Everyone has their own views of Los Angeles, but only its residents know the real city. They can tell you where to find the best tacos, what parties to get into (and which ones to avoid), and the most important fact of all: that dogs really are the best companions.
Yes, Los Angeles loves its pet pals, but you’ll find more than the tiny Chihuahuas popularized by Paris Hilton and her purse. Los Angeles attracts all types of people, so it naturally has all types of dogs. So, if you’re looking to adopt a new friend, you’re in luck. With seemingly dozens of rescues to choose from, you’ll have no problem finding a dog to welcome to your home.
Not sure where to start? We’ve got your back. Here’s everything you need to know about adopting a dog in Los Angeles.
If it seems like most people you know have a pet, you’re not wrong. According to data from The Humane Society, 68% of households have at least one animal companion. Adopting a dog brings you into a large community of like-minded individuals.
So what are you waiting for?
Start by looking at shelter and rescue websites for dogs available for adoption in Los Angeles. You can browse individual sites—we’ve got a handy list below—or search larger databases like Petfinder or Adopt-A-Pet. Read the descriptions to see which dog’s personality best fits your lifestyle. Looking during specialty holidays like National Dog Day and Adopt a Dog Month can increase your chances of finding a great pet with an affordable adoption fee.
Banned breeds in Los Angeles
Per the department of animal services, LA does not have breed-specific legislation. This means you are free to adopt the dog or dog breed of your dreams and commit to responsible pet ownership.
The dog adoption process in Los Angeles
Each shelter has its own adoption process, but they all tend to follow the same general format:
- You’ll find a dog, either online or during a shelter visit, that you’re interested in adopting.
- Fill out an adoption form, and a counselor will schedule a meeting if the dog is still available.
- Meet the dog to assess its temperament. Bring everyone who will live with your new pet to the meeting, including other dogs. Some rescues may also require a home visit before you proceed to the next step.
- If everything goes well and you are approved to adopt, you’ll fill out official adoption paperwork and discuss proper pet care with rescue staff.
- After that, you’ll pay the adoption fee and bring your new companion to its forever home.
According to the City of Los Angeles Department of Animal Services, all dogs in the city older than 4 months must be licensed. If you live in Beverly Hills, you will also get your dog license through the city of LA.
The cost of a dog license is $20 for one year and $55 for three years. Low-income seniors and the disabled may purchase a one-year license for $10. In order to get a license, you must provide proof that your dog has been spayed or neutered and has a current rabies vaccination.
A license tag comes with a unique ID number, which the city can use to locate you should your pet get lost.
When you adopt your dog, the rescue should give you all its records on the animal’s medical history. This may be comprehensive if the dog was an owner surrender, or sparse if the dog was saved from the streets. Regardless, this information will help your vet get up-to-speed on the dog’s needs.
Schedule your first vet visit within a week of adoption. This allows your veterinarian to immediately treat lesser, non-life-threatening medical issues the shelter may have missed.
Here are adoption fees from three highly rated LA shelters to help you get a sense of the cost of adoption:
LA Animal Services
- Cost: $102 to $122 for dogs 4 months and older, $150 for puppies less than 4 months old. Discounts available for seniors, people adopting bonded pairs, or people adopting dogs that have been at the shelter for 10 days or more.
- What it covers: licensing, spay/neuter surgery, microchipping, deworming, age-appropriate vaccinations, free medical exam from participating Southern California Veterinary Medical Association offices within three days of adoption
NKLA Pet Adoption Center
- Cost: $100 to $250 for dogs 7 months of age and older, $350 for puppies less than 7 months old. Seniors over 55 may adopt select dogs for $5
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, microchipping, age-appropriate vaccinations
Wags & Walks Adoption Center
- Cost: $450 for dogs 7 months and older, $550 for puppies 6 months and younger.
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations, microchipping
It’s not surprising that LA has dozens of animal shelters, from small-operation rescues to city-wide organizations with decades of work under their belts. You’re bound to find the perfect new dog without traveling too far if you know where to look.
To help you get started, here are just a handful of the dog adoption shelters and rescues in Los Angeles:
- Ace of Hearts Dog Rescue: A 501c-3 organization that arranges last-minute rescues of dogs scheduled to be euthanized.
- Fur Baby Rescue: Rescues dogs and cats from high-kill shelters, owner surrenders, and the streets of south LA to find them loving forever homes.
- LA Animal Services: Run by the city’s Department of Animal Services, LA Animal Services operates six shelters throughout the city. It also provides a lot of support for current and future pet owners, including care tips, lost and found services, and legal information.
- NKLA (No-Kill Los Angeles): Led by Best Friends Animal Society, NKLA coordinates large-scale adoption events and has helped increase LA’s save rate from 57.7% to 89.7% between 2011 and 2018.
- spcaLA: The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles has provided Southern California with shelter services, disaster response teams, humane education, animal violence prevention, and much more since 1877.
- The Dog Cafe LA: Similar to the cat cafes that have become a worldwide phenomenon, The Dog Cafe allows patrons to enjoy the company of adoptable dogs while partaking in coffee, lattes, and similar refreshments. Making a reservation is recommended.
- The Lange Foundation: An organization that saves surrendered or impounded animals and helps them find new homes. The foundation’s Halfway Home Kenney transitions dogs from city shelters to forever homes. The foundation also runs St. Bonnie’s Sanctuary, an animal rescue that also works with horses and ponies.
- Vanderpump Dogs: Founded by reality television star Lisa Vanderpump and restaurateur Ken Todd, Vanderpump Dogs supports these animals on a local and international basis, addressing overpopulation and animal abuse in LA and across the globe. In addition to facilitating rescues and adoptions, the Vanderpump Dog Center has a grooming service and a retail boutique.
- Wags and Walks Adoption Center: Founded by the daughter of a veterinarian, Wags & Walks was created to break the stigma of adopting a shelter dog.
You’ll likely discuss this during the counseling session in your adoption process, but it helps to have an idea of your budget from the outset.
Recurring expenses include:
- Treats and toys
- Waste bags
- Dog walking services
- Boarding/pet sitting
- Medical care, including exams, vaccinations, and medications
- Parasite preventative
- Dental care
- Pet insurance
One-off purchases include:
Pet insurance can be a good investment for anyone with a dog that has chronic health issues. Even if your dog seems fine now, it could have DNA of a breed prone to joint problems, breathing issues, or something similar.
To see if pet insurance is right for you, consider your dog’s medical history and look at quotes from potential insurers. Don’t forget to check your employer’s benefits, as some of them offer pet insurance in addition to medical.
Now it’s time for the fun part: preparing for the first day with your new dog! Getting everything ready before your pet comes home will make the adjustment period much easier. Pet-proof your home, then head to your local pet shop and grab the following:
- Food, treats, and bowls
- A leash and collar or harness
- An appropriately-sized crate
- Dog toys
- Dental care products
- Grooming tools
- Cleaner and puppy pads for accidents
You and your new friend are about to embark on a fun, fulfilling journey together. Remember: Rover is here for you with qualified dog walkers and dog sitters in Los Angeles, ready to help when you need them.