Adopt a Pet

Choosing a Pet | Adoption Process | Surrender Process | Foster Care Program | Visit our Dogs | Visit our Cats | Forms

Adopting a pet is a joyous experience for everyone involved! When you open your home to a Shelter animal, you open yourself to an enriched life with a loving companion. Choosing the right pet for you is an important step in ensuring a successful adoption - it should never be an impulse decision. Too many pets are returned to shelters or suffer a poor quality of life because the owner neglected to do a little homework up front. Please visit Choosing a Pet to learn how to make the best decision for you and your lifestyle. Then visit our adoptable pets and see which one of these lovable cats or dogs is perfect for you!

Please view and use the forms at the end of this page.

Choosing a Pet
What pet is right for you and your lifestyle? What breed(s)? Cat or dog? What age, personality and size?

If you are considering adopting a pet into your life, especially if this will be your first pet, we encourage you to take the New Pet Quiz. This quiz helps you determine whether you have the time and money required to care for a pet and to choose the right kind of pet for your lifestyle.

Choosing the Right Dog | Choosing the Right Cat

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Choosing the Right Dog or Puppy

Consider Your Lifestyle
When choosing a dog to become part of your life, it is important to take a good look at your own lifestyle. Do you live alone? Do you spend much time at home? Do you live in an apartment or single family home? Do you have a fenced yard? Are you an active person? Do you have children? These are all questions you need to consider when choosing a dog to adopt. The impulse to adopt the adorable puppy is a strong one, but will you have the time to train, socialize and exercise the puppy? Do you have the financial resources to pay for all of the puppy care - exams, shots, neutering or spaying? Will your home situation accommodate this puppy when s/he grows up? A dog's size, exercise requirements, friendliness, assertiveness, and compatibility with children are also important factors in making the right decision.

Learn About Different Breeds and Mixes
So how do you know what kind of dog is right for you? Getting educated with the right information is the key. Learn about various breeds (the American Kennel Club is a great reference), their characteristics and personality traits, visit with animals at the Shelter, and speak with a veterinarian or the Shelter staff for guidance.

Dogs are either purebreds or mixed breeds. Purebreds were born of parents who were the same breed, while mixed breeds were born of parents who were different breeds. Because purebred dogs and their members are from the same breed, they typically conform to a 'breed standard'. So, if you adopt a purebred puppy, you can generally determine how big s/he will get and what general physical and behavioral characteristics s/he will have.

Mixed breed dogs are simply combinations of two or more different breeds. So, if you can identify the breeds of your puppy, you have a good chance of predicting size, appearance and temperament.

Mixed breeds offer several other advantages. First, you benefit from the combined traits of two or more breeds. You also get a dog that is likely to be free of genetic defects common to certain purebred dogs. When you adopt a mixed breed, you adopt a totally unique companion!

Visit with Shelter Animals
This is important! While you are at the Shelter, keep in mind that it is a stressful place for any animal. Many times, a dog's true personality won't show until s/he is away from other animals and the Shelter environment. So, if you walk past a kennel with a dog that is not looking for your attention, don't dismiss him/her just yet. This loving canine may just be scared or lonely.

When visiting with Shelter dogs, you need to ask many questions. How old is the dog? Puppies and young dogs usually require much more training and supervision than more mature dogs. If you lack the time or patience to housetrain your pup or to correct problems like chewing and jumping, an adult dog may be a better choice.

How shy or assertive is the dog? Although an active, energetic dog might catch your eye, a more quiet or reserved dog might be easier to live with and care for.

How good is the animal with children? Learning about a dog's past from the Shelter staff can be helpful, but past information is not always available. In general, an active dog who likes to be touched and is not sensitive to handling and noise, is a dog who will probably do well in a home with children.

Choose a Pal for Life
Every dog in the Shelter can provide you with endless love and companionship, and every dog deserves a lifelong, loving home. But some dogs are better for you and your lifestyle than others. That is why you should take the time to make a thoughtful choice. After all, you are choosing your new best friend, who will be with you for many years. Select the right dog and you and your new companion will enjoy those years to the fullest.

