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Pet Finder: How to Adopt a Pet

If you have decided to add a pet to your family, you may be considering pet adoption. Thousands of pets are abandoned or surrendered every year, filling shelters with adoptable pets of all kinds. Adopting a pet is a wonderful way to bring joy to your life while helping an animal.

Pet Finder

At the Petfinder website, simply enter the species desired and your zip code or city and state, and you will get a list of adoptable pets in your area. You can also narrow results to a specific breed or age group and the distance from your city. Many shelters welcome long-distance adopters, so don't necessarily discount the pet you want just because of distance.

How it Works

1) You will now have a list of pets with pictures, a little information, and links. There may also be symbols under the name of each pet. These indicate that there is special information about the pet, such as if the pet has special needs or prefers a home without small children. The symbol key is at the bottom of the page.

2) Each pet's name is a link to its page. Here you can find more detailed information, such as a brief history, health problems, and vaccinations the animal has received. There is also a link to the shelter that has the pet and an email address in case you have questions. The adoption information for each pet can be found at the shelter's website.


The process for pet adoption will vary a bit for each shelter, but usually the first step is an application. Questions typically asked on the application include the names of household members, whether there are small children, the breeds of other pets, and vet information. You will also have to provide at least two references.

Some shelters require you to pick a specific pet before filling out an application. Others let you fill out an application first to see if you are approved. If you are, you can then choose a pet. Either way, it is a good idea to meet pets in person, preferably with every member of your household. Contact your shelter to learn its visiting policies.

After the application has been sent, it will be read and approved by a staff member. Your housing status will be verified and your landlord will be contacted if you have one. Some shelters require an interview either in person or over the phone. There will be an adoption fee unless the pet you want has had its adoption sponsored.

Picking up your Pet

Once everything is approved, it is time to pick up your pet. If some members of the family, including other pets, have not met the new pet, bring them along when you pick it up. This is required at most shelters. It helps determine whether there will be issues in the future.

Petfinder is a great source for everyone considering pet adoption, because all of the information is available in one place. Although it is possible to visit the individual websites of each shelter in your, Petfinder lists them all in one place. You may even discover shelters or rescue groups you didn't know were in your area.