How To Adopt A Pet In The United States-Steps, Process And Cost

To humans, a dog may be just a small part of life; but to a dog, you are his whole life. Whether it is a dog, a cat or any pet, the adoption is a lifetime commitment.


A few basic questions to assess if you are ready to get a dog

Will there be any allergies?
Is it acceptable to family members?
Can the finances afford to have a pet?
Is the living environment suitable? If the house is rented, does the landlord allow pets?
Do you have the patience to train? Are you willing to handle urine and feces?
Do you have time to take care of it? Can you walk the dog regularly or take it for exercise?
If the dog suddenly gets sick, can you send him to the doctor first?
Do you want to keep a dog because you think it’s cute and small?


Steps to Adopting a Dog in the U.S.

Many dogs in animal shelters are usually older and not in very good health, and some may have been injured and have psychological problems, and are afraid of people, so they need more time and patience from their owners to accompany and train them. In addition to a few purebred dogs, most shelter dogs are Mix (Mix, mixed breed dogs). In my personal experience, good animal shelters are actually well organized, and the dogs are in good physical and mental condition, so they do not become too much of a burden to their owners.

I. Adoption channels

Public animal shelters/homes for stray animals: names may vary, with keywords such as Animal Shelter, Pet Adoption Service, Humane Society, Pet Rescue. Usually a Google search for “Animal shelter(pet adoption) near me” or “Animal shelter(pet adoption) + area” will bring up many results.
Private shelters/rescues: There are also non-profit shelters organized by charitable groups that do their best to raise social resources to care for displaced dogs and cats and help them find suitable owners. You can search under Private Shelter / Pet Rescue, but the search results are usually mixed up with public animal shelters.
Petfinder website: Petfinder is a large matching platform that has been in existence for over 20 years. Owners can enter their location, the type of pet they want, and even their choice of breed, age, gender, size, and other criteria to find the perfect match. Pets are sourced from local private shelters and rescue organizations, while some dogs and cats are placed in foster homes (halfway houses) pending adoption.
Adoption Events: Both public and private shelters regularly hold adoption events, either on their own grounds or in a separate, more open park space. It is often possible to adopt an animal for free on Adoption Day (normally there is a fee of almost $100 for processing, ligation, vaccines, microchip, etc.), for example, the Pasadena Humane Society’s Free Adoption Day in Southern California is very large and attracts many caring owners. Adopt a pet.
Adoption events at specialty pet stores: Petco, a well-known pet store chain, regularly holds monthly adoption events, as does PetSmart, and both stores have online adoption information for dogs and cats for adoption across the United States, making them a popular online adoption channel.
Craigslist or other online channels: Craigslist or Facebook groups and WeChat groups also have this kind of information from time to time, so people who are interested can pay more attention. But remember, the so-called “adoption” means that you will not have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to take the pet away, and pay special attention to whether the source is real.


2. Look at the dogs (take the animal shelters as an example)

Official website: Many animal shelters will upload the photos, basic data, and adoption dates of the dogs and cats open for adoption onto their website first, so you can check the website first and then go to the site to “meet” the dogs if you are interested, and the Control Number and Kennel Number will be placed on the website for you to find them on site; or if you go to the If you go to the site to see the dogs first, you can write down the Kennel Number and come back to the official website to think more details.
Walk-in directly: It’s important to note that if you see a pet you like on the website, someone else may have already adopted it while you were browsing (unless the adoption date is late). Therefore, I would recommend walking-in to the site (during the opening hours, no need to make an appointment), and you can get close to the pet you like right away.
Adoption process and procedures (animal shelters as an example)
Here I will use dogs as an example, cats and kittens should also be similar process.

1. choose a dog: after shopping around, if you have your heart set on a dog, you can go to the office and tell the staff the Kennel Number of the dog, they will bring the dog out to interact. If you have other pets at home, it is highly recommended that you bring them along for socialization and observe how they get along when they first meet.

