How to Successfully Adopt a Dog From a Rescue or a Shelter

Updated on June 27, 2020
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Shelley Frost has worked and volunteered for animal welfare organizations for over 30 years. She has found loving homes for many dogs.

Holly was rescued from a shelter in Santa Cruz.
Holly was rescued from a shelter in Santa Cruz.

Dog Adoption Application

Dog adoption applications can be pages and pages in length. Read below to find out how you need to prepare your home and family for the adoption process which will make your application light up the faces of the shelter staff and volunteers.

Here's What It Take to Successfully Adopt a Dog

  1. Choose a dog to adopt either by visiting the animal shelter or going to their website.
  2. Fill out an adoption application.
  3. Be Interviewed by shelter staff or volunteer.
  4. If the potential adopter already has a dog, the dogs must be introduced and evaluated.
  5. Some shelters and rescues require a home evaluation where a staff person or volunteer will visit the home of the potential adopter.
  6. If the adoption is approved, the new dog will be spayed/neutered before going home.

Save a Life, Adopt a Dog!

Every day thousands of healthy, adoptable dogs are surrendered to animal shelters and rescues. These organizations save animals who might otherwise be abandoned to the streets where they would suffer starvation, sickness, fear, and death.

There are many reasons why animal guardians give up their animals, but the most common one is that they are moving and can’t take the dog with them. Another very sad and totally preventable problem is pet overpopulation. Irresponsible animal guardians do not have their dogs spayed or neutered. These animals might be allowed to freely roam the streets, the females become pregnant, then give birth to litters of puppies.

Typically once a dog is surrendered to an animal shelter, the dog will be given a ‘behavior assessment’ by the shelter’s veterinarian or behaviorist. They will study the dog’s character, health, and personality through a variety of specialized techniques. If the dog is deemed adoptable, the public will be able to meet him or her and apply for the adoption of the dog.

Make Preparations to Ensure You Are Approved for Adoption

First, a potential adopter must fill out an application. These are often on the shelter or rescue’s website and can be submitted online. The application will include questions about your yard safety, the fencing material, and height. Another question will be about your home: do you own or rent? If you rent, you will need to provide your landlord’s name and phone number. Do you live in a house, condo, apartment or other? To ensure that the dog will not be given up because the guardian is relocating, the application will include a question asking if you are planning to move in the near future.

Some rescues and shelters will not adopt puppies to homes with children under 5 years of age. Children who are too young to understand that puppies are delicate living beings may harm the puppy. Also, puppies have sharp baby teeth that could be harmful to a young child who is unaware of the proper handling of a puppy.

You will need to list everyone living in the home and their ages. And often the application will ask whether or not everyone in the home is agreeable to adopting a dog. Allergies suffered by anyone in the home is another important question you will need to answer.

Make sure that you have planned a place for your new dog to sleep at night, as the shelter will prefer that the dog is not relegated to the backyard or another undesirable area. Also, a very important qualification a new dog guardian must answer is the number of hours the dog will be left alone during the day. The fewer hours the animal is alone, the better.

The shelter or rescue will want to know how much money you plan to budget for the care of your new dog. Food, supplies, obedience training, veterinary care, boarding, and grooming are all expenses you will want to think about before submitting the application.

People adopt dogs for a variety of reasons, not always good for the dog. On the application, you will be asked why you want to adopt a dog: as a companion, guard dog, outside animal, companionship for another animal, or as a gift for someone else.

Lastly, the application will ask you what you plan to do should you find that you must give up the dog. Responsible shelters and rescues will have you sign a contract stating that if you can no longer keep the dog, you will contact them so they can take custody of the dog.

Maya was rescued in Mexico and now lives in a loving home.
Maya was rescued in Mexico and now lives in a loving home.

Your Application Will be Denied for These Reasons

  1. Your yard is unsafe and/or the fencing is too short or in disrepair.
  2. Upon calling your landlord, the shelter learns you are not approved to have a pet on the premises.
  3. Your children are too young for a puppy.
  4. Someone in your home is reluctant to adopt a new dog.
  5. You plan to “crate” your dog at night or during the day for more hours than the shelter or rescue deems humane.
  6. You plan to keep your dog outside full time.
  7. You have no plans to pay for obedience training, veterinary care, or other important expenses involved with caring for a dog.
  8. You want the dog as a guard dog.
  9. You want to give the dog away as a gift to someone else.
  10. You refuse to sign the contract requiring you to notify the shelter/rescue if you must give up the dog.

Dogs Can Be Our Best Friend

The only reason anyone should want to adopt a dog is purely for companionship and to provide the dog with a loving home. For the best outcome in adopting a dog, make sure that this decision is the right one for you, your family, your current animals, and of course your new dog family member.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


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