San Diego Humane Society only accepts companion animals that are kept as pets, including cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, reptiles and birds. We take in livestock when necessary as part of our Humane Law activities. We accept wildlife through our Project Wildlife program. projectwildlife.org.
We do sometimes have unusual pets, such as bearded dragons, chinchillas and horses available for adoption, but we do not guarantee that they will be available every day. See all adoptable animals.
We are not. San Diego Humane Society is an independent 501(c)(3) organization and is not affiliated with any other local, state or national organization such as the Humane Society of the United States in Washington or the ASPCA in New York. San Diego Humane Society is supported by contributions, grants, bequests, investments, municipal contracts and small fees for services. 
San Diego Humane Society does not use length of stay at the shelter as a criterion for euthanasia. Once a healthy or treatable animal becomes available for adoption, he will remain available for as long as is necessary to find a home. Euthanasia is only performed when medically or behaviorally necessary. 
At our various public and private locations, we could have 1,500 domestic and wild animals in our care daily, all in need of individual care. This includes animals available for adoption, in foster homes, under veterinarian care, in protective custody, on stray hold, in our behavior center or receiving rehabilitative care through Project Wildlife.
San Diego Humane Society is one of eight animal welfare organizations that make up the San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition. The Coalition was formed to provide a safety net for the county’s shelters; when one shelter does not feel they have the resources to care for a certain animal at that time, they can transfer the animal to another coalition shelter that may be better prepared to meet the animal’s needs. 
Once an animal is relinquished to San Diego Humane Society, she undergoes a thorough medical examination before becoming available for adoption. This process can take several days and includes spaying or neutering, vaccinating, microchipping, examination for and treatment of medical conditions, dental procedures, x-rays, blood tests and even surgery when necessary.

Throughout the animal’s stay with us, we continue to monitor the animal medically and behaviorally. As needs arise, the animal may receive additional medical treatment or work with our training team through basic or more advanced training needs. 

There is no waiting list. The animals we have available for adoption change daily. Check the Available Pets page to see what we currently have.
While the terms themselves are sometimes used interchangeably, “SPCA” usually designates an organization that is actively involved in prevention of cruelty to animals through education and/or cruelty investigations.

A “Humane Society” generally refers to an organization that engages in on-site sheltering of animals.

Because San Diego Humane Society’s mission, programs and services include animal cruelty investigations, sheltering, adoptions, education and more, both terms describe our organization.

The two agencies work cooperatively to save the life of every adoptable animal in San Diego County but remain independent.

San Diego Humane Society provides animal services for the cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Escondido, Imperial Beach, Oceanside, Poway, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach and Vista. The County of San Diego Department of Animal Services provides animal services to the unincorporated areas of San Diego County.

Animals in our care are available for adoption at more than 10 locations throughout San Diego County. See all locations and hours.

A little-known fact: we often have several Hidden Gems, pets available for adoption but not in public view.

We also bring available animals to community events. To find out when we’ll be in a neighborhood near you, see our Mobile Adoptions Calendar.

For residents of Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, Escondido, Imperial Beach, Oceanside, Poway, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach and Vista, dog licenses and vaccinations can be obtained through our licensing department. Click here for more information about licensing.

For residents of other cities and some unincorporated areas of San Diego County, dog licenses can be obtained by contacting the County of San Diego Department of Animal Services at 619-236-4250. The Department of Animal Services also sponsors a “One-Stop Licensing Program,” where vaccinations can be obtained on the spot. More information can be found at sddac.com.

Rabies and other vaccines can be obtained through our vaccine clinics or at your local veterinarian’s office. Click here for more information about our vaccine services.

Many of the animals at SDHS are brought in by their owners, some are stray / found animals, and some come to us from other shelters through our transfer program.

San Diego Humane Society regularly visits shelters, both in and outside of San Diego County, to take in animals and help ease the overcrowded conditions that many shelters face. This helps ensure no healthy animal will have to be euthanized due to lack of space.

Age recommendations are assigned to certain dogs to help protect the safety of both the dog and the family that may adopt it. Dogs do not communicate in the same ways as humans do – they communicate through very subtle body language. While an adult may realize that a dog’s rigid posture may mean “I don’t want to share my toy with you,” a young child may not understand this cue. Additionally, a dog with a high energy level could inadvertently knock over a young child during play.

Our Animal Care and Behavior and Training staff have closely examined the personalities of every dog, and any age recommendations assigned are meant as a guideline to help adopters determine which pet will best match the needs of their household.


  • Residents are allowed up to adult three dogs or cats combined.

Del Mar:

  • Residents are allowed up to six dogs.


  • In all residential zones up to four dogs are allowed. In rural residential zones up to six dogs are allowed with a minor conditional use permit.

San Diego:

  • Having more than six dogs at a residence is considered a kennel, and is not permitted in residential zones.
  • Please direct these callers to San Diego Code Compliance: 619-236-5500.


  • Residents are allowed up to four adult dogs or cats combined.
  • For further questions on keeping of animals in residential areas or information on kennels, contact the Santee Planning Dept. at (619) 258-4100.

Solana Beach:

  • Residents are allowed up to four dogs or cats combined.


Deceased animal pick-up on city property, not on private property:

M-F  7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.  is City Transportation Dept., 760-434-2980.

After hours and weekend/holidays D & D Disposal 858-279-8242 is the private contractor for the city.

Del Mar

Within City Limits/City ROW: When City Public Works is advised of a dead animal (wild or domestic), the information is logged by Public Works and Public Work contacts Sandra Ramsay with Dead Animal Removal at 619-390-8204.

On the NCTD Railroad: The http://www.gonctd.com/contact-complaints/ website is the best place to report activities or complaints. This is tracked and disseminated accordingly to proper staff for remediation.


D&D Disposal 888-299-9905

San Diego

Non-traffic calls requesting animal pick-up of deceased animals from streets and public property may call Dead Animal Removal at 858-694-7000. This is the same number for after hours and emergencies.

Posing a traffic hazard, please refer guests to call 911.

Highway removal, please refer guests to call Cal Trans 619-688-6670.


For removal of a dead animal along a road or other public space, we direct residents to call this Public Services hotline at 619-258-4100, ext. 304. City staff then coordinate the removal.

Solana Beach:

D&D Disposal 888-299-9905

Please bring a government issued photo ID and paperwork or a photo identifying the animal. All dogs are required to leave the shelter with a valid rabies vaccine and license. If they have proof of either, have them bring that when they come in. It is best if they come in person to discuss fees and to determine if we do in fact have their pet. It is recommended you  arrive by 5 p.m. to allow plenty of time for processing. If you donot have the below documentation still come to the shelter so our SDHS staff can assist you.

Proof of ownership may include: vet paperwork, microchip paperwork, license history, adoption paperwork, detailed sales receipt, or photos (last resort).

With so many worthy causes in need of support and attention today, this is a question we welcome.

The link between people who harm animals and people who commit violent acts against other people is well documented, and history is full of high-profile examples. You don’t have to be an animal lover to be concerned about people’s treatment of animals.

San Diego Humane Society not only benefits animals but also our community by fostering stronger bonds between people and animals, providing educational opportunities, and promoting humane treatment of all animals.