Adopting a new fur-baby can be a wonderful experience. Most of us know that the journey usually starts off with a visit to an animal shelter like The Animal Anti-Cruelty League (AACL), and hopefully ends with the joy of taking a furry friend home. But what can you expect when you arrive at the shelter and how does the adoption process work at the AACL?


How to prepare for your visit


The AACL gives the following advice:


“Be open-minded

Policies vary from shelter to shelter. Some are privately run and limit the number of animals they accept, while others are publicly funded and charged with taking in all the homeless animals. Wealthier organisations may offer more services and enrichment activities for their animals; other agencies may have enough resources to provide only basic care. But nearly all shelters have the same goal – to find loving homes for their animals.


Be prepared

You’ll probably fill out forms and talk to an adoption counsellor. If you rent, staff may ask if you have landlord permission, since “moving” and “landlord won’t accept pets” are commonly listed as reasons for giving up animals. “It’s not a judgement process”, says Kim Intino, Director of the HSUS’s (The Humane Society of The United States) shelter services program. “It’s more of a counselling process”.


Forgive the sounds and smells

An animal shelter is rarely an oasis of serenity. Barking dogs can be as loud as a classroom of teenagers, particularly in older facilities. “It has to do with the way the kennelling system is set up”, says Intino. “But a louder kennel versus a quieter one doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong”. Although cleaning is usually a high priority, it’s an unending task. Overpowering odours may be cause for concern, but the simple smell of dogs and cats is normal.


Understand that staff may be stressed

Though many shelters emphasise customer service in their staff trainings, you may catch staff on a bad day. If you don’t get the treatment you’re expecting, try to be patient and remember that it’s not the animals’ fault. Nothing would make most shelter workers happier than sending a dog or cat to a forever home.


How the adoption process works



  1. Visit the AACL

Make a trip to your nearest AACL shelter to view the animals in their care. They have many adorable pooches and kitties to choose from.

“We have branches in the major centres of the country – Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Ladysmith and the farming area of Bredasdorp”, says the AACL.


  1. Have your property inspected

If a special pet has stolen your heart with its puppy dog (or kitty) eyes, you may need a property inspection conducted before you are allowed to take the new furry family member home. On their website, the AACL states that, they “pass the property according to the size of the animal required (small, medium, large, fighting breed, etc)”. If you can provide suitable shelter and a safe living environment for the pet, you’re more than halfway there to becoming a new pet mom or dad.


  1. Do the paperwork and pay the adoption fees due

“Once the property has passed, and depending if the animal is available, you would return to adopt an animal/s, do the paperwork, pay for the animal and purchase any food or pet products if required. In certain cases, we also advise that, if it is best, we first do an introduction between our animals and yours,”, says the AACL.

The adoption fee covers one vaccination – a Rabies vaccination if the pet is over 4 months of age. Sterilisation is also included and may be scheduled when the adoption process is confirmed.


How much will it cost?


At the AACL’s shelter in Johannesburg, adoption rates are as follow**:

  • Cats/Kittens R590 per pet (fee includes Identipet microchip and identity disc)
  • Dogs/Puppies R858 per pet (fee includes Identipet microchip and identity disc)
  • Additional fees:
  • Vaccination is required at adoption @ R40 (per dog) R47 (per cat)
  • If an additional Rabies vaccination is required at adoption N/C
  • Property inspection around Johannesburg (non-refundable) @ R76 per property
  • Property inspection away from JHB (e.g. Pretoria) @ R150 per property


At the AACL’s shelter in Cape Town, the following adoption rates apply**:

A dog adoption fee of R850 includes: 1st vaccination, worm and flea treatment, compulsory sterilisation, microchip and ID tag. Adoption fee for a cat @ R800 includes: 1st vaccination, worm and flea treatment, compulsory sterilisation, microchip and ID tag as well as feline leukaemia and FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) testing.


**Visit the AACL’s website to confirm up-to-date rates and to find out which rates apply to other areas.


  1. Take your new furry friend home.

This is the best part of the adoption process! You get to take your new furry friend home for endless cuddles, kisses and playtime. Congratulations for being a pet’s hero!


Here are a few travelling-with-pets tips for the first ride home together.


  1. Get Pet insurance!

Make sure your new furball is protected against accidents and illnesses. Get pet insurance for true piece of mind. Fetch a quote in less than 5 minutes here!


Paws up! Who’s the best pet parent? You are!


Rad more

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How to stop animal cruelty in its evil tracks.