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Dog Walker

Admissions Policy

What is Pets Lifeline's animal admissions policy?

Pets Lifeline is private nonprofit and operates as a limited admissions shelter, maintaining an agreement with Sonoma County to accept animals whenever we have the capacity to do so. This arrangement helps manage intake and ensures that Pets Lifeline can provide adequate care and resources to the animals that we house.

Our Policy

  1. Any animal that enters our facility will be microchipped and vaccinated.

  2. Stray animals - We accept strays from Sonoma Valley when space allows.

    1. Stray animals without tags or microchip - held for 7 consecutive days (starting the day after intake)

    2. Stray animals with identification - held 14 consecutive days (starting the day after intake)

    3. After a stray hold is complete the animal becomes property of Pets Lifeline and by law, must be spay/neutered

    4. Pets Lifeline must refer potential animal abuse cases to animal control, which for both City and County is under the jurisdiction of SCAS

    5. If an animal is deemed dangerous, we call upon our SCAS partners expertise.

  3. Relinquished animal support and rehoming - Our goal is to provide resources so that the animal does not need to spend time in a shelter.

    1. We provide couseling and services to address behavioral and medical issues with the goal of keeping the animal in their home. 

    2. We will work with owners to give advice on rehoming and offer an opportunity to post animals on the rehoming page of our website.

    3. We accept owner surrenders from within the Sonoma Valley on a case-by-case basis depending on available space at our shelter and a behavioral evaluation.

  4. Transferred Animals - We will bring animals into Pets Lifeline from other shelters under the following circumstances:

    1. If the shelter is a coaltion partner with Pets Lifeline.

    2. We have available space / staff and can maintain additional space for incoming community strays.

    3. The animal is not deemed dangerous or severely ill.

Once transferred, all animals are held for 3 days for evaluation.​ They are put up for adoption once health check is cleared and the are spayed/neutered.

5. Feral cats - With a scheduled appointment, we accept feral cats for health checks and spay/neuter. These animals are then returned to the location where they were found by the finder.


For a full list of our partners, visit our Policies and Positions page. 

Dog Habitat Configuration


The dog kennel area is designed with configurable kennel walls that can create a maximum of 19 individual smaller kennels. The Kennels are re-configurable to adjust to the size of dogs that we have - in order to provide each dog with the best quality of care. They are divided into 3 distinct holding areas that serve specific purposes. It is important to segregate dogs to maintain a healthy and safe shelter environment. 

  • Typically, we are configured with 13 total kennels reserving space for several large dogs.

  • All kennels have both indoor and outdoor areas connected by a door.


1 – Available – 5 Kennels 

  • These are dogs that are available for adoption and available for the public to see online and meet in person with a scheduled appointment. 

  • Additional adoptable dogs may be in foster homes and require an appointment to meet and greet with potential adopters. We need to maintain some available kennels for dogs that are in foster should they need to come to us. 


2 – Holding – 5 Kennels 

  • Reserved for dogs that are under medical care and observation. 

  • Situations could include surgery or illness. 

  • These dogs are not posted for adoption until they are fully recovered.


3 – Isolation – 3 Kennels

  • These are stray dogs that we are working to reunite with their owners. 

  • Strays are not posted online as available. 

  • Unless strays are reunited with owners, after a legally required stray hold period they become property of Pets Lifeline. 

  • They then move into our adoptable kennels and are posted for adoption unless we already have a match for an adopter in our waitlist.


These are all in our Admissions Policy


Capacity Limits:

Our shelter was designed to support the needs of the local Sonoma Valley Animal Population. In rare cases where capacity reaches high levels we engage in several strategies to keep open space for our community:

1 – We call on our foster program members:  PLL Foster Program

2 - We reach out to our coaltion partners:  Transfers and Transport  

3 - We may allocate stray or medical isolation kennels for holding adoptable animals. However, this is not a best practice as it limits our ability to handle illness, outbreaks, and take in new strays from our local community.


Waiting Lists:

We have a waiting list for dogs and applications on file that fit profiles of new dogs. These dogs may go directly to the waiting applicants for a match and hopefully into their new home. They spend little time in the shelter and may never show up online for adoption. This is always the best-case scenario when animals move quickly through the shelter to their new home.   


Shelter Utilization:

There is no exact percentage a shelter should be occupied. The most important thing is the animals are receiving the best quality of care and moved as quickly as possible into new homes / foster with minimal time spent in the shelter.  Our #1 goal is always to support the mission of serving our local Sonoma Valley community but when resources allow, we utilize excess capacity to help our network of coalition partners in times of need. Transfer and Transport

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