The Main Shelter and Thrift Store are closing at 4:00 pm Friday, March 24, for a special event. Adoption visits are first-come, first-served. We recommend checking our current waitlist prior to your visit. Most other services are by appointment only, including reuniting lost animals, surrendering a pet, wildlife rehabilitation, and more.
DCHS has friendly and knowledgeable Adoption Counselors waiting to help you find the best match for your family.
Learn about the adoption process below.
Plan your visit
Before finding your new pet, talk about adopting a new pet with all members of your household to confirm that everyone is on board. Also, if you rent, talk to your landlord to make sure you understand their pet policies.
Preview adoptable animals on our website. Our website updates throughout the day as new animals are added and others get adopted. Prepare questions and have ideas of who you would like to meet to streamline your adoption process and leave more time for meeting animals.
Adoption visits are handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Check our waitlist before visiting (we add adopters to that day's waitlist starting at noon). When the waitlist is filled for the day, you will see “Waitlist Closed.” Meeting with an animal is required for adoption and we are unable to place animals on hold before your arrival.
If you are interested an animal noted on our website as “Available from Foster,” contact our Adoption Center to set up an appointment to meet the animal.
When you’re ready to adopt, come to the Adoption Center at our Main Shelter. You will choose animals to meet based on who is available during your meet and greet. Sometimes an animal isn't available to meet due to medical procedures or an outing and the animal will be noted as “Unavailable for Visits Today” on the website. If you are interested in a particular animal, please check the website the morning of your visit.
You can also walk through the shelter during Adoption Center open hours. Not all animals are in publicly-viewable areas, so be sure to ask Adoption Center staff about these animals, too!
When you know which animal(s) you are interested in meeting, stop at the Adoption Center desk to get on the waitlist. Starting at noon, interested adopters are added to that day’s waitlist for the next available adoption counselor.
Wait times could be several hours due to daily staffing limitations and the waitlist could be full before the Adoption Center's scheduled close time. You must be at DCHS to be added to the waitlist. Once the waitlist has reached capacity, we stop adding new meetings so we can complete the remaining visits by the end of the day.
Click here to view the current waitlist.
For everyone’s health and safety, please do not bring your current pet(s) to the shelter.
Meeting the animals
Your Adoption Counselor will review the animals’ medical and behavioral information. We will answer all of your questions and ask about your preferences, expectations, and experience to best help you find an animal that is a good match for your family. You will also meet the animal and get to know them before making your adoption decision.
During our busier times, we may limit you to meeting with two animals.
Adopting your new pet
At the end of your visit, you will decide if you are ready to adopt. Most animals can go home the same day they’re adopted! We also offer adoption holds if the animal is not ready to go home yet, or upon request if you’d like to pick up your new pet the next day.
Before heading home with your new pet, we will review your pet's medical and behavior history and you will sign an adoption agreement. You will also receive a small supply of the food your pet has been eating to get you started.
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 and what they cover.
Taking your new pet home
Congratulations on adopting your new pet! Dogs must go home with a leash and collar (slip leashes, choke chains, prong collars, retractable leashes, 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 when you pick up your pet. Proceeds of sales at our 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 email@example.com.
Male | 7 months
Female | 10 years
Female | Age Unknown
Female | 2 months
Male | 7 years