Humane Societies and Animal Shelters
One place you can always find either new puppies or slightly older puppies is your local animal shelter. These are in operation all over the United States. Some dogs are brought there by their current owners, or by the families of those persons. Sometimes the dogs are found on the side of the road by a concerned citizen who can't shelter the animal, or they are brought in by the local animal control department.
They may be perfectly fine animals who just need a home. In many cases, the animals take a little time to adjust when you first bring them home.
Dogs want to be part of a pack. Being moved from pack to pack undermines a dog's self-assurance. A pack position is very important to a dog, being separated and then situated into a new pack definitely plays games with poor Rover's head. The longer period of time a dog spends with you, the more secure it will become in its surroundings and the more comfortable it will feel with you.
The puppy that's right for your family is one whose background has been thoroughly researched so that its innate instincts as well as its individual characteristics are suitable for its new home (your home!). Chances are much higher that such a pup will fit in with and be loved by everyone, which is what a puppy most needs.
Sometimes the shelters have lots of information on a particular dog, and sometimes they have none. But many of the people who work in shelters are there because they love animals and spend great amounts of time with them. They are often the best judges of what these dogs like and don't like.
In short, if you don't care about purebred versus mixed breed, there are plenty of puppies that need a good home. They will need a little extra loving and some space before they can become more confident, but will make it up to you with love and admiration. Later sections will talk about the special needs of rescue and shelter dogs when you first bring them home.
Questions to Ask at the Shelter
Make sure you learn as much as you can regarding the puppy you want to adopt from the shelter. Questions to ask include the following:
Why is the puppy up for adoption?
Who were the previous owners?
Was the animal abused?
Are its littermates present? If so, may you see them together?
Is the mother here? If so, may you see her as well?
May you spend more than a few minutes with the puppy in order to decide?
Has the puppy been checked by a veterinarian for potentially serious illnesses?
Has the puppy been vaccinated?
Has the animal shown any signs of antisocial or aggressive behavior?