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Part 2: Adopting From a Local Shelter

Where to go locally to adopt a pet.

Editor's note: This is the second in a series about adopting pets from shelters. Part 1, published last Monday, covered .

Now that you know exactly what you’re looking for in a pet, it’s time to decide where to adopt one. If you just want a dog or cat and don’t care if it’s a purebred or a mixed breed, your local animal shelter or humane society can be the perfect place.

There’s no shortage of shelters and rescue groups in Orange County, and most have websites listing available pets, making it easy to see if there are any that meet your criteria before visiting in person. Once you're there, shelter volunteers and counselors are usually available to help you find the type of pet you’re looking for.

The shelter that serves Lake Forest, as well as 17 other cities and all unincorporated areas, is Orange County Animal Care, at 561 The City Drive South, in Orange. It has 382 dog runs and housing for more than 300 cats, making it the largest shelter on the West Coast.

The adoption fee varies depending on the dog’s age and whether it needs to be spayed or neutered. Before going to a new home, all pets are microchipped, vaccinated, spayed or neutered and treated for fleas. Puppies are dewormed, and cats are tested for feline leukemia virus.

The first year’s licensing fee is also included in the adoption fee. That’s a pretty good deal.

And through Sept. 10, all cats go home with a goodie bag. The shelter is also discounting some cat adoption fees.

The shelter is old, and has only a 41 percent adoption rate for dogs and a 19 percent adoption rate for cats, so adopting from OCAC will give you lots of karma points and a warm, fuzzy feeling.

City shelters

Several cities near Lake Forest have their own shelters: Irvine, Mission Viejo and Laguna Beach.

Irvine Animal Care Center has a 3.73-acre shelter at 6443 Oak Canyon in Irvine.

Potential adopters must complete an application and attend a counseling session before taking pets home. Everyone in the family, including other dogs, must meet the animal before the adoption goes through.

Adoption fees range from $55 for rabbits to $120 for dogs and cats and $150 or more for puppies and kittens. The fee includes spay/neuter surgery, a veterinary exam, vaccinations, flea treatment, deworming, a microchip, a pet food sample, and a free vet check after adoption. All of that would normally cost several hundred dollars, so again, it’s a great deal. In addition to the adoption fee, a $50 training deposit is required. If you complete a training class within six months of the adoption, the deposit is refunded.

The IACC is open weekdays from noon to 7 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s closed on Tuesdays and holidays.

At Mission Viejo Animal Services Center, it’s kitten season, and the shelter is running a special: adopt one and get the second for half price. Two kittens will entertain and exercise each other, and they are twice as entertaining to watch.

For all pets, adoption applications are taken until the best suitable match is made. The pet goes to the first approved applicant.

Adoption fees start at $50 for rabbits and $100 for dogs and cats. Additional fees apply for spaying/neutering, vaccinations, microchipping or flea treatment. Reduced rates are available for senior citizens.

The MVASC is at 28095 Hillcrest in Mission Viejo. (If you already have a pet, visit MVASC’s website for good information on coexisting with local coyotes.)

The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter is at the Warner-Weiner Center, 2093 Laguna Canyon Road. Fill out an application in person.

The adoption committee reviews applications twice a week and makes decisions on Wednesdays and Saturdays, so there is a waiting period. If you complete an application and the dog is not on medical hold, you can visit it daily between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. A fenced yard might be required for some dogs, and if you already have a dog, the two must meet at the shelter before an adoption is approved.

Adoption fees include a veterinary exam, vaccinations, deworming, a flea bath, spay/neuter surgery and a microchip. In addition, cats are tested for feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus.

The shelter is open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Wherever you go, look for a pet that seeks attention or responds when you speak to it or move toward it. This is especially important if you’re looking for a cat who will be friendly, not shy.

Remember that an animal’s behavior might change once it’s happily in a home. The cat or dog you thought was shy or mellow might be bouncing around the house in a few weeks.

Next week: adopting from a breed-rescue group

Sharon Cody August 15, 2011 at 02:09 PM
Thank You Kim! Nice job giving tips about what to consider in adopting a dog or a cat. It might be a good idea to let your readers know though that purebred dogs can be found at an animal shelter. If you look just this week at photos of dogs at our shelter, Polly is a purebred Boxer and Frida is a Chihuahua. These dogs don't come with papers for AKC registration and they won't be having pups since they are all spayed and neutered but they are quite nice and often exhibit the personality common to their breed. At the Mission Viejo Shelter dogs are walked and played with 4-5 times a day by 50 different volunteers a week. Volunteers and staff get to know them pretty well and the majority are extremely well socialized. During the adoption application & interview process our K9 friend's behavior and potential health needs are explained in detail. So I would encourage those looking for a specific breed to check out the shelter. That new K9 pal they are looking for may just be there waiting for them! Sharon Cody, Pres. DAWG
Dan Avery August 15, 2011 at 05:51 PM
Great article, Kim. And it's especially helpful that you spelled out the adoption procedures at the four shelters. Both of my dogs were rescues from a shelter. There are always a lot of potential friends in our local shelters that would love to have a loving home.
Kim Campbell Thornton August 23, 2011 at 03:56 PM
Mission Viejo Animal Services Center and DAWG are offering a special promotion: today through August 30 adopt any adult cat and the adoption fee will be waived.

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