Any resident of Las Vegas can tell you that there’s a lot more to the city than lights and gambling. In fact, with camping, parks, and pet-friendly restaurants, it’s a great city to own a dog.
If you’re new to the city or the dog adoption process, don’t worry. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about adopting a dog in Las Vegas.
Finding a dog in Las Vegas
It’s no secret that Americans love dogs. Most U.S. households have at least one pet, according to data from The Humane Society. And with so many animals in need, adopting one not only brings a new companion into your home, but it saves an animal’s life.
Begin your search by browsing the adoptable dogs at shelters and rescues in Las Vegas. Scroll down for a quick list of local resources. Look at their pictures and read their descriptions to see which of these animals would be a good match.
The southwestern U.S. has lots of animals in need of assistance, so you shouldn’t have problems finding one. Adoption fees here are also relatively low compared to other places in the country. That said, you can check the rescues’ websites to see if they have any upcoming adoption events with discounted fees, or you can look for a dog during National Dog Day or Adopt a Dog Month.
Banned breeds in Las Vegas
Breed-specific legislation has been illegal in the state of Nevada since 2013. This means that yes, you can adopt a pit bull, German shepherd, chow chow, or other breed that is often discriminated against. Las Vegas does have dangerous animal laws, but these are not specific to any dog breed or breed mix.
Keep in mind that private property owners can still prohibit certain breeds on their property. Check your lease or HOA agreements before completing the adoption process, just in case.
The adoption process in Las Vegas
Each rescue has a specific adoption process, which you may be able to preview online. Some require references or a home visit, while others are happy to offer same-day adoptions. Regardless, the general process will go something like this:
- Start by filling out an adoption application for the dog you like.
- An adoption counselor will contact you and schedule an appointment to meet the dog. This meeting can take place immediately if you visit and complete your application at the rescue, or in a few days if you start the process online. Regardless, bring everyone who will live with your new pet (including other dogs) to this meeting to make sure everyone gets along.
- If things go well and you decide to adopt, you’ll complete any necessary paperwork and discuss responsible dog ownership with the counselor. The shelter will also take time to verify any references, check your lease agreement, or contact your veterinarian, if applicable.
- Once you complete the counseling session, paperwork, and fee payment, you’re ready to take your new pet home!
Licensing dogs in Las Vegas
Once you adopt your dog, you have 30 days to obtain a license from the city (assuming your dog is at least 4 months old. If your pet is younger, this 30-day deadline kicks in once it reaches this 4-month threshold).
Las Vegas dog licenses last for one year, and the fee varies depending on whether your dog is altered (spayed or neutered) or not. If your pet has had this surgery, a 1-year license costs $10. A license for a dog that hasn’t been spayed or neutered costs $25.
Disabled persons and seniors aged 65 and older get a discount: $5 for licensing a spayed/neutered dog and $15 for licensing an unaltered one. Service dogs can be licensed for free.
The first vet visit
You should schedule a check-up with your veterinarian as soon as possible after you bring your pet home. Some rescues will even give you a voucher for a free vet exam within 7 or 14 days of adoption.
This visit is a chance for your vet to input your dog’s records (obtained from the rescue) into the office system. It’s also an opportunity to catch any underlying ailments that the rescue may not have been able to treat, such as kennel cough.
How much it costs to adopt a dog in Las Vegas
The Animal Foundation
- Cost: $50 for large adult dogs (at least 6 months and at least 30 pounds), $100 for small adult dogs (at least 6 months but less than 30 pounds), $200 for puppies (younger than 6 months)
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations, microchipping. Adoptions at the campus Adoption Center (rather than a PetSmart event) also get a complimentary bag of food and a voucher for a complimentary wellness exam.
The Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA)
- Cost: $50 to $150
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations, microchipping
Where to adopt a dog in Las Vegas
Ready to begin the search for your next pet? Check out these highly-rated shelters below:
- Heaven Can Wait Animal Society: A rescue whose primary focus is providing high volume, low-cost spay/neuter surgeries to neighborhoods with large shares of feral cats and homeless dogs.
- Hearts Alive Village: A rescue that began when a 9-year-old girl bonded with a rescue dog named Athens and worked tirelessly to rehome him. Her effort expanded into an organization that has saved thousands of pets since 2011.
- Help Elevate Life For Pets (HELP): A no-kill, no-case rescue that has a matching service to connect owners looking to rehome their healthy pets with animal lovers looking to adopt.
- Golden Retriever Rescue Southern Nevada: An all-volunteer rescue that rehomes golden retrievers and golden mixes.
- Las Vegas Doberman and Dachshund Rescue: A rescue dedicated primarily to finding homes for Doberman pinschers, dachshunds, and mixes.
- Pits To Pets Rescue: Primarily focuses on pit bull-type dogs, but supports canines of any breed.
- The Animal Foundation: Partnered with the City of Las Vegas Department of Animal Control, this open-access shelter began as a low-cost spay/neuter clinic in 1978.
- The Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Founded in 1982, the NSPCA was the first no-kill shelter in Las Vegas.
- Those Left Behind (TLB) Foundation: An animal rescue that also provides services and support for veterans, the elderly, and autistic children.
Creating a care budget for your dog
It’s important to understand the costs of dog ownership before beginning the adoption process. Some purchases are less frequent than others, so you’ll have a few large-scale costs as well as monthly expenses.
These monthly purchases include:
- Treats and toys
- Waste bags
- Vet exams, vaccinations, and medications
- Pet insurance
- Dog walkers
- Boarding and/or pet sitting services
Meanwhile, your less-frequent expenses include:
A note about pet insurance
Pet insurance is an individual decision that only you can make. If your pet is prone to chronic health issues or a breed known for certain ailments, insurance can give you peace of mind and help you afford future treatment. There are a number of pet insurance providers to choose from, and your employment benefits may include pet insurance as well. Compare different prices to make the best decision for you and your pet.
Getting ready for your new dog
You’re so close! It’s almost time to bring home your new pet, but there are still a few last-minute steps to take to make your home dog-friendly.
Take steps to pet-proof your home so everything is safe for your new companion. For example: move any cleaning products to a cabinet or high shelf, put your trash can in a hard-to-get location, and tuck away any cords. Then, pick up the following items at your local pet store:
- Food and water bowls, plus dog food
- Treats and toys
- A leash and collar or harness
- Grooming tools
- Enzyme cleaners
Your dog may have an accident from nerves or excitement when it first comes to its forever home. Trust us, you’ll be happy you purchased cleaners beforehand!
Set up a spot for your dog to eat and sleep before you bring him home. This will make your pet feel safe and improve the transition from shelter to forever home.
And then, bring home your new pet
Whether this is your first dog or your fifth, you’re about to embark on a great adventure. Dogs are man’s best friend for a reason, so you’re in for a great time. And if you ever need help, don’t worry. Rover has tons of qualified dog walkers and dog sitters in Las Vegas.