Adoption Process

Adopt from the Santa Cruz SCPA and give a cat or dog a second chance while enriching your own life with animal companionship. Our goal is to create lasting matches. The adoption process will help you find a furry friend whose temperament and energy level are a good fit with your lifestyle and home environment. Ready to get started?

New COVID-19 Adoption Procedures: Thank you for your interest in adopting an animal from the Santa Cruz SPCA! In response to COVID-19, and the current social distancing rules, our adoption procedures have changed. We are now conducting Adoptions by Appointment to ensure our staff’s safety, as well as your own. Please note that our adoptable pets are all in foster right now, so when you make an appointment, the foster will bring the pet to us for you to meet. Due to this, you will be limited to meeting one pet during your appointment. Thank you for your understanding!

Explore the possibilities and complete the adoption profile
Check out the adoptable dogs and adoptable cats on our website. Be sure to read their profiles for additional information about their personalities and temperaments. Then fill out an online Adoption Profile (see Adoption Profile tab above) complete with matchmaking questions to give us an idea of what type of dog or cat you’re looking for.

Get matched!
Our adoptions staff will then review your profile and carefully consider potential matches given the information you provided. If one (or more) animals are identified as a potential match, we’ll reach out to set up a virtual matchmaking session (via phone or Zoom) to help you learn more about the pet(s) that may be suitable for you! *Please note, that we have had a tremendous amount of adoption interest, more than we have animals to satisfy (great problem to have!). Because of this, we will only be arranging matchmaking sessions if we feel we have a potential match(es) in our care.

Meet and Greet
A meet and greet will be arranged once you’ve completed your virtual matchmaking session and have narrowed it down to one pet.  This meet and greet will give you a chance to say hello to the pet — in person! All meet and greets will occur at the shelter (unless otherwise specified) and will be coordinated with social distancing measures in place. *Please note, we are not offering meet and greets for cats at this time, and will instead arrange for a quick and easy contact free hand-off.

Foster to Adopt
A foster-to-adopt will be initiated if all goes well during the meet and greet! This is to ensure the best fit possible. Because we need to limit many of our normal adoption procedures that we deem important, this period allows for those procedures to happen – just in your own home! (all household members meeting the animal, other dogs in home meeting the animal).

Make it Final!
Your adoption will be finalized remotely if the foster-to-adopt results in a “YES, this is the animal for me!”

Please also note:

If you rent, please be prepared to provide us with a copy of your lease or a letter from your landlord that states you can have a pet(s). Landlord letters 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.

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 debit/credit card over the phone OR via Paypal through our Adoption Fee Paypal Portal tab above. 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. You will be responsible for licensing your adopted animal with the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter post adoption. Please be prepare to provide them with proof of spay/neuter and current rabies. The licensing fee is $29. Visit the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter for more details.

Santa Cruz SPCA Adoption Application

Please take a moment to complete this adoption profile so that we can help find the best possible match for both you and the animals!

Which animal(s) are you interested in? (if you aren't sure yet, enter "undecided" into the animal name field)


Information About You


Emergency Contact

Please list someone you trust OUTSIDE of your household. This information will be used as an alternate contact for your animal's microchip


Household Information














Current Pets




Past Pets in Household

Please tell us about the dog(s) or cat(s) that you've had but no longer own.


Veterinary Information

Matchmaking Information














General Information



* I certify that all the information in this application is true and I understand that false information may void the adoption and future adoptions from the SCSPCA


Pay your adoption fee via Paypal!

This payment portal is for people who have completed all adoptions steps and have been directed by staff to pay their adoption fee here in order to finalize their adoption. Please do not use this portal to make any type of donation or sponsorship (go here instead!). 

Adoption Fee


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:


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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

Can 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.

Will 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.

 Main Shelter Location

2685 Chanticleer Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA 95065
(P) 831-465-5000
(F) 831-479-8530

Hours of Operation

Tues - Sun: 11am to 6pm

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.

Tax ID: 94-6171565

© 2017 Santa Cruz SPCA

Mall Adoption Center & Gift Shop

1855 41st Ave. (Near Target Wing)
Capitola, CA 95010
(P) 831-477-7886

Hours of Operation

Wed - Sun: 11am - 5:30pm