One of the easiest ways to search for adoptable pets is to use a website such as Petfinder.com, which allows shelters and rescues to list their available animals. Most shelters also list their available pets on their websites.
Petfinder.com and similar sites have tools that allow potential pet owners to filter searches by criteria such as location, species, breed, age and sex to help narrow down the search results. Lists on individual shelters often do not include those search criteria, but they may have more updated information.
Another way to search is to visit local shelters in person. This can help searchers locate pets not listed on any website yet. It can also help them find pets that they might not have noticed online but that are viewable in person. Potential pet owners find local shelters through larger groups such as the Humane Society of the United States or the Shelter Pet Project, both of which have tools for locating local organizations. Telephone directories or local government websites are sources for finding municipal shelters.
Government-run shelters usually do not require appointments for a visit, but smaller private rescues may need a prospective adoptive pet parent to contact them before visiting in person. Some rescues house pets in foster homes, which can make visiting difficult.