It's been estimated that anywhere from 5 to 7 million dogs and cats enter animal shelters in the United States each year. As many as 3 to 4 million of them are euthanized, due to a lack of space to house them and/or a lack of finances to care for them.
So the best thing to do if you want to add a pet to your family is to adopt
one from a shelter. The next best thing is to adopt a dog or cat from a rescue
group. For a list of shelters in your area search online at your city or town's
website, or sites of animal welfare organizations such as the ASPCA. Check
Petfinder.com for lists of rescue groups. Petfinder also lists photos and
descriptions of dogs and cats, so that you can try to make a better match for
the pet and your family situation.
When adopting a dog it's important to consider your own lifestyle. If you're
not particularly active, don't adopt an active breed, such as a Labrador
retriever. Labs often end up in shelters because their owners were not aware of
how much walking and exercising was needed to keep this breed of dog. Other
dogs may need more training to become well-behaved, and this could mean paying
for a professional trainer or training classes. Do some research on the temperament
of various breeds, to see what you can realistically handle.
Also remember to microchip your dog. It's not a huge expense, and is the
best bet to get your pet home to you if it ever becomes lost.
Having a dog or cat to come home to every day can bring incredible joy to
your life, and adopting a pet can bring happiness to an animal. Just like
people, many just want to find their forever home.