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Adoption Process

Adoption Fees, Forms & Process

Thank you so much for your interest in adoption! Below are answers to some of our most commonly asked questions. If you need more information, please contact the shelter nearest you

Do animals ever have restrictions limiting who they can go home with?

Every animal is an individual and WHS works hard to make great matches for our animals and adopters. Some animals may have placement restrictions or requirements established by WHS based on shelter observations and previous home histories. When meeting with your adoption counselor, they review each animal’s medical, behavior, and placement needs with you to help you find an animal who is compatible with your home environment and your lifestyle. There are no time limits at WHS, all animals in adoption have as long as it takes to find a new loving home. Stop in and speak with our adoption counseling team today – we look forward to meeting with you.

Do I need to do anything before I visit the shelter? 

Nope, heading to the shelter is the first step! Adoptions happen on a first-come, first-served basis as long as it's a good match; we do not have appointments or applications. If you would like to save some time, you can fill out our Dog Adopter ProfileCat Adopter Profile, or Small Animal/Exotic Adopter Profile online in advance and it will remain on file for 2 months. This is what your adoption counselor will use to guide you through the adoption process; it is not an application.

What should I bring with me to the shelter? 

You will need a valid photo ID and proof of current address. If you hope to leave with a new pet, all cats must be in a carrier and dogs must be on a leash. You can purchase these items at the shelter in our retail store where 100% of the proceeds go back to helping animals in need, or you can bring your own!

Can I bring my dog with me to meet other dogs before we decide to adopt?

For many years we conducted dog-to-dog introductions, but we no longer offer them because we have found that they are not indicative of how the dogs interact outside of the building. Shelters are full of sounds, smells, and distractions, so the dogs weren’t able to get a true feel for the other dog’s personality. In instances where in-shelter introductions didn’t go well, it prohibited that dog from going to a family they may have otherwise been comfortable with if they were introduced in a less stressful environment. On the flip side, positive introductions at the shelter could give the family a false sense of security causing them to let their guard down in the first few critical days at their the home. For that reason, we’ve eliminated in-shelter introductions and instead focus on counseling families so they have all the tools they need to facilitate successful introductions at home. 

Will there be a wait? 

Yes, there is typically a wait to meet with an animal. Depending on the campus and when you visit, a counselor may be able to meet with you right away or there may be a wait varying from 20 minutes up to 3 hours during peak times. On busy days, we may need to stop checking in clients prior to closing time to accommodate the potential adopters already on our waiting list. The ideal time to stop by is typically a weekday afternoon when foot-traffic is lightest. We are tremendously grateful for the patience of our visitors and the excitement our community has for adopting shelter pets! 

What is Waitwhile? 

All WHS Campuses utilize a program called Waitwhile which allows our guests to view current wait times in advance, and also allows them to check in at the shelter to hold their spot in line, leave if wait times are long, and come back once it's closer to their turn. This program relies on SMS text messaging and is best utilized on a smartphone. Click to view the current wait time for adoption at the Milwaukee CampusRacine CampusOzaukee CampusDoor County Campus, or Green Bay Campus.

What happens once I'm with my adoption counselor? 

Since the individual needs of each animal and adopter vary, an Adoption Counselor will work with you one-on-one to help you find the right match for your family. They'll then introduce you to animals who've caught your eye or seem like a good fit based on the information you've provided. The adoption process generally takes at least an hour; we recommend that you allow ample time to learn about your new companion and complete the process. Once you've made a decision, we'll go over some paperwork, take payment for the adoption fee, and you'll be leaving the shelter with a new best friend! After adoption, we provide our adopters with a link to a video packed with helpful information; feel free to watch our Adopter Information video in advance here!

How much is the adoption fee? 

You may have noticed on our website that our adoption fees vary between individual animals. Having a higher adoption fee for some animals who will find a home quickly enables us to care for animals in need of lifesaving medical and behavioral intervention. Dog adoption fees vary from $25-$449 plus local tax. Cat adoption fees range from $99-$199 for kittens under 1 year old, and you get to name your own fee for all cats aged 1 year and up. Small animal adoption fees range from "name your own fee" to $75.

What is included in my adoption fee? 

Every dog and cat adopted from WHS has already been spayed or neutered, microchipped, received initial vaccinations, plus they go home with a certificate for a free vet exam, a starter bag of Science Diet food, and a VCA Animal Hospitals Healthy Start Certificate for a wellness exam and 14-day follow-up care for conditions listed on certificate. Additionally, you'll leave with peace of mind knowing our behavior experts are here for you should any questions or concerns arise down the road. 

Can I place a hold on an animal I see on the website? 

While we work extremely hard to make our animals as comfortable as possible, studies show that the longer an animal is in a shelter environment, the higher their risk of increased stress and illness. For that reason, we operate on a first-come, first-served basis and are not able to accept phone holds. If you see someone who interests you on our website, please stop on in at your earliest convenience!

Do you offer any adoption discounts? 

The Wisconsin Humane Society offers a 10% military discount on adoption fees at all campuses with valid proof of service. 

Resources from 24PetWatch®

  • To view a short video about the 24PetWatch® microchip and lost recovery services, click here.
  • To view a video about 24PetWatch® Insurance and Membership, click here.
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