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Choosing the Right Cat
Cats make wonderful pets. They tend to be less demanding and can easily adjust to a variety of lifestyles and living spaces. A cat's personality, age, and appearance, as well as the kinds of pets you already have at home, are all things you should keep in mind when making your selection.

As you walk past the cat condos at the Shelter, you will probably notice that some cats meow for special attention, while others simply lie back and gaze at you with some apprehension. Regardless of individual personality, look for a cat who is playful, active, alert, and comfortable while being held and stroked. Keep in mind that some cats who are usually quite social may be frightened or passive while at the Shelter. These are the cats that may need extra love and attention to come out of their shell, but in the end make loving pets.

You need to decide which cat might be best for you and your lifestyle. To help make your decision while at the Shelter, ask staff members for assistance when you wish to spend some time with individual cats.

Kitten or Cat?
Kittens are curious, playful, and full of energy, while adult cats are more relaxed and less mischievous. Kittens need more time to train and feed. Cats are only kittens for a few months, so the age of the cat you adopt should really depend on the level of maturity you are looking for. Young children usually do not have the maturity to handle kittens responsibly, so a cat who is at least four months old is probably the best choice for homes with kids under six years old.

Shorthaired or Long?
Cats can have long, fluffy coats or short, dense fur, and the choice between the two is primarily a matter of what you feel you can comfortably manage. The main thing to keep in mind is that longhaired cats require frequent grooming to avoid matting. Cats with short coats also benefit from brushing, though they do not need it as frequently. Most cats enjoy a regular brushing and will look forward to this as part of a daily routine with you.

Room for One More
If you already own a cat or dog, you're probably wondering how easy it is to add a cat to the family. The good news is that cats generally get along with other cats and many dogs can get along with cats. Introducing a new cat to a home with other pets, however, will require some time and patience.

Please read 'Introducing Your New Cat to Your Other Pets' for information and tips on successful pet introductions.

Be Responsible!
Regardless of the cat you choose, you will want to start being a responsible pet guardian from the very beginning. The easiest way to do that is to keep your cat indoors with you. If you don't let your new friend outside, s/he will never miss it, and will have a much better chance of still being around to enjoy a long and healthy life with you and your family.

Adopt a Cat for Life
Finally, remember that you are making a commitment to love and care for your new pet for his or her lifetime-which could mean 10, 15, even 20 years. So choose your new best friend carefully and be a responsible pet guardian. In no time at all, you will know how wonderful sharing your home with a cat can be.

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Adoption Process

What to Bring | Adoption Fees | Pet Owner Responsibilities | Estimated Costs

The adoption process starts with a commitment and a promise. You are making a commitment to provide a home and proper care for your new pet and a promise of love and friendship for a lifetime. This is why we encourage you to make your decision with careful consideration of your lifestyle, time, resources and expectations. If you haven't already, please visit our section on Choosing the Right Pet for more tips and information on selecting the right companion for you.

Once you choose a pet to adopt, the Shelter staff will spend some time observing the interactions between you and the animal to help ensure a good match. You will be asked to complete an Adoption Questionnaire and will be interviewed by a Shelter staff member. During this part of the process, the Shelter ensures you and the pet you have chosen will be good partners. Your lifestyle is an important consideration when choosing the right pet! An active, large breed dog is not a good choice for someone who lives in an apartment and is not home much. Upon successful completion of the interview, you are ready to complete the Adoption Contract and pay your adoption fee. Then it's time to head for home and the beginning of a wonderful life together!

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What to Bring
At the Headwaters Animal Shelter, we have created a checklist to help make your adoption day a smooth and enjoyable one.

