Adoption Process and FAQs

Adoption Process

Our adoption process is application based, and first-come, first-served. Applications are available for download on the righthand side of your screen, or you can pick one up in person at the shelter.

If you would like to submit an application before you've found the right pet for you, we are happy to hold active applications for 90 days while you continue your search.

If you see a particular pet you are interested in, please submit the application and either email, fax, or hand it back in to us at the shelter. This allows us to hold the pet for you while we complete the adoption process--it does not obligate you to take the pet. We MUST receive a completed application before we are able to put a pet on hold for someone, or arrange a meeting with any pet in foster care. We are only able to hold one pet at a time, unless you are interested in taking home more than one. We do not adopt out two puppies at once. Once an application has been recieved and the pet is ready to go home, we can place the pet on hold for a maximum of 24 hours to give the applicant time to get supplies, etc. We cannot guarantee we will be able to complete a same-day adoption.

Approval to adopt is contingent upon completing an informal interview with an adoptions staff member. We reserve the right to refuse an adoption at our discretion. Once the application is approved, we have the applicant sign an adoption contract and pay the adoption fee to officially transfer the ownership of the pet over to the new family. 

Adoption FAQs

Here is a list of answers to frequently asked questions regarding adopting a pet from RAL. If you have a question and you don't see the answer on this list, please call us at 804-379-0046x100, or email for further information.

1. What is your adoption process?
Our adoption process is application-based and first-come, first-served. It involves an interview with a staff member, where we may inquire about past pet history and vet records, your personality preferences in a pet, etc.

2. How long will it be before I can take my pet home?
This process is generally quick, and most adoptions can be completed within 24 hours--even same day! There may be a wait before you can take your pet home if, for instance, it has not been spayed or neutered yet, etc. Pets in foster care may take longer as we would need to coordinate pick-up with the foster family. We may need to complete follow-up items such as landlord or vet checks before we can approve an applicant to take home a pet. 

3. Can you keep my name on file and call me if you get a certain type of pet in?
We are unfortunately not able to make outgoing calls of this nature. However, our website is up to date as far as what animals are currently in our care, so check back often online!

4. I really want to adopt a certain dog but I want to make sure it gets along with my pets at home first.
We definitely encourage you to bring your dog to the shelter for a “meet & greet”! Our adoption counselors can help you with this process. We are not able to do meet & greets for cats or with cats and dogs.

5. How long can you hold an animal for me?
We are able to hold pets for an applicant for up to 24 hours to allow time to “pet-proof” the house, get supplies, etc. If the animal is not ready to go home for any reason, we will hold them for you until they are.

6. What are your adoption fees? What do they include?
Adoption fees are listed on the right-hand side of the page, including current specials. All of our pets are spayed or neutered, microchipped, dewormed, and given all age-appropriate vaccinations before going home. We also test dogs for heartworm and cats for FIV and feline leukemia. The only extra fees that may be included are $5 for a cardboard cat carrier, or $10 each for a leash or collar for the dogs. All adopters are provided with a starter bag of food.

7. Is this dog housetrained? What can you tell me about this pet's background or behavior?
We can never 100% guarantee that any of our dogs are housetrained! Even a very well-trained dog may need some time to “remember” the rules in a new home. Most of our pets come from other shelters and rescue groups rather than from a previous owner, so we don’t often have the benefit of information about the pet’s former home. This is why we do full behavior evaluations on our adult dogs, and tell adopters to remember that every pet needs an “adjustment period” to get used to a new home. We always recommend a basic training class for newly adopted dogs.

8. Can I turn in an application without picking out a pet?
Yes! We keep open applications on file for 90 days. At any point during that time, feel free to contact us and let us know if you see anyone you would like to add to your application.

9. Can I take this pet home on a trial basis?
We unfortunately do not offer a “foster-to-adopt” program or a trial period. We encourage people to spend as much time as they need to before deciding for sure that a particular pet will be a good match for their family. Our adoption counselors are here to help you make a great match!

10. Do you offer training classes?
Although we do not currently offer training classes at our facility, we do work with local trainers to provide training classes at reduced rates to our adopters.

