Sources for Adoption
There are many places you can look for a dog when you decide it's time to adopt. Local breeders often advertise in the newspaper, and this may end up being the easiest and most convenient way to choose a new puppy. If you are looking to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue group, the internet is a great starting point. You can make a list of local shelters and organizations, and you can usually browse many of the dogs online. They will provide a picture and a short bio of their dogs stating their name, size, age, sex and a little about their personality. This means you can narrow your search from the comfort of home.
Once you've done some initial research, you can contact the breeder or shelter to set up a time to meet with them and see the dogs you are interested in so that you can get a better feel for where your potential dog is coming from.
Research the Breeder or Facility
Before selecting a breeder, shelter, rescue group or individual to adopt a dog from, you should conduct thorough research. If you're looking for a pure breed, check the breeders licenses and certifications. A reputable breeder will be happy to show you these documents. You can also ask to speak with other pet owners who have adopted from their facility so that you can get a good idea of what to expect from your new dog.
Shelters and rescue organizations should be researched as well. Ask to take a tour of the facility and look to see how clean the facilities are and how the animals are kept and cared for. The main purpose of these groups is to help homeless animals find homes, and you'll find that they will usually be very accommodating in an effort to match dogs with loving families. Fees for adopting should also be reasonable. Research how much puppies of your breed of choice are selling for from other breeders. Understand why some breeds are more expensive than others or why dogs who come from certain stock are more expensive than others. If it seems like you are spending far too much money that you should, or if you are not spending enough, this might be a red flag. Consult other dog owners, breeders or rescue groups to get a better understanding of the fees associated with adopting a dog.
About Pet Stores
You should avoid purchasing a dog at a pet store if possible. A lot of these purchases are impulse purchases, meaning you didn't start out your day intending to adopt a puppy but an adorable dog at the pet store caught your eye. If you haven't put consideration into adoption, don't make an impulse purchase. Many dogs who end up in shelters were once pet store purchases.
Some pet stores are very reputable and purchase their puppies from respected breeders, but many pet store puppies come from puppy mills. Puppy mills, sometimes called "commercial breeders" operate strictly for profit. They often over-breed females and inbreed dogs, which leads to behavioral and health problems. The conditions in puppy mills are often quite horrible. The dogs are kept in small cages and are never allowed to roam freely. Though they are legal, they are considered inhumane by breeders and humane organizations around the world. It's very important to understand where your potential puppy came from before choosing to adopt. If you do choose a pet store, ask where their dogs come from and research that facility. If the pet store is evasive, it may indicate an association with puppy mills.