How to Adopt A Dog In New York City

Dogs can’t handle apartment life? New Yorkers will tell you otherwise. NYC’s Economic Development Corporation estimated that one out of seven households have a dog. Do the math and you’ll find that there are approximately 425,000 registered dogs in the five boroughs.

Adopting a puppy can be a lengthy process. You may fall in love online with a pet, only to find it gone when you arrive at the shelter. But don’t lose heart. Our guide will help find the perfect dog for you. Learn how to adopt a puppy in New York City.

What you need to know before adopting a puppy in New York City

Find a dog

You just need to look for them. You won’t need to search far. Shelters are overcrowded in many of the hundreds, if not thousands, that exist in the city. According to a recent press release by the Animal Care Centers of NYC the shelter has been known to accept up to 100 animals a day.

Summer and fall are the ideal times to adopt for many reasons.

  • The people are more active and are therefore more likely to take stray animals to shelters. Many pet rescues are overcrowded and run adoption drives at reduced prices to clear space.
  • Adopt a Shelter Dog Month is celebrated in October, and shelters host special events to encourage adoption.

Let’s now talk about how to find your pet. It is humane and more budget-friendly to adopt a stray animal due to the large number. Adopting is more humane (and budget-friendly!) than going to a breeder.

There are still hundreds of dogs at shelters. You can’t visit all shelter websites, or even their physical locations. There are many options available to narrow your search and find the right pet.

  • Searching by breed. The American Kennel Club offers a list of dog breeds, their characteristics and how they would fare in a city. Some breeds are not what they seem. For example, Great Danes are couch potatoes that are happy to snooze all day. You can filter the AKC website by several characteristics to find your perfect pet.
  • Checking aggregated websites. You can find dogs for adoption on shelter websites, Petfinder and Adopt a Pet.

New York City bans breeds

Although there is no citywide ban on breeds in general, residents of NYC Housing Authority buildings are not allowed to own Doberman Pinschers, Pit Bulls or Rottweilers. It also includes any mixes or mini versions of these breeds. NYCHA residents cannot own dogs that weigh more than 25 pounds regardless of their breed.

Only service animals and assistance dogs are exempt from this rule. For more information about the NYCHA pet policy, click here.

Adoption in New York City

It depends on the shelter where you are going. Adopting a dog is a simple process that involves:

  • Visit a shelter to meet your new pet. Bring along everyone who will live with your new pet, including roommates, family members, and other dogs.
  • Call or check in with your landlord and veterinarian.
  • You will receive a counseling session in order to ensure that you are prepared for pet ownership.
  • Paying (more on this below) and signing documents.

You’re now ready to go home! Many agencies stop adoptions about an hour before closing time.

However, the above scenario is on the shorter end of the timeline. Some agencies have policies which can prolong the process for days or even weeks.

  • Visit your dog’s future home to see how he will sleep, play, and eat. Adoption agencies can also use home visits to ensure that everyone in the household is comfortable with the new pet.
  • If you adopt from an international rescue, travel time is required.


New York City requires that all dogs be licensed. A license application can be obtained from an adoption center, veterinarian or pet store. On the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website, you can submit a license application online or print one out to send in later. The licensing fee is $8.50 a year.

First vet visit

Shelters will give you as much information as possible about your dog’s health history. This information should be brought to your first vet visit. Bring your dog to the vet within a few days of adoption. All adopted dogs in New York City have been spayed/neutered, and are vaccinated. However, a checkup can detect any issues that the shelter might not have caught.

What is the cost of adopting a dog in New York City?

We have collected information on fees from three of the best-known NYC pet adoption services:

ASPCA Adoption Center

  • Cost : $75 to $250 depending on size and age
  • What is covered?

Animal Care Centers of NYC

  • Cost $75 for medium-to-large adult dog, $150 for small adult dog (less than 20 lbs), $250 for puppies (under seven months). Veterans are exempt from paying fees.
  • What is covered?


  • Cost : $150 for medium-to-large dogs, $200 small dogs (less that 20 lb), and $300 for puppies. Veterans are exempt from paying fees.
  • What is covered? Spay/neutering, vaccinations against rabies, bordetella and distemper/parvo, pre-registered Microchip, medical overview guide, pet adoption guide (dog license), free group or solo training session. Veterans can receive additional discounts.

Adopting a dog costs in New York City between $150 and $250.

Adopting a dog in New York City

There are many places where you can find a new pet. You can find a dog in the five boroughs through a few different organizations:

  • Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals A 501(c),(3) organization that partners up with over 150 rescues and shelters in the city to save homeless pets. Start here if you don’t know where to begin your pet-owning journey or if you are looking for a list of rescues with a variety of options.
  • ASPCA Adoption Center Headquartered at NYC, the ASPCA Adoption Center is North America’s most recognized and first humane center.
  • Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue : Specializing in the rescue of dogs from high-kill and high-volume pounds. They have a motto that says, “Saving Badass Dogs from Idiot Humans.”
  • Best Friends Animal Society The largest no-kill animal shelter in the United States with an adoption centre in SoHo.
  • Bideawee : Bideawee provides adoptable animals with healthcare and socialization experience so that they are ready to live in the city.
  • Humane Society of New York Founded in 1904 as an animal rights group, the Humane Society of New York expanded to include a free clinic, and eventually a large rescue organization.
  • Staten Island Hope Animal Rescue A nonprofit organization run by volunteers that works to increase awareness and find homes for homeless animals.

Prepare to bring home your new pet

How to create a budget for your care

It’s worth it to own a dog, but you should have a budget. It’s important to consider this first, so you can give your dog the life he deserves.

This is a typical list of dog owners’ annual purchases:

  • Food
  • Waste bags
  • Pet insurance
  • Annual veterinary examinations
  • Vaccinations
  • Dental care (both professional cleanings as well as products for home use)
  • Treats and toys
  • Miscellaneous vet appointments
  • Booking/travel arrangements
  • Dog Walking Services

You will also need to purchase a few items once (or replace as they wear out), including:

  • Crate
  • Bedding
  • Collars Harnesses and Leashes are available (the shelter can provide all or one).
  • Cleaning products for pets
  • Grooming products
  • Training Sessions

By avoiding some purchases that are not necessary, saving certain items, or using discounts, you can save money. See if you can find any dental offers from your veterinarian during the month of February, which is National Pet Dental Month.


Pet Insurance: A Note

Whether or not you want pet insurance, is entirely up to your decision. This is another monthly expense, but can give you peace of mind if there’s an accident or help manage genetic or breed related conditions. You should ask the adoption agency for as much information as possible about your dog’s medical history so that you can decide if it is worth paying monthly insurance fees.

Some employers offer pet insurance as a part of their benefit packages. Speak to your HR department or supervisor to learn more about your options.

Get ready

The adoption process may take a few days or a couple of weeks depending on which agency you choose. Prepare as much as you can before meeting with an adoption counselor to ensure success. Checklist for pet homecoming:

  • Bowls of food and other dishes
  • Leash, collar or harness?
  • Toys that stimulate your pet’s mind are the best.
  • Treats to reward and encourage good behavior
  • Accident cleaner with enzyme
  • A crate that is the right size to act as a safe haven for your dog while he or she adjusts to their new environment

You may also need nail trimmers, brushes, shampoos, and other grooming products, depending on the breed.

The next step is to pet proof your home. Secure electrical cables and keep dangerous chemicals out of your dog’s reach.

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