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The Adoption Process

Why Adopt from HSHC

Bringing a new cat or dog into your family is a big decision — so we’re honored you’re interested in adopting from HSHC. We realize there are many places you could go to adopt, or purchase, a new pet. So here’s a few reasons why we hope you’ll choose a companion from us:

Adopt one. Save two.

As an open admission, no-kill shelter, we are depending on more animals getting adopted each day than those who arrive.  Yes, we are no-kill. However, that doesn’t mean the animals in our care don’t need you. Every time you adopt an animal from HSHC, not only do you give someone a second chance, but you create an opening in a cage or kennel for another animal who may be at risk for euthanasia to get their second chance. You see, HSHC rescues hundreds of at-risk animals in other Indiana shelters every year…but only if there is space at HSHC.

Our animals are fully vetted.
  • If your adopted pet has not already been altered, the surgery will be performed by HSHC’s veterinarian. Your new pet will be ready for pickup from HSHC at 4:30 p.m. within two business days of adoption.
  • All animals will have received – at a minimum – their first round of age appropriate vaccinations, a complete deworming and Heartworm/flea/tick preventative.
  • All dogs meeting the age requirement are Heartworm tested.
  • All cats meeting the age requirement are Feline Leukemia/FIV tested.
  • Each pet is microchipped and registered to the adopter for free.
Our animals have been temperament tested.
  • Our dogs are temperament tested so we can place them in the best possible homes.
  • If you currently own a cat and are interested in adopting a dog, we will “cat test” the dog you’re interested in at no additional fee.
We will be there for you, and them, post-adoption.
  • We provide complimentary, post-adoption phone support should you run into any training/behavior issues or concerns. We are here to help make the transition of your pet into his/her new home a successful one!
  • If you have exhausted all options in keeping the life-long commitment to your adopted pet, and simply cannot keep them, we will always take them back – for the life of the pet. In fact, we require it. It is not safe to rehome pets on social media or to give them away.  So, we will always be here for them, and you.
You’ll receive a lot of cool stuff.
  • All animals receive a complimentary wellness exam and a certificate for a free Rabies vaccine if the pet has not been vaccinated at HSHC (redeemable with any participating veterinarian**).
  • All adopters receive a complimentary bag of Science Diet food and special offers from corporate sponsors good for discounts on boarding, training, grooming and pet supplies.

  • 01.

    Meeting the Family

    Once you’ve fallen head over heels for the new love of your life, the next step is making sure you and your family are a perfect match!

    Before visiting with prospective pets, we ask that you please fill out an adoption application either online or at the shelter so we can get to know more about you, your family and existing pets. Once that step is completed, and your application is approved, it’s time to be matched with your new furry companion.

    PLEASE NOTE: We require that ALL family members, regardless of age, meet a potential pet. This requirement may be waived for some cat adoptions. Before you come in to adopt, please be sure to bring a government issued ID with current address, animal vaccine records, and a copy of your residence’s pet policy!

    We also require that any existing dogs in the home have a successful meet and greet with your prospective new dog at the shelter. Our team of professionals will supervise the meet and greet in one of our outdoor/indoor play areas to ensure compatibility. If you are traveling a long distance to visit us, we recommend bringing your dog(s) and family.

    We do not, however, require existing cats in the home do a meet and greet with a prospective new kitty member.

  • 02.

    Adoption Fees

    Cat adoption fees range from $25 to $100.

    Dog adoption fees range from $35 to $200.

    We also often run adoption specials so be sure to ask when you visit us. The adoption fee includes all of the benefits shared above.

  • 03.

    Taking Your Pet Home

    Once your application is approved and all of the required family and/or pet meet & greets have been successfully completed, it’s time for your new pet to pack his or her bags!

    If the pet you’re adopting has already been spayed or neutered, he/she can go home the same day. If not, we will spay/neuter your pet and he/she will be ready for you to pick up at 4:30PM within two business days.

    Come prepared with a cat carrier for your new cat, and a dog collar and leash for your new dog … OR … you can purchase these items in the HSHC retail shop.


  • 04.

    Need Some Extra Time?

    If your family needs a little extra time to prepare for your pet’s homecoming or you need to coordinate a family/pet “meet & greet,” you may place a 24-hour, non-refundable, non-transferrable hold on the pet. Hold fees range from $40 to $50.

Making Sure Every Match Is Perfect

How old do I have to be to adopt a pet?

The minimum age for adoption is 18. 

Do I have to be a homeowner to adopt?

We must be able to either verify home ownership or have approval from your landlord. Regardless of age, if you live with a parent, he or she must be present at the time of adoption.

What identification will I need if I want to adopt?

We require you to have up-to-date contact information and a valid government-issued ID.

What if I already have a pet at home?

If you currently have a dog, we require they be introduced to the dog you are interested in adopting. The shelter has a play yard to assist with new introductions.

If you currently have a cat, and you would like to adopt a dog, we will conduct a complimentary “cat test” with your prospective pet.

If I have young kids, is pet adoption right for us?

We require that ALL family members, regardless of age, meet a potential pet. This requirement may be waived for some cat adoptions.

May I give a pet as a gift?

Because choosing a pet is a very personal – and lifelong – decision, we do not allow pets to be adopted as gifts. The exception to this rule is adopting a pet for your dependent children.

Do my current pets have to be spayed/neutered before I adopt?

Approximately 3 million animals are euthanized in U.S. shelters every year. 

Please note there is a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance for Hamilton County residents. For more information on this and other Hamilton County Animal Ordinances visit this page.

To learn more about the health and behavior improvement benefits of spaying/neutering your pet and low-cost vet resources visit this page.

Adoption Success Story: Pinky-Pie

Read the Story

We got Pinky-Pie (formerly Salty) 1 1/2 years ago during a difficult time in our lives. He has been the best medicine for our whole family and is our daughter’s best friend! I can’t say enough about how amazing the staff were in finding the perfect match for us. This little fur ball has been a blessing!

  • Thanks again for an awesome adoption process. We are blessed with a fantastic dog!

    Brittany Mallory‎

  • I was so impressed with Hamilton County Humane’s professionalism and organization.

    George's New Owners

  • Lindsay’s only requirements were an older shelter cat who’d been waiting far too long for a home. Our staff knew the perfect cat for her.

    Congrats Lindsay and Ember!

Love & Let Live

Every animal deserves a second chance at love — and life. We invite you to be part of the solution and give back to the animals who give us so much.