How to Adopt a Dog at the Humane Society

When you adopt a dog, you give a homeless animal a new chance to have a good life.
dog walking image by Jana Lumley from

Adopting a dog at a nonprofit shelter, whether it's run by local government or an animal rescue group or humane society, is usually substantially less expensive than purchasing a dog from a breeder or pet shop. By adopting a dog from a shelter, you help a homeless animal and avoid contributing to the problem of pet overpopulation. Adoption procedures and policies vary among shelters. The best way to learn how to adopt a dog and discover whether your future best buddy is already there waiting for you is to visit your local shelter.

Step 1

Prepare your home and your life for a dog. Consider where the dog will be during the day and at night, and how you will accommodate his needs in good weather and bad. Plan for how you will ensure he will be secure, safe and comfortable when he's alone at home. Put up secure fencing if your property doesn't already have it.

Step 2

Buy dog supplies such as a leash, collar, dog tags, dog bowls, a crate, dog food, dog treats, and appropriate play and chew objects Your dog's transition will be easier if you already have these supplies ready when you bring him home. Most well-run shelters will check to make certain you have the main things you need for a dog before they will allow you to adopt one.

Step 3

Visit the humane society and look at several dogs. Ask if you can take dogs you like for a walk to get to know them better and determine if their temperaments would be compatible with your lifestyle.

Step 4

Fill out an adoption application when you've selected the dog you want.

Step 5

Show the adoption consultant your driver's license to prove your identity and place of residence. You may be permitted to take your dog home the same day. If so, pay the adoption fee and welcome your new best friend!

Many shelter organizations interview potential adopters and visit their homes to make sure they can provide proper accommodations and care. Answer questions completely and thoroughly. If you have any questions, this is the time to ask them.

Step 6

Sign your adoption contract. Follow the contract's requirements. You typically will agree to spay or neuter your dog and obtain needed vaccinations. Many shelters offer low-cost vaccinations to people who have adopted dogs.

Step 7

Take your new buddy to your veterinarian for a complete health checkup and any needed vaccinations as soon as possible after you adopt him. If the dog is not already neutered, schedule the procedure. Discuss the dog's routine health needs with the veterinarian, and obtain any supplies he recommends.


  • If the shelter requires a waiting period to adopt a dog, or if you must wait for a home inspection, make sure shelter personnel know which dog you wish to adopt. The workload at animal shelters often is heavy. Check with the shelter frequently, even in person, to make sure your dog won't be adopted by someone else or euthanized by mistake while you're waiting.


  • Don't let the bouncy puppy's charm blind you to the sterling qualities of the older dog. Older dogs are often the best choice for many people. Adult dogs have a known temperament and probably are housebroken. Many know how to live in a home. Some already have some obedience training.

Items You Will Need

  • Dog supplies
  • Driver's license


  • Adopting a Dog; John Ross et al.

About the Author

Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.

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