Adoption Day Checklist (coming soon)

Being prepared is the key to avoiding any surprises when you bring your new companion home from the Shelter. Some tips and things to consider:

Bring the Whole Family!
Your new companion is going to become part of your family, so it's important that everyone meet before you make the commitment to adopt. All family members need to be comfortable with the animal and vice versa. You may find that Cocker Spaniel loving and playful with adults, but uncomfortable with your four-year-old. Or, you may have been eyeing a toy poodle, but the children have really hit it off with the lab-pointer mix in the next kennel. Introducing everyone beforehand will help ensure a good match for the entire family.

Transportation and Lodging
Helping your new canine or feline make a smooth transition from the Shelter to your house is another important step. On adoption day, be sure you bring a collar and leash (for dogs) and a vehicle that will safely and comfortably transport your companion. A pet carrier is recommended for safety, and dogs should NEVER be transported in the open bed of a pickup truck without one. At home, ensure there is adequate space allotted for your new pet to eat, sleep and play. A fenced yard for larger breed dogs is always a must, and a place your pet can go to for quiet time (like a dog house, kennel or just a part of the house with their pet bed) is important. And, if there areas you don't want Fido or Fluffy roaming into (like your formal dining room with the expensive Persian rug), be sure they are easily shut off and everyone in the family is aware of the 'no pet' zone.

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Adoption Fees

Adoption fees help to cover many of the Shelter's pet expenses including medical care and vaccinations, neutering or spaying, micro-chipping, food and shelter.

Dogs $200 + tax

Cats $150 + tax

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Pet Owner Responsibilities
Adopting your pet is just the beginning of your life together. Remember, you have made a commitment and promise to provide a loving home and life for your new friend. As a pet owner, you are responsible for:

  • Licensing your pet according to your local laws and having him/her wear an ID tag at all times, showing your name, address and phone number.
  • Making sure your pet is indoors, safe in a fenced yard or otherwise properly supervised!
  • Keeping your dog or cat on a leash or under your control whenever you take him/her outside for exercise. This will protect your pet from injuries caused by cars, other animals or theft.
  • Spaying or neutering your pet*. This will help him/her be healthier and will reduce the problem of dog/cat overpopulation.
  • Giving your pet a nutritious diet, including constant access to clean water.
  • Providing your pet with plenty of exercise. Being sure your pet receives proper vet care including the necessary vaccinations and treatments (rabies, flea & tick control, heartworm preventive, etc.).
  • Training your pet patiently and giving him or her lots of praise and attention.
  • Grooming your pet often to keep his/her coat and skin soft and shiny.
  • Having realistic expectations about your pet. Nobody is perfect. Make a commitment to work through behavior and health problems that arise. Don't just get rid of your pet!

*All pets at the Headwaters Animal Shelter are neutered or spayed prior to adoption

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Estimated Costs
Have you considered the cost of pet ownership? Listed below are things you should consider before adopting a pet. Please read carefully and decide if you are ready for the commitment and responsibility of owning and properly caring for a pet. Having and loving a pet is not a right, but a privilege! The following items reflect the average costs of properly caring for a 40-50 lb. dog. Larger dogs cost a bit more, small dogs cost a bit less. This list is for information purposes only

  • $20 per month ($240 per year) for a premium food such as Science Diet, Iams, or Pro Plan (costs based on 40 lb. bags of food, 20 lbs. consumed per month)
  • $10 per month ($120 per year) for various dog treats
  • $100 - $300 for annual vaccinations and heartworm checks and medications as preventative
  • $40 - $65 for a one-year supply of heartworm prevention
  • $70+ for flea/tick prevention
  • $20+ for each grooming session
  • $14 - $50 per night for boarding the pet, or having a pet sitter come in during your vacations
  • $50 - $150 for toys and miscellaneous items (this can go much higher!)
  • $50 - $150 for a crate
  • Obedience training (highly recommended!) - $120 for an 8-week program.
  • Fencing - actual or electronic can cost hundreds or thousands
  • Older dogs often have more medical expenses (just like people!)

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Surrender Process
Should you find yourself in a situation where you can no longer care for your pet, please contact the Shelter at (218) 237-7100 for information and to make arrangements. Our ability to take in pets is based on space - in other words, if all of our kennels are full, we cannot accept new pets until others are adopted. The Shelter does maintain a waiting list for the intake of new pets when space becomes available.

