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Dog Adoption – Finding Your Perfect Pup

Updated – May 1, 2019 – Dog Adoption – Where is the best place to find your perfect match? Now a days there are many places where you can go for dog adoptions. With so many options it is sometimes hard to decide. We will look at the pros and cons of each and touch on where you should not go for your dog adoption.

Where not to go for dog adoptions

Hopefully everyone knows that buying a puppy from a puppy store or a website that has many different breeds for sale means you are probably buying from a puppy mill. But did you know that “adopting” a dog from a puppy store can also mean you are buying from a puppy mill.

To get around laws aimed at stopping puppy mills, pet store owners are now offering dogs for adoption. But some of these dogs are actually bought from puppy mills.

Where to go for dog adoptions

Rescue Groups vs Shelters

It is important to understand that a dog rescue group and a dog shelter are not the same.  Although they are in the same business, placing dogs into homes, how they go about it is different.   Rescues are independent and can choose which dogs they have available to adopt, where your county shelter will generally take in local street dogs or owner surrenders.  If you are looking for a specific type of dog, either a purebred or designer dog you will have better luck with a rescue that specializes in that particular type of dog.  

Another difference is that animal shelters typically keep their animals in kennels while dog rescues generally use foster homes.  There is also a difference in costs.  A true local animal shelter generally has a lower adoption fee.  Rescue Groups tend to have higher fees associated with their adoptions. 


If you would prefer the satisfying feeling of rescuing a dog in need and don’t mind the mystery of a mixed breed then a shelter may be the right place for you.   

Shelter Dogs have a lot going for them.  I can’t really explain it but shelter dogs tend to be more grateful.  They typically know what a hard life is and are more appreciative when they are given a good life.  Also since shelter dogs tend to be mixed breed (though you can find a purebred on occasion), the combination of two or more dog breeds can balance out their personalities, physical characteristics and health concerns.

Just remember that if you select a mixed breed puppy from a shelter there is no way of knowing exactly which breeds make up the mix, how your puppy will look or what health problems they may end up with. 

How to Find a Shelter

Finding a local shelter is fairly easy.  Just look on or do a google search for local shelters.

Finding a dog that fits exactly what you are looking for at a local shelter is not.  We had a really hard time finding the right one. Read: Shelter Dogs – The Realities of Finding One to hear about some of our experiences in the search to find a dog.

Rescue Groups

Within the realm of Rescue
Groups there are at least two categories.  The first are the rescues that do it for the love of dogs. Often they tend to be breed specific and have been around for a while.  They are generally founded by people who love and understand the breed, sometimes they are breeders themselves. It is a labor of love and not done for the money.   Then you have a new trend that has been labeled Retail Rescue. These Rescue Groups are in it for the money.  

If you look on you will find a large assortment of rescues.    It is nearly impossible to tell the difference between a rescue who only wants to save the lives of dogs and the one that does it primarily for the money.  I might even argue that as long as a dog is being saved it doesn’t matter.  Right?

Sometimes it does matter

At its best retail rescues have beautiful dogs that are handpicked to be adopted quickly and the only downside is higher fees. 

At its worst retail rescues are a scam. Some will foster or kennel dogs out of state until they have a buyer. Then you must pay the non-refundable adoption fee before you can meet the dog.   You see the dog for the first time on the day you pick them up to bring them home.  It is not uncommon for the adopters of these dogs to be stuck with sick and dying dogs.   It had gotten so bad that the state of Connecticut created laws against the practice.

A word on Petfinder. com – We used to find our most recent pup. It is a pretty easy way to search for all the available dogs (and cats) in your area. requires that all parties wishing to use their site go through an application and screening process prior to posting. They must also provide a letter of reference from their primary veterinarian.

Watch Out for Scams

To protect yourself use a reputable dog adoption website like Petfinder has a screening process in place to ensure only reputable rescues can advertise on their site. Then do your homework.  Do extensive research on any rescue you have an interest in before submitting an application. 

Research should include but not be limited to:

  • A general online search for good or bad reviews
  • Ask questions
    • How did the dog end up at the rescue?
    • Where did they come from?
    • Ask for proof of origin.
    • Find out as much as possible about the dogs background as you can.
    • Ask for the medical records and get the vets name so you can verify the information.
  • Check the IRS website to make sure they have a 501(c)(3) charity status – Tax Exempt Organization Search
  • Check to see if there is any feedback on the Rescue Group at these charity watch sites

Other related posts you may like:

Additional resources for finding a rescue dog

Judy west

Friday 21st of May 2021

Still lookingfot a dog to adopt from a rescue or a shelter,no luck so far


Thursday 27th of May 2021

Hi Judy,

Keep looking! It took us a long time too.

Best of luck


Joanne Mozingo

Saturday 23rd of January 2021

Dear Bonnie, My husband and I are both retired and would like a medium size female poodle mix. We live in a two bedroom apartment in SW Florida. We have had dogs all our married life, and had to put our fifteen year old doodle down. We are both lonesome for one that could be three or four years of age? We’d like a shelter or rescue dog, not expensive in obtaining. Thank- You for any help you could give us. Been looking for months with no luck😣 Joanne Mozingo [email protected]


Sunday 24th of January 2021

Hi Joanne,

Poodle mixed breeds are still very popular, making them hard to find in a rescue or shelter. You just need to keep an eye on or your local shelters. When I was looking I checked the sites twice a day. Just be careful and do your due diligence. Know who you are dealing with before giving any personal information. You also may want to consider a mini poodle.

Good luck with your search.


Joan Bates

Wednesday 9th of December 2020

Looking for an airdale pup or young dog for my veteran husband who is waiting for hip surgery an needs an campaign. Or a dog that doesn’t shed much


Wednesday 9th of December 2020

Hi Joan, has a breed selector to help you find the type of pup you are looking for. It helped us. We also wanted to low shed dog.

Of course always check to make sure the rescue is legit.

Good luck on finding your new pup.


Rayneen McClelland

Sunday 29th of November 2020

I am a senior, 74, and I would like to adopt a poodle mix. I live in Pacheco, Ca. It’s outside Concord,Ca. I live in a mobile home. Can you tell me where I can go? I’ve looked at animal control. They just have big dogs. Mine has to be small. Thank you. Rayneen McClelland


Sunday 29th of November 2020

Hi Rayneen,

We found our puppy on I found that was the easiest way to see what dogs are up for adoption nearby. You can filter your search by size and age.

Good luck on your search!