One way to find adoptable pets in your local area is by searching pet adoption websites, such as Petfinder.com. These sites have listings from many nonprofit animal shelters and allow you to search based on your location.
You can also look at individual shelters or rescues directly. City or county shelters are typically found by looking in the phone book. Private nonprofit rescues may be listed there as well, but they are often easier to find online. In addition to Petfinder.com, organizations such as the Shelter Pet Project or the Humane Society of the United States have tools that help you locate local rescue groups. If you are looking for a purebred dog, the American Kennel Club has a list of local rescue contacts organized by breed.
Pet adoption websites typically list available animals for online browsing, but many rescue groups also have their own websites with adoptable pets listed. You can browse through these websites and then visit the shelter in person. Some smaller rescue groups use foster homes rather than kennels, so call ahead to find out their visiting policies. Visiting the shelter in person can give you the most up-to-date results; however, because many of them rely on volunteers to update their websites, sometimes there is a delay between when the animal enters or leaves the shelter and when the listing is put up or comes down.