Adopting from a shelter.

True or False: Purebred dogs don’t end up in animal shelters.

The answer is a resounding False!  Purebred dogs of almost every breed end up in animal shelters.  Popular breeds like the German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Dalmatians, Boxers and Labradors are often found in our local shelters.

We are constantly notified about many nice, purebred German Shepherd Dogs in local shelters that are desperately looking for homes.  About 50% of the dogs that you see on our website were rescued from these animal shelters and humane societies.  These dogs do not have the luxury of time on their hands, as most of the high-kill shelters are overcrowded with animals.  Some of the dogs get as little as one day to be adopted before they are put to sleep to make room for the next dog.  Many of them are very loving and adoptable dogs.  We even see purebred puppies that are on their last day at the shelters.  It is a tragedy that we would like to see end.

Whiskey from the Carson Shelter

The good news is that all animal shelters are required to spay or neuter any animal before it is released, and all of the animals receive a basic set of immunizations to help stop the spread of disease.  This is a great step towards controlling the pet overpopulation problem that we have in our country, and towards keeping our companion animals healthy and happy.

Most of the shelters will list a dog as a “German Shepherd Mix” or “German Shepherd X”, even if the dog is purebred German Shepherd Dog.  They do this so that they cannot be held responsible for claiming the dog is a purebred in case it is not.  We also see purebred long-haired German Shepherds listed as “Chow”, because their longer fur is often mistaken for that breed.  Please don’t go by the breed that the shelter worker assigned to the dog — they are often mistaken!

The shelter adoption fees cover the cost of the sterilization surgery (spaying for females, neutering for males), and the basic vaccinations (Rabies and DHLPP, which includes Parvo and Distemper).  These fees are generally around $50 to $100.  In addition, there is a new service where you can get “medical insurance” for your adopted dog.

Adopting a dog from the shelter can be a “win-win” situation for you and for the dog.  You will be gaining a loyal and loving family member, and the dog will be getting a chance at a wonderful life.  So please consider visiting your local animal shelter or humane society to see if your newest family member is waiting there for you!  These dogs are wonderful, and are looking forward to sharing the rest of their lives with you.

Links to Southern California Animal Shelters and Humane Societies by area code

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 Area code: Areas served:
818 San Fernando Valley, Burbank, Glendale, Agoura, Castaic
310 Santa Monica, West Los Angeles, Carson/Torrance, Harbor
323 and 213 Los Angeles
661 Lancaster, Castaic, Mojave, Bakersfield
626 Baldwin Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel
562 Downey, Long Beach, Seal Beach
909 Pomona, Riverside, San Bernadino, Corona, Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Ramona, Norco, Lake Elsinore, Redlands, Big Bear
714 and 949 Orange County, Santa Ana, Irvine, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Mission Viejo
805 Ventura, Camarillo, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria
760 Apple Valley, Victorville, Hesperia, Encinitas
619 and 858 San Diego, Chula Vista


Web sites for shelter dogs:

Animal Match
A great web site with links to many local shelters and photos of the dogs that are available.

A great web site with links to many rescue groups and dogs available through private parties.

Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control
All of the Los Angeles County shelters are listing some of their available animals on this site.  Note that this includes the county shelters only.

Los Angeles City Animal Services
All of the Los Angeles City shelters are listing some of their available animals on this site.  Note that this includes the city shelters only.

Pet Harbor
Search a database for pets in shelters across the USA and Canada.

Pet Bond
Los Angeles shelter locations and listings of available animals.

Orange County Animal Care Services
Animals available for adoption in Orange County.

San Diego County Animal Control
Animals available for adoption in San Diego County.

Look up German Shepherds available for adoption through private parties, rescue groups, and local animal shelters

Dogs in various shelters and rescue groups in San Bernadino, Devore, Apple Valley, Hesperia, etc.

Rescue Clearing House


Shelter locations and information:

Save the Dalmations
This Dalmation rescue site has the best listing of local shelters, locations, and hours of operations.


