Did you know that some people buy homes not for marriage or children, but for their dogs? It seems pet ownership is a bigger part of the American dream than ever before. If your aspirations include a dog in the near future, know that you can find the perfect pet as quick as a snap or spend more than a year on the hunt.
Don’t worry—it’s all worth it. To prepare you for the process and help you find the pup for your home, we’ve prepared this guide on how to adopt a dog in Connecticut.
There’s a dog out there for everyone, and yours is waiting for you to find them. We’ve got a few tips to help your search.
- Shelters are typically at their fullest starting late spring through mid-fall. Temperatures are warmer, and thus people are more likely to spot and rescue strays. In fact, some cities may have such a high stray population that they run adoption drives.
- Look up months and holidays related to dogs. October is Adopt a Dog Month, while August 26 is National Dog Day. Shelters may run adoption drives during these events.
That said, shelters will be happy to help you at any time of year.
Now that you know when to adopt a dog, let’s talk about where. There are tons of places in Connecticut to adopt your pet (we’ve listed 14 below). You can refine your search by:
- Narrowing your search by breed. While not all dogs share their breed’s characteristics, knowing the difference between a Golden Retriever and a Chow Chow will help you decide which is best for your family. Search breeds on the American Kennel Club website.
- Look at aggregated websites like Petfinder or Adopt A Pet. You’ll see animals from a variety of different shelters instead of having to go to their individual websites.
Banned breeds in Connecticut
If you fall in love with a dog that you fear may be illegal to own because of its breed, don’t worry. State law prevents cities in Connecticut from banning dogs based on breed.
However, renters should be aware that some landlords will include breed-specific bans in your lease. When you adopt a dog, a shelter counselor will likely ask for your landlord’s contact information or to see a copy of your lease to make sure you can have the dog in question.
The dog adoption process in Connecticut
The specifics of adopting a dog vary depending on the shelter you go to, but they all follow the same basic procedure.
- First, you visit the shelter for introductions. Bring everyone living in the home, including other pets. An adoption counselor will let you spend time with the dog you’re interested in.
- The shelter will then call or check-in with your landlord and veterinarian.
- Next, you’ll have a counseling session to prepare you for pet ownership.
- Finally, payment (we have more on that below) and paper signing, then you can take your dog home.
A same-day adoption takes about an hour or two, so try to get there with a good amount of time before the shelter closes. However, the process can extend by a day or more if your shelter requests a home visit. Don’t worry, they just want to see where the dog will sleep, eat, and play, as well as confirm that everyone in the home agrees with having a dog.
If you adopt through an international rescue and the dog you choose is still in a different country, it could be several days before you see your pet. Be patient, and enjoy the first meet!
Dogs in Connecticut who are six months are older must be licensed. The state provides licensing applications in English and Spanish, to be mailed to your Town Clerk. Additionally, all dogs over two months of age must have current rabies vaccinations.
Your dog’s medical recorded medical history may be half a page long or span front and back, depending on their background. Regardless, the shelter will give you everything it has on your dog’s background, which you should take with you to its first vet visit.
Try to schedule an appointment within a week or two of adoption to catch anything the shelter may have missed.
Here is the fee information for three popular dog shelters in Connecticut.
Connecticut Humane Society
- Cost: $100 for senior dogs 8 years and older, $150 for dogs 1 to 7 years old, $275 for dogs 7 to 12 months old, and $445 for puppies up to 6 months old
- What it covers: spay/neuter, vaccinations, medical overview (including de-worming and flea/tick treatment), pre-registered microchip with tag, possible 30-day pet insurance trial
PAWS (Pet Animal Welfare Society, Inc.)
- Cost: $300 for adult dogs at least 6 months old and $400 for puppies 5 months or younger
- What it covers: spay/neuter, vaccines, microchip, medical overview
Protectors of Animals
- Cost: $325 for adult dogs, $375 for puppies younger than 12 months, and $500 for a bonded pair
- What it covers: spay/neuter, vaccinations, parasite preventative, flea and tick treatment
- Adopt-A-Dog: Going beyond mere rescue, Adopt-A-Dog socializes the animals it saves to help them find loving homes.
- The Animal Haven: A no-kill shelter working since 1948, The Animal Haven boasts seven acres of land for its rescued cats and dogs.
- Companion Pet Rescue: Rescues and re-homes dogs while also connecting low-income families with accessible spay and neuter services.
- Connecticut Humane Society: Connecticut’s largest and most comprehensive animal welfare organization.
- Danbury Animal Welfare Society: Created in 1974 to assist the Danbury pound in increasing adoptions, they fostered dogs and cats in homes until funding allowed them to build a physical location with rehabilitation services.
- Dog Star Rescue: Rescues dogs from both New England and the southern states.
- Double Dog Rescue: What began as a shared passion of two sisters quickly grew to a fully-fledged rescue organization in 2006.
- Friday’s Rescue Foundation: Founded in 2013 when a group traveled south to rescue a single dog and ended up saving six.
- New Haven Animal Shelter (and Friends of New Haven Animal Shelter): A division of the New Haven Police Department and the second-largest municipal shelter in the state partners with a nonprofit organization to sponsor off-site adoption events throughout the year.
- Our Companions Animal Rescue and Sanctuary: Boasts 43 acres of land. It’s Connecticut’s first adoption center simultaneously operating as an animal sanctuary and rehabilitation center.
- PAWS (Pet Animal Welfare Society, Inc.): Annually re-homes approximately 500 cats and 100 dogs.
- Pack Leaders Rescue of Connecticut: Saving dogs both in New England and the south, Pack Leaders Rescue has behavioral staff to help troubled dogs transition to life in a home.
- Protectors of Animals: A no-kill shelter dedicated to rescuing homeless animals in Connecticut.
A new dog means you’ll have to add a couple of items to your monthly budget. Here’s a list of annual purchases to consider:
- Treats and toys
- Waste bags
- Annual vet exams and vaccinations
- Monthly medications (flea/tick and parasite preventative)
- Dental care
- Pet insurance
- Dog walking services
- Dog sitting/travel accommodations
You’ll also need to make a few one-time purchases, like:
- Collars, harnesses, and leashes (although the shelter may provide one or all)
- Training sessions
- Grooming products
- Pet-friendly cleaning products
- Puppy pads
A note about pet insurance
Pet insurance can bring you peace of mind if your dog’s breed is prone to issues later in life. That said, it’s an additional monthly expense for you to budget. Know that you’re not required to get insurance to own a dog; the choice is up to you.
If you decide to opt-in, check to see if your employer offers pet insurance as part of its benefits package.
Your dog hunt could take a few weeks. Why not use that time to prepare for your new pet? A good homecoming checklist includes:
- Food and food bowls
- A leash and collar or harness
- The correct sized crate
- Enzyme cleaner for accidents
- Grooming gear (if necessary)
Pet-proof your home by removing dangerous foods or chemicals from reach and securing electric cables.
Hooray! Now, you can look forward to many days and nights filled with fun and unconditional love. And we’ll be here if you ever need a qualified dog sitter or walker in Connecticut.