Where to Adopt a Dog, Cat, or Pet in Los Angeles

Are you wondering how and where to get a dog or cat in Los Angeles? And is it better to buy or adopt? We’ll help you find the best places to adopt a pet in LA.

How do you get a dog in Los Angeles?

If you’re looking for a new dog or cat to add to your family… congrats! Fur babies bring so much love, joy, companionship, and entertainment into a home. And there are so many dogs and cats ready to be adopted by a loving family, just like yours. So let’s jump into the “where” and “how” you can find and adopt a dog or cat in Los Angeles, CA.

Los Angeles Dog at Shelter

Is it better to buy or adopt a dog?

What is the difference between adopting and buying a pet? Let’s talk about your options and what they mean.

1. You can purchase a dog or cat from a pet store or flea market.

But beware of those purchases—often, those dogs are products of puppy mills where dogs are bred and kept in cruel conditions.

2. You can purchase a pet from a reputable breeder.

These people are licensed and ethically breed and care for the dogs and cats in their custody. This is a safer way to purchase a dog or cat, and you will support ethical practices. However, buying through a breeder usually takes a lot more time and costs quite a bit more.

3. My recommendation is to adopt a pet.

Adopting a dog or cat means paying a fee and rescuing them from a reputable animal shelter or rescue. These pets are medically and ethically taken care of by nonprofit organizations or government organizations. They take in the lost or unwanted pets and help find them new, loving forever homes.

To adopt a dog or cat means to bring home a pet that is already alive and waiting for a new loving family to be a part of. You may not be aware of this, but there’s quite a problem with pet overpopulation in shelters and rescues.

A study by the Shelter Animals Count organization in 2019 showed that “approximately 6.3 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year.” And of those pets, only “4.1 million shelter animals are adopted each year.”

So if you’re ready to choose adoption, let’s talk about cost, location, and requirements.

What are the requirements to adopt a dog?

Don’t worry; the process of adopting a pet is quite simple. You must be at least 18 years of age or older, and you’ll need to show a current valid ID. And yes, there is a cost to adopt. For examples of prices and what all you get for the cost, keep reading below.

Before adopting your pet, you’ll also get the chance to do a “meet and greet” to see if this matching is a good fit. And it’s best if you bring the whole family along, including pets you already have at home. Some rescues and shelters will even do a home visit before you adopt your new fur baby—to ensure that your home is suitable for caring for a cat or dog.

Los Angeles Dog Adopted in Field

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

Adoption fees exist because these shelters and rescues have to pay to feed and care for the pets, give them adequate medical care, and give your future dog or cat their up-to-date vaccinations and their spay/neuter surgery. Some locations will even microchip your pet in case they get lost in the future.

Every location’s cost will vary (and they can change). And typically, dogs cost more than cats. And young pets cost more to adopt than older pets. Sometimes certain breeds or purebreds will cost more than mixed breeds as well. For a general idea of pricing, check out the examples below.

LA Animal Services

Puppies and adult dogs

  • Under 4 months: $150

  • 4 months and older: $102 - $122

Kittens and adult cats

  • Under 4 months: $50

  • 4 months and older: $25

Other animals

  • Rabbits: $71

  • Small critters: $17

*They also have discounts for senior citizens, bonded pairs or groups of animals, and pets who have been at the center for a longer period of time.

Best Friends Lifesaving Center in Los Angeles

Puppies and adult dogs

  • Under 6 months: $150

  • 6 months and older: $100

Kittens and adult cats

  • All ages: $25

SPCALA Friends for Life

Puppies and adult dogs

  • Under 4 months: $255

  • 4 months - under 6 years: $155

  • 6 years and older: $140

  • Bonded pairs: $30 off total price

Kittens and adult cats

  • 2 months - under 6 years: $125

  • 6 years and older: $115

  • Purchase two cats or kittens together: $220 total

Other animals

  • Rabbits: $40

  • Small critters: $10 - $15

Where is the best place to find pets?

If you’re ready to start your search, there are many reputable animal shelters and rescues in and around Los Angeles. This is a list of some of our favorites, with some insider info about each.


PetFinder.com is an excellent online resource that can be used across the United States. 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 and a little bio about each.

Los Angeles Cat Ready for Adoption

LA Animal Services

LA Animal Services was established over 150 years ago, and they are responsible for the animals who show up at one of their six city shelters across Los Angeles. They have award-winning facilities that help them give the best care possible to their animals. “LA Animal Services is one of the largest municipal shelter systems in the U.S., serving approximately 60,000 animals annually and responding to 20,000 emergency calls each year involving animals or people in danger.”

Best Friends Lifesaving Center in Los Angeles

Best Friends Lifesaving Center is a part of the national animal welfare organization, Best Friends Animal Society, founded in 1984. They are dedicated to ending the killing of shelter cats and dogs across America.

Best Friends Lifesaving Center helps find new forever homes for cats and dogs that need a second chance. “All of the pets in our care are from any of the six city shelters as we work collaboratively with Los Angeles Animal Services to make Los Angeles a no-kill city by 2025.”

Wags & Walks

Wags & Walks is a nonprofit organization “working to reduce euthanasia in local shelters and increase awareness of rescue dogs being wonderful pets.” They advocate for dogs that are typically at-risk due to overcrowding because they are “wrongfully stereotyped bully breeds, medical dogs, and mamas + puppies.” Their goal is to help every dog who comes through their organization find a home and family that are the perfect fit.

Dogs Without Borders

Dogs Without Borders is a foster-based dog rescue. This means that instead of keeping the dogs at a physical shelter location, they rely on volunteers to foster—house and care for—these dogs until they are officially adopted. This organization even works with international rescue partners to help rehome dogs. “DWB is proud to have placed over 6,000 dogs since its inception, and will continue to rescue thousands more with the support of generous donations, fosters, and volunteers.”

SPCALA Friends for Life

“Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) is an independent, nonprofit animal welfare organization serving Southern California since 1877.” They do this through education, law enforcement, intervention, and advocacy. They are a nonprofit organization dependent on donations to fund programs for cruelty investigations, humane education, violence response teams, disaster animal response teams, and all of their shelter services.

Los Angeles Wiry Dog Ready for Adoption

NKLA Pet Adoption Center

NKLA (No-Kill Los Angeles) was launched in 2012 and is led by the Best Friends Animal Society. They work together with the city shelters, pet-loving individuals, and an “entire coalition of animal welfare organizations to end the killing of dogs and cats in shelters throughout Los Angeles.” This nonprofit organization is passionate about turning Los Angeles into a completely no-kill city. And as of 2020, LA had already reached a 90.49% save rate.

L.A. Love & Leashes

L.A. Love & Leashes is another nonprofit that has helped save over 3,100 animal lives. They also work with Los Angeles’ six city shelters. Staff members from LA Animal Services’ west LA shelter bring cats and dogs to L.A. Love & Leashes every morning in hopes that they will be adopted through this location. And pets who aren’t adopted that day will return to sleep at LA Animal Services overnight.

Pet adoption fees are still collected through LA Animal Services. But L.A. Love & Leashes “adoption center provides a warm and calming environment for the animals’ true personalities to emerge and offers a less intimidating, more fun and engaging way for people to meet their new best friend.”

Become a pet parent in LA today

Now you know the cost, how, and where to adopt. You are ready to move forward to becoming a pet parent, and we will 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 Los Angeles, 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!

Los Angeles Local Pet Care CTA

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

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