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Frequently Asked Questions


I lost a pet. What do I do?

If you lost your pet, you should contact all local shelters and animal control: City of Columbus Animal Control 812-376-2505 Bartholomew County Humane Society (us!) 812-372-6063 Post information and pictures on lost pet social media sites (Facebook, Nextdoor, etc). Search the area your animal went missing and invite friends, family, and neighbors to help search. Print and hang pictures of your pet with your contact information in case someone else finds your animal.

I found a pet. What do I do?

If you found a pet, contact animal control for pick up. If you are within city limits, call City of Columbus Animal Control: 812-376-2505 After Hours: 812-379-1689 If you are outside of city limits, call Bartholomew County Animal Control: 812-372-1935

How long do you hold found animals?

What is "TNR"?

Stray pets are held for 5 days (county ordinance requires a 72 hour hold) while we search for an owner. During that time, we: scan for a microchip, post information on social media, and check with the other local shelter. If the owner is not found, we move forward with opportunities such as transfer to other rescues and adoption. If an owner surrenders their pet, there is no required holding period.

TNR stands for Trap-Neuter-Return. This program humanely traps community cats, evaluates their physical condition and, if appropriate, fixes them before returning them to their “territory.” Over time, the number of community cats will be reduced! If you have a feral or community cat, please contact our shelter for additional information by calling 812-372-6063 or emailing us at We can help with traps and surgery costs.


What animals are at the shelter?

We mainly care for dogs and cats (available animals are shown on our home page). Occasionally, we shelter rabbits, small mammals, or farm animals.

What are your adoption fees?

Our regular fees are $120 per dog and $80 per cat. This fee helps cover all age-appropriate vaccinations, spay or neuter, testing, preventatives, and microchipping. Some pets have Legacy Pricing. They are usually young, purebred animals who can leave a financial legacy to help other pets needing extraordinary care who remain at the shelter.

What is your adoption process?

First, you should fill out application online. It is our job to set our animals up for success and we take that job very seriously. Our application helps us find you the right furry friend to fit into your family. Next, please schedule an appointment. Our shelter works by appointment to allow our team to focus on you and meeting your new pet. You may come in to meet a specific pet or speak to our team to look at everyone. We encourage the whole family to come and may request that you bring your dog if you are adopting another dog from the shelter! We want to help ensure your new pet will get along with your current pets and family members. Let us know who is coming to visit when you schedule your appointment and we will accommodate you appropriately.

Do you do same-day adoptions?

Most of our animals are able to go home the same day, but some are awaiting veterinary treatments or surgery appointments. They may still be able to go with you, they will just need to return to the shelter for treatment or surgery. Sometimes, successive appointments will be needed for dog meet and greet dates or to allow our pets to warm up to new people!

What is "FTA"?

FTA stands for "Foster to Adopt." Although most of our animals are ready for adoption, some are awaiting veterinary treatments or surgery appointments. They may still be able to go home with you, but they will need to return to the shelter for treatment or surgery. Once any necessary procedures are taken care of, you will officially adopt your new pet!

Are you a no-kill shelter?

We do not euthanize for time or space and received a "No Kill" award for 2022, meaning we saved at least 98% of the animals we served. Unforunately, we must sometimes perform euthanasia when we are not able to provide The 5 Freedoms to an animal who may have extraordinary medical conditions or significant behavior concerns.

How long do you keep animals?

There is no set time limit! We hold healthy, adoptable animals until we find them homes.

How can I pay for adoption fees?

We accept cash, check, and credit cards for payment.

Why can't I adopt just one kitten?

Socializing kittens is one of the most important ways to support their behavioral and emotional development.


Can you help me spay/neuter my pet?

We can help facilitate a low cost spay or neuter for your pet. Please call our shelter at 812-372-6063 or email for more information. Low-cost fees run from $40 to $75 for spay/neuter surgery and $20 for an updated rabies vaccination. There are also vouchers to help pay for spay/neuter from Spay Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP), which offers income-qualified pet owners a voucher that makes the cost per surgery $25. For more information, visit Our office may have vouchers available, so ask us when you call or email!

