When I was growing up, my sister and I enjoyed window shopping at the local mall. One of our favorite stores to peruse was the puppy store. With prices of $800 and up per pup, we certainly didn’t do more than window shop.
As an adult, when the time came to adopt my own pets, I chose not to go to a pet store. A few things influenced my decision. Not only had I read several articles about the nature of puppy mills that made me wary of puppy stores (though I’m sure there are some great ones out there that treat their dogs humanely), I was also aware that pet shelters were already overpopulated with many animals in need of a home. Honestly though, the biggest deterrent was that the prices at such stores were out of my budget.
So if not a pet store what are some other, more budget friendly options, to finding a family pet?
Looking for a Specific Breed:
Many people turn to expensive breeders or pet stores when they are interested in adopting a specific breed of dog. Now, if you’re planning to enter your pup into dog shows, or plan to breed your dog(most rescues and shelters require that you spay or neuter your pet before taking them home) that may be the best route to take. However, if you’re drawn to a specific breed but don’t require papers certifying that it is a purebred, consider checking for a breed specific pet rescue organization in your area.
I have always loved Boxers. In December of 2012 I decided to adopt one. Boxer puppies can run between $300 to $1200, even without a certified pedigree. And yet, there are many Boxers who have been abandoned and are just waiting for a good home. With a quick web search, I was able to find a boxer rescue organization that services my region. Many states have similar rescues for other breeds of dogs. The organization I went through rescues abandoned boxers from animal shelters and veterinarian clinics, as well as taking in boxers who have been surrendered by their owner. They found Rita roaming the streets of Miami, underweight and in need of a home.
There are two main differences between animal shelters and most rescue organizations. Rescue organizations often use foster families for their animals who are still waiting for a permanent home. Rita spent six weeks with a foster family before I came along. This means, the organization has to pay to supply each family with pet food, vet care and other necessary supplies. So, most organizations have a higher adoption fee than the typical animal shelter.
Many organizations also have a more stringent adoption application process. The organization that I went through required an online application that was followed up by a home visit from one of the organization’s volunteers. It may seem a bit overwhelming, but it really was a breeze. The volunteer who did my home visit was encouraging and seemed happy that I wanted to rescue a dog. She did a quick walk home tour as we chatted. She even brought her own Boxer with her.
Along with the home visit, a rescue organization may ask you to agree to certain guidelines. The organization that I adopted Rita from required that I sign a paper stating I would not clip her ears or dock her tail. I also had to agree that I would never allow her to ride unrestrained in the bed of a pickup truck. The paperwork stated that I would have to forfeit her back to the organization if I violated the agreement.
Check Your Local Shelter:
Just looking for a great pet but not too picky about the breed? Consider checking your local shelter first. When we adopted our second dog, Hayworth, we knew we wanted a young male dog to keep our girl Rita company. We prayed before going in that we would find the dog for us, and that if he wasn’t there, that we’d leave without a dog. We found Hayworth in the very last kennel. Most shelters will allow you to take the dog you’re interested in on a walk. We asked to take Hayworth out to the play yard where we got to get to know him better.
Most of the shelters in our area are overcrowded, with hundreds of dogs and cats being euthanized each day. Saving an animal is a wonderful feeling.
Looking for a Small Pet? Consider Craigslist:
If you’re looking for a small pet, such as a rabbit or guinea pig, you can often find them on Criagslist or in similar ads. Several years ago, I adopted two guinea pigs as classroom pets. I was able to adopt both, with a large cage included, for less that the price of one guinea pig at PetCo. Craiglist can also be a source for finding a dog or cat. Many people who are moving or need to rehome their pet for other reasons will turn to Craiglist to find a home for their pet. As with anything else, exercise caution when purchasing from Craigslist. Meet in a safe place, and if possible, bring someone with you.
Some local animal shelters take in small pets as well, so consider checking there. The adoption fee for a guinea pig at our local shelter is $5. They also often have ferrets (though their adoption fee is higher), rabbits and other small animals.
Whatever path you decide to take to find your next pet, I wish you luck!
Do you have any animal adoption experiences to share?