Where can I get my next pet?

Pet care & safety
mixed breed puppy up for adoption

I’m a firm believer that we don’t find our pets but that our pets find us. That’s not to say we don’t need to be on the lookout for our next best friend. When it comes time to add a new pet to the family, you definitely have lots of avenues to research, each with a list of pros and cons. In case you haven’t considered all the options, here are a few of the most common ways people find pets.

From Family or Friends (or Friend of a Friend)

It’s not uncommon for pets to make their way to their new home from a home not so far off. If you’re thinking about getting another pet, it wouldn’t hurt to let those in your close circle know. Chances are they might know someone who is rehoming a pet due to a number of circumstances that are no fault of the pet.


  • You’ll likely get a bit of the pet’s background, including behavioral information

  • They’ll likely come with starting supplies (leash, crate, bedding, etc.)

  • You’ll help keep a pet out of a shelter and help a person who may be struggling


  • The pet may need vaccines or to be spayed or neutered, and the cost could fall to you. But you might be able to work with local charities for low-cost care

From a Shelter or Rescue

Adopting from a shelter or rescue is one of the most popular ways to find a pet. In case you’re unsure of the difference, a shelter is a physical structure that houses homeless and adoptable animals, while a rescue is often a group of volunteers who house adoptable pets in their individual homes. There are large and small non-profits helping adoptable animals in every part of the world, so there’s bound to be one close to you.


  • Saving the life of a homeless pet (infinity points in the pro column for this one)

  • Adoption fees usually include necessary vaccines, spay or neuter, prior medical care, and sometimes other perks, like training classes


  • If you’re looking for a very specific breed or type of pet, it might take patience and looking to more distant groups

  • There are adoption contracts and guidelines set by some agencies, and not all people will qualify for the pet they prefer


A quality breeder is dedicated to the health and well being of their breed and spends a great deal of time and cost to breed healthy pets that are free of hereditary issues, so you might not have to get pet insurance that covers genetic conditions. While some issues can slip through the cracks, doing your research before getting your next pet from a breeder will go a long way to ensure your pet is fit.


  • Your pet comes with a complete health record and background

  • You can get the breed you desire and you may even be able to purchase a second pet from the same parents


  • Well-bred puppies and kittens can be costly, though this might be seen as an investment against veterinary bills later on

Stray or Abandoned Pets

Many pet parents, myself included, find their pets as strays. Once you’ve made every possible effort to find out if they had a prior home (check for microchips, post listings at local shelters and vets, post to social media), and there are no leads, you’ve got yourself a free pet.


  • You help a homeless or abandoned pet

  • No adoption fees


  • No health or behavioral background

  • No adoption fees to pay means no wellness care comes with the pet. But try the local low-cost resources, it often works quite well. Some rescues will even let you “surrender” the stray with the understanding that you’ll return to adopt it (for a fee) once it’s been spayed or neutered and vaccinated.

Pet Stores and Commercial Breeders

The number of pets coming from pet stores and commercial breeders (sometimes known as puppy mills) is on the decline. While some pet parents find that buying from a pet store is convenient, they may be purchasing a poorly-bred animal and perpetuating a system of inhumane breeding practices.

If you you’d rather get a pet where you can also shop for their supplies, consider going to a retailer that offers adoptable pets through local rescues instead of purchasing a stock pet.

I never know when my next pet is going to find me, though I’ve always got my feelers out for a great addition to our family. Be sure to consider all options when you’re ready to open your heart to an animal, and they’ll find their way to you in time.