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Guide to Pet Adoption in South Africa | What You Need to Know

Havana Dauncey
· May 14, 2024
Guide to Pet Adoption in South Africa | What You Need to Know

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Are you looking to add a furry friend to your family? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Adopting a pet in South Africa is easy and there are some really cool organisations to choose from.

To help you find your new family member and give them a FUR-ever home, here is everything you need to know about pet adoption in South Africa — from the pet adoption requirements to the top pet adoption agencies near you!

Don’t worry — it’s a lot simpler and faster than you think!

Adopt, don't shop... here's why

According to a recent report, 22% of all the pets in our beautiful country are without permanent homes. That means there are an estimated 4.05 million homeless pets in South Africa with 650 000 in shelters and 3.4 million on the streets. The numbers aren’t encouraging. But there are people hard at work to make a difference, and you can too!

While animal rescue shelters do incredible work to save these precious animals – providing shelter, food and love, sterilising them and helping them get adopted – most shelters are overcrowded, underfunded and understaffed.

That’s why it’s essential to support these animal shelters as best we can — whether it’s donating, volunteering, fostering or ideally, adopting!

Requirements for adopting a pet in South Africa

There are just a few basic requirements that need to be ticked off before you head to the shelter — they’re pretty standard:

  • You must be over 18 years old (take your parents with you if you aren’t).

  • You must have a safe home that is enclosed (fenced if you have a yard). If you’re renting, you may need a letter of permission from your landlord.

  • You may need to provide proof you can financially support your pet and have a safe means of transport. Essentially, you need to be able to take your pet to the vet and pay for any bills.

  • In Cape Town, it is now required that all dogs and cats must be sterilised, thus this is a requirement and is often included in the adoption process and fee.

What are the costs of adopting a pet in South Africa?

On average, in South Africa, adopting a cat costs R650, while dogs are R850 and puppies or kittens are around R1000. You will also need to pay an initial non-refundable deposit of about R200. Your adoption fee usually includes things like sterilisation or castration, deworming, and first vaccinations – making it well worth it.

Pet Adoption Process in South Africa

There are so many adoption agencies in South Africa that it’s hard to give a one-size-fits-all process, but they are all pretty similar. The end goal is to help these animals find a family, and the process has been optimised (with a few customisations here and there) to facilitate a quick rehoming:

  1. Find an Adoption Organisation or Animal Rescue: Find an animal shelter or rescue that’s helping the kind of pet you’re looking for, taking note of their adoption process and adoption fee. This doesn’t necessarily have to be local, you can organise pet transport if they’re not local.

  2. Choose your Pet: Visit the shelter or browse online to find a pet that you connect with.

  3. Fill Out the Adoption Application: Once you’ve chosen a pet, fill out the adoption form to begin the process, either online or in person. At this stage, you may need to pay the R200 non-refundable deposit.

  4. Schedule a Home Visit: Most animal shelters and adoption centres will require a home inspection to ensure your home has a suitable environment for your new pet. This can usually happen quite quickly, and some organisations may allow a video inspection. It’s also important to have a meet-and-greet if you have children or other pets to make sure everyone gets along.

  5. Pay the Adoption Fee: If everything went well and you’ve got the go-ahead to adopt, you will now need to pay the rest of the adoption fee which often includes sterilisation, deworming, microchipping and vaccinations.

  6. Bring Your Furry Friend to their Forever Home Safely: Once your new pet is ready, it’s time to bring them home. Make sure you have a pet crate to get them home safely or book a professional pet transportation service to assist you.

Pet Adoption Centres in South Africa

If you’re convinced and ready to adopt, here are some of the top rescue shelters and adoption agencies in South Africa.


Locations: Multiple locations in every province and major city (here’s the full list of SCPA locations)

Animals: Dogs, cats, horses, rabbits and other small animal

Adoption Fee: R500-R1000 (depending on the animal and SPCA location)

The SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is one of South Africa’s largest and oldest animal welfare organisations.

Established in 1872, the SPCA has been able to expand throughout South Africa and has over 70 branches at present. There will most likely be an SPCA near you. The SPCA also works to prevent cruelty towards any animals, so you could adopt anything from a dog to a horse, or even a chicken, if that's what you're looking for!

The SPCA’s adoption process:

  1. Browse the pets available for adoption

  2. Visit the shelter to walk through the kennels and have a meet and greet with a few of the animals

  3. Complete the adoption forms and pay the adoption fee

  4. Schedule a home visit and let your potential new pet your children or other pets if you have

  5. Once your application is approved, you wait for your pet to be prepared for adoption with sterilisation, vaccinations, deworming and microchipping

  6. Welcome your newest furry family member to your home!

Here’s what Anita has to say about her experience adopting from SPCA’s branch in Randburg:

“I recently adopted a senior dog from the RANDBURG SPCA. It’s a very busy place with people streaming in to surrender animals, drop off strays, enquire about lost animals or look to adopt. They were polite and professional at every turn. The adoption process ran like a well-oiled machine. Adopted a lovely senior dog and would recommend them”


Location: Sunnydale, Cape Town

Animals: Dogs and cats

Adoption Fee: R950

The Emma Animal Rescue Society, or TEARS for short, currently shelters 295 pets that are ready for their forever homes, including 100 adult cats, 70 kittens, 90 adult dogs and 35 puppies that were rescued from abuse, neglect or abandonment. Their amazing team goes the extra mile to ensure each animal is properly cared for and you find the perfect pet for you.

