When we hear the words “animal shelter” today, we likely picture a brightly lit, clean building full of happy, adoptable pets. Not so long ago, that wasn’t normally the case.

Animals found outside of human care were treated as unwanted pests and sent to “the pound.” There, in a dark, dank, depressing environment, lost animals met their sad end. ” In contrast, today’s animal shelters care for sick, injured, lost, or relinquished pets while finding them “forever homes.”

Some shelters still euthanize pets when they have no room, but thanks to rescues, this has grown less common. Today, the ASPCA, Humane Society, and other groups work closely with animal rescues — people willing to provide foster homes. Animal lovers also work hard to keep their charges comfortable while preparing them for adoption. This includes spaying, neutering, behavioral screenings, training, and “socializing” them so they’re used to being with people.

How Can I Adopt from an Animal Shelter Near Me?

Are you ready to adopt a shelter pet and give it a forever home? Let’s get started then! You can even begin from the comfort of your own home. No matter what kind of pet, breed, gender, age, or personality you’re looking for, you can likely find them online. You can search these sites by zip code to find adoptable pets at an animal shelter or rescue near you.

5 great places to find your pet.

  1. Pet Finder: With a massive database of 287,421 pets from 11,347 adoption groups waiting for a new home, it’s hard to go wrong here.
  2. The Shelter Pet Project: The Humane Society, Maddie’s Fund, and the Ad Council joined forces to help match people with pets.
  3. Adopt A PetThe Shelter Pet Project website directs you to this page if you are looking for an animal other than dogs or cats.
  4. The ASPCA online: Find pets you want to adopt or foster while helping them become adoptable.
  5. WorldAnimal.net: Looking for a bigger pool to choose from? Why not the world?

Adoption fees.

There are costs involved in adopting a pet because there are costs involved in caring for them. Food, housing, veterinary care, the expenses for boarding and caring for shelter pets add up quickly. These fees vary, depending on your location and the shelter you are working with, but in general, you can expect to pay anywhere from nothing up to $250 to adopt a new member into your family.

These fees pay for the animals care, and also help to deter people from taking on a responsibility — the care, feeding, and nurture of a pet — they can’t afford to take on. Petfinder.com states that fees of greater than $250 appear to be “for profit.”

You can adopt all kinds of pets from an animal rescue, like this iguana.

Image: CC 2.0 Cam Miller via Flickr.

What Types of Animals Can I Adopt from an Animal Shelter?

Shelter animals mean a lot more than just dogs and cats. You can find every kind of pet, from birds to herps (lizards, amphibians, and snakes). And, of course, there are rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, cats, and dogs.

This is a really great thing, and not just because we all love choices. Different animals are better for different personalities and lifestyles. To find exactly the right kind of animal to fit your needs, you need to take a lot into consideration: your family (children, couple, allergies, etc.), housing situation (apartment, house, house with a fenced yard), your activity level and how often you are home or traveling.

The Humane Society has this list of animals typically available at shelters, with tips on choosing the right animal for you: These include dogs, catsbirds, ferrets, guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, mice, and rats.

Should I Adopt from a Traditional or No-Kill Animal Shelter?

It is a difficult thing to realize, for many, but to take on the sheer number of animals in crisis, sometimes healthy animals are killed in some shelters. If they weren’t humanely euthanized, the shelters would be overcrowded they would have to turn more animals away, and the cost to care for the animals can be prohibitive. While no one ever wants to see a healthy animal euthanized, the idea that they would waste away due to illness, injury, or starvation on the street riddled with fleas, ticks, and other parasites is a far uglier end.

“No Kill” shelters do not kill adoptable animals. They do, however, have to turn animals away once they are full, leaving those creatures to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. But, any animal lucky enough to find themselves in such a nirvana can be assured they are going to be cared for until the natural end of their lives. You can find more “no kill” shelters here.

For many, these options, no kill or traditional shelters, are probably morally equal – both are doing what they feel is best. Neither can help all of the animals that need it, all the time. At least, not without your help, because your choice to adopt means one less hard decision for groups working hard to save as many lives as they can.

To end the need for such hard decisions, we need people like this, who will take on the animals others see as “unadoptable”:

Love animals? Animal Shelter Jobs and How to Find Them.

Animal Shelters can be a career option for people with the right training and credentials. You can look here, at the Humane Society’s Animal Sheltering website. Jobs include animal shelter care associate, dog walker, canine car provider, animal health technician, dog daycare attendant and pet sitter, director of animal care and adoption, shelter manager, shelter veterinarian, and executive director

Adopting from a Hurricane Animal Shelter

After natural disasters, like Hurricane Irma, temporary shelters and groups pop up to care for animals while other services are offline. If you are able to foster pets or seeking to foster pets during a disaster, try these links to DisplacedPaws.org, BestFriends.org, FosteraHurricanePet.org.

Heartwarming Animal Shelter Adoption Stories

Animal adoptions can break our hearts and make us whole again, all in the same tale. Some of these stories are unforgettable. But most have at least one thing in common, people with giant hearts opening their wallets, hearts, and homes to animals who need them.

You could be the hero in this story:

How Can I Help Animal Shelters Near Me?

Not ready to adopt quite yet, but still want to help local shelters? They need you. Volunteers can be retired persons or high school kids padding their college resume, but they are needed to walk dogs, clean kennels, cages, and tanks and spend time with the residents at the shelter. Or, just people who want to adopt, but can’t yet.

Many shelters rely on volunteer help to walk and feed, clean up after and care for pets that are awaiting adoption. They need donations to pay for all of that too, click above and find a local shelter looking for your help, today.

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