The Adoption Process & Fees

Adoption Process     Adoption Fees     Adoption Programs


Why Should You Adopt? There are countless reasons why adopting a pet from a shelter vs. purchasing a pet from a breeder (or another source) is better for you and the overall pet population. Below you’ll find a few of our top reasons:

  1. You’ll change a life.
  2. You’ll get a healthy, vet-checked pet.
  3. You’ll save money.
  4. You’ll feel better.
  5. You won’t be supporting puppy mills or pet stores.
  6. Depending on their background, shelter pets may already be trained and know basic commands.
  7. You’ll receive on-going assistance as needed from the shelter.
  8. The pet you get will be behavior assessed.

We understand (and hope) that bringing a new pet into your life is a big decision, and our dream is for all companion animals to find loving homes they deserve. With that statement in mind, we also understand that for many people, adopting a pet is not high on their list when compared to some of the other options. If you are on the fence, please click here to learn more about adopting vs. buying a pet.

The Adoption Process

Steps in the Adoption Process:

  1. Find a pet online or through an ARL media spotlight.
  2. Visit the ARL adoption location where your potential pet is located and meet the pet.
  3. Fill out an adoption application form to find out if the pet is the right match for you and your family-both other human and dogs living in the home, if applicable. (You can NOT adopt via the website.) Click here for the cat adoption form. Click here for the dog adoption form. Click here for the horse adoption form. Click here for the adoption form for all other animals.
  4. Complete an interview with an ARL adoption counselor.
  5. Meet & Greet: If there are children living in the home, they must meet before being adopted. If there are other dogs living in the home, a dog intro is recommended.
  6. Wait while the pet receives a final inspection by the ARL's medical staff, including insertion of a microchip.
  7. Pay adoption fees and head home with your new, lovable pet!

Note: The ARL may require other information or steps be taken prior to adoption to insure the pet is a right match for your family. The ARL reserves the right to deny any adoption for any reason.

ARL Adoption Requirements

You Must...

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Make sure all the adults living in your household know about the pet and agree that it can live there.
  • Introduce the pet to the other humans (and possibly other pets) living in your household prior to completion of the adoption.
  • Have a valid identification with your current address (or other proof of current address).
  • Understand that no animals will be adopted for consumption or research. The ARL only adopts animals as family pets.
  • For the safety of your pet, agree to take him/her home with a leash and collar (dogs) or in a carrier (cats and small animals). These items may be purchased in advance or at the time of adoption at a reduced price.

Special Notice Regarding ARL pets online:
The ARL updates its adoptable animals online daily and attempts to promptly remove pets that are no longer available. However, please be aware that we cannot guarantee that all animals posted are still available for adoption.

NO pets will be 'reserved' or 'held' for individuals who call or e-mail the ARL. Please understand that we must follow this rule so that if someone is at the ARL and desires to adopt a pet, they will be given the opportunity to do so. "First Come, First Adopt."

Adoption Fees

While you can't put a price tag on a lifetime of hugs, kisses, companionship, and unconditional love, there are costs involved in caring for a healthy pet. When you adopt a companion animal from the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, we've already performed procedures that are critical for maintaining his or her good health. These important benefits are provided to you at a greatly reduced cost, and include the following:

  • Medical examination for general good health
  • Post-adoption medical exam from a participating veterinarian
  • First month of pet health insurance

Animal Type Fee

Puppies under 6 months old: $200 (excludes all discounts)
Dogs under 6 years old and under 25 lbs: $200 ($220 for a Bonded Buddy pair)
Dogs under 6 years old and over 25 lbs: $125 ($145 for a Bonded Buddy pair)
Dogs age 6 years or older: $60 ($85 for a Bonded Buddy pair - one or more 6 years or older)
Dogs in the Shelter Dog Getaway Program: $60
Cats/Kittens under 6 months old: $100 ($125 for a Bonded Buddy pair)
NEW! Cats 6 months or older: Name Your Price Above $50 ($75 for a Bonded Buddy pair - one or more 6 months or older) Click here for more information on Name Your Price for cat adoptions.
Cats in the Shelter Cat Getaway Program: $50 ($75 for a Bonded Buddy pair)
Small Animals

  • Chinchilla: $75
  • Degu: $25 or 2/$35 or 3/$40
  • Ferret: $50 ($75 for a Bonded Buddy pair)
  • Guinea Pig: $15
  • Hamster, gerbil, mouse, rat: $7.50
  • Rabbit: $50 ($75 for a Bonded Buddy pair)
  • Sugar Glider: $150 or 2/$175
  • Hedgehog: $50


