Your ‘how to’ guide to PetRescue (and adopting a pet in need)

An adopted senior dog

So, you were searching for a new pet and you stumbled upon Well, you’ve made a great start, because at PetRescue you can view thousands of loving, adoptable pets all in one place, making it super-easy to find your new best friend. Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, donkeys, any kind of animal really, you’ll find it right here.

How does it work?

Rescue groups right across Australia use PetRescue to list their pets for adoption. And through the PetRescue website, we connect families looking for a pet with all those rescue groups who have pets available for adoption. In that sense, you can think of it like an Internet dating website – we help you find a great match!

PetRescue doesn’t have a shelter itself. All these animals are in the care of individual rescue groups across the country. Each rescue group or shelter operates an independent organisation with slightly different ways of doing things, but most likely your adoption will go something like this:

Getting started

This is the fun bit! Using the search function on the PetRescue homepage, you can start looking at suitable pets in your area. There are thousands of pets listed on PetRescue at any one time, so refining your search will help you find the pets that are right for you.Take some time to read their profiles and get to know their personalities. Are they cuddly couch potatoes, or more the independent type? You’ll also need to consider things such as size, activity levels, grooming requirements and training needs to fit your lifestyle. If you’re looking at puppies and kittens, bear in mind that while they are super cute, they do require a much greater time commitment than adult animals.

To help you keep tabs on all your top contenders, you can ‘favourite’ the pets you’re interested in to create a shortlist. If you think you’ve found the one, bear in mind there may be other people applying for the same pet and that adoptions happen daily, so don’t delay in making contact with the rescue group to let them know you’re interested. If you miss out or don’t find the perfect match on your first visit to PetRescue, remember there are hundreds of new pets listed every day, so keep looking and set up an alert so you can be among the first to view any new pets for adoption.

As you progress with your search, there may be some rescue groups you feel a connection with. It may be a group that’s local to you, or gives you confidence in their professionalism and pet knowledge. Take note of the ones that feel right for you, because choosing the right rescue group is just as important as choosing the right pet.

Getting in touch with the rescue group

You’ll find the contact details for the rescue group who lists the pet under ‘Contact Information’ on the pet’s page. Shelters generally prefer to answer calls, as they are usually staffed during business hours, while foster groups prefer emails as they’re run by volunteers who may only be available at certain times of the day. The preferred method of contact is highlighted in the contact details.

Starting the adoption process

The adoption process is quite simple, although it generally takes a few days to finalise all the details.

First contact

When you make initial contact with the rescue group via email or phone to register your interest in a particular pet, it’s a great opportunity to ask any questions you may have.


The rescue group will ask you to submit an adoption application form. While it may seem quite long and detailed – asking questions about children and other pets that share the home – the information you provide will give the rescue group all they need to help you find the pet that’s right for you and your home.And if the pet you were interested in has been adopted, the rescue group might be able to suggest another pet based on the information you’ve provided.

Meet and greet

Once your application has been received and processed, the rescue group will contact you to arrange a time for you and your family to meet the pet. Some rescue groups also do a house check, just to making sure your fences are escape-proof and there are no potentially dangerous situations your new pet may get into.

Adoption fees

When you’re certain you’ve found the right pet, you’ll need to pay the adoption fee before taking your new friend home for a two-week trial. In most cases, the adoption fee covers the basic medical, training, grooming, food and other general care expenses incurred while the pet has been in care. It should also include desexing and at least one vaccination.

Adoption fees can vary, depending on the age and breed of the pet. Very young pets tend to be priced higher than older pets, and there’s a higher fee for purebreds. If you have any concerns about the adoption fee, don’t be afraid to ask what’s covered in the price.

A note about interstate adoptions

Since PetRescue connects rescue groups from all over Australia, it’s possible that you may fall in love with a pet that’s located interstate.

Travelling long distances can be stressful for pets, so not all rescue groups will encourage interstate adoptions. The rescue group may also want to rehome a pet locally, so they’re able to provide advice and take the pet back into their care should the adoption not work out.

If you decide to adopt a pet from interstate, bear in mind that the transport costs are generally borne by the adopter. It’s usually not much, and certainly not if you think that particular pet is perfect for your family, but it is something to consider.

The trial period

Most rescue groups will offer a trial period of around a month to allow you and your new pet to get to know each other. At the end of this trial, if all is going well, full ownership (including microchipping paperwork) will be passed over to you.

But this isn’t the end of your relationship with your rescue group! They’ll be keen to stay in touch and receive updates on your pet’s progress and milestones. Having a lifetime relationship with you and your pet is part of what makes rescuing and pet adoption such a special experience.

Happily ever after

A happily ever after story is the ultimate goal of every adoption.

We have heaps of information about learning to live with, love and enjoy your new pet to help you begin your happily-ever-after story.

We’d love you to share your experience with us on Facebook. And if you’d like to help us in our mission to rehome more pets, you can become a PetRescue Supporter.

Good luck with your search for a new best friend!