Where to Adopt a Dog, Cat, or Pet in Houston, TX

Ready to adopt your new fur baby? Great! We’ll help you find the best places to adopt a pet in Houston.

How many dogs are in shelters in Houston?

Across the US, there is a significant problem with pet overpopulation in shelters and rescues—and Houston is no exception. A study by the Shelter Animals Count organization in 2019 showed that “approximately 6.3 million companion animals enter US animal shelters nationwide yearly.” And of those pets, only “4.1 million shelter animals are adopted each year.”

In Houston, there are an estimated 1 million stray dogs alone—not counting the number of stray cats. How do we fix this? With a combination of spay and neuter programs, plus pet adoption.

Although you could purchase a dog or cat from a reputable breeder, they will cost much more and take much longer than adopting a pet from an animal shelter or rescue. And pet adoption helps save the lives of cats and dogs already alive and waiting for their new forever homes.

Houston Happy Dog

What are the requirements to adopt a dog?

The process of adopting a pet is easy, and here’s what you can expect. You must be at least 18 years of age or older, and you’ll need to show a current valid ID. There are adoption fees. Check out the section below for pricing examples—and what you get for that price.

Before adopting a pet, you’ll get the chance to do a “meet and greet” to see if this is a good match. It’s a good idea to bring the whole family along, including other pets you already have to see how they interact. Some rescues and shelters will even do a home visit before you can adopt your new pet to ensure your home is a suitable environment for taking care of a cat or dog.

How much does it cost to adopt a cat or dog in Houston?

Yes, animal shelters and rescues do charge you to adopt a pet. Adoption fees exist because these shelters and rescues must pay to feed and care for the pets. Plus, they give animals proper medical care, up-to-date vaccinations, and take care of their spay/neuter surgery. Some locations will microchip your pet in case they get lost in the future.

Each shelter and rescue charges different fees. But usually, dogs cost more than cats. Young pets typically cost more than older pets. And sometimes, certain breeds or purebreds will cost more to adopt than mixed breeds. To get a general idea of what your pricing might be, check out the examples below. Please remember that these fees can change, and some shelters may alter their rates based on their capacity.

Houston Cat in Blanket

Houston Humane Society

Puppies and adult dogs

  • Under 7 months: $195

  • 7 months and older: $145

  • Any age that is 25 lbs or less: $195

Kittens and adult cats

  • One or two cats of any age: $50 total

Other animals

  • Small animals: $10 - $100

*Special Discounts*

  • Senior citizen discount = 60% off any dog or cat 6 years or older.

  • Dog or cat with over 30 days at the shelter = 30% off

  • Dog or cat with over 3 months at the shelter = 70% off

  • Heartworm Positive Dogs = $0 pet adoption fee when the adopter pays for heartworm treatment at the Houston Humane Society clinic.

Friends for Life

Dogs and cats

  • Any age: $95

*Special Discounted Adoption Fees*

  • Senior citizens = $70

  • Military ID = $70

  • Repeat adopters = $70

  • Senior citizens adoption senior dogs = $0

  • Kittens under 12 months = buy one, get one free

  • Adopt a “hidden gem” cat = $0

Houston Pets Alive

Puppies and adult dogs

  • Non-senior dogs: $199

  • Senior dogs: $100

  • Long-stay dogs: $100

Kittens and adult cats

  • Cats of any age: $85

*Special Discounts*

  • Active & retired military = $50 off adoption fees

Houston Adopted Dog in Park

Where is the best place to find pets?

If you’re ready to begin your pet search, below is a list of our top favorite, reputable animal shelters, and rescues in Houston, TX.


PetFinder.com is my favorite place to search online for adoptable pets. It’s a great online resource that can be used all across the US. You can search for available pets in your area by species, breed or breed mix, gender, age range, and whether or not they are good with children and other pets. You’ll find pictures of the dogs and cats, plus a little bio about each one.

Houston SPCA

The Houston SPCA is committed to promoting respect for all animals and keeping them free from suffering, abuse, and exploitation. This nonprofit organization has been around for almost 100 years and always puts animals’ well-being and care above everything else. Since the beginning of this organization, the “Houston SPCA has saved and provided services for millions of animals.”

Houston Humane Society

The Houston Humane Society is dedicated to ending the cruelty, abuse, and overpopulation of animals while providing those animals with the best care possible. They care for and adopt out dogs, cats, horses, plus an assortment of other small animals. The Houston Humane Society is committed to the 5 freedoms for animals.

  1. Freedom from hunger or thirst

  2. Freedom from discomfort

  3. Freedom from pain, injury, or disease

  4. Freedom from fear and distress

  5. Freedom to express normal behavior

BARC Animal Shelter and Adoptions

BARC is the City of Houston’s animal shelter and adoption facility. They are dedicated to finding new adoptive homes for every pet that comes their way. “BARC is the only city shelter in Houston required by law to accept every animal that comes through our doors regardless of breed, temperament, health conditions, and circumstance (from owner surrender, stray pickup, rescued or confiscated animals).”

Citizens for Animal Protection (CAP)

Citizens for Animal Protection (CAP) was founded back in 1972. They rescue and shelter homeless animals and work to find them loving adoptive families. “CAP advocates respect and compassion for animal life and provides humane education to help prevent cruelty to animals.” CAP provides numerous services: shelter and care, pet adoption, lost and found pets, pets for seniors, spaying and neutering, humane education, feral cat assistance program, pet care counseling, and even a pet supply shop.

Friends for Life

Friends for Life was founded in 2002, and they actually introduced the “no-kill shelter” model to Houston, “saving animals regardless of their breed, age or condition.” They are dedicated to helping the community, and have given away 5,500+ spay/neuter surgeries, donated 50 tons of pet food in 2018 alone, created the first-ever shelter where people could stay with their pets after Hurricane Harvey, and created a drive-thru clinic + pet food bank during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We’re not finished until every animal has a safe home. Until then, we’ll be innovating, improving and tracking results to find the most effective ways to save lives.”

Harris County Pets

“Harris County Pets is an open intake municipal animal shelter, and we take in approximately 16,000-20,000 animals per year.” This animal shelter finds homes for dogs and cats and provides pet counseling and a pet clinic.

Houston Pets Alive

Houston Pets Alive (HPA) is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2014. They work with BARC, Harris County animal shelters, and numerous other smaller municipal shelters to increase the chance of live outcomes for stray animals in the Houston area. They want to see a world where every animal has a forever home. And its mission is “to save the lives of at-risk companion cats and dogs and find them loving homes.”

Houston Dog on Walk

Become a pet parent today

Now that you have all the information needed to adopt a pet in Houston, what are you waiting for? Tons of unique, loving pets are ready for their new forever home. And we’ll be with you every step of the way.

At Local Pet Care, we’re here to help you find the best places to adopt, the best dog-friendly restaurants and dog parks in Houston, and even to help you find the best local pet care professionals in your area. With all of these resources, you will be set up for pet parenting success!

Find Local Pet Care CTA Search Houston

For more great articles about dog-friendly activities and pet-parenting advice, check out the Blog at LocalPetCare.com.

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