Adopting a dog in NYC

This year my boyfriend and I decided to move in together after my lease ended in July. We knew that we planned on getting a dog once we found a place, so during the apartment search we had to rule out all apartments that didn’t allow dogs. This ruled out over half the apartments we were looking at, and all of the ones that had dishwashers. sigh.

After we settled into our new place we started seriously looking for a dog in mid-September. We looked for dogs online, visited shelters and talked to local organizations almost daily during that month. After some persistence and patience, we found our dog at Animal Care and Control on October 27, 2013.  I wanted to list all of the resources we used to hunt to help for our dog, in hopes that it may help any other New Yorkers that are interested in adopting a pup soon.

Online Hunting:

Petfinder and Adoptapet are the two main sites online to find rescue dogs. They aggregate information from shelters and rescue organizations across the country. The best feature is that you can filter your search if you are interested in finding dogs of a specific breed, gender, age, shelter location, etc. You can even receive email notifications when a new dog matches a saved search filter you created.

While both sites work well, I applied for five dogs online and I only heard back from two organizations. Both organizations said they were swamped with applications for the dog I applied for. A lot of people use Petfinder and I think searching for dogs online is just too easy, especially in such a populated place like NYC. So if you find a perfect match on one of these websites keep in mind that the dog may be taken by the time your application is viewed.

Local organizations:

Animal Haven is located at 251 Centre St. between Broome and Grant. I know a few people who adopted a dog or cat from Animal Haven and had pleasant experiences. From what I’ve gathered, you find the animal you are interested in on their website and come into their store to meet the animal. Dogs cost $250 and puppies are $350.  Sam and I found a dog we liked on their website one afternoon but the dog had already been adopted by the time we got there that evening. To prevent that I assume you could call them to check to see if an animal is still available before you stop by. Animal Haven also has a cute store area where you can purchase dog and cat supplies and toys.

Foster Dogs NYC shares dogs associated with various rescue groups in NYC who needs foster homes or “forever” homes. While it’s called foster dogs, most of the dogs that are posted are also up for adoption. In October we were interested in one dog posted on the site. Within a few hours I had a response from Sara (the founder of Foster Dogs NYC) AND the rescue representative fostering the dog, letting me know someone else had already expressed interest. While that was a bummer, Sara asked me what dogs I was interested in and even followed up with another dog that became available a few days later. I was really impressed with how thoughtful she was and that she followed up with us.

Social Tees Animal Rescue is one of the organizations that Foster Dogs NYC works with. This fall they had adoption events each weekend at Petco (this may have changed but I’m sure they’d be happy to tell you where you can adopt or meet their dogs.) It appears that their most up to date channel is Facebook, and it’s important to stay up to date because sometimes they bring in bunch of puppies or a dogs that are in desperate need of a foster ASAP.

Badass Brooklyn Foster Dog takes dogs from kill shelters in the South and brings them up to NYC to find homes. They get new dogs all the time and they are really good about taking photos of the dogs and updating their Facebook page. They have a weekly adoption event on Saturday where you can meet all of the available dogs. They put a lot of effort into finding owners that would be good fits for the dogs. To even consider adopting a dog there is a rigorous adoption application process that includes a home visit and reference checks. After about a week and a home visit our application was approved. Once approved you can meet any dogs you’re interested in at their Saturday event in Williamsburg. If no one else has applied you can adopt the dog for $450. By the time we were approved we had already found our dog.


ASPCA We visited the ASPCA on East 92nd St. four times. You fill out a rather simple application on your first visit and they keep it on file for three months. Each time you visit a volunteer takes you on a tour of all available dogs. I liked the ASPCA a lot. The facility was clean and the volunteers were very honest with us. There were typically about 10 small dogs for us to look at so the visit was always worthwhile. The volunteers were also happy to direct us to other shelters in the area when we couldn’t find a good fit with them. Adoption fees from the ASPCA range from $75-200.

Humane Society of NY We visited the Human Society once on a Sunday morning. After waiting a few minutes we were able to speak with an adoption coordinator, however I’ve heard that some people had to wait much longer. We filled out a simple application and had a one-on-one discussion with the adoption coordinator, it felt kind of like an interview. They only had a small selection of dogs on the day we visited, but the adoption coordinator was helpful and honest with us.

Animal Care and Control This is where the majority of the cities stray and rescue dogs end up. As the title acknowledges, this isn’t just a shelter, it’s the place where animals go when they have no other option. We visited the on on 110th st three different times. It smells a bit like pee and is very bare bones, but you can walk right in meet any dog you’re interested in. Keep in mind- these dogs are often strays in a high stress environment, so they may not be looking or acting their best. After a simple application process you can walk out of there with a dog for $75 or less. (puppies are $150) This is a kill shelter, so they are very happy to help you bring an animal home. While it was the least glamorous place we visited, it was the place we eventually adopted our dog, and the process was seamless. On our third visit we walked out of there in less than an hour with a beautiful one year old Shih Tzu we named CC.

photo (12)
CC and Sam right outside of Animal Care and Control on the day we took her home.

CC today, all cleaned up and happy!

The entire process took us about a month of constant vigilance. We experienced some rejection and disappointment along the way when dogs we loved were adopted, or when we visited three adoption places in one day without finding any dogs we were interested in. I can sympathize with people who consider getting a puppy from a pet store or breeder, especially when they have their heart set on a specific breed.

But I’m really happy we chose to adopt, and I feel confident that most people would feel the same way. It was fun to “wind up” with the perfect dog for us – I never pictured myself owning a small fluffy dog. The fact that we helped save a dogs life is just an added bonus  : )

I will end this post with three tips for finding a dog in NYC.

1. Looking at dogs in person is better than applying online. We were rejected every time we applied for dogs online. When we visited the ASPCA each time they showed us a great dog that “just came in” and was “sure to be adopted within a few hours.” These dogs never even had time to be posted online.

2. Be persistent. Follow these organizations and check daily for new dogs or upcoming adoption events- things change quickly. These organizations remember you if you keep visiting or applying for available dogs. They want to help you and will start to keep you in mind when a dog that’s a good fit comes along.

3. Don’t get discouraged! Every time a dog we were interested in was adopted, and every time we went to a shelter without any luck, Sam and I would be bummed. There are moments when you think you might never find the right dog! But after moments of despair we would think “it wasn’t meant to be. We’ll find our dog eventually and it will be a great fit.” We mostly said that to make ourselves feel better, but it actually turned out to be true.

If anyone has anything to add about adopting dogs in the city please leave a comment below. Every person has a different story and different suggestions. If you are looking to adopt a dog, best of luck! I’m sure you’ll find the perfect dog for you.


2 thoughts on “Adopting a dog in NYC

  1. Hi Julia! My favorite tip is #3, “Don’t get discouraged!” — I am always telling this to adopters who have similar stories to you. Kudos to you for sticking with it and finding a great dog at ACC! Thanks for writing such lovely things about Foster Dogs NYC! – Sarah, from Foster Dogs NYC & The Dog Matchmaker 🙂

  2. Pingback: Julia’s Adoption Tale | Foster Dogs NYC

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