Adopting a pet in Ireland


Adopting a pet is a huge responsibility. Not just the extra expenses, but your time, your routine, everything is going to change. Therefore, it is necessary to plan each and every step with all the members in your home and come to a decision. There are many other ways to get a pet apart from adopting.

What is pet fostering?

Fostering means providing a temporary shelter for pets until they find a permanent home. This is done by animal welfare organisations to prevent the overcrowding of rescue shelters. Fostering is an amazing option for people who cannot commit to adoption. The best recommended way to foster a pet is to contact a local organisation or rescue groups. Go there in person and find your ideal foster pet. Another way is to contact a veterinarian and tell them your needs. These doctors have more knowledge about this and will get you connected with the local dealers. 

Conditions of the animal for fostering:

  • The animals are too young to be adopted.
  • Sick, wounded, or disabled animals.
  • Older animals 
  • Animals that were abandoned or abused by their previous owners.
  • Animals sheltered due to calamities.
  • Pregnant animals
  • Post-surgery animals. 

Basic rules followed by most foster homes: 

  • The fosterer should be at least 18 years old.
  • The fosterer should have a decent income.
  • The fosterer may need their landlord’s written permission if they are in a rented house.
  • Additional rules may be applied by different foster centres. Please contact them directly to enquire.

Before fostering, remember:

  • To arrange a separate space in your home for your foster pets.
  • There can be many illegal or fraudulent activities that take place in social media platforms. Beware of fake advertisements!
  • To check the validity of the advertisements.
  • DO NOT agree to payments without seeing the animal in person.
  • To ask the dealer if the animal is vaccinated and get any related documents.
  • To be up-to-date about the pet’s medical conditions, including disabilities and diseases.
  • Most agencies require your involvement during the adoption process of the foster pet. 

What to do after getting a foster pet:

Most animals that need fostering need more care and affection. But there are more animals in the shelter than they can afford. When sent to foster homes, these animals get prioritized more and this will help them to find a trusting, caring family.  

Apart from indoor shelter, foster homes are expected to provide their pets with:

  • Transportation to and from the veterinarian, checkups, and the organisation where the pet has been fostered from (to meet would-be adopters).
  • Nourishment and exercise according to the breed, age, size, and health conditions.
  • A collar with the name on (usually provided by the shelter).
  • A dog-proof apartment.
  • Love and affection.

Basic vaccinations and deworming for cats and dogs:

In most cases, the shelter will take care of all the vaccinations and deworming, but it is recommended that you be a part of this. You might have to get vet appointments for:

  • DHLP-P and Bordetella vaccinations : 8-10 weeks puppies/kittens
  • DHLP-P vaccination : 11-16 weeks

Similarly, all dogs should be dewormed: 

  • Puppies: Every 2 weeks from 6 – 12 weeks 
  • Adults: On arrival and again after 30 days 
  • Pups born in foster care: from the age of 2 weeks, every 2 weeks for 6 weeks 

Your shelter will provide you with all the information according to the breed, size, gender, and health conditions of your pet. The fosterers are expected to book the vet appointments accordingly. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

How expensive is fostering a dog?

Many of the shelters provide you with supplies, but some don’t. It is suggested that you confirm this with the shelter you are planning to get the pet from.

Can I foster a pet when I already have other pets?

There are no rules stating you cannot foster a pet when you already have other pets at home. It all depends upon your ability to provide them with a home without causing trouble to your other pets. 

Can I adopt my foster dog?

You can definitely adopt your foster dog. For this, you will have to contact the same shelter where you got the dog from. Each shelter has different criteria and documents that need to be sorted out. Do not forget to ask if the dog has a license and has been microchipped. Please look at “adoption” for more details.

What if fostering a dog is not working out for me?

Not all people are happy with their foster pets. If things don’t work out your way, you can always contact the shelter and let them know about the issue. They are obliged to assist you with further procedures.

What types of animals can you foster?

Most people prefer dogs and cats for fostering, but some organisations may also provide rabbits, birds, or even farm animals.

