3 Places to Find Puppy Adoptions and What to Expect

Updated February 20, 2019
Happy family adopting a dog

Adopting a puppy has many positive benefits. Not only will you be giving your furry friend a safe, caring environment, but you'll also be doing your part to help with overpopulation. Once you've decided to adopt, you'll find that there are several good options available to help unite you with a needy puppy suitable for you and your lifestyle.

Pet Adoption Websites

The Internet is a great resource for aspiring dog owners, especially when it comes to adoption. As you begin searching for your new puppy, you'll find that the top pet adoption websites do a great job of providing you with detailed information on available animals in your area. Adoption websites serve as a resource for finding rescue groups and shelters. Instead of handling adoptions, they exist to point you in the right direction. On these sites, you'll find listings of pets available through various agencies, including rescue groups and shelters.

  • Petfinder.com - Using your ZIP code or city as a starting point, you can perform a search for the pup of your dreams, narrowing it down to specific breeds, ages, and genders if you wish. Petfinder works with numerous shelters and rescue groups.
  • AdoptAPet.com - This site uses similar search options to Petfinder.com. If you're looking for a specific breed or type of puppy, AdoptAPet allows you to save your search and receive an email notification when there are new listings that match.

Rescue Groups

Rescue groups tend to be volunteer-run organizations without a formal kennel structure. Puppies available for adoption are kept by members and volunteers in foster homes until they are ready to be adopted. Some rescue groups cater to all types of dogs while others focus on a specific breed.

Petfinder.com and AdoptAPet.com allow users to search for rescue groups in a specific area. Retail pet store chains, such as Petco and PetSmart, host adoption events as well as in-store adoptions. If it's a purebred puppy you're looking for, The American Kennel Club website maintains a list of rescue groups organized by breed.


Pet Adoption Day

Rescues tend to be run by passionate volunteers with a wealth of knowledge about dogs. Foster home volunteers provide care, training, and socialization before the puppy is adopted.


The major drawback to adopting from a rescue group is that all of their efforts to prepare each puppy for its new home come at a cost. Adoption fees can range from about $150-$400. These fees cover things like:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Vaccinations
  • Spaying/Neutering
  • Other miscellaneous medical care as needed
  • Micro-chipping

While the hefty fee may be prohibitive for some people, remember that you'd pay at least that to buy a puppy from a breeder plus you'd still have to cover the cost of vaccinations, micro-chipping and spay/neuter yourself.

Adoption Procedures and Interview

Breed-specific and other smaller, volunteer rescue groups may have more rigorous adoption procedures than municipal shelters or larger non-profits. Some groups even require an in-home visit and interview to make certain that you're capable of providing a great environment for a new pup. Some questions you may be asked include:

  • Are you at least twenty-one years old?
  • Have you ever owned a dog before?
  • Do you currently have other pets? If so, what kind and how many?
  • Are any of those pets spayed or neutered?
  • Do you live in a house or apartment?
  • If you rent, can you provide your landlord's name and phone number?
  • Do you have a fenced-in area where your potential pet could be exercised?
  • Do you work outside of the home, and if so, how many hours each day?
  • What is your average yearly income?
  • Do you have children?
  • What size dog are you looking for?
  • Are you looking for a specific breed?
  • If asked, can you provide references from a veterinarian or other sources?
  • Are you willing to have your home/property inspected prior to adopting?

You will likely be required to spay/neuter your puppy when it reaches the appropriate age, and most groups will ask you to sign a contract agreeing to this.

Animal Shelters

Animal shelters (or humane societies) are a great place to find puppies, especially if you're not looking for a certain breed so much as an all-around great companion. If you need help locating ones in your area, Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-Pet.com offer a search utility.

Dog shelter


Adopting a puppy from a shelter is a great way to give a homeless dog a caring family of its own. Many shelters become overcrowded, and animals may be subject to euthanasia if the shelter can't provide for them. Adoption fees at shelters tend to be lower than volunteer rescue group fees. Not to mention, helping a homeless pet can make you feel like a hero.


One of the drawbacks to shelter adoptions is that, especially when it comes to strays, the puppy's breed origins could be anyone's guess. That means that you're also taking a guess as to your puppy's adult temperament, appearance, and size. Although shelter workers can help predict what your dog might be like as an adult, you'll need to be prepared to continue loving and caring for him even in the event that he turns out differently (bigger or more active, for example) than you'd planned.

Adoption Procedures

Many municipal and larger non-profit shelters have refined their adoption procedures since the days when you could walk into a shelter, pick out a puppy, and take it home. At a minimum, you will complete an application similar to those required by rescue groups. The requirements for adoption can vary widely from very little to more extensive criteria to meet such as references. Many shelters will not release pets until they have been spayed/neutered, so there may be a waiting period before you're able to take your puppy home, or you may be asked to sign a spay/neuter contract.

Before You Adopt

Adopting a puppy can be a lot more work than choosing to bring home an adult dog. Before you adopt, consider the following questions:

  • Are you prepared to go through the rigors of potty training?
  • Can you accept some of your possessions will be chewed?
  • Are you willing to attend obedience classes with your pet in order to teach her basic commands?
  • Will you need to leave your puppy alone for hours on end while you work?

Make an Informed Decision

If all of this seems like too much work, you might want to think about adopting an adult dog who already has some training. Bringing a puppy into your life is definitely an adventure. If you're seriously thinking about adding a pet to your home, look into your heart and consider adopting a puppy from a shelter. It just might be one of the best decisions you'll ever make, and you'll be saving a life in the bargain.

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3 Places to Find Puppy Adoptions and What to Expect