Places to Avoid When Looking for a New Dog

Where NOT to Adopt Your New Dog

Photo © Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Have you decided to adopt a dog? Congratulations! Dog adoption is a great way to find your next canine companion. It's a wonderful thing to provide a home to a dog in need. Just make sure you are ready to get a dog and take on the responsibilities of dog ownership.

Once you are ready to go searching for your next dog, where will you go? It's important to adopt from a reputable, non-profit organization where the animals are well-cared for. If you are looking to adopt a homeless dog, then search for well-known rescue groups and animal shelters Ideally, choose those with 501(c)(3) status or those associated with local government. 

If you want a specific dog breed, search for a breed-specific rescue group in your area. Many of these dogs are good representations of their breed but had to be rescued from unfortunate situations. Others were relinquished by owners who could no longer care for them.

If you want a purebred dog with papers and known history, then you should purchase a dog from a responsible dog breeder.

There are some places you should avoid when looking to adopt a new dog. You could end up getting a dog with some major issues. In addition, you could end up inadvertently supporting people with shady business practices.

Online Classifieds

Many people start by searching online for their next dog. While this is not an entirely bad idea, it can end up taking you down the wrong road. Anyone can post an ad online. "Free to a good home" can mean that dog has a world of health problems and/or behavior problems. Even worse, some people actually sell unwanted dogs through online classifieds. In some cases, these people are backyard breeders or associated with puppy mills. Or, they may be trying to get rid of an unwanted or stolen pet and trying to make a profit.

If you want to search for your next dog online, visit the official website of a legitimate animal shelter or rescue group. Or, search a reliable website like Petfinder.com, where many animal shelters and rescue groups post adoptable dogs. Once you find a dog you like online, be sure to visit the facility in person and make sure the conditions are humane and the dog is healthy.

Fake Dog Adoption Groups

Unfortunately, there are irresponsible groups that operate under the guise of a rescue or shelter but are actually unethical or illegal businesses. Make sure you do not end up "adopting" from a puppy mill or similar operation. Always visit adoption facilities in person and make sure the conditions are good. Read reviews and check references in the facility. If something does not feel right, ask about it. If you still feel suspicious or uneasy, you should leave. Do not pay suspiciously high adoption fees.

As much as you may want to "rescue" a dog from poor conditions, purchasing the dog will only support their unethical practices. Instead, contact your local authorities if you suspect abuse, neglect or other inhumane conditions. They will ensure all the animals are rescued and cared for.

Pet Stores

Purchasing a dog from a pet store is not adoption, and it is not recommended. Sadly, these dogs may come from puppy mills, something you do not want to support.

If you definitely want a purebred dog and do not wish to go through a breed rescue group, you should find a reputable dog breeder.

Random People Selling Dogs

This one should be obvious, but please do not buy a dog from someone at a flea market or some random person sitting in a parking lot or on the side of the road. You have no way of knowing the history of that dog. Similar to getting a dog through online classifieds, that dog could have all kinds of problems. Paying that random person for a dog is only going to encourage that type of irresponsible behavior. The person might be a backyard breeder, meaning you are supporting their business and helping them bring more dogs into a bad situation. Even getting a dog for free this way is a bad idea (chances are you will pay for it later).

There are millions of dogs in legitimate animal shelters and rescue groups waiting for their forever homes. Please help support those organizations by adopting from them!