Can you help me feed my pet?

Yes! BCHS offers Thor’s Pet Pantry to supplement families in need with food, litter, and supplies for their animals. You will need to bring your ID to register for assistance at the shelter, but there is no charge for the supplies. You will be able to receive supplies once each month. We will also help you get your pets fixed to prevent future litters!

Can you help me with medical care for my pet?

BCHS may have funding available to assist in emergency or extraordinary care. For more information, call 812-372-6063 or email


How long should I give my new pet to adjust?

Change is scary and giving your new pet adequate time to adjust is important! Training and positive reinforcement go a long way into making this transition easier for you and your pet. All pets adapt at different rates, but we use the 3/3/3 rule. 3 days - Your pet is feeling overwhelmed, scared and unsure. They may want to hide, or they may test boundaries. 3 weeks - Your pet is starting to settle into the new routine. They will start to let their guard down and will start to show their true personality. 3 months - Your pet is comfortable in their new home. Their trust and bond with you grow and their routine is set.

What items do I need for my new pet?

Dogs need food, toys, water, bed, leash, collar, poop bags, treats, and a crate. Cats need food, toys, water, bed, breakaway collar, litter box, litter, litter scoop, treats, and a cat carrier.

What is a microchip?

It’s a small, rice-shaped device that goes under your pet's skin by their neck and shoulders, that can be read by a scanner, and when properly registered in a database, can allow anyone who finds your pet to return it to you! To use the microchip, you must take the pet somewhere it can be scanned.

Should I microchip my pet?

We recommend microchipping because it’s a safe and secure way of returning your missing pet to you quickly. While identification tags are the most efficient means of identifying your pet because anyone can read the information and call the number immediately, they can get lost or damaged. Microchipping is a more permanent way to identify your pet. We can microchip your pet and register the microchip for you (fee is $20).

What should I feed my pet?

Should I train my pet? Who do you recommend?

Check with your vet to verify the food is the right kind for your pet.

Training is an important part of adopting a pet. Even well-trained pets will need continued reinforcement to make sure they don’t lose their good manners. Training will help your pet adjust to their new home. We partner with Dog World and Hot Diggity Dog Training to help our current shelter residents and foster dogs.

Will my adopted pet be spayed/neutered already?

Why should I spay or neuter my pet?

All of our animals are spayed or neutered before they are adopted. We can also help facilitate a low-cost spay/neuter for your pet if needed.

Fixing your pet helps keep shelter populations down by preventing unwanted litters, can prevent some forms of cancer from occurring, and may help eliminate some behavior issues. The best way to keep animals safe, happy, and healthy is to spay/neuter.

When can pets be spayed/neutered?

Should I declaw my cat?

Pets must be at least 8 weeks old and weigh at least 2 pounds to be spayed or neutered. Animals older than 3 months must also be current on rabies vaccinations (or they will be given at the time of the surgery).

NO! The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) discourage declawing. AAFP states that declawing is at best ethically controversial and is not medically necessary for cats in most instances. Declawing a cat is dangerous and becoming less and less popular as we discover more about it. Declawing a cat is like taking off a finger at the knuckle. It is painful and can cause health and behavior problems in the future. Health problems can include paw and back pain, tissue damage, infection, nerve damage, and bone spurs. Behavior problems can result from your cat being in pain, including nervousness, irritability, and avoidance of touch. Plus, claws are your cat’s first defense if they are ever in danger. Even house cats can get out and they would be completely unprotected without their claws. There are plenty of options to help you keep your cat from clawing your furniture, including scratching posts (use catnip to entice them!), trimming nails (we can show you how!), and redirecting undesired scratching.


How can I volunteer with BCHS?

How can I begin fostering with BCHS?

We love our volunteers! To begin the process, please fill out our volunteer application. More information can be found under the "Get Involved" tab.

Fostering truly saves lives! To begin the process, please fill out our foster application. More information can be found under the "Get Involved" tab.

How can I donate to BCHS?

The work we do wouldn't be possible without your donations. To learns ways to give, visit the "Ways to Give" tab!

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