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Pet Adoption Requirements and Other Things to Know Before Adopting an Animal in California
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Pet Adoption Requirements and Other Things to Know Before Adopting an Animal in California

Thinking about adding a new member to your family? Here's everything you need to know about California pet adoption.

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5 min read

December 14, 2020

Fostering rescue animals has risen in popularity recently as more people look to self-quarantine with a furry friend to keep them company—it’s no secret that pets can make life better. You might already be envisioning taking hikes with your pup in the Bay Area, bonding with other pet moms at the top Los Angeles dog parks, or cuddling with a cat on the couch while watching Netflix shows.

But before you let excitement get in the way, you’ll need to get practical. Adopting a new pet is a big commitment—we’re talking about a lifetime commitment. We don’t want to discourage you from adopting, but before going out and falling for an adorable rescue dog or cat at a shelter, you should be aware of all the California pet adoption requirements.

Everything you need to know about California pet adoption

Thinking of adopting an adorable dog or kitten? There are a few things to consider before visiting your local animal shelter.

Adopting a pet may bring love and cuddles into your life—but many people forget that pets can also be overwhelming. From choosing the animal that best fits your lifestyle to getting your house ready for a rescue, there are many factors that go into California pet adoptions that people may not take into consideration. Here’s everything you need to know before heading to the shelters.

Most California counties and cities have the following adoption policies to protect both the animals and owners from potential physical, emotional, and legal consequences.

  • You must be at least 18 years of age to adopt an animal.
  • A current photo ID is required to process an adoption.
  • All dogs and cats must be spayed/neutered—which the shelter is legally required to do—before going to their forever home.
  • All dogs and cats must have a microchip implanted in them for identification purposes.
  • The adoption center has a right to turn away anyone who isn't deemed fit for adoption.

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Questions to ask yourself before deciding to adopt

There's nothing quite like having two loving pets chillin' on your lap. Make sure you're prepared to care for these sweet animals.

There’s nothing more heartbreaking than returning a rescue dog or a rescue cat to the shelter after realizing that said animal wasn’t a suitable addition to the family. To help ensure this doesn’t happen, there are several questions to ask yourself before adopting a pet in California.

Can I afford a pet?

Adoption fees are just the beginning. Vet exams and tests, vaccinations, medications, food, litter, toys, and regular checkups are a few examples of the costs to take into consideration—not to mention unforeseen expenses that may come into play further down the line.

Do I have enough time to care for a pet?

Rescue dogs need a lot of exercise and attention, while rescue cats require play sessions to stay active. Do you have enough time to train your adopted pet? If you live alone and work long hours, who’s taking care of your rescue puppy?

Do I have suitable accommodation?

Sometimes, your landlord or condo association may not allow pets. You should make certain this isn’t an issue; some shelters require written letters of consent from adoptees regarding this matter. Also important to take into consideration is the size of your dwelling and whether your rescue puppy will have easy access to an outside space.

Are my children responsible enough for a pet?

Very often, it’s the youngsters in the family that push for a cat or dog adoption. However, make sure your kids understand the responsibilities entailed with pet adoption. Furthermore, certain breeds of cats and dogs don’t mix well with large families and vice versa. Before heading down to the nearest shelter, you should look into what breed might suit the family and everyone’s lifestyle.

Three Tips before finalizing a pet adoption

The time has finally come to adopt an animal. Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for your future pet.

If you’ve determined you’re ready and it’s the right time to head to a California pet adoption center, congrats. Here’s what to consider to make your trip less overwhelming and more worthwhile.

1. Visit the adoption center with an open mind

All puppies and kittens have different personalities; it's true that certain breeds have common characteristics, but also remember that pets only abide by these traits to a certain degree. Also important to note: Older dogs and cats deserve love, too! An older animal may especially be a better choice for people who might not have enough time to train pets from square one. Don't neglect the older pets that are looking for a loving, forever home.

2. Don’t rush your decision

Take your time and bring the whole household to the shelter before bringing a rescue kitten or puppy home. This ensures that you’ll make the best possible decision and choose a pet that will complement your family’s needs. Certain animals may also come from negligent or abusive households—it may take them a while to warm up to a new parent.

3. Be prepared 

Making sure your house is ready for your new animal will make the adoption process run a lot more smoothly. Have ample food, treats, a bed, toys, and miscellaneous items so your new family member can adjust more easily.


Pet adoption Centers in California

Now for the fun part. There are plenty of California pet adoption centers to choose from when looking to shelter an animal. If you don’t feel a connection with an animal at one center, fret not—a second or third shelter might have the perfect pet for you.

Dog adoptions in the Golden State

Get excited to meet your new best friend and bring them home. You'll be bonding in no time.

Central California SPCA

Central California SPCA (CCSPCA) is a nonprofit humane society that was established in 1946 in Fresno County. CCSPCA aims to promote a high quality of life for animals and offers both cats and dogs for adoption.

Best Friends Animal Society

The Los Angeles-based Best Friends Animal Society is a shelter on a mission to make L.A. a no-kill city. Although the premises are currently closed to the public, the center is still working hard to find forever homes for the rescue dogs and rescue cats on its premises. You can complete an adoption survey online and a specialist will get in touch with you within 48 hours to help you in the process of finding your soulmate.

Animal Rescue Foundation

Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF)—which has saved more than 42,000 cats and dogs since its inception in 1991—helps rescue dogs (and cats) find forever homes. Headquartered in the East Bay, ARF is currently offering virtual adoption hours by appointment. Check out the website to inquire about dogs you’re interested in adopting, and a specialist will reach out to you.


California cat adoptions

Ready to rescue a cute, cuddly cat? Check out these California shelters and find the right kitty for you.

Cats in Need

This California pet adoption center has plenty of locations to explore and find your perfect match. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the centers are not holding in-person adoption events. But this doesn’t mean the center isn't actively looking for adoptees. Contact the Cats in Need center closest to you for more information.

Furry Friends Rescue

Furry Friends Rescue has been helping rescue cats and rescue dogs find forever loving families since 1998. The Bay Area-based adoption center has rescued over 13,000 animals and aims to make the Bay Area a no-kill zone. You can fill out an adoption application right on the website and a specialist will get in touch with you on the next steps.

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