What’s better than exploring the diverse natural beauty of Maryland? We’d have to say doing exactly that but with a dog by your side. A pet is a perfect companion for the outdoors…or the indoors if that’s more your speed!
And if you don’t have a dog, don’t worry. We know everything about dog walking, dog sitting, and dog adoption in Maryland, and we’re here to share the details.
Adopting a dog brings you into a community of approximately 3 million others who have welcomed a shelter animal into their lives. Start your search by looking through listings of adoptable pets near your area. You can put your city into websites like Petfinder or Adopt-a-Pet.com and find records from multiple rescues in one place, or you can pop down to your favorite local shelter and browse in person. We’ve also compiled a list of Maryland shelters down below.
As you’re browsing, review any shelter-provided descriptions of the dogs that catch your interest. This can help you determine whether the animal will be a good fit in your home.
Banned breeds in Maryland
According to advocacy website DogsBite.org, three locations in the state of Maryland ban pit bulls: Edmonston, Prince George’s County, and Town of Port Deposit. Ridgley, meanwhile, deems pit bulls “dangerous breeds,” meaning owners of these dogs (and possibly landlords who rent to those owners) will be held responsible for any injury the dog causes, even if it has never done so before.
Banned breed laws tend to vary between counties, so check your local ordinances for the most accurate information.
Keep in mind that even private property owners who don’t operate in those counties 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 Maryland
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.
Keep in mind that the person signing the paperwork has to be at least 18 years old. Once you find a dog you like, the adoption process will go something like this:
- You find a dog and fill out an adoption application.
- An adoption counselor will contact you and schedule an appointment to meet the dog. If you filled out the application on-site, this meeting should take place in just a few moments. If you found your dog online, it could take a few days.
- Bring yourself and everyone who will live with the dog to this meeting, including other dogs who live in the family.
- If everyone gets along, complete any necessary paperwork and wait as the shelter verifies any references, checks your lease agreement, and/or contacts your veterinarian. You’ll also receive the dog’s medical records.
- Once you complete a responsible pet ownership counseling session and pay the adoption fee, you’re ready to take your new pet home!
Dog licensing in Maryland takes place at the local level. For specifics, including fees and requirements, check your county’s animal services department.
A dog license serves as protection for you and your canine in case the two of you get separated. An up-to-date license is a sign that your dog is current on its rabies vaccinations and helps whoever finds your pet to return it to you.
Rescue staff will likely recommend you take your new pet to the veterinarian for a checkup within a week of adoption. In fact, some provide vouchers for a free wellness exam to encourage new pet parents to go.
Bring the medical records from the shelter with you to your first appointment. Your vet will review any recorded conditions or treatments and check for minor ailments like kennel cough.
Adoption fees help cover the cost of operating a pet rescue, paying for facilities, supplies, medical care, and more. Here are prices from three shelters across the state to help you get a sense of how much adopting a dog in Maryland costs:
Baltimore Humane Society
- Cost: $135 for dogs over the age of 6 months, $235 for puppies and dogs weighing less than 25 pounds
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations, microchipping, one month of free pet insurance
Howard County Animal Control & Adoption Center
- Costs: Adoption fees vary depending on the treatments received, but the maximums are $163 for male dogs and $178 for female dogs
- What it covers: Dogs that receive all possible medical treatments undergo spay/neuter surgery plus pain medication and physical, distemper vaccine and/or booster, rabies vaccine, flea treatment, heartworm test, and free microchipping. Howard County residents can also include a dog license.
Montgomery County Animal Services & Adoption Center
- Cost: $150 for puppies younger than 6 months, $100 for dogs 7 months to 7 years old, $75 for senior dogs older than 7 years, $150 for bonded pairs older than six months. Dogs with special needs can be adopted for free.
- What it covers: Spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations (rabies, distemper, and bordetella) flea treatment, deworming, heartworm test, microchipping
Eager to begin the search for your next pet? These shelters have top ratings:
- Animal Relief Fund: (Lexington Park) Rescues dogs, cats, and the occasional small animal and helps connect members of the community to low-cost spay/neuter resources.
- Baltimore Humane Society: (Reisterstown) In operation since 1927, BHS provides low-cost veterinary services and uses 343 acres of its land as a protected wildlife sanctuary.
- The Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS): (Baltimore) This open admission shelter claims the title of Maryland’s largest animal shelter.
- Chesapeake Dogs & Cats Inc: (Queenstown) A volunteer-run organization rescuing cats and dogs since 2006.
- Howard County Animal Control & Adoption Center: (Columbia) The official animal control branch of Howard County accepts and adopts out abandoned and unwanted pets.
- Maryland SPCA: (Baltimore) This rescue first began just a few years after the Civil War with a mission to prevent abuse among Baltimore’s workhorses. It now supports pets of all kinds.
- Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center: (Derwood) The official animal rescue service for Montgomery County.
- Prince George’s County Animal Services Facility: (Upper Marlboro) Not only does this county rescue have state-of-the-art facilities for its animals, but it also provides pet parenting classes for new adopters.
- Tri-County Animal Shelter: (Hughesville) Need a pick me up? This shelter offers a live-feed cat cam.
- Small Miracles Cat & Dog Rescue: (Ellicott City) This volunteer-run shelter has rescued more than 4,000 dogs since 2011.
A new dog means new food, new toys, and new bedding. Here’s what you’ll need to budget to give your pet a nice, comfortable life:
- A leash
- A collar or harness
- A crate and bedding
- Treats and toys
- Waste bags
- Vet exams, vaccinations, and medications
- Dog walkers
- Boarding and/or pet sitting services
Items that are less vital but still nice to have include:
- Grooming products
- Dog training sessions
- Pet insurance
Pet insurance is great to have if your pet is prone to chronic health issues or if its breed is known to have or develop health issues. Insurance can not only give you peace of mind, but it can also help you afford medical care. Compare different prices and coverage options against your pet’s medical history in order to make the best decision for you and your companion.
It’s almost time to bring home your new pet! There are just a few things to get ready before your home is dog-friendly. Having your pet’s food, water, crate, bedding, and other comfort items already set up will make the transition from shelter life that much easier.
Before you bring your pet home, pick up the following items at your local store:
- Food, food bowls, and water bowls
- Treats and toys
- A leash and collar or harness
- Grooming tools
- Puppy pads and enzyme cleaners (even adult dogs have accidents)
Congratulations! You and your dog are sure to share some wonderful experiences. And remember that if you ever need help caring for your pet, Rover has you covered with qualified dog care services, including walking, sitting, and boarding, across Maryland.