You used to have to arrive in person to see what pets were available for adoption. But like nearly everything else these days, anyone looking to bring home a newly adopted pet can now do so on the internet. With the help and convenience of the best pet adoption websites, you can adopt the cat or dog of your dreams and in turn, save a life.
After all, saving a pet via adoption has never been more relevant. Pet adoption centers are seeing more at-risk animals than ever thanks to nationwide staffing shortages, decreased numbers of volunteers, limited shelter hours and reduced adoption events.
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“The sad truth is that there is a shelter crisis going on and when shelters get overcrowded and pets aren’t adopted quickly enough, lives are on the line,” Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society, explains. “If you’re not able to commit to adoption, ask your local shelter or rescue if you can foster a pet instead. Doing so will still make a tremendous impact in saving lives.”
Of course, adding a new four-legged friend to the family comes with a lot of responsibility and honestly, it’s not always a walk in the park. Before settling on a pet adoption website (and a pet!), it’s important to be prepared.
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What to Do After Adopting a Pet
Rob Jackson, Chief Pet Protector at Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, explains that because some shelter animals can develop emotional issues from abandonment and/or other traumas, adopters should help them feel safe and as comfortable as possible during this new transition.
To do so, Jackson recommends establishing your new pet’s boundaries right away. Show them where they’re allowed to play versus where they will sleep and do your best to enforce those boundaries. Jackson also adds that it’s crucial to stick to a routine—when you’ll put them to bed, when they’ll be walked, when they’ll be fed, etc.
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Ultimately though, it’s all about being patient with your new pet. Show them positive reinforcement whenever possible and stay consistent so that at the end of the day, your newly adopted pet knows what to expect and what’s expected of them so they can feel safe and comfortable—AKA at home.
Make your pet adoption a paws-itive reality by checking out the 11 best pet adoption websites!
11 Best Pet Adoption Websites
1. Adopt a Pet
With connections to more than 21,000 animal shelters, organizations and agencies, Adopt a Pet strives to make the virtual adoption process a real treat. Features include an option to rehome (meaning that Adopt a Pet assists pet owners who can no longer care for their pets and ensures their pets end up in loving, fur-ever homes) as well as Premium New Pet Alerts, which quite literally alerts aspiring pet owners with potential matches. It’s like online dating but for adopting a pet!
Adopt a Pet lists adoptable pets from shelters, rescues, and even private owners to really provide you with the biggest pool to choose from. You can also search for pets by breed or by state/province as well.
According to their website, the AKC (American Kennel Club) Rescue Network is the largest network of dog rescue groups in the U.S. At AKC Rescue Network, adoptable dogs are categorized by breed—alphabetically on the left side of the landing page—and the website lists more than 160 unique breeds.
Unlike some shelters, AKC Rescue Network is specifically dedicated to making sure each dog finds their forever home—no matter how long that rehoming process takes. AKC uses its huge network of fosters and rehabs to ensure that every life is saved.
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The ASPCA is an acronym for American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and as such, this non-for-profit organization strives to connect vulnerable animals with pet-loving owners who will love them fur-ever.
The first-ever humane society to be established in North America, the ASPCA (founded in 1866) focuses on legislation in addition to promoting adoption. For example, ASPCA is currently running a campaign to put an end to the permittance of puppy mills and often lobbies for similar, actionable change.
On the website, you can search adoptable pets—dogs, cats, and even horses—by location. In the event that you can’t adopt right now, you can always donate to the ASPCA, show your support by joining their mobile action team or fundraise on their behalf.
When you adopt a pet from one of the many Best Friends Animal Society’s Best Friends Lifesaving Centers across the country, you can rest assured that you’re saving two lives—the life of the pet you’ve adopted and another’s by opening up a spot at the center.
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When Best Friend Animal Society hosted its first National Adoption Weekend last May, as many as 4,529 pet lives were saved! Plus, each time Best Friends hosts another National Adoption Weekend, Best Friends waives their fees and fixes, vaccinates and microchips pets for free.
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A leader in the no-kill movement, North Shore Animal League America works toward the ultimate goal of creating a world where there is no homeless pet euthanization and instead, all homeless pets find loving homes.
As of right now, an estimated 2,000,000 homeless pets are euthanized per year; by adopting with North Shore Animal League America, you support the rescuing, nurturing and saving of not just one pet, but many.
Since its inception in 1944, North Shore Animal League America has saved more than 1.1 million pet lives by facilitating more than 60,000 adoptions, 58,000 critical medical exams and 5,000 educational programs.
Petango has a network of more than 1,800 animal welfare organizations and shelters across the country and allows potential adopters to search by pet type, breed, location and more. Their PetMatch tool matches personal preferences with pet personality traits so that you can find the right pet for your lifestyle.
Petango also has a Lost Pet Search tool in the hopes and pursuit of reuniting lost pets with their loved ones. After all, Petango reports that as many as 5 million pets go missing in the U.S. annually. If you’d like to report a lost pet, you can check out their Lost Pet Search page or if you’ve found a pet with a 24PetWatch collar tag, call 1-866-597-2424.
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7. Petco Love
Petco Love has more than $300 million invested into creating a safer, more loving environment for pets. With more than $27 million specifically invested in the fight against pet cancer and other important healthcare needs for pets, Petco Love is doing the hard work necessary to prevent unnecessary pet euthanasia and create more resources and ways to support homeless pets in need.
While navigating their adoption tool, you’ll find options to search their 100,000 adoptable pets by type, breed, size, color, age and even sex. Petco Love is also open to donations, offers fostering options, and provides resources for lost pets as well.
In collaboration with Purina, Petfinder connects its extensive network of over 11,500 shelters and rescues with potential pet paw-rents. On Petfinder, you can search for dogs, cats, and farm animal pets as well as search by shelters and rescues. The website currently has more than 17,000 adoptable pets listed.
You can search by type (including horses, bunnies and pigs), breed, and of course, location. Petfinder even keeps a calendar of adoption events around the country so you can meet animals in person before making a decision.
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Earlier this year, PetSmart Charities—the nation’s top animal welfare funder since it first came to be in 1994—celebrated its 10 millionth adoption.
The organization’s most historic adoption yet was Balto, a shy, gentle Husky who spent his early years tethered to a chain before he was adopted by the De La Rosa family.
And Balto’s story is just one of thousands. In fact, PetSmart Charities is responsible for more than 600,000 pet adoptions each year. Here’s how it works: PetSmart Charities itself is not exactly a shelter. Rather, PetSmart Charities partners with shelters throughout North America to aid in the adoption process so that pets can find their fur-ever homes quicker.
PetSmart Charities also features listings of adoptable horses, rabbits, birds and farm animals.
The Shelter Pet Project is a collaborative effort between the Humane Society of the United States, Maddie’s Fund and The Ad Council. Like many other pet adoption websites on this list, The Shelter Pet Project allows you to search for cats, dogs or by shelter.
In addition to connecting animals to loving homeowners, The Shelter Pet Project also provides a helpful, educational FAQ about the ins and outs of pet adoption—answering questions about paperwork, the differences between private vs. municipal shelters, and more. It’s a meaningful resource for potential adopters who are looking for more information.
11. Rescue Me
What sets Rescue Me apart is its dedication not only to facilitating adoptions but also to helping animal rescues locate and rehabilitate wildlife in need.
Unlike some pet adoption websites that may only focus on cats and dogs, Rescue Me also lists horses, birds, reptiles, small mammals and farm animals, too. Once you’ve chosen what kind of pet you’re searching for, you can then narrow down your search by location, getting you one step closer to bringing home the new four-legged love of your life.
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