Where to Adopt a Dog, Cat, or Pet in Philadelphia

Are you trying to find the best place to adopt in Philly? We’ll help you find the right place, understand the process, and be prepared for the costs.

Do you have to pay to rescue a dog?

Although you are rescuing one of these sweet dogs or cats, you do have to pay to adopt them from an animal shelter, rescue, or humane society. You might be wondering, “why?” It’s because everything in life costs money.

These nonprofit animal shelters and rescues have to pay a mortgage, utilities, building maintenance, and insurance to house your dog or cat before you adopt them.

On top of that, there’s the cost of your dog’s food, supplies, staff to care for them, medications, vaccinations, vet visits, and your dog or cat’s spay/neuter surgery. Some shelters will even microchip your pet in case they ever get lost in the future.

And, of course, there is a cost to the government for you to license your pet when you decide to adopt them.

For adoption fee examples, keep reading below.

Philadelphia Dog and Human Silhouette

What is the most affordable dog to adopt in Philly?

Each animal shelter and rescue will charge a different pet adoption fee. But in general, dogs will cost more than cats. Young pets will cost more than older pets. And sometimes small dogs, purebreds, or designer dog breeds like a labradoodle will cost more.

Some shelters and rescues will even give discounted rates for “long-stay” animals who have been at the shelter much longer than the others. Or even for senior pets. And some will provide discounts for adopters who are current or retired military or senior citizens. You may even find discounted rates for adopting more than one pet at a time.

To get a general idea of the costs at the shelters and rescues near you, check out the examples below.

What are the requirements to adopt a dog?

Adopting a cat or dog in Philadelphia, PA, is an easy process. But there are a few expectations and requirements. Each animal shelter, rescue, or humane society will have its own specifics, usually listed on its website. But below are some of the general guidelines you can expect to find when adopting a new pet.

  • You must be at least 18 years of age or older. Some animal shelters and rescues will require you to be older, like 21 or 25. But that should be listed on their website as well. And you’ll be expected to show a current valid ID.

  • You’ll have to pay the adoption fees. For pricing examples, check out the section about the cost to adopt a pet below.

  • Before adopting a cat or dog, you will do a “meet and greet” and spend a little time together to see if you and this pet would be a good match. It’s helpful to bring the whole family along — including other pets you already have — to see how everyone interacts with each other.

  • Some rescues and shelters will require a home visit before you can adopt your new cat or dog to make sure that your home is a suitable environment for taking care of your new pet.

Philadelphia Skyline in Morning

How much does it cost to adopt a dog in Philadelphia?

Below are some examples of the costs for different adoptable pets from a few animal shelters and rescues. Keep in mind that the costs do vary from shelter to shelter. And if an organization doesn’t have their pet adoption fee prices listed on their website — be sure to call ahead first. It’s always best to know the cost before you get attached to a pet.

ACCT Philly

Puppies and adult dogs

  • Puppy (under 6 months): $255

  • Adult dog (6 months – 2 years): $80

  • Adult dog (2 years – 7 years): $70

Kittens and adult cats

  • Kitten (under 6 months): $105

  • Adult cat (6 months – 2 years): $55

  • Adult cat (2 years – 7 years): $45

Other pets

  • Small critter: $30

Discounted pets

  • Senior pets; cat or dog (+7 yrs): $25

  • Senior citizen adopters: 50% off

  • Service or guide dogs: $0

Philadelphia Cat

PAWS Philadelphia: Animal Welfare Society

Puppies and adult dogs

  • Large adult dog (older than 1 year): $150

  • Small dog (under 25 lbs): $250

  • Puppy (under 1 year of age): $250

Kittens and adult cats

  • Cat (6 months of age and older): $60

  • Kitten (under 6 months): $100

  • Kitten pair (under 6 months): $150

Other pets

  • Small animal (guinea pig, hamster, gerbil, rabbit): $25

Saved Me Rescue

Puppies and adult dogs

  • Puppies (under 10 months): $525

  • Adult dogs (10 months or older): $400

  • Philly bred dogs: $250

  • Senior dogs (7 years or older): $225

  • Benefactor dogs (purebred or designer breed dogs): $600

What is the best place to adopt a pet?

If you’re ready to begin the search for your new fur baby, let’s check out the best places to adopt a pet in Philadelphia, PA. Our list below comprises the top reputable animal rescues, shelters, and humane societies. And we’ve added an online resource that will help you find all of the available pets across the United States.


PetFinder.com is a great place to search online for adoptable dogs and cats, and it’s one of our favorite websites. This online resource helps you search for available pets throughout the US.

You can use their filter system to search by the area you live in, the species you want, your favorite breed or breed mix, gender, age range, and whether or not this pet is good with children or other cats and dogs. They’ll show you pictures of the pets and tell you which shelter this dog or cat is currently at, plus you’ll find a little bit about each one.

ACCT Philly

“ACCT Philly is the region’s largest animal care and control service provider, serving the City of Philadelphia by contract.” They offer adoption and foster programs, volunteer programs, and resources to help prevent owner surrender. They take in around 18,000 pets annually, including cats, dogs, small pets, reptiles, birds, and other wildlife. “ACCT Philly’s mission is to provide shelter, care, and life-saving efforts for homeless, abandoned, and abused animals and protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Philadelphia.”

Pennsylvania SPCA

The Pennsylvania SPCA is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to “protect animals, prevent cruelty, and to improve the health and quality of life throughout Pennsylvania.” They have four physical locations throughout Pennsylvania: North Philadelphia, Danville, Lancaster, and Main Line Animal Rescue, “as well as through our Humane Law Enforcement Department, which covers 18 counties throughout the state.”

PAWS Philadelphia: Animal Welfare Society

PAWS was actually the founding member of the No-Kill Coalition—a “collective of animal welfare agencies working together to end the killing of savable pets in shelters.” PAWS is Philadelphia’s largest rescue partner and provider of affordable veterinary care for rescue organizations and pet owners who couldn’t usually afford it. PAWS helps thousands of animals find new, loving homes every year. And they are “working to make Philadelphia a no-kill city where every savable pet is guaranteed a home.”

Philadelphia Dog on Sidewalk

Saved Me Rescue

Saved Me Rescue is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to rescue “dogs from shelters that are forced to euthanize due to limited amount of space.” They are focused on saving as many lives as possible, “improving and enriching the quality of life of abused, abandoned, and neglected pets,” and finding safe, responsible, loving homes for each individual dog.

Morris Animal Refuge

The Morris Animal Refuge was founded by Elizabeth Morris in 1874. This nonprofit is “committed to adoption, education, and high-quality care with the goal of finding positive and humane outcomes for animals in need.” Over the years, they have cared for hundreds of thousands of pets and have “shaped the course of animal welfare in the United States.”

Become a pet parent today!

Now that you have all the information needed to adopt a pet in Philly, what are you waiting for? There are tons of excellent, loving pets that 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 Philadelphia, 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!

Local Pet Care in Philadelphia CTA

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

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