Do you have a pet? People of all ages enjoy the company of animals that live at home with them. From dogs and cats to fish and birds — and all sorts of other wild, woolly, WONDERful creatures — pets make life more enjoyable.

Have you ever given any thought to how people come to have pets? In other words, how do all those pets find the homes they live in? Do they put advertisements in the newspaper seeking a roommate or owner? Nope! Most animals can't even read the newspaper! So how do they find their homes?

Pets come to live where they do in many different ways. Dogs that live on a farm might have been born there. Cats that live in a house might have been strays taken in by a kindly person. Other pets might have been purchased at a pet store. Still other pets may have been discovered in the wild. Perhaps they were injured and nursed back to health by a generous animal lover who made the animal a pet eventually.

Many animals are specifically chosen as pets. We call this process adoption and it can take place through rescue organizations or animal shelters.

Rescue organizations focus on particular breeds of animals. For example, a Dalmatian rescue organization would specialize in taking in Dalmatian dogs that need a home. If you're looking for a Dalmatian, adopting one through a rescue organization might be a great choice.

Rescue dogs — those dogs taken in by rescue organizations — are no different than other dogs. They need a good home like all dogs. In fact, they may have been given better care through a rescue organization, since the people who work there have a lot of knowledge about and experience with specific breeds.

Animal shelters provide a temporary home for all sorts of animals while they're waiting to be adopted. You can find just about any type of animal at an animal shelter. Dogs and cats make up the majority of animal shelter populations, but you'll also find plenty of birds, fish and reptiles. You can even find horses and livestock. Just about any animal that can be sold at a store or kept as a pet might end up at a shelter one day.

Shelter animals make great pets. They need good homes, and shelter personnel take great care of them until they find one. Shelter animals often have all of their shots, so adopting one can be much more economical than buying an animal from a pet store.

If you're looking for a purebred animal, don't dismiss shelters. Although you'll find many mixed-breed dogs at shelters, you'll also find plenty of purebreds. While rescue organizations might be more likely to have a purebred animal, shelters take them in, too.

Pets at shelters usually end up there through no fault of their own. In most cases, they haven't been “bad." Instead, their owners may have moved or needed to give them up for a variety of reasons. Your home might be the perfect spot for a pet just waiting to be adopted at your local animal shelter.

Animal shelters and rescue organizations can also help you pick out the perfect pet for your lifestyle. Talk with the personnel at these places and tell them what your life is like. How many kids are in your family? How old are they? Do you travel often? All sorts of factors go into figuring out which pet will be the perfect fit for your family.

If you think a pet would make a great addition to your home, do your research first and then give an animal shelter or a rescue organization a try. You never know when the animal you adopt will become a treasured family member who will bring you great joy for many years!

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