When you adopt from the Santa Cruz SCPA, you give a cat or dog in need a second chance — and you enrich your own life with animal companionship. Our goal is lasting matches. Our adoption process helps you find a furry friend whose temperament and energy level are a good fit with your lifestyle and home environment. Ready to get started?
Explore the possibilities
Check out adoptable dogs and cats on our website. Then pay us a visit to meet them in person. Once you arrive, adoption counselors will fill you in on the specifics of each animal and help you figure out which one would match your lifestyle best.
Think you’ve found a match? We recommend spending as much one-on-one time as possible with the animal you’re interested in to ensure compatibility. You can get plenty of visiting time at the main shelter or at the Santa Cruz SPCA Adoption Center and Gift Shop in the Capitola Mall near Target.
Complete the Adoption Profile
Once you’ve found a well-matched furry friend, please complete our Adoption Profile. You must be at least 21 years old to adopt.
If you rent, please bring a copy of your lease or a letter from your landlord that states you can have a pet(s). Landlord letters can be presented in person or by email and must be accompanied by a copy or photo of the homeowner’s ID. If you own, we will verify ownership through our database, you do not need to bring any documentation.
If you’re adopting a dog, introduce your future friend to any other dogs in the family (dog adoptions only).
It’s important that any current canine companions enjoy your new friend as much as you do. We facilitate dog-to-dog introductions outside our main shelter, on leash. For your own dog’s safety, we ask that you do not bring him or her into the shelter.
Bring all family members and/or roommates to meet the animal
To ensure a successful adoption, everyone who will be a part of the family or everyday household should meet your future animal friend.
All of our adoptions include: spay/neuter, microchip, recent treatment for fleas and worms, age-appropriate vaccinations, testing for FELV/FIV (cats), certificate for free vet exam, and an adoption packet with additional pet care information and coupons.
- Kittens (under 6 months): $150
- Adult Cats (6 months – 7 year): $110
- Senior Cats (8 years or older): $65
- Puppies (under 1 year): $300
- Adult Dogs (1–7 years): $200
- Senior Dogs (8 years or older): $150
*If you are a senior person (age 62+) adopting an animal who is six years or older, you may be eligible for an adoption fee waiver through our Blackie’s Senior Friends program.
Adoption fees can be paid in full by check, cash, or debit/credit card. Additional gifts are appreciated and tax-deductible.
LICENSING: All dogs over four months of age in Santa Cruz County are required by law to be licensed. A license fee of $29 should be paid with a separate check made out to SCCASA.
How long does the adoption process take?
The adoption process time frame will vary, applicant to applicant. Once the pre-adoption procedures are final, and the adoption is being processed, the paperwork and counseling that follows will take about 30-45 minutes.
Can I adopt more than one animal at a time?
With both the adopters’ and animals’ best interests in mind, there are certain instances where we will or will not adopt out more than one animal to the same home at the same time. Read the specific scenarios below to find out when and why:
Two Bonded Adults: When a pair of bonded adult dogs comes into our care, we often do our best to find them homes where they can stay together. In fact, sometimes it is a requirement.
Two Non-bonded Adults: We often counsel against simultaneous adoption of two adult dogs that are not bonded. Bringing one new dog into a home can be a challenge; it takes time and training to get a new canine family member settled and acclimated. When you try to do this with two dogs at the same time — particularly when those dogs don’t know each other — it can be twice as difficult. We usually recommend you devote time and attention to getting one new companion settled into your home. Then come back for a second dog at a later time. However, we will make final adoption decisions for matters like these on a case-by-case basis.
Two Puppies: We counsel against adopting two puppies at the same time. Puppies are a challenge to train when they’re together (imagine two friends in the same classroom who won’t pay attention); working with two at once can prove to be an extremely difficult endeavor. Also, puppies that grow up with a sibling may become extremely attached to one another and not bond as well with the human family OR they can develop a sibling rivalry and become aggressive to one another. If you are looking to ultimately have two dogs, we recommend you adopt one puppy, invest a few months of training in him or her, and then come back for a second puppy at a later time.
Two Bonded Adults: When a pair of bonded adult cats comes into our care, we often do our best to find them homes where they can stay together. In fact, sometimes it is a requirement.
