Why adopt a shelter pet?

  • Until the pet overpopulation crisis has been resolved, adopting from a shelter is the humane, ethical choice for millions of Americans!
  • When you adopt from a shelter, you become part of the solution to the overpopulation crisis. You give a deserving animal a new home. You free up space for another animal needing a home. And your adoption fee goes toward the shelter’s education and spay/neuter programs, which help prevent more unwanted litters.
  • For a reasonable adoption fee, you can adopt an animal that would cost several hundred dollars elsewhere once you include shots, microchip and spay/neuter surgery.
  • Shelters have all shapes and sizes of lovable mutts, purebreds, all-American cats, puppies and kittens, adolescents and seniors. Your chances of finding a wonderful companion who matches your lifestyle, family, and home are excellent!
  • Dogs, cats and “pocket pets” end up in shelters because of circumstances beyond their control. They’re victims of a death, illness, divorce, or another life-changing event like a new baby.
  • In addition, shelters offer educational literature on all aspects of pet ownership, and they often provide ongoing advice, guidance and training suggestions.

What to consider before adopting a pet?

Check out The Humane Society’s article on adopting pets from an animal shelter.

Why spay/neuter?

Each year, 6-8 million dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens are left at animal shelters around the country. Some are lost, some are abandoned, some are unwanted; most are the result of irresponsible pet ownership. 3-4 million of those animals are euthanized because there aren’t enough homes for them all.

Where can I get my animal spayed or neutered?

  • Your veterinarian may be able to work out special financing options for you. Remember that, even if you pay full price for the procedure, spaying or neutering is a one-time cost with a lifetime of benefits.
  • Low cost option! SNAP-NC (Spay/Neuter Assistance Program of North Carolina) is a non-profit mobile surgery group committed to addressing companion animal overpopulation issues in our state. Call (919) 783- SNAP (7627) or visit their website at: www.snap-nc.org
  • Low cost option! Friends of the Animals Spay/Neuter Certificate. You can purchase a spay/neuter certificate at our front desk as part of the Friends of the Animals Spay/Neuter program. These certificates are accepted by select local veterinarians.

I found a stray - what do I do?

According to the Durham County NC, Code of Ordinances Chapter 4 – Animals Sec 4-166:

Any person who gives away, sells or allows an otherwise stray or abandoned animal to be adopted without first surrendering said animal to the animal shelter shall have no authority over the animal, and ownership shall remain with the previous owner to the extent the previous owner is able to be identified.

  • This means that legally a stray animal cannot be adopted out or given away without it first coming to the Durham County Animal Shelter (The shelter, run by the Animal Protection Society of Durham, is the only shelter serving Durham County.)
  • Giving a found pet to a rescue does not absolve you from your legal obligation not to give away, sell or abandon a found pet.
  • In Durham County, rescue organizations can only legally accept surrendered, owned animals.
  • Having a central location for stray animals works well because it helps owners most easily find their lost pets.
  • If you fall in love with an animal you find, let the shelter staff know this when you bring the animal in and they will allow you to place a deposit. If the owner returns, we will return the deposit. If not, we begin the adoption process immediately.
  • You will receive a significant discount on medical costs for your new pet because everything is included in the adoption fee: exam, spay or neuter surgery, vaccines, heartworm test for dogs, FIV/FeLV test for cats.


2 things to consider:

  1. If your beloved pet got lost, what a gift it would be to know that the most likely place you would find him/her was at your local shelter because a Good Samaritan had done the right thing and brought him/her there.
  2. If you keep an animal without going through the proper, legal process, you run the risk of having to give it up if the original owner shows up at a later date.

If you are unable to transport the animal, please contact Animal Services to arrange pickup.

I need to give up my pet - what do I do?

  • We are an open admission shelter and do not turn any animal away.
  • If you are a Durham County resident, and are looking to surrender your animal, please call 919-560-0640
  • We are not able to accept animals from outside of Durham County into our program.
  • Please bring proof of residence and copies of any medical information pertaining to the animal.
  • Please understand that due to the large number of animals the shelter takes in, we cannot make any guarantees as to the placement of an animal.
  • If you need an animal picked up, contact Durham Sheriff’s Animal Services at (919) 560-0900.

Can you help a neglected or abused pet?

  • Reports of injured animals or animal cruelty should go directly to Durham County Animal Services at (919) 560-0630 during normal business hours.
  • Outside of business hours, call 911 to report injured animals or animals that pose an immediate public danger.
  • The Animal Protection Society of Durham does not handle animal cruelty complaints and cannot pick up injured animals.
  • If you find an injured animal and determine it is safe to pick up, you can bring it to the shelter during our normal hours. However, please be aware that picking up an injured animal is generally not recommended and is at your own risk.
  • Durham County Animal Services and the Animal Protection Society of Durham handle animal-related issues in the county of Durham, NC only. If you have a concern in another area, please contact the local animal control or local legal authorities.

Are you a no-kill shelter?

Euthanasia is unquestionably the hardest part of our job. We wish, more than anything else, that we could in good conscience become a no-kill shelter.

The math is unalterable: we took in 3,769 stray or abandoned animals in 2021. 400 of these animals were reunited with their owners, 279 animals were paired with placement partners, and we found homes for 1,544 of these animals. That means that 1,546 animals had nowhere to go. We believe that given the circumstances, a painless death is the best choice among a limited set of awful choices.

Many no-kill (or limited admission) shelters sharply limit the number and type of animals they will take. If they’re near capacity, they’ll refuse to take in additional animals, forcing the owners to find another place for the animal. Many no-kill shelters will never accept animals that will be difficult to adopt, such as older or injured animals. Owners often report to us that they’ve brought us animals only after being refused by one or more no-kill shelters. Other no-kill shelters may house animals for years in small cages, often causing animals to go literally insane. We do not believe this is a preferable, or even realistic, alternative to euthanasia.

There’s nothing wrong with no-kill shelters or rescues, as long as they’re honest about their limitations — especially the limited number of animals they’re able to help. However, until we end the pet overpopulation problem in our community, a full-service shelter that performs euthanasia is a tragic necessity.

One more point is important: certain euthanasias are required by law. For example, we will not release aggressive animals. Similarly, some owners specifically request that their sick or injured pet be humanely euthanized; in such cases, we are ethically bound to do so. Euthanasia is always done humanely with a lethal injection.

Can I do an event with APS?

Yes! We love bringing APS and our animals to community events. We require a three week notice for scheduling. Please contact our Events & Communications Manager at events@apsofdurham.org, and they will be in touch within two business days.

Please contact us for any other questions!