Save a pet and save money

Last reviewed: August 2011
Photograph by Michael Smith

When you're in the market for a pet, consider getting it from an animal shelter or a rescue group, many of which specialize in particular breeds. You'll get a good deal and do a good deed. Start by searching online at Petfinder, which draws on listings from more than 11,400 shelters and rescue groups. It recently had more than 262,000 listings, mostly cats and dogs but also some horses, rabbits, birds, and other animals.

Mixed or purebred, a rescue pet can be even cheaper than a "free" kitten or puppy from a friend. Why? Free pups and kittens need a first checkup and shots from a veterinarian, which can cost $130 to $240. But shelters usually include some of that service at a low cost as part of the adoption fee. Spaying and neutering are also usually included in the shelter deal when a young pet is involved, or you can shop for an adult animal that has already been "fixed."

Adult pets can have some other advantages. "With a puppy, the personality traits may not be completely evident," says Lorena Sims of Auburn, Calif. "With a rescue dog in a foster home, the temporary caregivers can tell you what the dog is like."

Sims set out to find an adult dachshund with a calm temperament and the diplomatic skills to get along with her family's two cats. She and her husband, Rob, ended up rescuing a 9-year-old dachshund-beagle mix named Dot, who fit right in. An adult dog should also be past the teething stage, so you might experience less chewing of shoes, doors, flooring, and furniture.