Ready for a dog? We thought you might be. Rescuing a pet is its own reward, and we’re here to make the process simple. Here’s everything you need to know about adopting a dog in Colorado.
If you’re looking for a companion that will get you active and allow you to make some human friends, there’s no better choice than a dog. In fact, most households in the U.S. have at least one pet. Joining their ranks brings you into a strong community of dog lovers.
The best way to find a pet is by searching shelters in your areas. Your local city or county will likely have a municipal shelter that rehomes strays and abandoned dogs. You can also look at private, nonprofit rescues. We have a list of dog adoption services below to get you started.
Browse through the available pets, and consider how they’d work in your life based on their descriptions. While you won’t know a dog’s complete personality until you spend some time with them, shelter-provided descriptions are very beneficial at the beginning of this process.
Here are some tips to help you with the search:
- Look up breed characteristics on the American Kennel Club website. This way, you can see if a certain dog is more or less likely to need lots of space, exercise or special care in old age.
- Follow pet rescues’ social media pages for pictures of incoming dogs and details on upcoming events.
- If you want a discount on adoption fees, attend rescue-held drives. Alternatively, you can adopt a dog during National Dog Day or Adopt a Dog Month. Many rescues celebrate these nation-wide events by reducing or eliminating adoption costs.
Banned breeds in Colorado
While there aren’t statewide laws banning certain dog breeds in Colorado, a few cities have breed-specific legislation. Lone Tree bans all “fighting breeds” (pit bulls, bulldogs, Canary Dogs, and others), while the following cities only target pit bulls:
- Commerce City
- Fort Lupton
- La Juanta
In addition, private property owners can refuse to allow certain breeds on their property. Check your lease (or your homeowner’s association) before welcoming a new pet into your home.
The adoption process in Colorado
Each shelter and rescue has its own method for adoptions, but they all follow the same general process. Adopting a dog can happen in a few hours or a few days, depending on when and where you first submit the application.
- Find a dog that seems like a good fit—either online or during an in-person visit to the shelter—and fill out an adoption application.
- An adoption counselor will review your paperwork and arrange a meeting with the dog. This can take place immediately (if you’re visiting the shelter) or in a few days (if you’ve found the dog online).
- If the meeting goes well, the shelter will contact your veterinarian and landlord (if applicable). It’s okay if this is your first pet and you don’t yet have a veterinarian; the rescue can recommend some.
- Once your lease and vet are verified, the adoption counselor will talk to you about the ins and outs of dog ownership. You’ll likely receive your dog’s medical records and any other extras (informative packets, complimentary bags of food) at this point.
- Pay the adoption fee and take your pet home!
Most U.S. cities and/or counties require owners to license their dogs. Generally, licenses are only granted if the dog is above a certain age (usually six months) and spayed or neutered. Check with your local animal control or public health departments to find dog licensing requirements specific to your area.
Try to bring your dog to a veterinarian within a week of adoption. This way, you can catch any minor ailments that the shelter may have missed or not had the resources to treat, such as kennel cough. Bring the rescue-provided medical records with you so vet staff can enter these details into their records.
Some rescues offer limited-time vouchers for a free vet visit to encourage new adopters to take their dogs for a checkup.
Each shelter prices its adoption fees based on the individual costs of rescuing dogs in their area. These costs can include transportation, medical services, rent, building maintenance, and more.
Below are a few sample adoption fees (and what they cover) to help you get a sense of the cost of adopting a dog in Colorado:
Colorado Animal Rescue
- Cost: $160 for dogs of all ages
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, medical and behavioral evaluation, microchipping, deworming, canine rabies vaccination, Distemper combo vaccination
Foothills Animal Shelter
- Cost: $75-$100 for dogs 6 months and older, $200-$500 for puppies younger than 6 months
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, microchipping, complimentary bag of Purina Pro Plan dog food, complementary health exam, 30-day trial of pet insurance.
MaxFund Animal Adoption Center
- Cost: $75 for senior dogs 8 years and older, $125 for dogs between 6 months and 8 years of age, $200 for puppies younger than six months
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations, microchipping
- All Breed Rescue and Training: Uses positive reinforcement and relationship-based training to rehabilitate dogs deemed unadoptable. All Breed boasts a 98% adoption success rate.
- Colorado Animal Rescue (C.A.R.E.): Serving Garfield County, this shelter provides spay/neuter services, pet food banks, training classes, and more.
- Colorado Puppy Rescue: This no-kill nonprofit specializes in rescuing puppies and young dogs.
- Denver Animal Shelter: This official shelter is part of the Denver Public Health and Environment Department.
- Farfel’s Farm: Saving dogs from Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, this rescue doubles as a pet boutique.
- Foothills Animal Shelter: An open-admission rescue serving Jefferson County, Foothills provides affordable pet services and licensing in addition to adoptions.
- Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region: A shelter rescuing all sorts of animals—including horses, goats, rabbits, and more—in addition to dogs and cats. Keep in mind that HSPPR requests potential adopters leave their other animals at home when they meet with a shelter pet.
- MaxFund Dog Shelter: This no-kill shelter also provides low-cost veterinary services through the MaxFund Wellness Center.
- National Mill Dog Rescue: National Mill works to educate the public about the often cruel realities of commercial puppy mills.
- No Hound Unhomed: This rescue provides a second chance for dogs that don’t pass initial temperament tests at other shelters.
- Paws N Hooves & Black Forest Animal Sanctuary: This rescue and rehab farm works with a variety of domestic animals, including dogs, horses, and even alpacas.
- Safe Place for Pets: Safe Place provides care, support, and rehoming services for pets whose owners suffer from a terminal illness.
Dogs may not go to college, but caring for one can certainly seem like caring for a child when it comes to budgeting. Pet ownership can cost a grand per year, depending on your dog’s age, training level, medical needs, and more.
Recurring dog expenses include:
- Food and treats
- Waste bags
- Veterinary exams and vaccinations
- Medications and dental care
- Dog walking services
- Pet insurance
One-time purchases include:
- A leash
- A collar or harness
- A crate and bedding
- Boarding/pet sitting
- Grooming products
- Training sessions
- Pet-friendly cleaning products
Some dogs and breeds are more susceptible to certain ailments than others. If your dog currently has (or is expected to have) a recurring medical issue, pet insurance can give you peace of mind. Getting insurance can even be a good idea if your dog is healthy and has no foreseeable medical needs, as this can help you pay for end-of-life care.
Look at various coverage options to decide if this expense is right for you. Don’t forget to check your employer-provided benefits; many companies now offer pet insurance as part of their packages.
You’re almost at the finish line. But, before you can take your dog on its freedom ride, you should make sure your living space is ready for a new inhabitant.
At the very minimum, you should have the following available before your pet comes home:
- Food, water, bowls, and treats
- A leash and collar/harness
- An appropriately-sized crate (crate training your dog will help it feel safe in its new environment)
- Grooming tools>
- An enzyme cleaner (accidents are common within the first few days of adoption, and an enzyme cleaner will help keep your dog from urinating in the same spot)
Next, pet-proof your living space, and you’re ready!
Congratulations! We know you’re going to have an exciting time with your new best friend. And don’t forget: Rover has qualified dog walkers and sitters in Colorado ready to help out when you need it.