Depending where you go to make your selection of a new cat, dog or bird some places start you off with a meet and greet program where you literally meet different animals and interact with them at the store, shelter or facility. The staff helps you decide using an application for adoption which includes a section that takes into account your lifestyle, current residence and experience with pets. Through this medium, they assist you in finding the best fit for you or you and your family. Understandably, they want 'forever' homes for the animals they allow to go to different people.
These new pets are either already spayed and neutered, including being given their shots or you can request it if the surgery has not already been preformed. Check with each place you visit as to their fees as they can range from $50 to $150; usually the cost is included on the animals paperwork. Its a good idea to phone ahead and get some information so you can choose which ones to pay a call to.
Inquire if the animal you are considering is sponsored through a program they offer like Furry Friends, it may be that the adoption fee has been pre-paid. The adoption of two pets can net you a discount for some 'bonded' pairs that the facility or store does not want to separate. Some pairs of animals are designated as bonded because they have already lived much of their lives together and therefore, must be adopted together at a special discount.
Ask also about what medical services are included in the adoption fee. Usually the spay/neuter is done prior to being taken by the new owner(s) but it might also include microchip registration, a preliminary vet check, vaccinations – some places provide at least one booster shot, a DA2PP for dogs and an RCP for cats. Request information about rabies vaccine and if they perform this or if you need your vet to administer it under your name. Other items that may be included are internal parasite treatment, a heartworm test for dogs at six months of age and FeLV/FIV tests for cats, flea medications.
A complete medial history of your new found friend with an itemized list of the regimen they have had is yours to take to your vet for a post adoptive exam and some shelters may provide a 30 day gift of insurance as well. Not a bad deal for them and for you, as the new master or mistress of a healthy animal and a happier home.