Heather shared her experience adopting from TEARS:

“The people at TEARS are incredible. I've had my little TEARS furbabies for a while now, and the process of getting them could not have been more seamless”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by TEARS Animal Rescue (@tearsanimalrescue)

“TEARS is more than a kennel and cattery,” says Lara, a member of TEARS. “TEARS is founded on second chances and has been rescuing, treating, rehabilitating and rehoming abandoned, abused, homeless and injured pets for the last 25 years. Our mission is to change the world one vulnerable pet and pet owners at a time.”

The adoption process at TEARS is only 4 easy steps:

Animal Anti-Cruelty League

Locations: Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Pietermaritzburg, Port Elizabeth, Ladysmith and Bredasdorp

Animals: Cats and dogs

Adoption Fee: R900 for cats and R1000 for dogs

Protecting animals since 1956, the Animal Anti-Cruelty League (AACL) is the 2nd largest animal welfare organisation in South Africa.

The hardworking and dedicated team at AACL ensures the adoption process is smooth, thorough and handled with lots of care. Here’s what Lisa had to say about adopting from AACL’s Epping branch:

“We adopted two kittens at the Epping branch, Gary and his team were amazing! The animals' needs are of first priority. The inspector who came to our house was friendly and professional. We have always supported AACL in the past. The kittens have settled in so well with our family, happy and healthy.”

Here’s what you should know about the AACL’s adoption process:

  1. Visit the shelter or check online to view the animals up for adoption

  2. Perform a home inspection to make sure your home is suitable for your potential pet

  3. Return to the shelter to fill out the paperwork

  4. Pay the adoption fee which is R780 for cats and kittens and R1 210 for dogs and puppies

  5. Pick up your new pet after they’ve have been sterilised and vaccinated

Oscars Arc WOOF Project

Location: Cape Town — Foreshore, V & A Waterfront, Constantia Village and more

Animals: Dogs

Adoption Fee: “Name Your Price” adoption fee

Oscars Arc is a booming dog adoption agency with the mission to inspire dog adoption through creative marketing initiatives, including a centralised dog adoption centre and WOOF Project, a pop-up adoption platform.

One of the best things about adopting from Oscars Arc is the speed and convenience. With their cleverly located pop-ups, you can turn a grocery run or day at the Waterfront into an adoption day. And having earned the Guinness World Record for the most adoptions in one day, you can be sure their adoption process is quick and easy.

Here’s what Gareth had to say about his experience adopting from Oscars Arc:

“We came to the pop-up both days of the weekend. All the dogs were so amazing. The next Thursday I headed to Oscars Arc and left with our beautiful new dog. The adoption process was straightforward, home checks done virtually.”

Here’s a look at the adoption process at the WOOF Project:

  1. Visit the WOOF Project in person and fill out the adoption application or fill out the application online

  2. Get ready for the brief home check which can take place within 48 hours

  3. Collect your new dog

Woodrock Animal Rescue

Location: Hennops River Valley, Centurion

Animals: Cats, dogs, goats, donkeys, pigs, chickens, rabbits and geese

Adoption Fee: R950-R1700

Woodrock Animal Rescue is one of South Africa’s oldest and leading non-profit, pro-life, rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming shelters.

With over 500 animals in their care at any given time, including dogs, cats, pigs, chickens, rabbits, goats, geese and donkeys, Woodrock Animal Rescue is a go-to shelter if you’re in the Pretoria and Centurion areas and are ready to adopt.

Woodrock provides a sanctuary for its animals and a seamless adoption process for those looking for a furry friend, as shared by Candice:

“What an incredible experience getting to meet and adopt my new fur-baby. The adoption team was so knowledgeable and helpful throughout the whole process. The facilities are immaculate and ALL the animals are so well looked after and cared for.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by WOODROCK ANIMAL RESCUE (@woodrockanimalrescue)

The Wood Animal Rescue adoption process:

  1. Visit the shelter to meet the animals available for adoption

  2. Arrange a meet and greet with any pets you already have

  3. Complete the adoption application

  4. Pay the R200 non-refundable holding fee

  5. Have a brief home inspection

  6. Pay the adoption fee

  7. Collect your adorable new pet within 5 days

SA Yorkie Rescue

Location: Western Cape, Gauteng, Free State, Kwazulu Natal and Eastern Cape

Animals: Yorkshire Terriers

Adoption Fee: Varies depending on the number of dogs, their age and their overall health

SA Yorkie Rescue is a non-profit organisation with the mission to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome Yorkshire Terriers in need across South Africa.

The organisation is striving to shift the focus from purchasing Yorkies to adopting and rescuing them, ultimately providing them with loving forever homes. The adoption process with SA Yorkie Rescue is easy, and there are many ways to find your perfect match:

  1. Find Potential Matches: To find a Yorkie near you, visit the SA Yorkie Rescue website and click on your province. This will show you all the Yorkies currently up for adoption. To stay updated on new arrivals, you can also download their Android app for real-time updates or follow SAYorkieRescue on Facebook for ongoing information.

