I am interested in a pure breed pet, but I also want to help save a life by getting a rescue pet. Is it possible to get a pure breed pet from a rescue? If so what are the considerations?
It is possible, if you are patient, and are willing to take on a purebred that does not have papers. Because of the nature of rescues it is basically impossible to document the actual origins of the dogs.
In October our rescue organization All Herding Breed Dog Rescue of Illinois (Shameless plug sorry) rescued 8 pure bred pointer puppies that had been abandoned by the breeder in the woods to die. We know they were pure bred but we dont have any paper work to prove that or any documentation from before they were found and rescued.
Most of the mixed breeds that we rescue also are probably at least pure bred from one side. The only real advantage of a pure breed dog is that you could potentially breed that pure bred dog to another pure bred dog and get pure bred puppies. But with rescue dogs, Most if not all rescues spay or neuter the dogs before they adopt them out. So consider if you really need a "Pure" bred dog or if what you really want is a dog that has the qualities of that breed. Because many mixed breed dogs have those qualities and make great companion pets.
But if you really feel the need to get a "pure" bred dog, contact the rescue organizations and ask them if they have any or if they can let you know when they get one available. It may take time depending on what type of dog you are looking for but many times you can find them, especially if you are willing to accept an adult rescue rather than insisting on a puppy.
I volunteer at an SPCA, and they have a pet "wish list" that accepts applications for a specific breed. Of course, there is no guarantee of a time frame when that breed will be available; it all depends on what comes through the intake door. Check with shelters in your area to see if they offer this service.
There are also many breed-specific rescue groups that will pull purebreds (and mixed) of their breed from kill shelters and foster them, trying to find homes for them. This is probably your best bet for finding a specific breed. Do an internet search for them, for example "Golden Retriever Rescue", and you should find the ones closest to you.
You will most likely find an adult or adolescent dog. There is a greater overall demand for puppies in shelters, and it is fairly rare that a litter of purebreds will come in.