What’s furry, four-legged, and more than willing to explore the beauty of Utah with you? It’s your new best friend: an adopted dog!
The search for a pet can take a few days or more than a month, but all that time and effort is worth it. After all, a dog deserves to be in your life for years, so you’ll want to be certain that the two of you are a good match. But how are you supposed to do that?
Read on to learn everything you need to know about adopting a dog in Utah—from starting your search to living happily ever after.
Finding a dog in Utah
According to data from the ASPCA, shelters across the country take in about 3.3 million (yes, million) stray dogs each year. Based on these numbers, shelters and rescues are the perfect places to find your new companion.
Start by looking at the rescues listed further down this article. If you don’t see a pet that interests you, try looking on websites like Adopt A Pet and Petfinder. Here, you’ll find adoptable pet listings from rescues, individuals, and foster families all in one location.
Banned breeds in Utah
On January 1, 2015, the state of Utah officially banned cities from enacting laws that restricted certain dog breeds. Per The Salt Lake Tribune, 10 Utah cities and towns previously either prohibited or restricted pit bull ownership. So, if you live in…
- North Salt Lake
- South Jordan
…or any other Utah city, take heart knowing that you can adopt any breed of dog you want! Just keep in mind your renter’s lease or homeowners association agreements. Property owners and HOAs can still prevent certain animals on their property or in their communities.
The adoption process in Utah
Most dog adoptions follow the same basic process: You meet a dog, fill out an application, and pay the adoption fee. Some rescues may require a home visit, while others are comfortable doing same-day adoptions on site.
Whether you’re still looking online or ready to head to a rescue, here’s what to expect when you adopt a dog:
- Find a dog that catches your eye, and read the shelter-provided description to assess the animal’s needs and temperament.
- If the description is promising, fill out an adoption application.
- The shelter will arrange a meeting between you and the dog. Be sure to bring anyone else who lives with you to this event; your new pet should get along with all of its new housemates!
- Did the meeting go well? Great! Next, you’ll complete any outstanding paperwork, and shelter volunteers/staff will contact your veterinarian (if you have one) and landlord (if you rent).
- Don’t forget about the adoption fee. That’s the last step before you can take your pet home!
Licensing dogs in Utah
In Utah, dog licenses are processed at the county level. A license helps ensure responsible pet ownership. It can also help you reunite with your dog if the two of you accidentally become separated.
Head to your county’s government website or physical animal control office to learn about dog licenses options, costs, and other details, or to pay for your license. Some rescues will include a license as part of the adoption process or fee.
The first vet visit
The rescue should provide you with copies of your new pet’s complete medical records. Note that these files may not have every vet visit, ailment, and/or treatment listed, depending on how long the dog lived without an owner. Regardless, bring this information with you to your pet’s first visit to the veterinarian.
Try to schedule an initial exam within a week or two of adoption. This way, your vet can catch any minor issues—like kennel cough—that the shelter missed.
How much it costs to adopt a dog in Utah
According to the Humane Society of Utah, shelters can invest $450 on average rescuing a single animal and getting them ready for adoption. This includes the costs of the rescue (transportation), vital medical care, food, shelter, and microchipping. Adoption fees help pay for some of these costs, and they’re often less than $400.
Note that some rescues will waive or reduce adoption fees during moments of overcrowding or nationally-recognized events like National Dog Day and Adopt A Dog Month. Keep your eyes peeled, and you may save big!
To help you get a sense of the cost of adopting a dog in Utah, here are adoption fees from three highly rated shelters:
Best Friends Animal Society Utah
- Cost: $200 for puppies under six months, $75 for adult dogs. 2-for-1 deal when adopting two pets at once. Seniors at least 55 years of age adopting pets 5 years or older will have their adoption fees waived.
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations, microchipping.
Hearts 4 Paws Dog Rescue
- Cost: Adoption fees vary but are generally $200 or $300.