  • Amazon: $500
  • Cockatiel: $40 (or $65 for a Bonded Buddy pair)
  • Conure: $150
  • Canary, dove, parakeet, pigeon: $10
  • Finch: $7.50
  • Lovebird: $50, 2/$75
  • Parrotlet: $75
  • Quaker Parrot: $150
  • Senegal Parrot: $150

Reptiles & Amphibians

  • Anole: $10
  • Fire bellied toad: $7.50
  • Hermit crab: $7
  • Iguana: Small (under 3 ft) $15, Large (3 ft and over) $30
  • Gecko: $7.50
  • Turtle: $15 (or $25 for a Bonded Buddy pair)

Horses and other Barn Animals: Fees vary. Contact us for more information. Click here for horse adoption requirements and other information.

We think you'll agree that the pets at the Animal Rescue League are not only the best in the world, but the best value in town! Click here to view the "Price is Right" posters for cats and dogs!

Dogs & Puppies ($200 if under 6 months old, $200 if under 6 years old & under 25 lbs, and $60 if 6+ years)

  • Spaying/neutering
  • First worming
  • Initial vaccinations
  • Microchip and tag
  • Reduced price collar and leash
  • Heartworm testing
  • Handouts on puppy information
  • Free behavior and training advice
  • 10% off purchases at the ARL Animal House Store for the life of the pet
  • 10% off training classes

What it would cost you to do all of the above to a FREE dog or puppy: $300-400.

Cats & Kittens ($100 if under 6 months old, name your price above $50 if 6 months+)

  • Wellness Examination
  • Spay/neuter
  • Vaccinations
  • Deworming Medication
  • Fecal
  • Microchip
  • FeLV testing
  • Dental
  • 10% off purchases at the ARL Animal House Store for the life of the pet

What it would cost you to do all of the above to a FREE cat or kitten: $670 minimum.
*Also see Happy Cat Prescription program below about getting 2 cats!

Rabbits ($50)

  • Spaying/neutering
  • Microchip
  • Handouts on rabbit care
  • Free behavior and training advice
  • 10% off purchases at the ARL Animal House Store for the life of the pet

What it would cost you to do all of the above to a FREE rabbit: $150-200.

Adoption Programs

The ARL, in partnership with the Pets for the Elderly Foundation (PFE), is offering $50 off the adoption fee when an individual age 60 or older adopts a cat or dog of any age from the ARL! PFE Foundation believes in the positive power of pet companionship for seniors, so they have partnered with the ARL to make pet-ownership more affordable! NOTE: The standard application process still applies to this program and adoptions through this program cannot be combined with other offers. These programs will be offered as funds are available.

Test drive a cat to find the right fit for you! The ARL's Rent-A-Cat program allows you to spend  60 days with a cat in your home prior to making the decision to adopt. This gives you and the cat an opportunity to get to know each other as well as any other human or animal family members and will ensure that everyone is set up for success! Once the cat has been in your home for 60 days, you can adopt him/her for just $55, or bring the cat back to the ARL. Cats must be 8 months or older to participate. The ARL reserves the right to deny any foster or adoption.

Take two and you won't need to call us in the morning! The Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL) has historically recommended and promoted the adoption of two cats or kittens. The ARL has done this because we believe it is emotionally healthy for cats and kittens to have feline friends and have found some behavior issues can easily be solved or never occur with the addition of two cats or kittens to a household.Therefore, the ARL has started the "Happy Cat Prescription Program" - a specialized program that promotes two cat or kitten adoptions.

Here is how it works:
An adopter can adopt any cat or kitten and the second cat is $25 (cannot be combined with any other offers, not applicable to kittens 6 months and younger). Both cats and kittens must reside in the same household and adoption contracts will state that the adopters agree that the cats/kittens will live together in the same house. Adoption counselors will help adopters to make these matches of cats under the Happy Cat program. Costs are based on an average of prices quoted for similar services by several local veterinarian clinics. Click here for more information. The services provided by the Animal Rescue League are in no way intended to be a substitution for regular, professional veterinary care. A list of veterinarians in your area will be provided by your adoption counselor.

All U.S. Veterans are eligible to adopt a dog for $60 or a cat for $50 and receive 25% off ARL dog training classes! Thank you to all who have served our country! (This program will continue indefinitely.) Click here for more information!