Pet adoption requirements vary depending on where you’re adopting a cat or dog from. Some rescues and shelters have more strict requirements to adopt a pet than others, so it’s important to know what is needed of you before you start the adoption process. Typically, shelters and rescues have more requirements to adopt a cat or dog than a breeder, but it depends on each organization.

Illustrated people playing with pets.

What Do I Need to Adopt a Dog or Cat from a Shelter or Rescue?


The first pet adoption requirement is to submit an application. Most shelters and rescues take applications on a first-come basis, so if you see a dog or cat you’re interested in, make sure you’re ready to fill out and submit the application quickly.

The application can be a straightforward questionnaire or a more in-depth survey. You may also need to provide references, verify that your landlord allows pets, submit income verification, or complete a home visit before your application is accepted.

Home Visit

Shelters and rescues may want a specific environment for the cats or dogs that they adopt out. A representative of the organization may visit your home to make sure your home is suitable and safe for the pet. A larger dog may require a fenced yard or a senior pet may need a home without stairs. Staff will let you know if a home visit is needed before adopting a pet.

Age Requirements

Most shelters and rescues will require you to be at least 18 years old to adopt a pet.

Valid Identification

In order to verify your age and where you live, you’ll need to provide valid identification to shelter or rescue staff.

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Your Pet’s First Vet Visit Post-Adoption
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Family Meet and Greet

It’s a good idea to make sure everyone in the family gets along with the new pet, which is why most shelters and rescues require a family meet-and-greet before adoption. Everyone in the home, including dogs and cats that already live with you, should meet the pet you want to adopt to see if they’ll be a good fit for your family. Shelter staff wants to see that a pet is adopted into a comfortable and loving environment.

Adoption Fee

Lastly, depending on where you decide to adopt a pet from, the adoption fee will vary in costs. The adoption fee typically covers basic veterinary care (like initial shots, microchipping, and spay or neuter), as well as housing, food, and transportation the pet received while they were in the care of the shelter or rescue.

Each shelter and rescue have different requirements to adopt a dog or cat, but these details can help them to ensure that an animal is adopted into a safe home. Check their website before visiting to know what to bring with you so the application process is quick and smooth.


The Zoetis Petcare Team

As the world’s largest animal health company, Zoetis develops and creates innovative products that improve the health of your pets. Their team of pet-lovers, scientists, vets, and more have dedicated over 65 years to advancing pet health. Their products are so trusted and effective, they’re in almost every vet practice in the country.