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Wondering where to adopt a dog? How to find dog rescues near you

Rescuing a dog has so many benefits. For starters, you not only save that dog’s life, but you make room for another homeless pup, giving them a chance to find a forever home, too. Shelter or rescue staff typically evaluate the dog’s behavior to determine the type of home they’d do best in, such as how well they’d get along with small children or other pets. These insights can help you find your perfect match.

The rescue will often take care of spaying/neutering and vaccinating the pet, and adoption fees are usually significantly less than what a breeder charges. You’ll also get the satisfaction of knowing you changed your dog’s life, taking them from a kennel to a comfy couch. What’s more, they’ll change yours.

Wondering where to adopt a dog near you? Many services help you figure out exactly where to adopt a dog.

Where can I find a rescue dog near me?

These resources help you learn more about where to adopt a dog from a local rescue or shelter.

Family and friends

Does your aunt live near you and have a pup you absolutely adore? She may know of rescues in your area and can point you in the right direction. Ask other family and friends where they got their pups and what their experiences with rescues were.

Social media

Local Facebook groups are full of people ready to rave about where they found their forever friends. Submit a question to your community’s Facebook group and get ready for your notifications to be full of useful recommendations.

Websites

Many websites can help you locate pets in your area who need homes, including:

  • Petfinder. This popular searchable online database doubles as a directory full of more than 11,000 animal shelters and adoption organizations in North America. These shelters and organizations list their animals who are up for adoption. You can search by zip code to find pups close to home.
  • Adopt a Pet. Adopt a Pet lists homeless animals from more than 17,000 shelters and rescues. The search feature allows you to filter by location, age, and breed to get an idea of what’s out there. Then you can request to meet an animal.
  • ASPCA. The ASPCA’s website is also home to a nationwide database of pups in need of homes. Prospective parents can select how far they’re willing to travel from their home, and even narrow their search further by breed, gender, age, size, and whether an animal is good with other pets or kids.
  • Rescue Me. More than a million animals have found a forever sofa to lounge on through Rescue Me. Pet parents can select a particular breed or mutt and then see if there are any available in their area.

a black lab on a computer screen

What to expect when you try to adopt a dog

You found your perfect pet online, met the dog in person, and fell in love. There are a few more steps before you can officially bring them home. Every rescue and shelter handles the adoption process a little differently, but here’s what you can generally expect.

  • You’ll fill out an application. The shelter or rescue will have you apply to adopt the dog. You’ll give your address, phone number, and contact information for your vet (if applicable). You’ll also need to disclose your living arrangements and provide a number for your landlord if you are renting so the shelter can confirm pets are allowed. They may ask for references.
  • Doggie interactions. If you have another dog in the home, the shelter will typically schedule a playdate to make sure the two will match up nicely.
  • Reference check. The shelter may call your references to ensure you’re as awesome as you seemed during the meet-and-greets.
  • Payment. Before taking the animal home, you may be required to pay an adoption fee. Sometimes it’s simply an optional donation.

Adopting a dog is one of the most rewarding things a human can do. Rescues and shelters make the process of finding a furry friend easier. They’ve usually evaluated a pet’s personality and preferences and can steer you in the right direction of a dog that’s best suited for your home and lifestyle. Social media and word of mouth are great ways to find a rescue animal near you. You can also use websites, including Petfinder and Rescue Me, to get insights on where to adopt a dog. Make sure you vet any website and rescue you look into—a Google search and reviews can help you figure out if the service or organization is legitimate. If you’ve never heard of the rescue, call them first, and use sites and services that provide photos of adoptable animals.

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BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on healthline.com and parents.com. In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
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