Breeders, Shelters and Rescues – Dog Adoption Options

Now that you know what kind of dog is right for you, it’s time to decide where you should go to start your search. Some people looking for a specific breed may want to go to a breeder or check with their local shelter, which can have a surprising number of purebred dogs on the adoption floor. There are many different systems in place that often work together to help all kinds of dogs find lasting homes.


A shelter is a housing facility for surrendered or stray animals, operated by an organization dedicated to pet welfare, like a humane society, or by a municipal government.


A rescue organization, like a shelter, is dedicated to pet welfare but may not be a formally incorporated charitable organization or have tax-exempt status. For the most part, rescue organizations care for a relatively small number of animals through a network of private foster homes, rather than in an animal shelter.

Foster Home

Foster homes provide temporary, in-home care for one or more animals through the auspices of an animal shelter or animal rescue organization. Foster caregivers may be either volunteers or staff members of animal welfare organizations or a municipal animal shelter, and may foster animals for a number of different reasons. For example, foster homes are often needed for pets that are not yet ready for adoption (sick, injured, recovering from surgery, not yet weaned, needing socialization or other behaviour modification, etc.) or pets for which there is not enough space in the shelter. Some rescue groups operate completely through a network of foster homes.

To start your adoption search, visit to discover dogs and puppies in your area looking for their forever homes. is a database of hundreds of thousands of adoptable pets, from more than 13,000 shelters and rescue groups throughout North America, with over 600 active groups in Canada.  Petfinder joined the Purina family in 2013.

Purina Referral Service™ for Canadian Dog Breeders

The Purina Breeder Referral Service™ is a Canada-wide program designed to help potential owners find the right puppy just for them. Just call 1-800-465-3094 or e-mail and tell them the name of the breed you’re after and the area in which you live. By telling us what breed you are looking for, and where you live, we can provide the names of qualified breeders in your area. Breeders must meet a wide variety of criteria in order to become part of Purina’s Breeder Referral Service. They also must abide by all Canadian Kennel Club requirements and guidelines for the sale of purebred dogs.


Purina works closely with pet welfare organizations, investing millions in pet welfare and pet communities and working actively to change the perceptions of shelters and shelter pets. Wherever you choose to get your dog, we hope we’ve helped you find a companion that will make your life richer, more loving, and more adventurous.