Ready to add a four-legged friend to your family? Animal shelters are filled with loving, healthy, wonderful dogs and cats of all sizes, breeds and ages and one of those pets may be the perfect animal for you. Here are some of the reasons you might want to adopt a cat or dog.

1. You Get the Satisfaction of Saving Lives

Estimates vary, but there’s no getting around the fact that somewhere around 3 to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized (“put to sleep”) each year in the United States. If you choose to adopt, you have the gratification of knowing that you are helping to solve the problem of homeless pets in America.

You are also making a choice not to support puppy and kitten mills which are factory-style breeding facilities that put profit far above the welfare of animals. Most animals raised in these mills are housed in poor conditions with improper medical care. They are often in poor health and have ongoing behavior and health problems due to lack of socialization and human companionship, and are often inbred. Mill animals are sold to unsuspecting consumers in pet stores, over the Internet, and through newspaper classified advertisements.

By adopting instead of buying a pet, you can be certain that you aren't supporting these horrible facilities.

2. You Can Shop Around for the Perfect Pet

Animal shelters and rescue groups have plenty of healthy, well-behaved animals waiting for a home. Most shelters examine and vaccinate animals when they arrive, and many shelters spay or neuter them before adoption. In addition to providing medical care, more and more shelters and rescue groups assess the pet’s personality and behaviors to match pets with the ideal owners.

It is a common belief that animals end up in shelters because they were abused or behaved badly. In truth, many animals in shelters are there for reasons that have more to do with their previous owners than the pets themselves: divorce, moving, lack of time, and financial constraints are among the most common reasons why pets lose their homes. Adopted pets can be just as loving, intelligent, and loyal as purchased pets.

3. You Will Save Money

Adopting a pet from an animal shelter is much less expensive than buying a pet at a pet store or through other sources. Buying a pet can easily cost $500 to $1000 or more; adoption costs range from $50 to $200. In addition, animals from many shelters are already spayed or neutered and vaccinated, which makes the shelter’s fee a bargain. 

If your heart is set on a purebred dog, you can still look at shelters or breed rescue groups as they are often given up for adoption as well.

4. You Can Choose a Pet of Any Age

Although puppies and kittens are cute, they can require a lot of work to train. An adult or older pet that is already trained may be a better fit for your lifestyle. For example, adopting an adult dog that is already housetrained and knows basic commands is often much easier than adopting a puppy.

5. You Can Have a Support System

Rescue groups often provide support for new owners because keeping pets in good homes is in the best interest of these groups. So if you are worried about health issues, want advice on what kind of dog food to buy, or have other newbie questions, the shelter staff will probably have opinions and advice to share.

Search for adoptable pets on Web sites like and or contact your local shelter for adoptable pets in your area.

This article has been reviewed by a Veterinarian.