Info about adopting from the shelter:

Once you find the dog that you want to adopt at the shelter, you will need to write down the dog’s “impound” or ID number.  Take the impound number and go to the shelter office to finalize the adoption and pay the adoption fee.  If the pet is not yet available for adoption, find out when he or she will be available to the public, and ask to put your name in their computer as a ‘Red Alert’ adopter.  The shelter will take your name and phone number, and will tell you what date and time the dog will be available for you to adopt.  If the dog is still at the shelter on that date and time, you should return to the shelter and adopt the dog on your specified day.  Make sure that you know exactly what day and times you are given to adopt the dog.  Some shelters will only give you a few hours to adopt the dog, then they will make the dog available to the next adopter on the list.

Once you finalize the adoption, plan to pick up your pet the following business day after he or she has been spayed or neutered.  You will pick them up at the shelter or at a local veterinary clinic.  Most shelters ask that you pick up the pet in the afternoon, as the surgeries are done in the morning.  Bring a collar and leash with you to the shelter or vet office, and prepare your car for transporting the dog home.  Your dog will be groggy from the surgery, and should be taken straight home and given a nice, comfortable, quiet place to rest and relax.  Keep an eye on him or her to be sure that he or she is not licking at the stitches from the surgery.  If the dog that you adopt has already been spayed or neutered, you will be able to bring the dog home with you from the shelter the same day that you adopt him or her.

While in the shelter, your dog might pick up “kennel cough”, an upper-respiratory disease similar to a common cold.  The symptoms include coughing, nasal discharge, and lack of energy.  This is a very treatable problem, and should NOT change your decision to adopt the dog.  If your dog does have kennel cough, the shelter veterinarian may choose to postpone the animal’s spay or neuter surgery until the pet is healthy.  In these cases, the shelter will sometimes require you to pay an additional spay/neuter deposit ranging from $20 to $50.  This is their way to insure that you will bring the animal back to a veterinarian to be sterilized.  Once your dog is over the kennel cough, you can bring him or her back to the shelter to be spayed or neutered, and your deposit will be refunded by the shelter.  Most shelters will give you a list of local veterinarians who will perform a “free” examination of your pet, and will give you medication to treat the kennel cough.

When you pick up your pet from the shelter or veterinary office, be prepared to pay any additional fees for veterinary services deemed necessary for your dog’s health.  These are often life-saving procedures, and the charges are very reasonable.  You will be required to pay these charges when you pick up the animal.  It is not uncommon for the veterinarian to charge an additional fee for correcting undecended testicles in adult male dogs, umbilical hernias, spaying of a female who is in heat or early pregnancy stages, and for pain medication that your dog may need following the surgery.  These fees are generally small, but it is best to be prepared to pay these fees just in case the veterinarian has to perform or prescribe anything extra.

Watch your dog closely for the first two weeks after adoption.  Sometimes, your dog will come down with kennel cough days after you pick him or her up from the shelter.  Watch for these symptoms, and take your dog to your local veterinarian if you see any of the following:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Constant coughing
  • Excessive discharge from eyes
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite, especially when given tasty treats
  • Lack of energy, excessive sleeping

These things are particularly important if you adopt a puppy, or any dog under one year of age.  Puppies and young adult dogs do not always have their immunities built up, so they are susceptible to disease — even if they have received their first set of vaccinations at the shelter.  Remember that puppies need to receive a series of vaccinations at a timed interval.  Check with your veterinarian and bring your puppy in for all of his vaccinations.  It could save his life!

After adopting a dog, give him or her time to settle into your home and to learn the rules.  It will take the dog about 2 weeks to acclimate to the new surroundings, and to find a routine.  During this time, let the dog get to know your family and your home.  Show him or her where you want them to “go potty”, and assume that they will need to relearn their housebreaking training.  Wait a few weeks before you take the dog into any potentially stressful situations, such as visiting another dog’s home or going to a dog park.  Start walking the dog around the neighborhood, but stick close to home in the beginning so that the dog can learn the scent of his new home first.

Once the dog is settled in, you might want to consider enrolling in a basic obedience training class.  Check with your veterinarian or local pet supply store for recommendations.  The more training you do with the dog, the better family member he or she will become.

By the way, the dog pictured at the top of this page is Whiskey, adopted from the Carson Shelter.  Here is a photo of him after we rescued him.  He has been adopted now: