Frequently Asked Questions

How do I go about adopting a pet?

It’s simple! First step is to fill out the adoption application.

Our Adoption Process: Animals will be adopted first come, first adopt. No holds will be placed on adoption animals.

  • This will help move animals into homes quicker while creating space for new animals coming in.
  • We do encourage you to fill out this adoption application and have it approved ahead of time before visiting any animal to expediate the adoption process.
  • Please be patient, at times we experience large adoption customer crowds.

You are welcome to visit our adoption cat center to meet our cats waiting for their homes. Our adoption dogs are available for private meeting. To alleviate stress on the dogs, our dog adoption center is closed to visitors. All of our adoption dogs can be viewed online. In our lobby we have a listing of all dogs available for adoption.  Fill out an adoption application today.

Is there a waiting period?

Yes.  It takes approximately 24 hours to approve your application. Staff will contact you after the application is processed. Approved applicants will be asked to schedule an appointment to adopt your new pet. However, if you are adopting a dog and currently own a dog, a “meet and greet with the dogs”may be required. You may request a “meet and greet” with your current dog before adopting. Applications are kept on file for the calendar year.

I already have a dog at home. Can I bring him to meet the dog that I want to adopt?

Once you have successfully completed the adoption application process, yes, we may require a “meet and greet” prior to finalizing an adoption.  You may also request a “meet and greet” with your current dog(s).

Do you require fenced in yards in order to adopt?

No.  However, we want to ensure that the adoptive family will provide proper exercise, ensure the animal has a safe area in which to run and play, and spend quality time with their animal.

Can we keep our adopted dog or cat outside?

Currently, most of our animals are to be adopted as inside pets.  When providing outside time for an animal, we ask that the owner be with the animal or provide a safe location where the animal can be left to exercise with minimal supervision.  Animals should not be left for prolonged periods of time outside without food, water or shelter nor should they be tethered for extended periods of time.

Outside adoptions may be considered based on the breed of the dog or cat and special needs of the dog or cat.  A home inspection may be required to determine the suitability of an outside adoption.

Can you call me when you receive the type of pet I am looking for?

Unfortunately, no, we are unable to do this due to the volumes of calls we get on a daily basis. However, the Humane Society’s website is a “live” website which means as soon as an animal is moved up for adoption, it will be listed on the site.  And, if the animal is adopted, it will be removed from the site as soon as it is adopted.  This gives you a quick and up-to-date listing of all of the great animals available.  Check out the website at www.elkharthumanesociety/adopt

Do you spay and neuter all of the shelter adoptable animals?

Yes.  The shelter has a veterinarian on staff and a clinic with surgical capacity is located in the facility

Because the shelter admits almost 6,000 animals a year, the clinic is not available for outside public use.

My pet is missing. What advice can you offer me?

As soon as you notice your pet is missing, call the Humane Society at 574-475-HSEC (4732) to complete a lost report. We are the only Humane Society in Elkhart County, and people often bring stray or found animals to the shelter or call to report a found animal.  Additionally, we serve as animal control for the county and often pick up stray or running at large animals which are then housed at the shelter.

On our website, we list the current lost animals that are currently residing with us. If you see your pet, please call us immediately at 574-475-HSEC (4732).  Only you know what your pet looks like, and we often get similar looking animals of the same breed.

Contact your local newspaper and check ads for lost and found.  There are some social media sites that also post lost and found information.  Some of the area newspapers will print a missing pet ad in their classifieds at no charge to you.

Post flyers in your neighborhood including a photograph.

We do ask pet guardians to be proactive, and consider a microchip for their dog or cat. This service can be provided at the Humane Society or at your local vet office.

What do I do if I find a stray animal?

The Humane Society of Elkhart County will only accept animals found in Elkhart County.

First and foremost, immediately contact the Humane Society at 574-475-HSEC (4732) to file a found report.  Take the animal to the Humane Society or to a local vet office to check for a microchip which readily identifies a possible owner.

Follow up by checking in the neighborhood to see if someone is missing the animal.  You may also contact your local newspaper to see if they run free ads in the classifieds for found animals. There are also social media sites which may post lost and found information.

If you are unable to keep the animal while the owner is located, the animal may be brought to HSEC. When turning in an animal, you will need to provide a valid driver’s license or proof of identification. The animal must have been found in Elkhart County for us to accept it.  Once a stray animal is released to the Humane Society, no further information will be provided to you or anyone else other than the owner regarding the status of the animal.

Individuals who wish to keep the animal at their home after filing a report and having the animal checked for a microchip, may hold onto the animal for up ten days for possible owners to be located. The animal must remain with you and should not be moved from one location to another.  If you do not want to continue to keep the animal for that period of time, you may turn the animal into the Humane Society immediately or before the ten day period ends.  It will be accepted as a stray and no fee will be charged.  After 10 days, it is considered your animal and you would be able to keep or rehome the animal. If you bring this animal to HSEC after the 10 days, surrender fees will occur. Again, once a stray animal is released to the Humane Society, no further information will be provided to you or anyone else other than the owner regarding the status of the animal.

What happens if I release my pet to you?

Before you release your animal to the shelter, ensure that this is truly the decision you want to make and no other options are available.  You may have other friends or relatives who would want to continue to provide a loving home for your animal.

Adopt a Pet and the Petco Foundation have created a Rehome program. You can visit the website at to learn more. Through their website, they will assist you in creating a profile for your pet and also assist in the process of finding the best home available for that pet.

After having exhausted all other efforts, you will need to contact the Humane Society at 574-475-HSEC (4732) to set up an appointment to release your animal.  This allows the shelter appropriate time to accommodate animals coming in other than strays.  We accept animals only from Elkhart County.

On the day your release your animal, you will need to bring your driver’s license or valid ID to confirm you are a resident of Elkhart County.  Also, any vet records you have which provides valuable information about your animal’s vaccinations or medical history are very helpful.

You will complete an owner release form, which will ask for information about the animal that may help us find a new family.  A fee will be assessed for release of the animal and will vary depending on whether or not the animal has aggression issues, has bitten or is extremely ill.

Once you release your pet to us, it is final.  No further information will be provided to you or anyone else regarding the status of the animal.  Upon release, the Humane Society has the right to determine the appropriate disposition of the animal. 

Not all animals admitted to the shelter are considered adoptable.  During the spring and summer months, the shelter admits over 500 to 600+ animals per month.  Some animals may be deemed adoptable and selected for adoption; some may go to other collaborating animal welfare and rescue agencies; some may be sent to foster locations until they can be adopted; and some may not be deemed suitable for adoption and may have to be euthanized.

Are sick and injured animals immediately euthanized?

No. Based on the nature of the illness or injury and sometimes in consultation with the shelter’s veterinarian, we treat a limited number of animals in our isolation and rehabilitation areas.  Depending on the prognosis and adoptability of the animal, there are also limited funds provided by caring individuals to help obtain outside veterinary care for special cases requiring care beyond the scope of the shelter’s inhouse capabilities

How long does the Humane Society keep stray animals that are turned in at the shelter?

Stray animals found in Elkhart County may be turned in by the general public or impounded by law enforcement or Humane Society animal control officers.  Strays may be held for 3 days.  If there is some identification such as a microchip or tag that indicates an animal is owned, the animal may be held up to 10 days.  Animals meeting adoption criteria may be placed in adoption after this holding period.   Adoptable animals stay in adoption until they find their forever homes or during high admission times, may be transferred to one of our 1500+ animal welfare partners.

What should I do if I suspect someone is being cruel to or neglecting an animal?

You may start by calling the Humane Society at 574-475-HSEC (4732).  If you suspect and see signs of evidence that someone is mistreating their animal, or if the animal is in immediate danger, we will request that you contact local law enforcement so that we may coordinate our work with them to address the issue.

You will be asked for your name and phone number, however, your call is confidential.  This information is necessary for our records and would be needed if we work with law enforcement to prosecute a case.

As we investigate cases and work within legal parameters, all information is kept confidential in order not to jeopardize the ongoing investigation and to substantiate any legitimate claims.

Everyone needs to take a stand and speak out to prevent animal abuse!

Rev 3-18-22