Adoption Policies

Potential adopters may view our Available Animals online and/or come into the shelter to see them. Walk-ins during business hours are welcome, there is no appointment needed. Please note - animals may be made available for adoption on any given day or time. 

Final Transactions and visits, 30 Minutes Prior to Closing

We ask all guests to be at the front counter to process final transactions no later than 30 minutes prior to closing. Adoption meet and greet interactions may begin up to 30 minutes prior to closing (4:30pm on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and 6:30pm on Wednesday). 

Adoption fees vary and are listed on the Adoption Fees page.

To learn more about an animal: Potential adopters can call 925-608-8400 for health and behavior information or submit an online application. Our volunteer adoption counselors will respond to online applications for available animals, in the order in which they are received. There is no guarantee that the animal you apply for online will still be available by the time our adoption counselors are able to reach you.  
We give priority to in-person adoptions, which means we assist potential adopters who are onsite immediately. When time allows between assisting onsite adopters, volunteers call virtual applicants, usually within 72 hours of an application being submitted.

To meet an animal: Adoption meet and greets (a physical interaction) are available during regular business hours or mobile adoption events, pending volunteer availability to facilitate an interaction. Meeting an animal prior to adoption is recommended but not required. Potential adopters may bring resident dog(s) to meet a potential new dog, but this is not required. 

To adopt an animal: In person adoptions may be processed immediately, and animals may or may not be sent home the same day. Potential adopters should be prepared to bring an animal home at the time of adoption, though some circumstances may prevent an animal from leaving at that time.

Virtual adoptions may be approved over the phone without a physical interaction, in which case the paperwork and payment would be processed online. Upon completion, the adopter will be provided with a pickup date to collect the pet from the Martinez shelter. 

When picking up an adopted pet, come prepared with a leash and collar/harness (dog) or a kennel or pet carrier (cats, etc.) to transport your pet home, safely and securely. If possible, bring a trusted friend or family member to assist you on the ride home and avoid placing a newly adopted pet in the same vehicle as your resident pet, as that may be a safety hazard on the road.

Available Animals

All "Available" animals are eligible for adoption to the public only, and not eligible to transfer to a rescue until 12:00pm the day after they are made "Available", with the exception of pit bulls and kittens/puppies four (4) months and under.


30-Day Get Acquainted Period

Adopters have a thirty (30) day trial period to get acquainted with their new pet and make sure that they are a proper "fit" for the family. We want this to be a happy situation for both you and your new pet. If you encounter issues regarding behavior, please see our Cat Adoption Support Resources or Dog Adoption Support Resources or submit a Request for Pet Help to see if we can provide some other assistance in resolving the issue.

If you have exhausted all options and decide to return your pet to the shelter, you will need to do so by making an appointment for an Adoption Return within that thirty (30) day period, by calling (925) 608-8400.

Return Policy/Exchange Information

All adoption fees are forfeited if you return your adopted pet. However, you have the option to exchange the adopted pet for another pet in our shelters. If you return the pet after the thirty (30) day period, a surrender fee is required.

If your pet should die due to illness during the trial period, a veterinarian verification will be required for a full refund of adoption fees. Fees and deposits are NOT REFUNDABLE if the animal runs away, is lost or is given away, or if the animal is injured, killed or euthanized due to injury.

Free Physical Exam

Within 72 hours (Sundays and holidays excluded) of adopting your new pet you may take your pet to a participating vet for a free exam. Please check with your vet’s office to see if they offer this service and if an appointment is needed.

Important: There will be a charge for all vaccinations, medications, and/or supplies. If the animal is sick, have the veterinarian state the problem on the bottom of your receipt and sign and date it. Bring the animal, along with the signed receipt and all other paperwork, to Animal Services within 48 hours after the exam for a refund of your adoption fees or exchange. Any fees accrued at the vet are non-refundable

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why do I have to pay for a license for a cat? Why do I have to spay/neuter the animal I adopt?
Answer: County Ordinance 416-8.016 states "Dogs or cats may not be sold for purposes other than keeping of pets, and may not be sold without first having been licensed, neutered or spayed, and vaccinated against rabies, or a fee therefore having been deposited. State Law requires that all animals adopted from a shelter be spayed or neutered.

2. Why do I have to microchip my animal?
Answer: The Animal Services Department policy is to microchip all animals before they leave the shelter. By micro-chipping your pet, you give your pet the best possible chances of being returned to you if it gets out. A microchip ensures permanent identification that cannot be lost.

3. How long does it take to adopt an animal?
Answer: Adoption times depend on many variables. An adoption could take 30 minutes, it could take two hours or more. Variables include: the number of people ahead of you, the number of animals a potential adopter is interested in, the number of volunteers available to introduce you to the animals, the number of staff available to process the adoption transactions, prepare and bring an animal out to you, and/or discuss any medications or post-op instructions. 

Adoptions should be prepared to take no less than two hours to meet multiple animals and find the right match.