Dogs are the best, aren’t they? They make everything about life–from coffee runs to backyard hangouts–a lot more cuddly, enthusiastic, and just plain fun.
If you don’t have a dog yet, you’re in luck! This guide will tell you everything you need to know about adopting a dog in Orlando.
If it seems like there’s a dog everywhere you go, you’re not imagining things. According to The Humane Society, nearly half of U.S. households have at least one canine companion. If you’re on the hunt for your first dog, you’re about to be in good company.
We recommend starting your search by browsing available pet listings at rescues in and around Orlando. We’ve got a handy list below for you to start with. You can also type your zip code into Petfinder.com or AdoptAPet.com. These websites collect listings from multiple rescues at once, so you can browse through dozens of available dogs on a lazy afternoon.
As you conduct your search, be sure to read the shelter-provided descriptions of each dog to get an idea of its needs and temperament.
Banned breeds in Orlando
Neither Orlando nor Orange County has breed-specific legislation, so you don’t have to worry about violating the law by adopting a Pit Bull. That said, private entities like landlords, businesses, and homeowners associations can still restrict what types of animals are allowed on their property. In addition, some insurers may increase your rates simply for owning a particular breed of dog. Check your lease, HOA bylaws, and/or your insurance policy before adopting a dog.
The dog adoption process in Orlando
Pet shelters and rescues all have pretty similar adoption processes. Some add a step or two, requiring references or a home visit, but all in all, the steps to adopt a dog will look something like this:
- First, find a dog you like, either by browsing online or going to the rescue in person, and fill out an adoption application.
- Next, the rescue staff will contact you to arrange a meeting between you and the dog. Bring along anyone else who lives in your home, including other dogs if the shelter allows it. You want to make sure your new addition will get along with everyone.
- If the meeting goes well and you decide to adopt, you’ll complete any outstanding paperwork while rescue staff contact your landlord (if you rent) and/or veterinarian (if you already have one). Then, the staff will give you a packet of information about dog ownership and copies of your pet’s medical records.
- Finally, you’ll pay the adoption fee and head home with your new companion!
Florida law requires all pets to be vaccinated against rabies, but Orange County doesn’t require pets to be licensed. Still, it’s a good idea to make sure your dog is up-to-date on its rabies vaccinations and that you have the appropriate tag.
If you live in one of the neighboring counties, however, you’ll want to check with your local animal care department. For example, Osceola County has 1- and 3-year tags along with specials for owners age 55 and older. Meanwhile, Seminole County only has a 1-year option.
You’ll want to bring your new pet to the veterinarian within a week or two of adoption. In addition to helping your pet get acquainted with its new lifestyle, a quick trip to the vet is a chance to check for mild issues like kennel cough. Some rescues provide time-sensitive vouchers for a free or discounted visit, so be sure to use them!
Your adoption fee goes to support incredibly important work. Rescues use these funds to provide shelter, medical care, food, enrichment, and more to homeless pets.
To help you get a sense of how much you’ll spend, here are fees from three top shelters in Orlando:
Happy Trails Animal Rescue
- Cost: $150 for small breed puppies, $125 for large breed puppies, $100 for small breed dogs, $75 for large breed dogs
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations, heartworm test and treatment, microchipping, free lifetime training at Happy Trails.
Orange County Animal Services
- Cost: $55
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations, deworming, heartworm test and treatment, microchipping
Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando
- Cost: $75 to $350
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations internal and external parasite treatment, microchipping, $50 voucher for a visit at a Pet Alliance clinic
- Greyhound Pets of America/Greater Orlando: A chapter of the National Greyhound Pets of America organization, this rescue aims to find homes for former racing Greyhounds.
- Happy Trails Animal Rescue: Happy Trails not only rescues and rehabilitates dogs, but they plan to open a community resource center to provide services like free training, educational and youth programs, free and low-cost pet health care, a pet food pantry, and more.
- Orange County Animal Services: The only open-admission shelter in Orange County, OCAS accepts all surrendered animals regardless of health or temperament.
- Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando: Founded in 1937 under a different name, the Pet Alliance serves Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties.
- Pet Rescue by Judy: A no-kill rescue with an extensive foster and volunteer network.
- Puppy Pleasers Rescue: This rescue primarily focuses on puppies and small dogs, although it does rescue the occasional larger breed.
- Seminole County Animal Services: Established in the 1970’s, Seminole County Animal Services enforces local animal ordinances, provides health and microchipping services, and rescues homeless pets.
- VIP Rescue of Central Florida: VIP Rescue specifically focuses on rehoming small breed dogs.
You’re going to need to add some things to your budget now that you have a dog.
You’ll also need to replace the following items as needed:
- A collar or harness
- A leash, crate, and bedding
- Grooming products
- Puppy pads (not a necessity, but they can be helpful to have on hand)
- Training sessions (if you adopt a puppy)
If your dog is older and/or prone to health issues, you may find pet insurance will give you peace of mind–not to mention a little extra money to help with vet bills.
Look at your pet’s medical history and compare coverage options to see if the benefit makes financial sense for you and your dog. Be sure to check your employer benefits as you look. Some companies provide pet insurance as an additional perk.
You’re almost there! There are just a few things to get ready before your new pet comes home. Having the essential items on hand and in place will help your pet adjust to its new life.
Grab the following and put them in their proper places before you pick up your dog:
- Food bowls
- A sturdy leash
- A collar or harness
- An appropriately-sized crate
- Grooming tools
- Enzyme cleaner
Congratulations! You and your dog are sure to have some wonderful times together. If you ever need help, Rover is here for you with qualified dog walkers, sitters, and boarders in Orlando.