Oh, Miami—as the Golden Girls sang, you’ve got style! But what goes great with blue skies, sunshine, and white sand? A walking companion to explore with! And few creatures get more hyped about the sunny outdoors than man’s best friend: the dog.
If you’re looking for a pet in Miami-Dade county, this is your guide. Here’s what you need to do to find the perfect dog.
Finding a dog in Miami
Did you know that nearly 4 million dogs and cats are adopted from shelters each year? That data comes from the Humane Society of the United States, one of the most well-known pet welfare organizations in the nation. When you adopt, not only do you save an animal’s life, but you also enrich your own.
You can start finding your new pet by browsing through the websites of rescues in your area. We’ve got a handy list of highly-rated Miami rescues below. Or, if you’d rather get the most out of your time, browse Petfinder or Adopt A Pet. Rescues, shelters, and individual foster families often list adoptable dogs on one of these websites, allowing you to search through dogs in a number of locations all at once. These websites also allow you to search for a specific breed or mix, so you can narrow down your choices (we get it, it’s hard to decide when there’s just so much cute!) You can find the appearance, temperament, and care needs of different breeds on the American Kennel Club website.
Banned breeds in Miami
According to the Animal Services Department, pit bulls are banned in Miami-Dade county. As such, you probably won’t find dogs of (or similar to) this breed in rescues.
The county’s Municipal Code provides more nuance, however. Here, you’ll find the county’s definition of the pit bull breed and outlining laws regarding pit bull ownership. Essentially, if you want or own a pit bull, you’ll have to prove that you are financially able to pay for any damages a pit bull could cause, and you’ll be required to restrain your dog both on your property and while out in public.
The adoption process in Miami
While the specifics may vary, the adoption process is relatively consistent from shelter to shelter. Some may have you apply in advance and conduct a home visit, while others are known for same-day adoptions. Regardless, the process you’ll go through will look something like this:
- You browse through available pets, find one that catches your eye, and fill out an adoption application.
- You (and everyone living with you) meet with the dog. Use this time to assess the animal’s temperament and reaction to people. Decide whether the dog would be a good fit.
- If your meeting goes well, complete any extra paperwork and wait while shelter staff contact your vet and landlord (if applicable). You may be asked to sit through a new adopter counseling session during this time.
- Pay the adoption fee.
- Head home with your new pet!
Licensing dogs in Miami
In Miami-Dade County, all dogs that are 4 months or older must be licensed. Tags are renewed annually according to the date of your pet’s most recent rabies vaccine, even if you opted for the three-year as opposed to the one-year version.
Licensing fees range from $30 to $180 depending on your dog’s age and spay/neuter status. Low-income families can receive discounted licensing fees.
Some shelters may include the first annual license within their adoption fees. Otherwise, you can purchase or renew your pet’s license at the Animal Services Shelter, one of the 311 Service Centers, or at your vet’s office.
The first vet visit
Your dog’s rescue should provide you with a copy of its medical records during the adoption process. Bring these with you to your first vet visit, which you should schedule within a week of the adoption date. This way, your vet and pup get to meet each other, and your vet can treat any issues that lingered from or went undetected during your dog’s time at the shelter.
If you don’t have a vet, don’t worry! Rescue staff can recommend some great local providers. Some rescues may even have partnerships with local animal hospitals and offer a voucher for the first visit.
How much it costs to adopt a dog in Miami
Adoption fees are a very important part of running a dog rescue. The money helps pay for life-saving care in addition to basic needs like food and shelter.
Here, we’ve listed the cost of adoption from three local rescues to give you a sense of what you’ll pay. If the prices you see here are too much, keep an eye on your favorite shelter or Miami-Dade Animal Services. They might reduce their fees if and when their kennels get overcrowded, encouraging people to adopt their dogs and free up space for new rescues. You might also find shelters reducing fees during Adopt a Dog Month or National Dog Day.
Born Free Pet Shelter
- Cost: $250 for adult dogs, various for puppies
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations, medical review
Humane Society of Greater Miami North
- Cost: $135 for dogs between 1 and 4 years old, $225 for puppies less than 1 year old, $100 for senior dogs older than 4 years
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccination, microchipping, complimentary bag of Purina dog food, engraved ID tag with pet’s name and owner’s phone number.
Miami-Dade Animal Services
- Cost: $65 for dogs, $85 for puppies under 4 months
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations, microchipping, deworming, heartworm test, rabies license tags.
Where to adopt a dog in Miami
- Big Hearts for Big Dogs Rescue: This rescue began when a group of individuals noticed that larger pets were rescued less frequently than small breeds. These dogs were also more difficult to adopt out. Big Hearts specializes in finding safe, happy homes for these pets.
- Born Free Pet Shelter: A volunteer-run, donor-funded, no-kill shelter that accepts all dogs regardless of breed, health, or age.
- Humane Society of Greater Miami North: This limited-admit facility has helped neglected animals since 1936.
- Hurricane Pets Rescue Inc.: Formed after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, HPR rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes both animals and humans after a natural disaster. Their primary goal is educating the public about disaster preparedness so that no pet is left behind during an emergency.
- Miami-Dade Animal Services Department: The animal department of the county government, Animal Services rehomes or reunites lost pets, provides low-cost spay/neuter surgery, and intervenes in cases of animal cruelty.
- Miami Animal Rescue: This foster-based rescue holds adoption events at the Kendall Lakes PetSmart every other Saturday.
- Paws 4 You: Paws 4 You also holds PetSmart events, but only pre-approved adopters can go home with their new dog on the same day. You can get pre-approved by filling out an online application from their adoptable pets page.
- Saving Sage Animal Rescue: A volunteer-run rescue serving South Florida since 2014.
Creating a care budget for your dog
Adoption fees aren’t the only cost associated with adopting a dog. You’ll have new expenses like food, vet exams, and more to keep up with.
New things to add to your monthly budget include:
- Food and treats
- Waste bags
- Dental care
- Exams and vaccinations
- Parasite and flea/tick medications
- Dog walking services
- Boarding/pet sitting
- Pet insurance
You’ll also have to make a few one-time purchases, such as:
- A collar or harness and a leash
- A crate and bedding
- Puppy pads
- Grooming products
- Training sessions
- Pet-friendly cleaning products
A note about pet insurance
Pet insurance can be a great comfort if your pet has a major accident or illness. You may also want to consider it if your dog has chronic health problems or is nearing the end of its life.
If order to determine if this expense makes financial sense, compare coverage options with your dog’s average veterinary costs. Also, see if your employer offers this type of insurance as a benefits perk.
Getting ready for your new dog
It can take a minute for your dog to adjust to its new home. You can make this transition go as smoothly as possible by having everything your pet needs before it arrives.
Add the following items to your pre-adoption shopping list:
- Food, food bowls, and treats
- A collar or harness
- A crate with just enough room for comfort
- Grooming tools
- Treats and toys
- Enzyme cleaner, since your pet might have an accident from all the excitement
And then, bring home your new pet
You’ve got this! You and your pet will have a lot of fun together. Plus, if you ever need a hand, you know Rover has your back with qualified dog walkers, dog sitters, and pet boarders to help.