How to Adopt a Pet

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The first step in adopting from the Dare County Animal Shelter is filling out an application, which gives us important information about you and where you live.


After reviewing your application, which usually takes one to three working days we'll help you prepare for the responsibilities of pet ownership. We recommend you choose your pet carefully.

Visiting the Veterinarian

All pets adopted are bathed, dipped, wormed and given distemper shots at the shelter. Within seven (7) days from adopting your new pet, it must go to the veterinarian for a physical exam. The physical examination is free, and will help establish a relationship with your veterinarian and ensure your new pet is healthy. If the veterinarian recommends any shots, treatment or worming, he or she will discuss them and their cost before proceeding. State law requires that all dogs and cats 4 months and older be vaccinated against rabies. Animals that are not currently up to date on their rabies shots must be vaccinated by a veterinarian. Adopters pay a low-cost fee of $5.00 directly to the veterinarian for the rabies shot. The free physical exam will be performed on all adopted animals delivered to the veterinarian by the shelter staff, prior to surgery.


Because of the tremendous pet over population problem, the adoption contract requires every pet adopted from the shelter be spayed or neutered. If your pet is more than 4 months old, shelter staff will deliver it to the veterinarian you choose, and you will need to pick it up after surgery. If your pet is younger than four months, the staff will make an appointment, but it is your responsible to keep it. Failure to spay or neuter will result in repossession of the pet.

Signing the Adoption Papers

After adoption application is approved a time is scheduled for you to come back to the shelter to sign the adoption contract, pay the fees, and make arrangements to pick up the pet. You must agree to the terms of the legal binding adoption contract and sigh that you will abide by all of them. If you have questions about the terms of this contract, please ask.

Paying the Adoption Fees

Dogs - $85
Cats - $70

All adoption fees include as applicable: 

Rabies vaccination
First round of shots
Spay / Neuter surgery
Dare County dog license and

Picking up Your Pet

Be sure to bring a properly ventilated carrier if you're adopting a cat, small dog, kitten, or puppy. If you're adopting a larger dog, bring a collar and a leash. (You'll need those for exercising any size of dog.) Pet supplies are easy to find, but you can support the Outer Banks SPCA by purchasing them at the shelter.