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Steps to Adopt

Adopting a pet from the Washington Humane Society is a rewarding experience. Read on to learn what you need to prepare for as you get ready to adopt. 
Check out the adoption process through Gary's eyes! 

Video Produced by DC London, Inc.
Before You Visit:
Please check to see if your home is pet-friendly, especially if you rent.  If you are looking to adopt a dog, ask about breed or size restrictions.
Please Bring:
  • A photo ID,
  • Any household members who should meet the pet (children, roommates, etc.), and
  • Call ahead if you would like to bring your current family dog for an introduction.
The Adoption Process: 
  1. Meet the pet outside of his/her kennel or in his/ her foster home. We may required all members of the household to do so. View locations and hours hereYou can also meet your new best friend at one of our adoption events in the community. 
  2. Complete an adoption questionnaire after you have met your desired pet (false, incomplete, or withheld information will void your application).
  3. Have a consultation with an Adoption Counselor to ensure your intended pet is a good match for your home, and to give you the opportunity to ask questions (if an immediate interview is not possible at the time you submit your application, you will receive a call to discuss your application within 1-2 business days of submission).
  4. Once your application for adoption is approved, the pet must be picked up within 24 hours. The only exception is if the animal is awaiting spay/neuter surgery. 
  5. Adoption tips and shopping list.
  6. Your Adoption Counselor will email or call to answer questions and provide resources.  Call or email anytime to ask for advice or assistance from the adoptions staff or Behavior and Training team.
Speed up your adoption process by filling out your adoption questionnaire in advance!
Click below to download:

Adoption Fees:
  • Dogs: $170
  • Cats: $85
  • Rabbits: $45
  • Guinea Pigs: $20
  • Ferrets: $35 (non-DC residents only)
  • Other small animals: $10 (housing, bedding, and food not included)
  • Small birds (parakeets, finches, etc.): $10
  • Birds larger than a budgie: $25
Dog and cat adoption fees include: 
Spay/Neuter, applicable vaccinations, microchip, deworming, heartworm test (dogs), FIV/FeLV test (cats), additional $15 for DC dog license (DC residents only). 
**NEW! WHS now offers pet ID tags for $5 each, available at the New York Avenue Adoption Center and the Spay and Neuter Center **
We accept exact cash, Visa, MC, Discover, and American Express. No personal checks are accepted. Payment is required at time of pick-up. Please consider your choice of pet carefully - WHS does not issue refunds on adoption fees and does not exchange pets.
Pet Licensing:
Four dogs revised
It is required that all dogs be licensed in the District of Columbia. For dogs four months and older, we will issue you a license at the time of adoption. The cost of a DC license is $15 and must be renewed annually. If you live outside the District, please check the licensing regulations in your city or county.
Please Bring With You:
  • Dogs: 4-6 foot leash (no extendable leashes please), snap/buckle or martingale collar (do not bring prong or chain collars). A front clip walking harness is recommended
  • Cats: cat carrier
  • Small Animals: appropriate living/travel container
  • Paws for Patriots Program for Military Members -
    WHS celebrates veterans by offering a 50% reduction on adoption fee upon showing a military ID (active, reserve, or veteran). Under the Pets for Patriots program, military members are eligible for discounted veterinary care for the life of their honorably adopted cat or dog, as well as assistance for purchasing food and other pet supplies. Military adopters will be notified of these additional benefits at the time of their adoption, if not already registered with the Pets for Patriots program. To learn more about Pets for Patriots, visit
  • Hidden Gems -
    When you visit our adoption centers, look for our HIDDEN GEMS! These animals are our longest term residents; their adoption fee has been waived!
  • The Cats Go Marching Two-by-Two -
    When you adopt a cat or kitten, you can always adopt a second cat or kitten at a waived adoption fee!
  • Seasonal Promotions -
    Follow WHS on Facebook and Twitter to be the first to know about other adoption promotions!

Click to download and share our How to Adopt Flyer

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