Adopting a Shelter Pet

Make one of millions of animals needing a home part of your family by adopting your pet from a shelter.

| January 19, 2012

If you’re thinking about getting a new pet, consider going to an animal shelter to find that new family member. There are about 3,500 shelters in the United States that serve an estimated 5 to 7 million homeless animals, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Why adopt from a shelter?

  • You will make a pet happy. By adopting from a private humane society or animal shelter, breed rescue group, or the local animal control agency, you'll help a homeless pet find a new home.
  • You will receive a healthy pet. Most shelters follow strict medical protocols, including examinations when pets come in and vaccinations before they leave. In addition to medical care, shelters also screen animals for specific temperaments and behaviors to match each pet with the perfect family. Animal shelters have happy, healthy pets just waiting for someone to take them home. 
  • You will support your community and save money at the same time. Adopting from an animal shelter is usually less expensive than going through a breeder or pet store, as your local shelter will just ask for a moderate adoption fee that will mainly cover basic routine medical care costs. Shelter pets are also usually already spayed or neutered and vaccinated. Finally, you help promote responsible pet ownership through your community.

Key questions to ask the staff at an animal shelter.

  • The pet’s history. Find out as much as you can about the pet’s background. Was it a stray or given up by its owner? Did it come from a loving home? Did it live with other pets or with children? Did it get along with other pets and with children?
  • Medical and behavioral assessments – Find out what evaluations have been done and what lifestyle would suit it best. Ask about the pet’s interaction with the staff, and what their impressions are.
  • The adoption timeline and process – Some shelters will let you take an animal home right away, while others take a slower approach. Find out what to expect up front.
  • Spaying/neutering – Most shelters have policies to make sure that animals leave spayed or neutered. Some take care of this before the animals are available for adoption. Others schedule the procedure when the animal goes home, and then either finalize the adoption once it is performed, or refund the spay/neuter deposit once proof is provided.

To help raise awareness of shelter pets, Hill's® Science Diet® has launched the Hill’s Food Shelter & Love program on YouTube and Facebook, and Hill’s partner shelters website at The site allows pet owners to:

  • Discover the wonderful stories of Ninja and Pewter, two pets who found a new home.
  • Upload photos, videos and comments to share their own adoption stories.
  • Identify a local shelter where you may be able to Volunteer, Donate and Adopt.
  • See how Science Diet helps shelter pets to be happy and ready for adoption. 
  • Learn how to keep your pet healthy after they come home.

Since 2002, the Hill’s Food Shelter & Love program has donated over $180 million worth of Science Diet pet food to nearly 1,000 animal shelters, 365 days a year. It has also helped more than 6 million pets find new homes.

Every dog and cat deserves a home. When you adopt from a shelter, you provide a pet with another chance at finding love and a forever home.

Dean Adams
4/30/2013 2:40:51 PM

Six years ago I adopted a mixed breed hound from our local animal rescue group which works with but is not a part of our county "shelter".. We were selling at our local farmer's market and the rescue group had several cats and this little black hound there to try and drum up some support. One of the rescue volunteers was leading the little dog around and I was taken by her demeanor and joy of life. When my wife completed her Market Master duties and returned to our booth I commented that the dog would make some one a great pet. A while later, the volunteer was talking to the lady that was set up behind us and commented that the folks at the shelter were unhappy because the dog had run out of time, our county shelter is NOT a no kill shelter, and was scheduled to be put down later in the week. After talking to my wife about this revelation I went to the rescue people and filled out the paperwork paid the adoption fee and Sadie went home with us. She immediately became part of the family. She has not been without her challenges. After she had been with us for 3 years she developed SARD and went blind. With the help of the vet (an animal ophthalmologist) at the University of Illinois Small Animal Clinic. Both Sadie and I adjusted to her needs as a sight impaired dog. She has been amazing and I often forget she can't see. She's my 'little girl" and is a very much loved in this family. My five year old grandson loves her and she is especially loving and gentle with him. Right now Sadie is getting her beauty sleep on the foot of our bed and will be anxious to go outside with my grandson and I as we do the chores in a few minutes. Definitely check out the shelters when deciding to add a companion animal to your family.

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