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How to Adopt a Pet from a Shelter

You can't wait to adopt a rescued animal. But there's a lot to do before you bring your pet home from the shelter.


  • Step 1: Decide if you're ready Pets need love, but they also need attentive owners who are patient, available, and able to afford the expenses and effort to take care of them. Since many animals—like dogs, cats, and birds—can live for more than a decade, determine whether your schedule, lifestyle, and finances will allow you to be a good long-term pet owner.
  • Step 2: Check in with your landlord If you rent your home, check in with your landlord to make sure you’re living in a building that’s pet-friendly. Otherwise, bringing home a furry friend may violate the terms of your lease.
  • TIP: To prevent future hassles, get a signed, dated document from your landlord stating that pet ownership is permitted on the property.
  • Step 3: Find a shelter Search online for a local shelter. Many sites offer reviews of shelters; find one in your area that rates well, gets good feedback, and has the kind of pet you’re looking for. If you can, visit in person to get a feel for the place and its staff.
  • Step 4: Investigate the adoption process Each shelter has its own adoption process, so find out what’s required in advance. You may be asked to provide documentation and personal references to verify your income, home address, and travel and work habits. Consider assembling & filling out paperwork you might need before you get there. Also, make sure you’ve got the funds to pay for adoption fees.
  • TIP: Find out whether your adoption fee covers services like spaying or neutering, disease testing, and microchipping. Also, ask about the shelter’s return policy.
  • Step 5: Visit the shelter Visit the shelter, and meet the pets. It’s great to find the fuzzball of your dreams right away, but don’t feel pressured to adopt the same day or leave with a pet that you’re not totally sure of. You want the one that’s right for you, so take your time.
  • Step 6: Speak with a shelter worker If you decide you’d like to adopt a pet, let a shelter worker know. They’ll be happy to start walking you through the process. They may also be able to provide some background about your prospective pet: where it came from, if it has any issues you should be aware of, how long it’s been at the shelter, and other information.
  • Step 7: Take your pet home Once you’ve finished the adoption process, congratulations! You’re a proud pet owner. Take your pet home, and introduce it to its new family.
  • FACT: On average, more than a quarter of animals found in shelters are purebreds.

You Will Need

  • Landlord approval
  • Money
  • A good shelter
  • Completed paperwork and references
  • Patience
  • A pet carrier

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