If you're looking for a new loving pet to welcome into your home, consider adopting one of the thousands of pets currently available in area humane or ASPCA shelters. The benefits of adopting a pet from a shelter, as opposed to buying one from a breeder or store, are many. Firstly, adopting a pet will save a life. There are millions of unwanted pets in the country; The Humane Society of the United States reports that about half of the animals in shelters are euthanized.

Adopting an animal from a shelter may also provide you with a healthier and more well-behaved animal. An older adopted dog may already be well trained, housebroken and more relaxed than a puppy. Animals from shelters are also vaccinated; de-wormed; and screened, tested, and treated for any conditions or sicknesses before they are available for adoption. Shelters spay and neuter most animals, which is the first step in preventing future animals from winding up in shelters.
 
Shelters, as compared to breeders, may also provide you with additional follow up support including resources, veterinarian referrals, adoption counseling, pet parenting classes, medical services and behavior counseling. Also, pet adoption fees are generally less than the price set by a pet store or breeder.
 
Shelters have an endless selection and variety of breeds, mixes and ages compared to a breeder or store, allowing you a greater opportunity to find your perfect match. According to the HSUS, about 25 to 30 percent of a shelter's dog population is purebred. Alternatively, you may adopt a mutt or mixed breed for an animal that is special and unique.
 
When choosing an animal, don’t rush into anything. The shelter system is always full, and the animals are constantly changing, so there is no need to rush through the selection process. Do your research and spend time with the animals. If you don’t find a best friend right away, keep checking back.
 
After you have made sure that you’re ready for pet ownership’s lifetime commitment of responsibly, start visiting as many shelters as you can. If you prefer, you can find facilities that don’t euthanize. Once you have chosen a possible pet, visit the animal often so that it gets used to you, and you can observe its behavior. Some shelters have large, open rooms where you can interact with many animals at once to better understand their temperaments.
 
The staff at shelters should be helpful and not pushy. Ask several shelter staff members about the animal’s behavior and temperament. If it is an owner-released animal, compared to a stray, ask about the animal’s history including sicknesses, the reason the animal was turned in, or any history of aggression. The result of prior poor training or lack of care can be remedied, however serious aggression and behavioral problems usually cannot. Try to pick an animal that is friendly and open to all handlers and not just specifically you. Also beware that a skittish, shy, fearful and aggressive animal could be exhibiting symptoms of its strange surroundings – or it could be showing indications of greater behavior problems.