  2. Initiate Contact: Send a WhatsApp message to the provided number and introduce yourself, expressing interest in a specific Yorkie. Fill in the online application.

  3. Prepare for Assessment: Be ready for a potential interview to assess suitability and share photos/videos of your home, yard, and existing pets if requested.

You can find out more about SA Yorkie Rescue’s adoption process on their podcast:

Hanli, a new Yorkie parent, had only the best things to say about SA Yorkie Rescue’s adoption process:

"Adopting a doggie via Yorkie Rescue (YR) is an uncomplicated process. YR was quick to respond to all communication and ensure that they do what is best for the doggie! It is even possible to adopt a Yorkie from another province, I was so grateful 🤗 Great service!" 

Special Breed Adoption Centres

Interested in adopting a specific breed? There are many South African rescue organisations for a whole range of breeds, including:

Finding pets up for adoption online has never been easier

There are a lot of good people putting effort into bringing more awareness around animals in need. They spend hours taking cute pictures and making these cuties internet celebrities. 

Facebook groups like Rehoming, adopting and fostering PETS in South Africa allow all the different pet adoption organisations to share their most recent residents to help them find homes.

We also love this list of Animal Shelters and Organisations' Facebook pages compiled by The Good Things Guy. 

Finally, there are apps and websites specifically designed to help you find pets up for adoption from any of the local shelters! 

Hill’s Pet Matchmaker App

Location: Countrywide

Animals: Dogs and cats

Looking for the perfect companion? It’s time to put the dating apps to rest and start swiping on Hill’s Pet Matchmaker App.

With one app, you’ll have access to a number of shelters from across South Africa at the tap of a button, enabling pet parents to effortlessly search for their perfect pet.

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A post shared by Hill's Pet Nutrition (@hillspetfoodsa)

You can apply filters and customise your search when looking for your perfect match. These filters help you find just what you are looking for — you can search by age, size, breed mix, coat colour, pattern and length, disposition, activity level and suitability with other family members. Each shelter pet has their own special profile with a bio, photos and videos.

To find and adopt your perfect match on Hill’s Pet Matchmaker App, all you have to do is:

  1. Download the app on Android or IOS

  2. Browse through the profiles

  3. Make the search easier using filters, selecting dog or cat, age, gender, size, personality, breed, region and more

  4. Once you’ve found the perfect match, contact the shelter to see if your potential pet is still available and find out about the adoption process


Location: Countrywide

Animals: Dogs and cats

BarkingMad is a networking website helping you connect with shelters across South Africa to find your new furry friend.

While BarkingMad doesn’t have a shelter of its own, it makes use of foster homes when available and uses its network of shelters to network lost and found pets, assist in responsible rehoming of pets and find a suitable pet for your family to adopt.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Barking Mad South Africa (@barkingmad_sa)

Here’s what you need to know about about adopting a pet through BarkingMad:

Visit BarkingMad’s website to browse the pets available for adoption

  • Click the Adopt button to contact BarkingMad if you find the perfect pet

  • Otherwise, fill out the online application so that BarkingMad can help you find the best match

  • Complete the rest of the adoption process specific to the shelter of the pet you choose

Adopt A Pet

Location: Countrywide

Animals: Dogs and cats

Adopt a Pet is an established network of animal organisations connecting animal advocates throughout South Africa, creating awareness and promoting adoption!

With connections to over 30 shelters across the country, through Adopt a Pet’s platform, you can find hundreds of listings of pets ready for adoption. Having all your options in one place means you can find your perfect new pet faster.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Adopt A Pet (@adoptapet_sa)

To find your new furry friend on Adopt a Pet, all you have to do is:

Browse the listings on the Adopt a Pet website, filtering by type of pet and location

  • Once you’ve found a pet you’re interested in, you can either:

  • Call the owner of the listing using the listed phone number

  • Contact the shelter directly by clicking the shelter’s website

  • Contact the listing owner through the Adopt a Pet website

If you're not ready to adopt, why not foster

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by TEARS Animal Rescue (@tearsanimalrescue)

If you’re not quite ready to adopt, but you would like to help out your local shelter, don’t worry, we have the next best thing — fostering!

Fostering a pet is when you provide a temporary home for a pet usually for about 2-6 weeks. The process of fostering a pet is also pretty similar to that of adopting a pet — it often includes an application form and a home inspection (either in person or by video) but doesn’t require a fee, making it more affordable.

This not only gives the pet a more comfortable environment for a smoother transition to their forever home, but it also helps alleviate overcrowding at your local animal shelter so that they can help more animals. It also gives the pet more exposure, increasing their chances of getting adopted and finding their forever home!


Pet Adoption Forms

TEARS Adoption Application Form

Pug Rescue South Africa Application Form

Yorkie Rescue South Africa Adoption Application Form

Woodrock Animal Rescue Adoption Form

Oscars Arc WOOF Project Adoption Form

Barking Mad Pet Adoption Online Application Form

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