locations also have facilities where adoptions can take place on site with a local rescue organization they have partnered with.
DogTime uses the Petfinder feed to power its adoptable dog search.
Additional Resources To Find The Perfect Adoptable Pet
If you are still struggling to find the perfect pet, then here are a few more ways you can source the right furry friend. There are a lot of homeless pets out there, so if you can be patient, the perfect one will find their way to you.
Local Animal Shelter
Most towns or counties have an animal shelter where stray animals are taken. They will usually house them for a few days in case the owner comes to claim them, but if no one does – they will become available for adoption.
Some will post their animals some of the adoption sites above, they may have their own website or you can visit them in person to see what they have.
These are typically volunteer-based and do not have a facility to visit as most of the animals in their care will be in foster homes with loving pet parents who care for them until a forever home can be found. A rescue will take animals in from shelters that are overcrowded then get them medical care and find them a forever home.
There are a lot of local groups that focus on pets that need to be rehomed, this is a great way to help a pet stay out of the shelter and quickly find a new home.