You can start the adoption process at most county animal shelters by visiting the shelter during its business hours and finding a pet that you like. Once you have chosen your new pet, you are usually required to fill out some paperwork, get approval from the shelter, and pay the adoption fee.
Some county animal shelters list adoptable pets on their websites or on adoption websites, such as Petfinder.com. Searching through these listings ahead of time can help you narrow down your search, but you should be open to considering other pets at the shelter. Depending on the shelter's resources, the online listings may also be out-of-date.
Once you have narrowed down some potential pets, you can usually spend more time with them in a meeting room or pen. This allows you to make sure you are compatible with them. After you have made a final choice, you may be required to show identification, such as a driver's license. If you rent your home, the shelter may check with your landlord to make sure pets are allowed. Most shelters also require you to sign an adoption contract that explains your obligations to your new pet.
Some shelters may need to hold your new pet for a few days while they perform necessary medical care, such as spaying or neutering and microchipping. Pets that have already undergone these procedures can usually go home the same day.