You've moved to Miami and found your dream home, but the place is feeling a little empty. What you need is a furry friend to share it with.
Adopting a pet is easy in Miami-Dade County, with kittens, puppies and adult dogs and cats ready to move into your home.
You can adopt pets from South Florida's many rescue groups, which take in dogs and cats whose owners have died, who were turned in at the shelter and are facing euthanasia before they can be adopted or who were found on the street. Some rescue groups show adoptable pets at pet stores and others have small adoption centers. But many of their charges are in the homes of a network of foster parents, so you have to make arrangements to meet them. You can find some of them listed on websites, at PetFinder.com and at Petango.com. Some rescue groups require home visits before they will place a pet with you.
Veterinarians often have pets available for adoption, either foundlings or pets of clients who can't keep them. And if you're looking for a pet, especially a cat, and tell everyone you know, it's likely that someone knows of an orphaned pet that's available. If you're looking for a specific breed of dog or cat, you should also check with breed-specific rescue groups.
You can find dogs and cats advertised free or for sale on Craigslist and other online bulletin boards. Be wary of backyard breeders, because there are no guarantees the animals are healthy or that the breeder meets any standards (most don't). But many of the pets, especially cats, offered online are strays that someone has found. Sadly, many people abandon pets on the streets, and kind-hearted people who find friendly strays do their best to find them new homes.
Where to Adopt a Pet in Miami
When it comes to animal shelters in Miami, the two biggest sources of adoptable pets are Miami-Dade Animal Services, which operates a shelter in Doral, and the Humane Society of Greater Miami, which operates an adoption center in North Miami Beach.
Miami-Dade Animal Services
3599 NW 79 Ave., Doral, FL 33166
Miami-Dade Animal Services opened a new 72,000-square-foot shelter in 2016. On any day, there are dozens of homeless dogs and cats available for adoption.
To adopt a pet, you'll need a driver's license or other valid photo ID, proof of address and a collar and leash if you're adopting a dog (or you can buy them there).
Adoption fees range from $35 for cats and kittens (you can get two for the price of one) to $65 for adult dogs and $75 for puppies. For animals over four months old, that fee includes sterilization, rabies vaccine, deworming and a microchip.
Dogs over six months old get heartworm tests and license tags. Cats get tested for feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia. Kittens and puppies get their first set of shots, deworming and microchips, plus kittens are tested for FIV and FelV.
Puppies and kittens less than three months old or three pounds won't receive a rabies shot or sterilization, but rabies shots are required when the pet reaches 4 months old, and the county collects a $50 refundable deposit that you get back when you bring proof the animal has been spayed or neutered.
The county shelter also offers low-cost spay and neuter services as well as vaccines and microchips for pets you already have.
Humane Society of Greater Miami
Soffer and Fine Adoption Center
16101 W Dixie Hwy, North Miami Beach, FL 33160
The Humane Society has an adoption center in North Miami Beach.
To adopt a cat or dog, you'll need a picture ID. If you rent your home, you'll also need a copy of your lease showing that pets are allowed or a letter from your landlord.
Adoption fees range from $35 for cats six months or older to $195 for puppies or in-demand dogs. Adoption fee for a second cat is $10. Fees are waived for any dog or cat that has been at the shelter for four months.
All pets come with age-appropriate vaccinations and microchips, and all have been spayed or neutered.
The Humane Society also offers low-cost spay and neuter, as well as vaccinations and other veterinary services at the North Miami Beach center and at a clinic in Cutler Bay.
If you're not sure you're ready to adopt and wondering how to volunteer at an animal shelter, both Miami-Dade Animal Services and the Humane Society need volunteers and foster parents. Volunteers work with animals at the shelters. Foster parents open their homes to kittens and puppies too young to be adopted, as well as animals recovering from medical issues or that need more socialization. If your foster cat or dog wants to stay, you can arrange to adopt.