Adopting a pet in Ireland

The most common animals that you can buy or adopt in Ireland are:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Horses
  • Small animals – rabbits, gerbils, hamsters, rats, etc.
  • Fish and reptiles
  • Exotic animals

Adopting a pet is pretty common in Ireland. There are many shelters, pet stores, and social media ads available for buying and selling pet animals. Some animals, like cats, fish, rabbits, hamsters, turtles, etc., do not have any specialised rules for adoption. Whereas you need to have licenses to adopt dogs, horses, and some reptiles. Unlike fostering, you need to be very thoughtful when deciding to adopt a pet. Make sure that all the members in your home are ready for this big change.

Where can you find a pet? 

You can find pets in your nearest pet stores, shelters, or breeders. The most recommended way to get a pet is to get in touch with any veterinarians and they will connect you with a breeder. In this way, you can ensure that you opt for pedigree puppies (puppies born from a pure breed, i.e. where both parents are of the same breed).

These puppies are registered as soon as they are born. The Irish Kennel Club is famous for this 

There are many social media ads for buying and selling animals, too. But always be careful about these ads since there have been a number of fraudulent cases. Ensure that these ads or web pages stand up to the minimum criteria of the IPAAG (Irish Pet Advertising Advisory Group).

Things to know before getting a pet:

Horses and ponies:

  • You need to have a license to own a horse. This is issued by the local authority after a thorough inspection to check if you will be able to maintain and stable the horse.
  • Licenses will not be issued to persons below the age of 16. Instead, the owner of the house can get the license issued in their name. This can later be transferred to the intended person once they turn 16.
  • Every horse in the country should be microchipped, have an Equine passport, and have a Unique Equine Life Number (UELN).
  • A passport contains information about the purpose of the animal and should be published before 31st December of the year of birth or within 6 months of birth. The passport also contains the UELN.
  • If the horse is imported from any other country, it has to be registered in the appropriate Irish issuing authority within 30 days.
  • The passport authority of Ireland is in charge of issuing microchips which have to be medically implanted by a vet.
  • More information here


  • 4+-month-old puppies and those who leave their mothers should have a license according to the Irish government.
  • Before getting a job, register yourself with the IKC (Irish Kennel Club).
  • You can apply for a license at your nearest post office or online
  • Licenses are not required for guide dogs.
  • Dogs that leave their shelters must be microchipped by a qualified vet.
  • Every dog that has been adopted should have a collar that mentions the owner’s name and contact information, else it will be considered a stray.
  • Contact the local dog pound if your dog is missing and get the dog license if you find your dog.
  • Your dogs must not cause any trouble to your neighbours as they can file a complaint against you to the District Court.
  • You must be attentive in removing the faeces or you could get into trouble if any complaint is made against you under litter laws
  • There are additional rules for special breeds.

Reptiles (snakes, turtles, tortoises, and lizards)

  • They are considered dangerous if you have children under the age of 5.
  • They can cause diseases, such as Salmonella, Botulism, etc.
  • Refer to the exotic animal guidelines for more information.

Guidelines from IPAAG about advertisements:

Dogs and cats:

  • Is the animal older than 8 weeks? Puppies and kittens are recommended to stay with their mothers for up-to 8 weeks for nurturing.
  • Pictures of the puppy/kitten should be provided along with the contact information of the seller. Try googling the contact information provided to check for other ads.
  • Are the kittens vaccinated? Kittens should be vaccinated between 4 – 16 weeks.
  • The advertisement should mention if the puppy is microchipped, vaccinated, or has been treated for parasites. 
  • A meeting should be scheduled at the breeder’s property.

Horses and ponies:

  •  Ask for the Equine Passport to check for previous owners. Contact them to get to know the history of the animal.
  • Check here for further details.

Note: Advertisements for birds are illegal in Ireland!

Documents to get the pet:

  • Contract of sale
  • Transfer of Ownership
  • All the medical records – signed and stamped by the vet. 
  • Vaccination certificates
  • For dogs – Microchipping and deworming certificate.
  • Passport – if the pet is not born in Ireland.
  • For pedigree: cats – signed pedigree registration papers; dogs – Irish Kennel Club registration papers; both – parents’ hereditary certificates.
  • If any documents are yet to be sent to you, get a written document from them.
  • Equine passports for horses, ponies, or donkeys.
  • For exotic animals – CITES registration documents, Dangerous Wild Animals License, and a referral to a specialised vet. 