2. Intimate contact: The staff will give you a little time to spend with your dog, you can walk around the park with your dog, there is usually an interactive area or something to play with. At the same time, the staff will also tell you basic information about the dog, such as what to keep in mind when keeping the dog of that breed, and the individual conditions of the dog, etc.

3. Fill out the application form: If you are sure that you want to keep the dog, you can fill out the adoption application form, including your name, address, phone number and other contact information, as well as whether you already have a pet at home, the number of pets, the environmental conditions of your home, and whether you have someone to take care of the dog during daytime working hours. Some organizations may also send someone to visit the home for a site survey.

4. Adoption and lottery: Some dogs are not necessarily available immediately, but are set to open at some point in the future. It is recommended that interested owners register for adoption on the day it opens, otherwise dogs in good condition will be adopted quickly; if more than one person is interested, a lottery will be held after the park has assessed eligibility.

5. Payment: After filling out the application form, having a short interview, and confirming the adoption status, you can pay the adoption fee (some special adoption events are free of adoption fees) to complete the procedure. At Pomona Humane Society, for example, the application fee is $145 for untied dogs, $120 for tied dogs, and $15 for cats: the adoption fee is reduced to $70 for dogs that have not been claimed for more than one month.

The adoption fee includes the first dose of the DAPP 4-in-1 vaccine (distemper, canine hepatitis, influenza virus, microchip), rabies vaccination, de-worming, spay or neuter (if needed), two weeks of follow-up care, and microchipping.

6. Health Assessment: The veterinarian will first assess the health of the dog to determine if you can take it right away. My dog was about 10 months old when she was adopted, not tied, not vaccinated and not microchipped, so she could not be taken away immediately after she was approved for adoption, and had to wait until the health assessment was completed and the surgery was done before she could be taken away.

7. Take him home: On the day you can take your dog home, the veterinarian will give instructions on post-operative care and ask for a signature. After that, the staff will bring the dog out to meet you, and you can ask any questions you may have (especially if you are new to dog ownership). Once everything is in order, you can check out at the counter, where you will be given a dog license, ligation certificate, rabies vaccination certificate, and breeding care and animal insurance data.

Then you can take your dog home.


1. About dog license: Dogs adopted from the shelter must have a license, and like a driver’s license, you must pay a fee to renew it regularly. If you are sure you want to continue to keep your dog, you must pay a fee to the adoption agency for a longer license, which can be renewed for one or two years at a time, and then you must pay a fee to extend the validity period (the adoption agency will send you a notice). The Pomona Humane Society, for example, charges about $30 for a two-year license.

2. About rabies vaccinations: When applying for a license extension, the adoption agency will require proof of a valid rabies vaccination. Rabies vaccinations need to be administered regularly and can be given for one year or three years.

3. Before taking your dog home: It is recommended that you prepare a water bowl, a feed bowl and a crib for your dog’s nest. In the car, I think it is not necessary to buy a carrier, if there is a crib, you can bring it along with the car, or use a cardboard box to temporarily block (if the dog is not too big).

4. The condition of the dog back home: from the shelter to pay attention to whether the dog has infected Kennel Cough condition. If the dog has been ligated, you should also pay attention to the condition of the wound and observe its physical and mental state.


The ways to buy purebred dogs in the United States

1. Kennel Breeder
Breeder is a breeder who specializes in breeding purebred dogs, many of which are “businesses” that allow dogs with good performances (such as champion dogs who compete in many sports) to continue to pass on their good genes. If you decide to look for a future Breeder, Google “breed+breeder+region” to find one.

Since there is no law regulating the breeding conditions of Breeder, it is recommended to visit Breeder to see the dog’s parents and the breeding environment to make sure that the dog is healthy physically and mentally, and that Breeder is not an inhumane Puppy Mill. 2.

