Adopt Your Perfect Dog This Holiday Season

If you’re considering adopting a dog this holiday season -- or any time of year -- there are now several programs that can help you find your perfect pet.

Meet Your Match The ASPCA’s Meet Your Match program evaluates animals in order to help owners bring home their ideal companion. “Meet Your Match isn’t just based on superficial qualities. We go deeper, including asking about the pet’s personality, your personality and other important factors,” says Senior Vice President Gail Buchwald of the ASPCA Adoption Center. Whatever the outcome, the resulting adoption is a win-win for the owner and the pet.

Iams Home 4 the Holidays This program is one of several pet adoption drives taking place now. According to The Humane Society of the United States, of the 8 million pets that enter animal shelters and rescue groups every year, approximately 3 million of these healthy and treatable pets are euthanized due to lack of adoption. John Van Zante, spokesperson for the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Santa Fe, Calif., who helped start Home 4 the Holidays, says the data in 1998 for San Diego County alone -- 40,000 dogs and cats euthanized -- led to the creation of Home 4 the Holidays.

“I contacted all 14 shelters in our region, asking that we be committed to putting our egos in check and to working together to solve the problem,” says Van Zante. “We kicked off the first Home for the Holidays in November 1999.” Since that initial year, millions of pets featured in the program -- which runs from November to the beginning of January -- have been adopted into loving homes.

PetSmart Charities Your local PetSmart store has a PetSmart Charities Adoption Center, which helps to match potential owners with a canine companion. “PetSmart charities partners with more than 2,000 animal welfare organizations, which use this space to showcase pets looking for a home,” says PetSmart Charities Communication Manager Michelle Thompson. “To date, PetSmart Charities has helped save the lives of more than 4 million pets through adoptions.” You can visit to find an adoption event near you.

Before You Begin
While some people think holiday pet adoptions happen on impulse and lead to a high return rate, the ASPCA, and other organizations work hard to ensure a thoughtful process takes place before any adoption. Such groups also try to help all pets -- not just the trendy breeds or photogenic puppies. Betsy Banks Saul, the co-founder of, points out that “overlooked pets often make great additions to a family, but many people don’t even realize they are discriminating when they begin looking to adopt.”

The Adoption Process
Depending on the program you choose, the process might go as follows:

1. Visit the program’s website, search for pets available for adoption in your area and answer some initial questions

2. Make an appointment to visit a shelter

3. Sign in at the shelter, where you will be able to mention the sort of dog you hope to adopt (age, breed or a specific dog seen on the facility’s website)

4. Answer questions asked by shelter personnel to determine your living situation (e.g., if you have other pets at home)

5. View various dogs

6. Pay adoption fee -- which may or may not include things such as spaying or neutering, full veterinary exams, necessary vaccines or microchipping

The individual who will be caring for the dog must be present at the time of adoption. If you already own a dog, bring your pet to the shelter so it can meet the new addition to the family.

The rewards of adoption, Van Zante says, are priceless: A new dog truly is a treasured gift that will keep on giving.