Lost or found pets


  • If your pet is missing,  you should report to the ISPCA (Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and answer general questions.
  • Use the help of social media platforms with a photo, name, and description of your pet.
  • Putting up posters also helps, but please remember to take them down after you find your pet. 
  • It will be easier to find your pet if it has been microchipped. All the entitled government organisations, as well as vets, will have the details and can connect with you if your details are on it.


  • Submit an application to the ISPCA,  answer general questions about the pet and include photos.
  • Check the lost section for any missing complaints.
  • Get the pet to a local vet to scan the microchip.
  • You can either keep the pet in your home till the owners pick it up, or you can get the pet into any local animal rescue centre or local dog pound. 
  •  According to the Irish government, any dogs that have been found should be reported to the local dog warden.
  • Utilise social media platforms 
  • Inform the local authorities (whom you had contacted while filing the report) after you find the owner.



Any female dogs that are 6 months and above can be legally bred. But it is always better if you follow the suggestions of your vet. Any vet can help you to connect with breeders. A good breeder need not post any ads since word-of-mouth marketing gets them more customers.


Understanding that your pet is an essential member of your family is the initial step towards getting insurance. Of course, you spent hundreds of euros for the comfort of your pet, but it is essential to spend a few more and get your pet insured. They are animals, after all, and they tend to get hurt. There are many companies that provide insurance at affordable rates, such as Tesco pet insurance, Allianz, Petinsurance, etc.

Travelling with a pet

There are numerous rules and regulations set up by the Irish government that need to be followed when thinking of getting your pet to Ireland or out of Ireland. 

General information:

  • Your pet should be accompanied by you or a person under your authorisation within 5 days before or after you arrive in Ireland.
  • An individual can travel with a maximum of 5 pets. If you have more than five pets, you need to follow a separate set of rules which is mentioned later (applicable to all countries).
  • All pets should have their original papers (NOT COPIES) along with them. These include vaccination records, microchip information, and licenses, etc.
  • The pets may enter through any ports or airports in the country.
  • You need to provide an advance notice to the government indicating your purpose if you are coming from a non-EU country. In this case, you will have a separate check before entering the country. 
  • If your pet is travelling from another EU country, they need to have a valid EU passport or EU Health certificate. Remember, if your pet is not travelling from an EU country, the vets SHOULD NOT sign the rabies section because this might be considered invalid.
  • If you fail to follow the rules, your pet may not be allowed to enter the country. Either the pet can be quarantined for several days or, in some rare cases, the pet might be euthanized (in either case, the decision is up-to the owner).
  • Most airlines are obliged to allow guide dogs inside the cabin. In this case, the owner is expected to have all the original documents of their pets along with them during the journey. Please check with your airlines for additional details.
  • In the above-mentioned scenario, the pets are allowed to enter only through Cork Airport, Dublin Airport and port, Shannon Airport,  Ringaskiddy port, and Rosslare Ferry Port. The advance notice mentioned above is a must for any pets coming from countries other than the EU.
  • Pet birds should not be brought for the purpose of change of ownership, gifting, or rehoming.
  • If you are bringing your bird from another EU country, you need to carry an Owner Declaration Pet Bird EU form along with you. You need to submit an advance notice at least 24 hours before travelling and email it to
  • Please visit for further details on travelling with pets.

Important organisations in Ireland for pet adoption and fostering:

1.DSPCA : the Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

DSPCA Campus, Mount Venus Road,Rathfarnham, D16 F9C4


Call: +353 1 499 4700

2. Cork D.A.W.G : Dog Action Welfare Group

DAWG, P.O. Box 558, Togher Sorting Office, Cork


Call: +353 863457488

3. Dogs Trust Ireland

Ashbourne Road, Finglas, Dublin 11


Call: +353 1 8791000

4. MADRA – Mutts Anonymous Dog Rescue and Adoption

Connemara Kennels, Camus Oughter, Co. Galway


Call: (091) 584 274

5. The Irish Kennel Club 

Irish Kennel Club, Fottrell House, Harolds X Bridge, Dublin 6W.


Call: +353 (1) 4533300

6. Cat Rescue Centres, Ireland

Unnimaya Chakrapani
Unnimaya Chakrapani

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