Check out our new hours. Most DCHS and Wildlife Center services are by appointment only, including reuniting lost animals, surrendering a pet, wildlife rehabilitation, and more. Adoption visits are first-come, first-served. We recommend checking our current waitlist prior to your visit.


Make a plan to visit

Take a look at our online listing of available animals. If you see some that you think would be a good fit for your home, make a plan to come to the shelter to meet the animal(s) you are interested in. Keep in mind that our website updates automatically throughout the day as new animals are added and others get adopted. When you arrive, please enter through the Adoption Center doors to the right of the Main Entrance. 

Waitlist Process

All adoption visits are handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Once we open at noon, we begin adding adopters to that day's waitlist. 

Every day except Wednesday, you can arrive at the shelter without an appointment and will be able to walk through the shelter on your own in our designated adoption areas. We are closed on Wednesdays. 

If there is an animal you would like to meet with, visit the Adoption Center to be placed on the waitlist to meet with the next available adoption counselor. On our busiest days, wait times could be several hours and there's a chance our waitlist could reach capacity soon after we open. The number of meet-and-greets we are able to accommodate each day is determined by the number of available staff and volunteers, and the number of interested adopters visiting the shelter. 

Once the waitlist has reached capacity (exact time may vary), we will stop adding new meet-and-greets to our waitlist to allow us to work through the remaining visits by the end of the day. 

We recommend checking the waitlist prior to visiting (remember, we begin adding adopters to that day's waitlist at noon) so you can plan accordingly. You will know our waitlist is at capacity if the final entry says “Waitlist Closed.”

Click here to view the current waitlist.

We ask for your patience in advance. Like many businesses, we are not fully staffed. We are working as hard as we can to send as many animals home each day as possible.

If you're interested in joining our team, we have full- and part-time positions available, as well as volunteer opportunities.

COVID Protocols

We ask that visitors who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 wear a face covering while inside our building. Masks are available upon request for those who need one.


Meeting the animals

We recommend viewing the available animals on our website prior to your visit so you can come prepared with questions or ideas of who you would like to meet. Taking these steps in advance can streamline your adoption process and leave more time for meeting individual animals. During our busier times, we may need to limit you to meeting with two animals in order to be able to serve all of our customers.

Once you decide who to meet with, your Adoption Counselor will review the animals’ medical and behavioral information and explain their future needs. We will answer all of your questions and ask about your preferences, expectations and experience in order to do our best to help you find an animal that is a good match for your family. You will also be able to meet the animal and get to know them before making your adoption decision.

For the health and safety of your current pets, please do not bring your current pet(s) with you to your appointment.

Animal Availability

Please note that walk-in visits and available animals are handled on a first-come, first-served basis. We are unable to place specific animals on hold before your arrival. You will be able to choose which animals to meet with from the animals who are available at the time of your visit. Occasionally, adoptable animals are unavailable for a visit because they are recovering from spay/neuter surgery or may be offsite for an outing with staff. The website will indicate “Unavailable for Visits Today.” If there is a particular animal you really want to meet, please check the website the morning of your visit and you can adjust your plans to visit. If more than one person is interested in the same animal, availability is determined by the person who meets the animal first.


Adopting your new pet

It is important to discuss adopting a new pet with all members of your household to confirm that everyone agrees with adopting a new family member. If you rent, you should also discuss the adoption with your landlord and make sure you understand any pet policies your landlord has.

At the end of your visit you will be asked if you would like to adopt the animal and if you are ready to take them home that day! Please note that most animals will be ready to go home right away, but some animals may need to remain at the shelter a little longer due to a medical or behavioral concern. If that is the case, your Adoption Counselor will work with you to place the animal on hold for you and schedule a pick-up time.

If, after counseling, you are ready to take your new pet home, we will review your pet's medical documents and have you read and sign an adoption agreement. We will also send you home with a small supply of the food your pet has been eating to get you started.


Adoption fees

Adoption fees for dogs and cats include spay or neuter surgery, age appropriate vaccinations, flea and tick treatment, heartworm testing for dogs and other vaccines and veterinary care.

See all adoption fees.


Taking your new pet home

Congratulations! You are ready to head home with your new pet! Dogs must go home with their own leash and collar. (Slip leashes, choke chains, prong collars and harnesses do not qualify.) Cats and critters must go home in secure carriers.

Leashes, collars, carriers and more are available for purchase at our adoption center or you may bring your own with you when you pick up. Proceeds of sales at our main Adoption Center support the lifesaving work of Dane County Humane Society!


Still have questions?

If you have additional questions on the adoption process, you can email us at


Chocolate Silk
Male | 3 months
Domestic Shorthair

King Pigeon
Male | 11 months

Male | 4 months
Domestic Shorthair

Male | 5 months
Miniature Pinscher

Female | 1 year
Retriever, Labrador