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 begin adding adopters to the waitlist when the Adoption Center opens each day). When we have reached our estimated capacity for the day you will see “Standby Waitlist.” You are still welcome to come to the shelter and can request to join the standby list, but our capacity to serve customers on the standby list will be very limited. Meeting with an animal is required for adoption and we are unable to place animals on hold before your arrival.

If you are interested in an animal noted on our website as “Available from Foster,” contact our Adoption Center at (608) 838-0413 ext. 145 to set up an appointment to meet them.


Visit DCHS

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. Once the Adoption Center opens, 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. When we have reached our estimated capacity for the day you will see “Standby Waitlist.” 

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

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 office@giveshelter.org.


Female | 2 years

Female | 11 years

Female | Age Unknown
Domestic Shorthair

Female | 9 months
Terrier, Pit Bull

Male | 3 years
Border Collie