Adoption 101

Adopting a dog or cat is a big decision. It’s important to carefully think through the time and money commitment that a new pet will require. And while it is understandable that many people are attracted to the physical characteristics of a pet, it is much more important to focus on the pet’s personality. Our pet descriptions, input from our foster families, plus your interaction with the dog or cat, will provide you with the information you need to make a match that will last for the life of the pet. Millions of dogs and cats are euthanized at shelters nationwide each year. AWF volunteers and board members are doing everything in their power to match each dog, cat (and the occasional ferret and rabbit) with a family whose lifestyle and personality fits the personality of the pet they want to adopt.

In addition to making the right personality match, it is very important to make sure you have time in your life to make the transition smooth, especially if you are adopting a dog. In the first few weeks, you need to have the time to go home for lunch to let your new dog go to the bathroom, and time after work for bonding and exercising with your new friend.

It is equally important to be confident you are also able to make the financial commitment to keep your cat or dog healthy. The tables below will give a good indication of the cost of basic annual veterinary care for cats and dogs. In addition to these figures, you will also need to buy food, litter (for cats), and accessories like pet beds, toys and treats.

Adoption Fees

We use a variable fee schedule to assign adoption fees. This fee schedule takes into account the animal’s age, breed, and size. Some types of dogs and cats are less common and have a higher demand, so their fee might be higher. Other types of dogs and cats are more common, are older, or have special needs.

If the animal is not yet spayed/neutered, we will also need a $100 deposit that will be refunded when vetted (which we cover the cost of if done at the Monticello Vet Clinic).

The adoption fee can be paid with cash or credit/debit card (MasterCard, Visa, Discover).

Working Cats

As we have them available, working cats can be adopted with no fee. We recognize that traditional family homes aren’t for every cat. Working cats are healthy but independent cats from local shelters available to community members looking for natural pest deterrents. Whether you run a business or maintain a barn, we can help you find the perfect working cat for your workspace, free of charge.


We currently offer discounts to senior citizens and military veterans for $25 off any adoption fee.

Items Covered by the Adoption Fee

The adoption fees that we collect help us provide important medical care and inoculations for the animals. Some pets have received advanced treatment in addition to the basic care listed below. We ensure that a pet has acquired a healthy state—free of ear infections, urinary tract infections, etc.—prior to adoption. If a pet is likely to have a long-term condition but the pet is still deemed adoptable, this information is shared with interested families so they may make an informed decision on adopting. If you need more information on the types of vet care provided for our animals or have other questions, please contact us at or (319) 462-5683. For more information on our spay/neuter policies, please visit our “Philosophy” page.

Our adoption fees include the following:

  • Spaying and neutering
  • Rabies & Distemper/Parvo Vaccinations
  • Bordetella (Dogs only)
  • Microchip implant and free registration
  • Feline Leukemia Test (Cats Only)
  • Heartworm Test (Dogs Only)
  • Heartworm Preventative (Dogs Only)
  • Flea and Tick Treatment (When needed, cats and dogs)
  • Flea and Tick Preventative (Dogs only)


The Adoption Process

Contact us to meet the dog or cat you are interested in. Or better yet, contact us, let us know if you are looking to adopt a dog or cat and the PERSONALITY of pet you are looking for. If you’re interested in a dog, we encourage you to have a specific dog(s) in mind that you’d like to meet with before coming out — this way we can limit the number of strangers going into the kennel room and stressing out the dogs. We will be happy to offer suggestions for the dog or cat who may be a good match for you!

Once you have contacted AWF, you will be asked to complete an adoption application. You can do so at our shelter, or on our website. You are welcome to complete an application ahead of visiting.

  • If you rent or own a townhome or condominium, be sure to check with your landlord or homeowners association on pet policies before filling out our adoption application.
  • If you leave any questions blank, we have the right to disqualify your application.
  • It usually takes one week to process an adoption application.
  • We are interested in finding the RIGHT home for a dog or cat. This may not necessarily be the first person who applies to adopt a pet.
  • All pets currently in the home must be up-to-date on vaccinations and spayed or neutered.
  • Our procedure enables us to gather complete and well-rounded information in order to make an informed and wise decision that will lead to a lifetime relationship between a family and pet.
  • We do follow-up calls to help insure the placement is working, to hone our dog and cat evaluation skills, and to help with any questions that may arise.
  • Please realize that it may take up to two weeks for your pet to be comfortable in your home. It is possible that he/she may have some accidents during this adjustment period.
  • Our procedure is about righting a wrong. If an animal is in our care, something has already gone wrong in their life. We want to find them a home where they’ll be cherished and loved for the rest of their life.


Preparing for your new pet

Once your adoption has been approved, there are a few things we suggest taking care of before picking up your new family member.

  • Prepare your home by setting up the new pet’s bed, food & water bowls, etc. ahead of time.
  • Buy food! Ask an AWF representative what the pet has been eating in foster care. It is a good idea to buy the same food, at least initially. If you want to buy a different food for the long-term, gradually mix the food the pet is accustomed to eating into the new food. This approach will reduce the likelihood of causing intestinal distress.
  • When picking up your new pet, bring a leash for dogs and puppies and a carrier for cats and kittens.
  • If there are other animals in the house, be prepared to take the time to help acclimate the new pet to the current pets. This can involve walking them together, letting them investigate each other and the environment, etc. It is best to acquire them when you will have this time (like a weekend or when you will have a couple of free days in a row).
  • If you have any questions or concerns about ANYTHING, please ask an AWF representative for help with answers. Many of our volunteers are knowledgeable in animal behaviors and modification/training techniques. We are always willing to help in any way we can to ensure you and your new pet remain happy together.  We can also recommend a number of area resources for help as well, whether it be training or treatment or other.