How to Adopt

With as many as 150 dogs and cats available at any given time, the Washington Animal Rescue League is one of the largest companion animal adoption centers in the country. Our adoptions staff is adept at working with people to ensure their new family member’s transition into a permanent, loving home is successful.

How to adopt an animal

Step 1: Prepare for your visit.
Please bring a photo identification with proof of your current address.

Step 2: Come visit the animals!
You may want to fill out an online “Meet your Match” survey before you come. It can help you make a decision on the right animal for your lifestyle. Be sure to discuss a new pet with other household members to make sure they are all in agreement. We require that all members of the home come in to pick out a new pet.  Some of the pets listed here on our website may have an application pending, so we encourage adopters to call us if you have a particular pet in mind.  You can reach us at 202-726-2556, ext. 503.

CleoGoesHome2Step 3: Talk to us!
When you come in we invite you to visit the dog room or cat room to interact with the animals. There you’ll find adoptions staff and volunteer adoption counselors who can help you determine the status of an animal, as well as answer any questions you might have about the animal’s temperament and care requirements. (Bear in mind, however, that some of the animals you meet were strays or surrenders to other shelters with unknown histories.) Once you’ve selected a pet, you will complete the adoption application. If available, an adoptions counselor will sit down with you to review your application, answer your questions, and help you determine if the pet you’ve chosen is a good match for you and your family.

Step 4: Homecoming!
If the animal is a good match for you, the next step is to take the animal home. The adoption generally takes one to three days to process, depending on the animal’s medical needs. Some of our animals may be ready to go home with you the same day. Once you are approved for the adoption you must pick your new pet up within 48 hours. You may want to come prepared with a leash and collar for a dog or a cat carrier for a cat. There will be paperwork to sign and an adoption fee to pay. (We only accept cash and debit/credit cards.) We will send you home with the animal’s medical records, microchip registration, and a small bag of dog or cat food.


What is our adoption fee and what does it cover?


  • Puppies under 6 months:  $300
  • Dogs 6 months and up:  $200
  • Dogs 5 years and up:  $150
  • Puppy Kindergarten: for WARL alumni 10-14 weeks:  $75

(As required by law, a $17 fee for a dog license will be added for dogs going to homes in the District of Columbia.)


  • Kittens under 6 months:  $50
  • Cats 6 months and up:  $50

(There is no adoption fee on a second cat when you adopt two cats six months or older together.)

Your new pet will have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped. You will receive a small bag of Hill’s Science Diet food, the featured brand of the Washington Animal Rescue League.


Make an appointment with your veterinarian! (…and remember you can use WARL as your vet!)

LeonAndMomSince some of the animals we take in have unknown histories, we cannot guarantee the health of any animal adopted from the Washington Animal Rescue League. Although our medical center provides our shelter residents with the best possible care, their stay with us is limited and there is a chance that an existing parasite or virus may not become apparent until after they are in their new home.   And while you may have a favorite family vet, don’t forget that the Washington Animal Rescue League Medical Center can be your veterinarian!  An added bonus:  when you use WARL as your vet, your fees go to helping us save more homeless animals.  For more information on WARL Vets, click this link.