Adopt a Pet Guide: Pet Adoption in the Washington, D.C. Area

Pet adoption can bring joy to your life in a variety of ways. Dogs, cats, and other animal  friends make excellent companions and can add a sense of purpose to their owners’ lives, but it is important to understand that owning a pet isn’t just about playing, snuggling, and taking cute Instagram photos with your new best friend. There’s also a lot of work involved to adopt a pet, and you need to make sure you’re up for the challenges as well as the perks.

If you’re considering adopting a pet, this guide will help you ask the right questions to be sure you are ready to welcome a new family member – plus identify some great local rescues in the Washington, D.C. metro area!

3 Things to Consider Before Adopting a Pet

Although there are many benefits to animal adoption, the decision to become a pet parent should never be made spontaneously. Here are some of the most important things to consider to be sure you know what you are getting into and are ready to welcome a new pet to your home.

1. Responsibilities of Pet Ownership 

Adopt a Pet Guide: Pet Adoption in the Washington, D.C. Area 3

Pet ownership comes with more responsibilities than many first-time adopters realize, especially for apartment dwellers. Before deciding to bring in a pet, you should spend some time thinking about whether you are ready to commit to putting in the necessary time to properly care for him or her throughout their entire life. That includes the following:

  • Dog owners should plan to take their dogs for walks or to a nearby dog park most days for  exercise.
  • Dog owners will also need to take their pups out multiple times per day for bathroom breaks or engage dog walking services when they are unable to do so.
  • Cats will need toys, scratching posts, and litter boxes, plus that litter box cleaned on a regular basis.
  • Birds and rabbits regularly need their cages cleaned, bedding changed, and more.
  • All pet owners will need to dedicate daily time to basic care, grooming, feeding and playing with pets, as well as schedule vet appointments as needed. 

Those who are unsure if they will be able to commit to these basic pet requirements may want to reconsider whether it’s time to adopt. Those who are too busy with work might want to wait, for example, as there might be a time down the road when it makes more sense!

2. Cost

Although adopting a pet from a shelter usually costs less than buying one directly from a breeder, there are other costs to consider to make sure your new pet fits into your budget. In addition to the adoption fee that most shelters charge, you will need to cover your apartment’s pet rent and additional fees, food, toys, other supplies, and vet bills. 

3. Your Schedule

Pet owners, especially dog owners, need to be able to spend a reasonable amount of time at home to effectively care for their pets. Your work schedule and other commitments should ideally be either relatively structured or very flexible so you can be sure you will have enough time to care for, exercise, train, and bond with your new best friend each day. Dogs and cats shouldn’t be left alone for longer than a typical work day, which means that adopting a pet may not be the best option at this time if no one in your family is home for most of the day. 

Great Local Pet Adoption Options

Couple walking dog they adopted

The Washington, D.C. area is home to a wide variety of public and private pet adoption centers. Here are four of our top picks that are located within a short drive of many of our properties! 

City Dogs Rescue & City Kitties

301 H ST NE, Washington, DC 20002

At City Dogs Rescue & City Kitties, dogs and cats live in foster homes until they are adopted instead of at a centralized shelter. You will have an opportunity to meet the dog or cat in which you are interested at the organization’s office after filling out an application. Pets are generally only available to families in the Washington, D.C. metro area.  

Humane Rescue Alliance

71 Oglethorpe St NW, Washington, DC 20011

The Humane Rescue Alliance is one of the best-known and most diverse options for adopting a pet in Washington, D.C. Whether you’re interested in adding a dog, cat, or rabbit to your family, you’re sure to find the perfect match. Shelter volunteers will work with you to select a pet that will thrive living in an apartment and meets your family’s needs.  


4914 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016

PetMac is a pet adoption center in Tenleytown that also sells a variety of dog and cat foods, treats, toys, cat litter, and other supplies you will need to help your new furry friend feel at home. Unlike traditional pet stores that sell pets for profit, PetMAC functions as a combination of an animal shelter and a marketplace. Although shopping at PetMAC is open to anyone, it is a particularly good choice for first-time pet owners to find everything they need to care for their rescue in one place.   

Feline Urban Rescue

4334 Chesapeake St NW, Washington, DC 20016

Feline Urban Rescue, also known as F.U.R., has helped approximately 500 cats find their forever homes throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area since 1990. The F.U.R. adoption center and rescue is a grassroots organization that was founded by Susan Nelson to help meet the unique needs of homeless cats throughout the region. 

Things to Know Before Visiting a Shelter

Adopt a Pet Guide: Pet Adoption in the Washington, D.C. Area 4

Visiting a shelter to choose a new pet will be an exciting day, but it’s important to do your research first to be sure that you are ready. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure to come prepared with a reasonable description of what you are looking for in a pet.
  • You should also have taken inventory of your living situation such as children or other pets, allergies, and the size of your apartment.
  • Doing this will help shelter staff make sure the pet you are interested in is a good fit for you.
  • You should also ask any questions you may have at this time about caring for your new pet, known information about the animal’s previous home and medical history, and any potential red flags.

Many shelters are requiring appointments to visit adoptable animals amid COVID-19 restrictions to prevent large numbers of people from gathering in a small space, so it’s best to call ahead to learn the protocols before coming in to adopt a pet. Most also ask that you be ready to bring your new dogs, cats, or other pets home within 24 to 48 hours of your application being approved.  

DARO Is Proud to Be Pet Friendly

At DARO Apartments, we are proud to welcome pets (of a reasonable size and temperament) in all of our buildings. Up to two cats and rabbits are allowed in each apartment at Sedgwick Gardens, Connecticut House, Sheridan Apartments, and Chillum Terrace, for example, and our other 14 communities also welcome dogs under 75 pounds (with some breed restrictions).

Service animals are also welcome in all of our communities.

We know that your new pet will quickly become a member of your family. Each of our buildings is also conveniently located near at least one dog park, which makes it easy to be sure your apartment-dwelling pet gets enough exercise and to connect with other pet parents in your building.

Contact DARO Apartments today with any questions you have about our pet policy or to schedule a tour of any of our properties!  

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