Adopting a pet can be one of the most exciting and heartwarming experiences, and there are certainly plenty of options at your disposal when you’re considering where to find your animal companion. Of all the choices, however, perhaps none is as rewarding as adopting from a rescue group or from a local shelter. There are many benefits to adopting your pet this way.

They’re Already Trained – Many rescue and shelter animals have already experienced living with a human owner, so they are typically already trained. This means you won’t have to worry about cleaning up accidents in the house, teaching your pet good manners or having to deal with other behavioral issues.

You Know What You’re Getting – When you adopt a puppy or kitten from a pet store or breeder, you won’t learn what that pet’s personality is until well after you’ve brought them home. With a rescue or shelter adoption, the fosters and staff are often already aware of the animal’s background and can advise on things like whether or not they are good with children or other pets. Fewer surprises mean an easier transition for everyone.

You’ll Save Money – There are a lot of financial benefits to adopting. For instance, most rescue or shelter animals are mature and have already received their required vaccinations and been spayed or neutered. All you’ll generally need is a quick trip to your vet for a physical. The adoption fees are also typically significantly lower than the cost to purchase an animal from a pet store or breeder.

There’s a Wide Variety – Shelters feature a wide array of species, breeds and ages, which gives you a lot greater of a selection to choose from. Some rescue group are breed specific, but most work with a variety of breeds. If there’s a particular breed of animal you’re seeking, ask your vet if they can recommend one.

You’re Literally Saving a Life – This is by far the most important reason. Unfortunately, many shelters are faced with the problem of overpopulation, and with lack of space and economic issues, are forced to humanely euthanize animals that they can’t find homes for. Rescue groups help with this burden by finding fosters and eventually homes for these animals, but the sheer numbers are often against saving all of these animals. When you choose to adopt from a rescue or shelter, you are often literally that pet’s last hope. There’s nothing better than knowing you’re saving the life of a loving animal.

When it comes to adopting a new pet, your options are many. While weighing those options, please consider choosing a rescue or shelter pet. They have plenty of happy and healthy animals that are just looking for their own loving home. If you’re not sure which shelter or rescue groups in your area would be best, ask your vet for recommendations.