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Adopt, Don't Shop When Looking for These Pets
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Adopt, Don't Shop When Looking for These Pets

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Jul 6, 2022

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"Adopt, don't shop" is a frequent refrain among the animal rescue community. It can be helpful advice for people simply looking for pets. Adopting an animal is usually cheaper than buying from a breeder. You can almost always find an animal to adopt, even if you're interested in a specific breed. Adopting from a rescue also saves two lives. The adopted animal has a good home with you, and the rescue has the room and resources to take in another animal in need.

1

Dogs

woman hugging her dog Capuski / Getty Images

If you're considering getting a dog, try looking at your local animal shelter or rescue first. Unfortunately, unwanted animals are still euthanized in shelters across the United States daily. Most dogs in shelters weren't given up because there's anything wrong with them. Animals usually end up in shelters because of a change in their owner's situation. Buying a purebred dog from a breeder can be very expensive in some cases, but you may be able to find the breed you want at a much lower cost from a rescue or shelter. Breed-specific rescues are a great resource too.

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2

Chinchillas

Chinchilla in the hands of a person Capuski / Getty Images

Chinchillas are small animals with incredibly soft, fluffy fur. Pet stores tend to put high price tags on chinchillas, but adopting one from a rescue may not cost much at all. The prices at pet stores may give the impression that chinchillas are rare, but this isn't the case. They're actually raised for fur in many countries, and chinchillas can have up to three litters per year. There's no reason for the exorbitant price tag, and it's usually not hard to find chinchillas to adopt from rescues.

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3

Parrots

woman holding a gray parrot on her hand BraunS / Getty Images

Parrots are intelligent birds that need interaction. They really benefit from experienced owners. If you have experience with these beautiful birds, consider adopting a parrot from a rescue. A parrot's long life span can sometimes lead to birds outliving their owners. Adopting a parrot also means you don't have to worry about accidentally purchasing a bird from an unethical source because parrots are among the most trafficked birds in the world.

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4

Horses

man hugging a horse Nevena1987 / Getty Images

There may be hundreds of thousands of unwanted horses in the US alone. Most animals aren't surrendered to rescues because there's anything wrong with them. Horses frequently end up in rescues when previous owners can't afford to care for them. Industries that revolve around horses, such as racing and shows, also contribute to the enormous population of horses needing homes. Instead of buying a horse from a breeder, ask a rescue for help finding a horse.

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5

Small Rodents

girl with a hamster in her pocket Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images

Rescues and shelters are seeing increasing numbers of small rodents, such as hamsters, gerbils, mice, guinea pigs, and rats. Even specific breeds, such as dwarf hamsters or Mongolian gerbils, are often available from rescues. These enchanting little creatures make great pets. There's no reason to pay high prices at a pet shop. Rescues sometimes offer small rodents for free or charge a small adoption fee. Some rescues can even help you find cages and equipment at low prices or have donated items available for free.

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6

Cats

man with his cat Drazen_ / Getty Images

The biggest reason to adopt a cat is the sheer number of unwanted kitties. Rescues and shelters across the country struggle with a constant influx of cats and kittens. Even purebred cats are surrendered to shelters regularly, so you can find most breeds available for adoption. It's not unusual to see ads for free kittens in local newspapers. You'll still likely save a life if you adopt from a personal ad or take in a stray cat, but you also need to be prepared for any health issues. Most rescues verify the animal's health and take care of spaying and neutering before adoption.

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7

Rabbits

girl with a white rabbit on her lap PeopleImages / Getty Images

Rabbits are the most frequently surrendered pet, after dogs and cats. Many rescues face a flood of rabbit surrenders 2 to 3 months after Easter. If you're considering adding a rabbit to your family, ask your local rescue first. Even if a rescue doesn't have any rabbits at the moment, they can almost always help you find an animal from the surrounding area. Most rescues participate in networks to help adopters find an ideal pet and get animals into good homes.

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8

Iguanas

man with his pet iguana ajr_images / Getty Images

Although iguanas may not come to mind immediately when we think of rescue animals, iguanas and other small reptiles are surrendered frequently, and some rescues now specialize in iguanas. If you're interested in iguanas or have experience with them, consider adopting one in need. Although iguanas at pet stores usually aren't expensive, rescuing an iguana provides a good home for a deserving animal and frees up resources to save another iguana or small lizard.

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9

Snakes

Man Holding Royal Python Twisted Around His Hand kmatija / Getty Images

It's usually possible to get a beginner snake fairly cheap or even free. Snakes tend to lay lots of eggs at a time, and baby snakes born in captivity have a good chance of living to adulthood. Instead of getting a snake from a pet shop, try looking for posts and advertisements from enthusiasts. Some animal rescue organizations now concentrate on reptiles, so you can look for organizations with snakes available in your state as well.

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10

Tortoises

girl playing with big tortoise in the park

Tortoises are becoming trendy pets, but sadly, there's a downside to this popularity. There are plenty of tortoises in need of homes. Many tortoises have long lifespans, so sometimes, they outlive their owners. A tortoise rescue organization can help you understand your new tortoise's needs and ensure you provide a healthy environment. Some tortoises available for sale may have come from unethical sources, but you can avoid that risk through adoption.

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