Petfinder website has helped centralize adoption process

People often ask me how they can go about finding a pet to adopt. Usually people have a specific type of pet (dog, cat, horse, rabbit, bird, etc.) and breed in mind.

After checking their local shelters or rescue groups, I always point them to the website

This site compiles information on animals for adoption within a 10- to 100-mile radius of the entire United States. Many rescues do have transport options for long-distance adoptions.

The nice thing about is that your local shelters and rescues already are most likely members and have their adoptable pets on this site.

You can get as detailed as you want in your search. You can select the age and gender, as well as other characteristics, such as house trained, special needs and size (small to extra large), and you can specify if your own household has cats, dogs or young children. will conduct a search and locate pets that meet your criteria. Don’t forget, however, many rescue pets are mixed breeds. Don’t be shocked if you search for a golden retriever and find a golden retriever “mix.”

There are usually pages of pets to choose from to review (sadly). But you can research from the comfort of your home or office and at your own pace.

There is still the adoption process that you have to go through. Contacting the rescue group or shelter, inquiring if the pet is still available, asking any questions you might have (Is the dog cat-friendly? Or has it been tested for cat-friendliness, etc.).

Each rescue/shelter has its own adoption process, and some don’t like to adopt to anyone too far away (who can’t take their own pets into the shelter/rescue to meet to prospective new family member).

They also have an application process and an adoption fee that varies — covering the medical care of the pet to date along with spay/neuter and vaccination fees.

Don’t be deterred by the care in which many rescues take to assess potential adopters.

These groups are comprised mostly of volunteers just like you and me, and their main concern is for the welfare and best interest of the pets in their care.

Embrace the multiple page adoption form (and learn a little about yourself and your own readiness for a pet along the way). For example: Do you have a fenced-in yard? How many hours during the day will the pet be alone (while you’re at work)?

Again, these groups just want their pets to go to the most perfect forever homes where they don’t have to worry that the pets will be returned time and again for a mismatch with the wrong humans.

I actually welcome the application process, it shows me how well prepared I might be to adopt or what I might need to do to better myself to care for a new pet.

They might also ask for references, usually from your veterinarian, again, to ensure that you are a responsible pet owner and provide proper care for your pets. currently has helped to compile more than 279,000 adoptable pets from 11,306 adoption groups from all over the U.S.

Not every pet description is in-depth, and sometimes the rescues don’t know too much about the pet they have for adoption. Perhaps it was found as a stray or came from someone who volunteered little to no history about the pet.

This is where your common sense, heart and head come into play. Make sure you are prepared and ready to take in a new pet and provide the love, care and training they require.

You’ll never be sorry. You’ll get the unconditional love back two-fold every time.

Amy J. Hanna-Eckenrode is the author of “Have Dog Will Blog,” editor of the Central PA Pets magazine and director of the Central PA Pet Expo. She can be contacted at ahanna or by mail: Paws and Reflect, c/o Amy J. Hanna-Eckenrode, Altoona Mirror, 301 Cayuga Ave., Altoona, PA 16602.