Two Non-bonded Adults: We often counsel against simultaneous adoption of two adult cats that are not bonded. Bringing one new cat into a home can be a challenge; it takes time and training to get a new feline family member settled and acclimated. When you try to do this with two cats at the same time — particularly when those cats don’t know each other — it can be twice as difficult. We usually recommend you devote time and attention to getting one new companion settled into your new home. Then come back for a second cat at a later time. However, we will make final adoption decisions for matters like these on a case-by-case basis.
Two Kittens: Interested in adopting two kittens at once? We’re all for it! Kittens often thrive when kept together and generally develop a healthy relationship with one another as adults and have no less of a bond with their human family members. Two kittens keep each other company when left alone and burn off excess energy during kitty-on-kitty play.
Your adoption fees are expensive. Do you ever offer discounts or specials?
Our adoption fees help recoup the costs we incur while preparing animals for adoption (spay/neuter, vaccinations, microchipping, deworm/de-flea, etc.). Ultimately, you’ll find that these fees are MUCH less than what you might pay for a free animal in need of spay/neuter, vaccines, micro-chipping, etc. We do not profit from adoption fees; they simply go back into the funds used to prepare and care for more animals before they are adopted out.
Aside from the Blackie’s Senior Friends program, we are unable to offer discounts or specials on our adoption fees. We are a private, non-profit organization without a veterinarian on staff and, because we use private vets for most of our medical care needs, our costs for preparing animals for adoption are much higher than municipal or public shelters, which often employ an entire vet staff.
I live out of state, do you do adoptions to people outside of California?
We generally aim to adopt our animals into homes inside the state of California. However, in certain situations, we have been known to adopt animals into homes located in surrounding states that share borders with California. Because a very important clause in our adoption contract states that animals adopted from the SCSPCA shall be returned to the SCSPCA if they are unable to stay in their adopted homes for any reason, we want to make it feasible for animals to return to us. Placing an animal into a home at a geographical distance eliminates this possibility.
Do you have a return policy if the animal I adopt doesn’t work out?
We hope that all adopters will take their time and exhaust all other options before making the decision to return an animal. However, we will ALWAYS accept animals that have been adopted from us back into our care, no matter the reason or the timeframe. Please note that adoption fees are non-refundable.
Do you put holds on animals?
When an adopter has met an animal and submitted an approved application, it’s possible to place a 24-hour hold on that animal. We do not collect a hold fee.
Do you guarantee the health of the animal I adopt?
While we do our best to adopt out healthy animals or make adopters aware of known conditions or concerns, we do not guarantee the health of any animal.
What do I do if the animal I adopt becomes sick shortly after adoption?
As soon as the adoption is finalized, the animal and its care become the responsibility of the adopter, whether or not the health issue could have begun or occurred while in our care. We do our best to notice and treat symptoms of illness, but sometime illnesses can go undetected because of incubation periods during which an animal will look and seem healthy. We encourage adopters to purchase pet insurance or apply for care credit, in case unforeseen medical expenses do occur. We also appreciate notification if animals adopted from us begin to show symptoms of illness so that proper precautions can be taken with our current population.
Why do you require all family members to meet the animal I’m adopting?
It’s important that everyone who will be living with the animal be in agreement with the decision to adopt and with the animal that has been selected for adoption. It is also important that the animal selected responds well to everyone living in the home. Animals can react in different ways to different people, so having them meet all of the people currently living in the home, no matter their role, is a helpful part of ensuring a good match for the household.
Do you know the history of the animals that come to you?
More often than not, we have very little background information on the animals that come into our care. Many animals come to us from other shelters, which took them in as strays. Even when an animal is surrendered by its owner, unless it was surrendered directly to us, we rarely receive information about the animal from the previous owner due to privacy laws. When an owner does surrender a dog directly to our organization, we are happy to share everything we know about the animal’s noted behaviors, health, and previous living situation. We cannot, however, give any personal information from the previous owner.
I’ve heard you offer a foster-to-adopt program. How does that work?
A foster-to-adopt is a short “trial period” where a potential adopter takes an animal home for an agreed-upon foster period with the intent to adopt if the animal proves to be a good match for their family. Although foster-to-adopt is an extremely helpful tool for ensuring a lasting match, this program is offered on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the adoption specialist.
The Santa Cruz SPCA is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of animals. We receive no government funding, and depend solely on financial support from our friends. Our organization is not affiliated with any other SPCA or Humane Society.
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