If you do surrender your pet to the Shelter, you will be required to complete a Surrender Agreement. You are asked to provide as much information about the pet as possible, including temperament, medical records, status of vaccinations, etc.

Surrender fees are:


  • Kitten $15
  • Adult Cat $30
  • Litter of Kittens $15 for the first kitten and $5 for each additional


  • Puppy $30
  • Adult Dog $60
  • Litter of Puppies $30 for the first puppy and $15 for each additional

Is Surrender the Right Answer for You and Your Pet?
Before you make any decisions, we urge you to consider why you are thinking of surrendering your pet. Pets are not novelty items and are not disposable. The bonds we have with our companions are life long and should not be broken! We understand some circumstances are unavoidable - you may have found yourself in a financial situation where you are unable to afford care for your pet or the pet is that of a recently deceased relative and you live in an apartment that does not allow pets. Sometimes, an owner is simply frustrated with a pet's behavior - he jumps on people, she chews up my shoes, etc. These are all issues that can be resolved with proper training that you probably didn't give in the first place - don't just give up on your friend! If you feel that training is a good option, please contact a local, certified trainer for information and a schedule of training classes available.

Local Obedience Trainers

Megan Wagner

Take the Lead Dog Training
(218) 252-0826
Please contact Megan directly for scheduling.


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Foster Care Program
The Headwaters Animal Shelter Foster Care Program primarily provides care for those animals who are sick and recovering from an illness or injury or are too young to be adopted (i.e. mothers and litters who are still nursing). Due to their conditions, these animals would not fair well in a shelter environment. Once rehabilitated and/or mature enough, these animals are ready for adoption to a loving home!

Foster Care also enables us to care for more animals than our facility can accommodate, and allows us to measure a pet's personality and behavior in a true home environment. Fostering is not limited to sick or very young pets, although they tend to have the greatest need. We seek foster homes for healthy, mature pets who would benefit from additional socialization or have other special needs, too!

The Foster Care Program IS NOT an opportunity for people to 'try pets out' and see if they would like to adopt them. Foster families put the needs of the animal first and open their homes to give the pet the best chance for a happy and loving future.

Become a Foster Parent
Quite candidly, fostering is rewarding, but it is also demanding and can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Some people with the best of intentions are not suitable candidates for fostering. You must be willing to open your hearts, homes and wallets to a pet in need, care for and nurture that pet, then return the pet to the Shelter for adoption. The right person has the appropriate home environment, financial resources, understanding of proper pet care and puts the needs of the animal first and foremost.

If you have what it takes, and are interested in becoming a Foster Parent, please print and complete the Foster Family Application, and mail or bring it to the Shelter. You will be contacted and an interview scheduled. We encourage you to take advantage of the interview time - it is an excellent forum for you to ask all of your questions about fostering a Shelter animal.

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Visit Our Dogs

At the Headwaters Animal Shelter, we are pleased to invite you to visit with our canine residents! A wonderful group of eager-to-please pooches, your special friend may be just a click away.

All puppies and dogs at the Shelter are neutered or spayed, vaccinated for Rabies and DHLPP, tested for heartworm, maintained on heartworm preventatives, treated for internal and/or external parasites when necessary, and inoculated against kennel cough.

Click here to view our Dogs.

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Visit Our Cats

At the Headwaters Animal Shelter, we have both kittens and adult cats ready for adoption into a loving home. Included here is a peek into the various feline residents who may be your purrrfect companion!

All kittens and cats are neutered or spayed, vaccinated, treated for internal and/or external parasites when necessary, and tested for feline leukemia. Those kittens and/or cats diagnosed with other conditions receive the appropriate medical treatment to ensure their health.

Click here to view our Cats.

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Click here to access the following forms, as PDFs.

Adoption Contract

Pre-Adoption Cat

Pre-Adoption Dog


Foster-To-Adopt Contract





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