- Step 1: Browse our Cats & Dogs to see which pets are available for adoption.
- Step 2: Visit our animal care and adoption center to spend some time with the pet(s) you’re interested in adopting.
- Step 3: Submit an adoption application in person.
- Step 4: Attend a scheduled meeting with an adoption counselor.
- Step 5: Bring your new pet home!
The first step in the adoption process is to spend time interacting with the animal(s) that you are interested in adopting. You can view our adoptable Cats & Dogs online, or you are welcome to visit our adoption center during normal visitation hours. Staff members are available to help you find the cat or dog that will be the best match for you and your family. Out-of-state adopters are welcome, but you must come meet the animal you are interested in adopting. If you decide you would like to adopt from DHA, the next step is to fill out an adoption application.
Delaware State Law requires that all resident animals are up-to-date with their rabies vaccination. Verification may be performed by providing relevant documentation from your veterinarian or a DHA staff member may contact your veterinarian. DHA also advocates that all resident animals are spayed or neutered. Exceptions to this rule can be made if there is a medical reason why an animal cannot be vaccinated or spayed/neutered or if you are actively showing the animal. Written proof may be required in either case.
Primary Caretakers in the household must meet the animal you are applying for either before or at the counseling session. Any exceptions to this rule will be made by management and should be arranged in advance. You cannot adopt an animal to give to someone else as a surprise; that person must be involved in the adoption process and meet the animal before or at the counseling session. DHA strongly recommends that ALL members of the household meet the animal you are considering for adoption and all agree it’s the best choice.
If you are planning on giving a pet as a gift, consider downloading a Pet Promise Certificate, which allows the recipient to adopt the pet of their choice while giver promises to cover all adoption fees for the new pet.
If you are adopting a dog and you have one or more resident dogs, all the dogs must have a current rabies vaccination and all must be introduced. Dog meetings must be done by appointment and typically take place at the beginning of the counseling session. If the dogs do not get along at the meeting, we will be unable to send the dog home. If you are adopting a dog and have one or more resident cats, we will conduct a test with one of our on-site cats prior to your counseling session to see how the dog responds. If the dog does not pass this test, we will be unable to send that dog home with you.
There is a $5 non-refundable application fee. This fee is separate from the Adoption Fee and cannot be deducted from it. If you are adopting two animals at the same time, the $5 application fee will be applied to both animals. The application fee will be waived for same day adoptions at off-site adoption events.
Submitting an Application
Adoption applications are required to be animal specific. You must have a particular animal in mind and must have spent time with that animal prior to submitting an application. To help expedite the processing of your application, we recommend bringing any relevant documentation when you visit the shelter. You can also download an application and fill it out in advance. Faxed or emailed applications will not be processed until you come in and spend time with the animal.
Once submitted and processed, your application will be reviewed to ensure that both the animal and the adopter are the best match for each other. You will be contacted within two business days to let you know whether your application has been approved. Contact time may be longer in cases where multiple applications received for a particular animal.
Approved applicants will be contacted to schedule an Adoption Counseling Session. If you cannot schedule an appointment within two business days, and the animal has multiple applications received, we may need to “bump” your application and move on to another adopter.
If your application is approvable but management determines the animal you have applied for is not the best match, your application and the $5 fee can be held and applied to a different animal for up to six months.
Since applications are not guaranteed to result in adoption, we encourage you to apply for an animal you are interested in even if he/she has already received one or more applications. If the animal you applied for is adopted by someone else, you will be advised. Approved applications can be held and applied to a different animal for up to six months. No additional application fee is required to change an application to a different animal.
Stay in Touch!
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any remaining questions or concerns, or if you experience any post-adoption issues. We also encourage you to submit your adoption Success Stories, tag us on social media when you post photos of your DHA alumni, stop by the shelter for a visit with your adopted pet(s), or attend one of our many pet-friendly events. We love to know how our alumni are doing in their new homes!
Here are a few things you should know about adopting a cat or dog from our animal shelter and adoption:
A Little FYI
- DHA is a no kill animal care and adoption center. We do not euthanize to make room for more animals. Our intake policy is based on a behavioral and health evaluation of each animal, which must be scheduled in advance for owner-surrendered pets.
- DHA has approximately 40 dogs and 100 cats available for adoption at any given time. You can view our Cats & Dogs here or visit them in person at our A Street campus in the Riverfront area of Wilmington, DE.
- We also place one or more adoptable animals at local area satellite adoption centers and have frequent off-site adoption events.
- All pets available for adoption are spayed and neutered, tested for FIV/FeLV (cats) or heartworms (dogs), given age-appropriate vaccinations, microchipped, examined by a veterinarian, socialized/exercised daily, and loved!
- Our trained staff will be happy to help you find the best pet match for your family.
- We encourage you to review our adoption process and print an adoption application online to fill out in advance of your visit.
- Adoption fees vary based on type of pet and age. Discounts are available for senior citizens, veterans and military service members, and adopters of special needs animals.
- Out-of-state adopters are welcome, but you must come meet the animal you are interested in adopting.
- We offer positive reinforcement dog training classes to help set you and your pet up for success.
- DHA’s adoption counselors are available to you by phone, free of charge, for the life of your adopted pet. We also have an extensive Adopter Resource Library online with great information for new pet owners.
- We’re proud of our adoption success stories!