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations, microchipping, additional necessary medical care, leash, and collar.
Nuzzles & Co
- Cost: $150 for adult dogs (1 to 7 years old), $250 for puppies that are 6 months to 1 year old, $375 for puppies that are under 6 months old, $25 for seniors dogs (over 7 years old)
- What it covers: spay/neuter surgery, age-appropriate vaccinations, microchipping, deworming.
Where to adopt a dog in Utah
Now that you know the “how” (and the “how much”), let’s talk about where you’ll find your new best friend. Check out these shelters from across the state:
Best Friends Animal Society Utah: Kanab, Salt Lake City. With two locations inside state lines, the Utah branch of Best Friends Animal Society leads the No Kill Utah (NKUT) initiative, which aims to end the euthanizing of dogs and cats in state shelters.
Fullmer Menagerie Animal Rescue: Salina. A volunteer-run, foster-based rescue that rehomes and rehabilitates all manner of dogs. Fullmer Menagerie also runs a boarding and daycare facility.
Furever Buddy’s Dog Rescue: Roosevelt. Named after the first dog rescued by this organization, Furever Buddy’s rescues the majority of its pets from a single, high-kill shelter in rural Utah.
Hearts 4 Paws Dog Rescue: West Valley City. A volunteer-run nonprofit that, in addition to rehoming animals, educates the community about responsible, humane pet ownership.
Humane Society of Utah: Murray. Looking for a small dog but can’t find one at your nearest shelter? Check out the Humane Society of Utah’s Transfer Program, which brings in small dogs from other Utah shelters and out of state to discourage people from buying dogs at pet stores or from breeders.
Nuzzles & Co. Pet Rescue and Adoption: Summit County. Nuzzles & Co. has found new homes for over 20,000 cats and dogs since opening its doors in 1990.
P.A.W.S. Adoption Center: Monroe. A no-kill nonprofit with a variety of annual fundraising events. If you’re not ready to adopt, come out and support the cause!
RSQ DOGS +: St. George. An all-volunteer rescue that aiding abused, abandoned, and homeless dogs in rural Utah areas.
Utah Animal Adoption Center: Salt Lake City. This no-kill shelter has a 3.5-acre sanctuary where dogs can rest indoors or play and socialize outdoors.
Creating a care budget for your dog
While you won’t have to pay for college (unless your dog is ridiculously smart), owning a dog is like having a child in terms of expenses. You’ll have to pay for its food, toys, and medical care, plus extras like daycare, walks, and boarding. Get used to the following recurring expenses:
- Food, toys, and treats
- Exams, vaccines, and dental care
- Parasite preventatives
- Waste bags
- Dog walking, boarding, and/or pet sitting services
- Pet insurance
You’ll also have a few one-time/infrequent items to buy, including:
- A collar or harness
- A leash, crate, and bedding
- Grooming products
- Puppy pads (even your adult dog may need help adjusting its potty habits to its new home)
- Training sessions (if you adopt a puppy)
A note about pet insurance
Pet insurance can be a great asset to have if you adopt a dog that is older or has health problems. You may even find it a financially sound decision if you rescue a young or healthy dog, giving you peace of mind for any age-related issues that may come along. Check out various coverage options, and see if your employer’s benefits package offers insurance for your dog. Compare insurance quotes to your other expenses and average veterinary costs to help you make your decision.
Getting ready for your new dog
It’s almost time! To make the transition from shelter to home life go smoothly, have the following ready and waiting for your dog when you leave to pick him or her up from the rescue:
- Food, food bowls, and treats
- A sturdy leash and collar or harness
- An appropriately-sized crate
- Grooming tools
- Treats and toys
- Enzyme cleaner, as your pet may have an accident in unfamiliar
And then, bring home your new pet
Congrats! The two of you are well on your way to having endless amounts of fun, and Rover is here to assist. Check out our qualified dog walkers, dog sitters, and pet boarding services in Utah whenever you need a helping hand.