The safest place to find free pets is through an animal shelter with a fee waiver program. People sometimes also find free pets from newspaper or Internet classified ads, including sites such as Craigslist.org.
Most animal shelters and rescues charge a small adoption fee to help offset the cost of caring for the animal before it is adopted, but fee waivers are becoming popular as of 2015. These sometimes apply to all animals for a limited time, such as pets adopted during a particular weekend, or only to certain animals, such as adult cats or senior dogs. However, adopters may still want to consider pets from shelters that charge a small adoption fee because the fee usually includes spaying or neutering, vaccinations and microchipping. Moreover, shelters often charge less for these services than private veterinarians.
Although it is sometimes easier to find a free pet through classified ads, it is also riskier. Pets from animal shelters are tested for a safe temperament and general good health, and the shelter typically provides support or takes the animal back if unforeseen problems arise. Animals being rehomed privately may have serious behavioral or health issues that are not apparent in a meeting or two. If the new owner has a problem, there is often no help available from the seller.