Petfinder: A Complete Guide

Petfinder: A Complete Guide

Petfinder is a website that lists animals that need new homes. The database also has a list of almost 11,000 animal shelters in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. This makes it easy for people who want to adopt or foster pets to find them in their area.

More than 25 million dogs, cats, birds, small animals, horses, and farm animals have found homes through Petfinder in the past 20 years.

Want to know more about Petfinder? Let’s catch you up.

Whether you want to adopt a pet or bring a rescue home, you’ll quickly learn.

why Petfinder was created, how they keep their good name, and how they directly help people adopt pets

Table of Contents

Why Petfinder Was Made

Betsy and Jared Saul started Petfinder in 1995. They had the idea on their way to dinner on New Year’s Eve. They were both animal lovers who wanted to find ways to get more pets accepted. They thought that using the internet to match shelter pets with people who might want to adopt them would be a great way to help.

In the beginning, Betsy called animal shelters and asked them to fax the couple information about pets that were up for adoption. After that, they put information on their website about pets that could be adopted. It became available across the country in 1998, and in 2000, it added groups from Canada.

  • This is how the home page looked in 1998:
  • Old PetFinder home page style from 1998

Eventually looked for business sponsorship to add more features to the website and keep it free for shelters and people looking for pets.

The company has since set up a foundation and given more than $10 million to animal shelters and rescue groups. They even made an app for the iPhone.

Petfinder’s main job is to connect people who want to adopt pets with pets that are looking for homes. Users can use search technology to help them find the best pet for their family and home.

People who want to adopt a pet don’t have to go to different organizations; they can search the database to find the pet they want.

People who have a disability, don’t have much free time, or can’t usually get around will find this tool especially useful.

How Petfinder helps people adopt pets

adopt pets

It’s important to know that Petfinder is not a rescue group; they just connect pet owners with shelters.

On the other hand, they do make it as easy as possible to adopt a pet.

If you like a pet and want to adopt it, you can click on their Pet Profile. On the right, you’ll see a button right away that lets you “Favorite” or “Ask About” the pet:

Riley is a Shetland Sheepdog Sheltie in Norristown, PA, and is up for adoption through Petfinder.

You’ll be taken to a page with a website form when you click on the “Ask About” button. There will also be the name of the shelter where the animal is on the page.

Some general information will be asked for on the form, and you’ll be able to send your own message. You will be talking to the animal rescue directly about the pet when you fill out this form.


  • The “ask about” form on Petfinder
  • This starts the process of adoption.
  • The shelter will tell you what to do next and help you set up a meeting with the animal once they get back to you.
  • There you have it!

The service Petfinder itself doesn’t cost anything. Shelters may charge fees, though, while the adoption process is going on.

The adoption fee at Petfinder can be as little as nothing or as much as several hundred dollars, based on the shelter and the medical care the animal has had.

The Foundation for Petfinder

Along with the Petfinder tool, which was already stated, Petfinder also set up a non-profit foundation to help pets in need. Petfinder Foundation’s stated goal is “to help ensure that no adoptable pet is euthanized for lack of a good home.”

Petfinder Foundation's

In order to do this, the Petfinder Foundation gives grants through three main programs:

  • Quality of Life
  • Disaster and Emergency Response
  • Sponsor a Pet

All of these programs are meant to keep stray animals safe and healthy and help them find new owners.

Please click on the “Sponsor” button on a pet’s profile if you’d like to help them but can’t adopt them. This will send your donation straight to the Petfinder Foundation for their care.

NOTE: Many vets tell people who just got a pet to get pet insurance to make sure their pet gets the care it needs without having to worry about money. Too many pets end up in shelters because their owners can’t afford to pay for their medicine, surgery, or regular visits. We strongly advise that you look at different pet insurance plans in order to avoid “economic abandonment.”

How Petfinder Keeps Their Good Name

Animal care and rescue groups with a good reputation are the only ones that can become members of Petfinder Pro. The shelter can add pets for adoption to the website once they have been checked out and approved.

The sign for petfinder

Petfinder’s website lists a number of different types of groups that can become members, such as:

  • Public and private shelters run by cities and towns
  • Pet shelters that take care of animals directly
  • Vet clinics that help pets find new homes

Petfinder doesn’t work with for-profit pet advocacy groups, hobby breeders, and other groups in order to protect their good name.

Below is a complete list of groups that are not allowed to join:

Pet guardians who are looking for a new home for their own pet Show or hobby breeders Any for-profit pet placement organizations outside of the US, Canada, or Mexico

Of course, Petfinder is against raising animals in an unethical way and running pet businesses for profit, like puppy mills.

How to Use Petfinder to Find the Best Pet

To use Petfinder, just type in where you live on the home page and pick the kind of pet you want to find. This will show you a list of pets in shelters near you. This is usually the best way to find a pet because it makes it easy to meet the pet in person.

Petfinder lets you look for more than just cats and dogs:

Petfinder to Find the Best Pet

You can also search for dogs and cats by breed if you’d rather. Petfinder has a search tool just for types, and you can narrow your results by size, energy level, and other factors:


To save a pet to look at later, click on the heart icon in their profile picture or the “Favorite” button on their page.

To save your favorites, you’ll need to make an account. You can use an existing Facebook or Google account, or you can use an email address and password to make a new account.

NOTE: If you are a vet, shelter, or rescue group showing pets on Petfinder, you can change the information by logging in to your Petfinder Pro dashboard. Just go to the “All Pets” page, sort your collection, and then look at and change the information about each pet.


You can use Petfinder to look for a new dog or cat, or if you’re a rescue group looking for an easier way to get in touch with people who want to adopt your pets.

They have been matching people with pets based on where they live and the pet’s breed for decades, making sure that more pets find loving homes. Plus, more than 600,000 people look for “petfinder” every month, so you know they’re a reliable company that helps a good cause.

The Appic Softwares IT Development company always makes sure to give high-quality software because they have a history of making cross-platform mobile apps that work well. There are also people who can help people who want to make their own pet care apps.

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