11. How do I meet a pet in foster care?
To meet a pet who is currently in foster care, we will need to receive a completed adoption application for that particular pet. Once we have it, we can put the pet on hold for you, contact the foster parent that there is an interested applicant, and have them give you a call to set up a meeting.

12. I’m trying to find a new home for a pet in my care. Can you help?
We are unfortunately not able to take in privately owned or stray pets. Our mission is to pull at-risk animals directly out of other local city and county animal shelters. For more information and other re-homing options, please refer to this page:

13. I am looking for an outdoor/barn cat. Can I adopt one from you?
Generally speaking, we would love for all of our pets to enjoy being indoor companion animals for your family. We may have a small number of adult cats who we know would enjoy an outdoor lifestyle, and we would refer you to pick from one of those pets in particular.

14. Can I adopt more than one pet at a time?
We definitely encourage adopting multiple kittens together! Adult cats can be adopted out together as well. We may adopt out more than one adult dog at a time on a case by case basis, if the pets get along with each other, or a dog and a cat if we know both animals are fine with the other. We do not allow adoptions of multiple puppies to one household at the same time.

15. How often do you get new pets in?
As soon as we have an open kennel available for them! We are constantly getting in new animals; please check our website for a current listing of our available pets.

16. What should I bring with me when I come to adopt?
Please bring a current photo ID or proof of address and the appropriate adoption fee for your pet (we take cards, checks, or EXACT cash). You should bring a cat carrier for cat adoptions if you have one, but we also sell cardboard carriers for $5. If you’re adopting a dog, you can bring your own leash or collar, or buy ours for $10 each.

17. Can I adopt a pet for someone else/as a gift?
It is very important to us that we make a good match for your family, so we prefer that the person who will have primary ownership of the pet be there to meet the pet in person, sign the contract, etc. We do offer gift certificates if you would like to pay an adoption fee for someone else and then bring them in to pick out a pet!

18. I don’t have a fenced yard; is this a requirement to adopt a dog?
Definitely not! A fenced yard is convenient for potty breaks, but it’s no substitute for leash walks to new places with the family.

19. What is RAL’s policy on declawing?
We encourage people to avoid declawing whenever possible. There are lots of more humane alternatives, as well as plenty training tips and tricks to prevent unwanted scratching. Here’s a great article about declawing if you’re looking for more information about the pros and cons of the procedure:

20. What is the youngest pet that I can adopt?
Pets must be at least 8 weeks old to be spayed or neutered, and they cannot go home until after the sterilization surgery has been completed.

21. Is this pet healthy? What medical services have been provided to RAL animals?
Upon arrival, all animals receive a thorough intake exam from one of our veterinarians. Cats are tested for feline leukemia and FIV. Dogs are tested for heartworms. All pets receive age appropriate vaccinations, deworming, and parasite preventatives. Every pet is spayed or neutered before going home. If a pet appears sick or injured while in our care, they receive necessary treatment.  Detailed medical records are kept for each animal, and shared with adopters at the time of adoption. While we cannot guarantee the health of any pet post-adoption, we do all that we can to ensure every pet is healthy during their stay at RAL—and at the time of adoption. We fully disclose any and all chronic health issues or dietary needs at the time of adoption. Many animals come to RAL with unknown pasts. It is often the case that we do not know their complete medical history. It is our protocol to share what health information we do have since welcoming the pet to RAL. Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions that may come up about the health of your pet at the time of adoption.  

Adoption Hours

Regular Adoption Hours:

Tues. - Fri.
4 pm - 8 pm

Sat - Sun.
12 pm - 4 pm

Closed Monday

Adoption Application

RAL Adoption Application

***please note writeable pdf does not work on mobile devices. please fill out on a computer, save, and email to***

Regular Adoption Fees

Adult Dogs: $150

Puppies: $200 

Adult cats: $75

Kittens: $75

(Adult is 6 months+)

Adoption Specials
Current Adoption Specials
$25 Cat Adoptions

All cats and kittens are $25

Seniors Supporting Seniors

Adopters aged 55 and older qualify for:

$50 adoption fee, dogs 5-7
WAIVED adoption fee, dogs 8+

$10 adoption fee, cats 7-10
WAIVED adoption fee, cats 11+