animal attraction

We love our furry friends something terrible. Here’s our guide to humane adoption.

Nulo dog with food

Let’s face it, almost everyone loves pets, but we love them something awful.

They are our “kids,” our chosen family, adorable creatures who love and never judge.

We want to give them the best life possible, which includes the best food we can afford. Our friends at NULO have mastered the art of feeding pets as well as we feed ourselves.

If the spirit of the season is moving you to take in a homeless animal, here are six ways to make sure you go about it as lovingly and humanely as possible:

1. Assess your lifestyle

Nulo dog photo @robsonhmorgan

Do you work from home or spend 12 hours a day at the office? Do you have a yard? Are you ready to walk a dog twice a day? Is your landlord pet-friendly? How about your neighbors? Are you in a financial place to afford vet bills? All of these factors go into deciding whether you’re ready for a pet, whether to choose a dog or cat, and which breed would be the best fit for you. Generally, a cat is going to be lower-maintenance, and an adult dog less work than a puppy. Not ready to make a commitment? Perhaps you want to try fostering first. Best Friends Animal Society has a handy guide on fostering as a first step.

2. The ethical question

Nulo cat

A lot has been written about adopting from “kill” vs. “no-kill” shelters. The SPCA acknowledges that “no-kill” is a goal, but that euthanasia is in fact needed in rare cases. (Of course, the real solution is for more owners to spay and neuter. If you don’t want to do that yourself, make sure the shelter takes care of it before you get the little one home.) If you’re set on a no-kill shelter, find one in the No Kill Network’s national directory.

3. Introductions all around

Nulo cowboy dog
Photo credit: Halie West (

Once you find a shelter, make sure all your family members (your pet parenting group) go choose an animal together, and spend time interacting with it. That includes partners, kids, and roomies. Your preferred shelter pet might be anxious or a little reactive during your visit — you would too if you were dropped off in a new place with hundreds of strangers — so take it slowly and be patient. And if you’re getting cold feet at the thought of adopting one little kitty or dog, check out this video from Danny and Ron, a couple who have taken in more than 11,000 dogs over the years.

You can even adopt from them!

4. Get your house ready

Nulo cat with books

Moving into a new home with a new family is stressful. Even adult rescues may need a debriefer on potty training, so be prepared for “accidents.” You’ll want to get your baby a warm bed to relax in, a few toys to keep them occupied, and be ready to address separation anxiety (hint: the holidays are the perfect time to adopt, since you can be home more often and gradually leave the pet alone for longer periods of time). Check out the Humane Society’s primer on dealing with separation anxiety here.

5. Feed them the best

Nulo dog with food

NULO’s got your new kid covered with dry food, wet food, raw packets, purees, and special treats like bone broth. Hey, you’re a healthy eater, right? Why not raise your pet to be as obsessed with nutrition as you are? The Austin-based company also supports super-cool fundraisers like Barkitecture, a doghouse design show and silent auction that benefits Austin-area shelters.

6. Give back


Now that your new best friend is settled, consider helping nonprofits that work daily to get homeless animals into the hands of loving owners. All the organizations listed above have links to donate, as well as two of our personal faves: PAWS LA, which assists those living with HIV/AIDS in keeping and caring for their pets, and FIV Cat Rescue, which educates the public about feline immunodeficiency virus and advocates for the adoption of FIV-positive kitties.