There is nothing more rewarding than rescuing a dog, rehoming an often vulnerable and unwanted animal is a truly amazing thing to do.
The ever-increasing cost of buying a puppy from a reputable breeder has also led many to consider the adopt vs buying a dog debate.
With so many rescue dogs in need of their forever homes across the country, it may surprise you that adopting a dog can often be a difficult and frustrating process.
Volunteer shortages, strict requirements and lengthy application processes are things you should expect to encounter.
Successfully adopting your new family member often boils down to a numbers game, making it important you check the best pet adoption websites regularly.
Suggested reading: Why is it so hard to adopt a dog from rescue?
Pet adoption websites will often present you with far more options than your local shelter and provide the option to search by breed, age or sex.
Ready to do something amazing?
Start your search by visiting 11 of the very best pet adoption websites below:
Table of Contents
Petfinder is an online searchable database of animals looking for their forever homes. The website is used by over 11,000 animal and rescue shelters across the USA to advertise pets available for adoption.
You can search by breed + location and sign up to receive email alerts when dogs matching your criteria become available.
Is Petfinder Legit?
Petfinder is only as legitimate as its users. It’s a third-party advertising platform that shouldn’t be mistaken for a rescue center or shelter in its own right.
Some users believe PetFinder could do more to monitor advertisements.
Many have become disheartened by the lack of response for applications of dogs that remain on the website while others have mentioned the location of some animals is inaccurate.
As with many third-party platforms, PetFinder is far from perfect. The sheer number of animals listed and smart search and alert features does however make it a valuable pet adoption website that should be checked regularly if you are serious about adopting a dog.
2. Adopt A Pet
Adopt A Pet helps over 21,000 animal shelters, rescue groups, and pet adoption agencies advertise homeless pets, all for free.
It also provides a rehome program in which individuals are provided with a simple and reliable platform to place their pet from one loving home to another. Having the ability to connect with adopters directly can often elevate the stress of relinquishing to a shelter.
The platform provides the option to filter by animal, location, age and breed.
Is Adopt A Pet Legit?
While the platform isn’t perfect, it is perfectly legit. You should be aware that in order to gain more exposure for their animals, many rescue centers and individuals provide inaccurate location information which can sometimes result in applicants having to travel much further than anticipated.
3. Rescue Me
Pet adoption website, Rescue Me, has helped save and rehome nearly 1 million dogs since it was founded.
In addition to its adoption listing platform, it provides the world’s largest directory of animal rescue organizations.
A search on the website starts by selecting a breed that presents an interactive map of the USA highlighting the location of each dog available. While this is perfect if you are searching for a specific breed it is far from ideal if you wanted to perform a general search in your local area or beyond.
As with any listing site, it’s important to conduct due diligence on each individual rescue or shelter.
Recommended Reading: Ways to identify a reputable dog rescue shelter
4. Petsmart Charities
Petsmart charities partners with shelters across the country to help over 400,000 animals find homes each year.
Since 1994 they have provided over $500 million in grant funds to nonprofits and government entities
- You can refine your search by breed, age, color, size, gender and distance you are willing to travel from your zip code.
- Adoption events are regularly hosted at over 1600 PetSmart stores.
- PetSmart Charities provide a hub of valuable adoption resources on their website, like tips for caring for your new dog and guides on the adoption process.
- As PetSmart Charities has partnered with Adopt A Pet your search results may look familiar.
- There is no integrated communication system to reach out to rescue shelters and information on each dog can be limited.
5. The Shelter Project
The Shelter Projects goal is to make shelters the first place potential adopters turn to when looking for a new pet. They work exclusively with shelters not rescue centers, finding homes for the dogs most in need.
- Both general and specific searches for dogs can be carried out on the website
- Search results powered by Adopt A Pet
- We found limited information to be provided for each dog
6. American Kennel Club (AKC)
The AKC Rescue Network is the largest network of rescue groups in the US.
They provide a comprehensive database of breed-specific rescue organizations across the country. The expert advice on their website provides a hub of valuable information on topics like nutrition, grooming, training etc.
AKC does not list individual dogs looking for their forever homes on its website.
7. Petco Love
Founded in 1999 Petco Love works with over 4,000 animal welfare partners, has invested $300 million in lifesaving animal work, and helped to adopt 6.5 million animals.
- In addition to the animal database, Petco Love helps you find animal shelters and rescue centers near you. They also help reunite lost pets with their families via their lost and found pet database.
- Many of the animal descriptions have handy call and email buttons making it easy to contact adopters.
- Meet and greets can be organized in many Petco locations across the country.
- The animal database is powered by Adopt A Pet.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) adopts out dogs and puppies in the New York City And Los Angeles area.
Their Los Angeles adoption program is foster-based, offering remote adoptions. In NYC they are located on Manhattan’s Upper East Side in their spacious, state-of-the-art Adoption Center.
- As well as listings for dogs in direct care of the ASPCA, they provide a nationwide database of adoptable dogs in local shelters.
- Detailed dog information is provided. The listings include multiple photographs and videos.
- The ASPCA is a leading pet welfare organization, boasting over 2 million supporters throughout the country.
- Dogs available in the ASPCA’s direct care are located in the New York and Los Angeles areas only.
9. Best Friends Animal Society
Located in Kanub, UT the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is home to 1600 animals in need of their forever home. They also have adoption centers in Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and New York City.
Offer a lifetime returns policy, accepting the animal back into their program if at any time the adoption does not work out.
Although the option to search for adoptable dogs at other shelters and rescues is available you will only be able to adopt directly from the Best Friends Animal Society if you live in close proximity to the locations mentioned or you are willing to travel.
Pentango partners with over 1800 animal welfare organizations across the country.
General and specific searches for animals can be made with direct links to shelter and rescue websites and contact details for each adoptable pet.
Limited information provided for many dogs
11. Dogs Blog
Dogs Blog partners with more than 680 shelters across the country and has helped to find homes for 62623 dogs.
Unlike other pet adoption websites you can filter by:
- Good with children
- House trained
- Can live with cats
The site provides detailed information and the option to contact shelters and rescue centers directly via the website.
What should you look for in the best pet adoption websites ?
Adopting a dog is a big decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Before welcoming any new pet into your home there are certain things you should consider.
You should be able to find an easy method of communication and also links to their website and social media profiles so you can conduct due diligence.
Each listing should contain detailed information including vaccine status, health problems, history, and whether the dog has been spayed/neutered.
If this information is not available or incomplete you should ask for it. Read our guide to Questions to ask when adopting a rescue dog for the vital information you’ll want to know.
Adoption contracts and terms and conditions should be made readily available as should the adoption fee for the animal.
Pet adoption websites should be updated regularly adding and removing animals that have newly become available.
Be wary of having your heartstrings pulled before ensuring the pet adoption website and the listing placed by a 3rd party are legitimate.
Suggested reading: First 24 hours with rescue dog, Reasons dogs are returned after adoption