Adopt a Pet

A cute sleepy puppy resting on a girl’s shoulder

The Harris County Animal Shelter, operated by the Veterinary Public Health division, offers a safe haven to hundreds of lost, neglected and abandoned animals.

We’re working in partnership with the community to create a secure, healthy and caring environment for all the animals in our care until they are adopted into loving homes.   

Please refer to the questions below for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. Contact us by phone at 281.999.3191 if you don't find what you're looking for. On Saturday's and Sunday's our call center is closed so feel free to come in and speak with us. 

Every effort is made to find homes for the animals in our facility, however, there are certain guidelines we are required to follow:

  • Stray animals must stay here a minimum of three working days to allow the rightful owners to locate them.
  • Animals that show any sign of aggression are not adoptable.

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Our selection changes daily so check back with us often. 

How do I adopt a pet?

Simply come to the shelter during regular adoption hours and meet with one of our adoption counselors. All adopters must be 18 years old or above and adoptions must be done in person.

Which animal should I choose?
  • Are you looking for a quiet, laid-back lap cat or a “ready-to-play” dog? 
  • Will your landscaping survive the natural digging behaviors of a lab puppy? 
  • Does the dog or cat match your energy level?

Once you have an idea of what type of pet fits your lifestyle, stop in and speak with one of our pet adoption counselors. Adopting a pet is a serious, lifelong commitment and our experienced counselors will be happy to help you find and select the right pet for you.

You’ll be given the opportunity to observe, pet and play with your potentially new furry friend before making your decision.

How do I prepare before I adopt?
A few suggestions to help prepare for a new pet:

  • Be sure other pets you have are currently vaccinated before bringing home a new pet.
  • Find a veterinarian if you do not already have one.
  • Prepare other family members and discuss the responsibilities associated with having a new pet in the home.  It's important that everyone be in agreement with the decision to adopt.
  • Evaluate your home and yard to be sure it is safe for your new pet.  All dogs and cats in unincorporated Harris County are required by law to be confined in their own yard or on a leash at all times.  When adopting a dog, check your fence to be sure it is secure enough to keep your new pet from escaping. 
  • If you are adopting a cat, the safest place to keep them is inside the house.  If allowed to roam, cats can be injured by loose dogs, hit by a car or exposed to diseases that could harm the cat and/or family members.
What is included in the adoption and what is the process?

Cats and dogs (both) are microchipped, dewormed, spayed or neutered and come with: 

  • A collar
  • Rabies vaccination and tag
  • A Harris County annual license tag
  • The medical history while in our care

We strongly encourage everyone to bring their new pet, along with the medical history, to a veterinarian within three days for follow-up exams and vaccination boosters. You will be given a list of veterinarians that will perform the first exam free of charge.

We accept cash, American Express, MasterCard, Visa and Discover. Checks are not accepted at our facility. 

How do I adopt a cat at Petco River Oaks?

The Harris County Animal Shelter offers cats ready for adoption at Petco in River Oaks at 2110 South Shepherd, Houston.  Adopters will be considered on a first come, first served basis.

When you’ve chosen a cat for adoption, bring the card hanging from the cat cage (showing the six digit animal ID number) to our animal shelter at 612 Canino Rd. in Houston during the following shelter hours to process your adoption.

Monday – Friday
1:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Saturday – Sunday:
11:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Cats have been dewormed, spayed or neutered and come with:

  • A collar
  • Rabies vaccination and tag
  • Harris County annual license tag 
  • Microchip information 
  • A cardboard carrier to take them home

Bring the receipt to the store manager at Petco and they will release your new pet.

Responsible Pet Ownership

Your pets will thank you being a responsible pet owner when you follow these steps:

  • Spay, neuter and microchip your pets
  • Keep a license tag on them at all times
  • Commit to the relationship for the life of your cat or dog
  • Recognize that pet ownership requires an investment of time, money and love
  • Exercise, train and socialize your pets
  • Provide veterinary care (preventive and when ill)
  • Don’t allow them to run loose – keep them safely confined
  • Clean up after them
  • Include your pet in your emergency or disaster plans
  • Adopt homeless pets from our shelter!

Guide to Owning a Pit Bull in Harris County English | Español
Tips for Owning a Cat in unincorporated Harris County English | Español

What is the return policy?

All animals placed in our adoption program are evaluated for health and temperament. Because the animals in our shelter are often stray, with no known medical history, it is possible that some may not show signs of illness until several weeks after adoption. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to take your new pet to your veterinarian as soon as possible to follow up on all necessary vaccinations. If you don't have a veterinarian, choose from the list of veterinarians that will perform the first exam free of charge. Refer to What is included in the adoption and what is the process? (above).

Should your new pet become ill, we do offer a two-week health guarantee for adoption animals if that animal has seen a veterinarian within the first 72 hours of the adoption. The adoption fee can not be refunded, but you can choose another pet within six months of the return.

Mobile Adoptions

Volunteer Orientations

Shelter Closures


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For more information, contact:
Harris County Public Health
Veterinary Public Health:
612 Canino Road
Houston, TX 77076
Phone: 281.999.3191
Fax: 281.847.1911 

Driving Directions to HCPH Veterinary Public Health (Google Maps)

Services Provided by HCPH Veterinary Public Health

Adoption hours: 
Please note adoption hours end earlier than regular lobby hours
Monday - Friday 1:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Saturday and Sunday 11:00 am - 3:30 pm

Lobby shelter hours:
Monday - Friday 1:00 p.m. - 5:50 p.m.
Saturday 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
no animal intake

Animal surrender hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 1:00 p.m. - 4:00p.m.
Saturday 11:00 a.m. - 2:00
no animal surrenders on Sunday and Wednesday

Phone hours (for our call center):
Monday – Friday 
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. (closed for lunch)
1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday
8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.