2. Breeder platform website
This website is basically an advertising platform, and dogs are the only “product”. Give your keywords, and you can check information like name, gender, species, birth date and price etc. You can also see all the listings for the same Breeder.

Take “Shiba Inu” + “California” as an example, you can see more than 10 search results that match, all asking over $1,000, ranging in age from a few weeks to two years old, and some even put up for “pre-sale” before they are even born. However, most regions require that puppies must stay with their mothers until they are eight weeks old, so when you see puppies on the Internet that are less than eight weeks old, you will have to wait until they are eight weeks old before you can take them home even if you pick them out and pay a deposit.


Some suggestions

Check with your veterinarian, local animal center, or the owners around you to see if you know a reliable local Breeder.
Look for a professional and experienced Breeder, not an amateur two-light “Backyard Breeder”.
Reliable Breeders do not sell dogs for profit, so they will not breed too many different kinds of dogs or offer only certain colors or sizes of dogs.
Owners are encouraged to visit the kennel in person, rather than “making an appointment at a convenient location” or “having the dog delivered directly to your home”.
Be sure to pay attention to the breeding environment and never consider a dog that is dirty.
It is also not OK if the dog in the kennel looks frightened, unfriendly, or unhealthy.
Be sure to meet the dog’s father or mother.
Usually a reliable Breeder will keep a record of the dog’s health and can provide a pedigree certificate (usually AKC, American Kennel Club in the US).
A reliable Breeder will not be a crazy salesman or impatient to answer questions, but will take the time to answer and educate the owner, and will be willing to keep in touch after the purchase to ask any breeding questions.
Not only do you have to choose a Breeder, but a professional Breeder is also very selective about owners and will not be obliged to sell you. Usual questions include “why do you want a dog”, “can you afford to take care of your dog, will you take him for exercise”, and the type of home you live in, and if it’s a rented apartment, you may be asked to provide the landlord’s contact information to confirm that you can keep the dog.
Usually, when you buy a dog from a reliable Breeder, you sign a contract to ensure that both parties have certain rights, such as age restrictions on tying, the ability to return the dog if you regret it after a period of time, or the need to get the Breeder’s permission if you want to send the dog to a competition.
Do not “buy” a dog at a pet store or on Craigslist.
Many of the dogs in pet stores and on Craigslist are said to have come from Puppy Mills (breeding farms), and I don’t want to talk about the inhumane breeding process and dirty conditions, so you can Google the photos of Puppy Mills for yourself. Translated with (free version)

10 signs that a dog may come from a breeding farm

1. The dog came from a distant state
2. The Breeder won’t let you meet the dog’s parents
3. They don’t let you visit the breeder, but instead meet at a different location
4. Reputable Breeders usually focus on only one dog, two at most; if more than that, it’s suspicious
5. Too many dogs to buy (“I have a baby on the way, but there’s already a waiting list” vs. “Oh, I have three dogs to buy, and a few more on the way, do you want to pre-order”)
6. Not vaccinated. Vaccination costs money, the breeding farm is a businessman, will not sacrifice the profit margin
7. The other party promised that the dog will be a certain size, personality or temperament, color, etc.
8. Dirty, smelly and unhealthy coat color
9. No contract and no proof of data
10. Open to purchase before the dog is eight weeks old (for the health of the baby, the dog is usually eight weeks old before it is ready for adoption)


After having a dog

A proper Breeder will not let you take your dog away from you at birth, but will wait at least eight to ten weeks (almost three months) before doing so. Just like adopting a dog from a shelter, a professional Breeder will usually educate the owner on the steps to take after bringing the dog home.

