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How to adopt a dog or cat in New York City

Confused on how to adopt a dog or cat in New York? Here's a guide that breaks it all down.

dog cat pets psychologyAdopt a cutie from a New York shelter.
Credit: Wiki Commons.

Always wanted a furry friend? Don’t know where to start? Navigating New York’s adoption scene doesn't have to be an arduous endeavor with our guide: Here's how to adopt a dog or cat in New York City.

If you’re a first-time pet owner looking for a lot of support, the ASPCA should be your adoption center of choice. If you adopt from the organization, your new animal companion will be provided with a leash and collar or pet carrier, spay or neuter surgery, vaccinations, a registered microchip, heartworm testing and two weeks of free follow-up veterinary care and medical support. Adoptive “parents” are also given literature and information about animal behavior and what to expect from their new pets.

The ASPCA’s center is on 92nd St. and its adoption process is short – in most cases you can take your new pet home on the same day. To adopt, you must be 21 years old or older and bring two forms of identification: a government issued ID and proof of your current address. You may also be asked to give the phone number of a personal reference. Finally, the ASPCA asks you to complete a quick, five-minute survey to find you a compatible pet. Costs range from free – for cats over three years of age – to $200 for smaller and younger dogs. All puppies require mandatory obedience classes ($50 for five classes) and residents of the city need to pay $8.50 for a Department of Health dog license.

Animal Care & Control of New York City (AC&C) is one of the larger shelters in New York because they are the only New York City organization that takes in every animal that comes through its door regardless of health or behavior. They have dogs and cats (and rabbits, if you’re into that) at three locations in the city, one each in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Like the ASPCA, AC&C provides animals in its care centers with spaying or neutering; if the animal is already spayed or neutered, you can take him or her home on the same day of adoption. The organization has a lot of resources for adoptive parents, including flyers on a variety of topics ranging from dealing with normal puppy behavior like chewing, nipping and rough play to removing pet stains and odors. A veterinary exam and one year of Home Again microchip service are provided free of charge.

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The adoption process for AC&C animals includes filling out a quick and easy, two-page application, having a counseling session and interacting with the animal you are interested in adopting. The organization recommends that you set aside several hours to complete the entire process of interaction and adopting a pet, and requires the same proof of identification though perspective adopters need only be 18 years of age. Adoption fees range from $25 for cats seven years and over to $150 for puppies under six months old.

If you’d like to adopt from somewhere with a more local connection, look no further than Bidawee. With two locations in Manhattan and Westhampton, the animal welfare organization is devoted to matching you to your perfect pet. After taking in neglected animals, Bidawee provides each one with medical, emotional, and behavioral care to become a well-adjusted pet. Additionally, extensive information for how to care for an animal, and what terms of cost and commitment to expect for first-time owners is detailed on their website.

You can read detailed descriptions of each animal online, or Matchmakers can guide you to your feline or canine soul mate at the Manhattan and Westhampton facilities. To adopt your pet, Bidawee requires you to fill out an application, and have each member of the household present to assure compatibility. Adoption fees are $225 for puppies younger than 6 months and $150 for older dogs and all cats.

For those who are interested in more exotic pets, Sean Casey Animal Rescue in Sunset Park and Windsor Terrace offers birds, hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats, lizards, turtles, snakes, frogs and fish in addition to dogs, cats and rabbits. And for those keen on a very specific breed of dog, chances are there is an adoption center specifically for the breed you’re looking for. Like their names suggest, Koss Dalmation Rescue will help you welcome a Dalmation into your home, while Northeast Boston Terrier Rescue, Inc. houses Boston Terriers available for adoption. Some shelters specialize in mixes, like the Poo-Mix Rescue virtual rescue operation, which compiles entries of poodle mixes throughout the U.S. and Canada listed in other websites.

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