1. Vaccinations (rabies is mandatory; consult your veterinarian for the rest)
6 weeks and 9 weeks old: Combination Vaccination, most commonly DAPP/DHPP and DHLPP, check the initials: Distemper, Adenovirus, Canine Hepatitis, Parainfluenza. Hepatitis), Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, and Leptospirosis. However, many veterinarians will recommend separate Leptospirosis vaccinations, so a quadruple combination is most common.
12 weeks: Rabies Vaccination is mandatory and needs to be revaccinated periodically, depending on the duration of the vaccine (one year and three years are common).
12 weeks and 15 weeks: Combination Vaccination. If there is any concern about Leptospirosis, Coronavirus, or Lyme disease, a veterinarian can be consulted to administer the vaccine.
Boosters: Combination Vaccination, or additional vaccinations for Leptospirosis, Coronavirus, Lyme and Rabies can be given.
Annual heartworm testing and de-worming are also recommended, as well as the bordetella if you take your dog to the park often or on long (international) trips.

2. Chip
Owner information will be recorded in the chip to prevent the dog from getting lost and not finding a home to return to. Some animal shelters hold special events from time to time to help dogs get microchipped for free or at a reduced cost.

3. Spay/Neuter
Unless you have the intention to let him have the next generation, it is highly recommended to help dogs to do neutering surgery. The cost of surgery varies from $50-$200; some animal shelters hold special events from time to time to help dogs spayed or neutered at a discounted price.


When breeding a dog

1. Where to buy dog stuff at the best price?
Dog food and treats: I usually go to the chain store PetSmart or Petco, and usually buy a mix of canned dog food and dry dog food for my dog; I also go to Target and Walmart if they have specials. Sometimes Costco will also have good deals. There is also the recently popular Chewy website, which has a variety of food and snack utensils to choose from.

Eating utensils: Including water bowls and feeding bowls. I will go to One Dollar store or Ross, Marshall, TJ Maxx and other cheap stores for the good price. These places are highly recommended.

Bathing supplies: I will go to PetSmart, Petco or Target chain stores to these which are high-quality.

Other appliances: such as Carrier, fence, bed, etc. If you are not in a hurry, I will go to Ross, Marshall, TJ Maxx slowly shopping, if you are in a hurry, then buy them directly on Amazon.

2. Where can I go to save money on dog vaccinations and ligation?
Tying: Animal shelters and humane societies offer low prices on dog tying, so check the official calendar of events online first. In my experience, most of these events are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays, so be prepared for long lines if they are held on Saturdays.

Vaccinations: Animal shelters and humane societies also have special offers on vaccinations, so pay attention to the announcements on their official websites; or consult PetSmart and Petco, most of which have in-store animal clinics that also offer vaccination services, or invite veterinary clinics to visit their stores for special events to give vaccinations at a discounted price, etc.

3. What are the options if it’s not convenient taking my dog with me on a trip?
If you are planning a short or long trip, it is not a good idea to bring your dog along. In addition to asking friends to take care of your dog, there are a number of convenient and reliable pet hotels and websites you can seek help.

Pet hotels: Pet hotels are a relatively convenient option, and if you live in California, Wag Hotels is especially recommended, with many options in both Northern and Southern California. In addition to overnight Boarding, there is also daycare available for booking. There are several different room types for overnight boarding, and you can choose from private rooms, high-end suites, and deluxe suites depending on your pet’s personality and size, each with a choice of sizes and prices ranging from $50 to $150 a night. If you help your dog choose the top-end Ultra Suites, the service is really luxurious, containing Room Service with three meals a day, free bath service, nightly video service with the owner, bedtime belly rub and bedtime story service, as well as dialing video cartoons suitable for dogs to watch, dogs can enjoy a Queen bed, really super happy.

Hire a professional to take care of your dog: Another way is to hire a professional to take care of your dog. One of the most popular websites in the past few years is, where you can hire a professional dog or cat caregiver to take care of your dog for you, either through pet boarding or in-home service. You can send your dog to the caregiver’s home, or have the caregiver stay at your home, or visit daily. Prices vary depending on the area, and usually range from $20-$40 for a single day visit to $30-$80 per day for a stay at the caregiver’s home.

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