How to Adopt a Dog through a Rescue Group

Rescue groups provide a more personal approach to adopting a dog than an animal shelter or buying a puppy from a store or breeder. Rescue groups essentially are networks of animal devotees who rescue and find new homes for their favorite breeds or animals.

These people are committed to the welfare of their charges and won’t allow just anyone to adopt from them. You have to jump through a few hoops — dogs aren’t the only ones who can do that trick!

If you’re turned down after any stage of the process, ask the rescuer to explain why. If it has to do with you, you then know what problems or conditions to remedy. If it has to do with the particular dog, you can consider a different dog or maybe a different breed.

  1. Make the initial phone call.

    In most cases, you talk to someone on the phone first, answer some questions, then fill out an application.

  2. Screen the organization.

    Meet with the rescue group organizer and ask some pointed questions about how the rescue group works, how it evaluates and places dogs, what fees it charges, and what kind of commitment it requires from prospective adopters.

    Your screening of the rescue group demonstrates that you’re as serious about working with people who care about animals as they are. If the rescue group balks at providing you with any of this information, consider it a red flag.

    Although most rescue groups are devoted to saving pets and placing them in good homes, a few use the rescue-group reputation as a front for stealing or hoarding animals and selling them for a profit, a practice that horrifies legitimate rescuers. Screening the organization is important for your safety and the safety of rescued dogs.

  3. Prepare to be grilled.

    Rescuers ask potential pet owners a lot of questions, some of which may seem unnecessarily personal and intrusive. The key is not to be offended, even if you think some questions are nobody’s business or you don’t like the rescuer’s zealous nature. (Keep in mind that some rescuers are better with four-legged animals than humans.)

    Rescuers have encountered many deadbeat dog owners and saved dogs from disastrous and cruel situations, so they may judge you guilty until proven worthy to take in one of the dogs they love.

  4. Welcome a house visit.

    Someone — or a couple of people — from the rescue organization will come to your home to make sure that you can provide the proper environment for a dog. They’ll want everyone who lives in your home to be present and available, because they need to meet everyone who comes into contact with the pet on a regular basis.

    If you have children, be aware that many people have been turned down for adoption because their children were running wildly about disobeying their parents during the home visit. Rescue workers see the way people raise their children as a direct reflection on the way they’ll raise and care for a pet.

  5. Meet the dog.

    Until they’re adopted, most rescued pets live in homes with foster parents who either work with or operate the rescue group, so it’s your turn for a home visit to scrutinize not only the pet but also evaluation skills of the rescue group and foster parent by visiting your potential pooch in the foster home.

    The foster parents should be in a good position to answer questions about the dog’s temperament, fears and dislikes, personality, socialization, health, and behavior.

    If the foster parents have nothing but wonderful things to say, be on your guard. Most animals have a few qualities that can be difficult to manage, and many dogs are in rescue because of these qualities.

  6. Sign the contract, pay the fee, and bring your new dog home.

    Rescue contracts can be intimidating. Don’t sign unless you agree to care for the dog’s health and emotional well-being. The rescue group makes you promise to have the dog spayed or neutered, if it isn’t already, so that more dogs don’t need to be rescued.

    Rescue groups typically charge a fee for adoption simply to cover expenses the rescue group incurs taking in, treating, and caring for the dog. Truth be known, adoption fees often don’t even begin to cover these expenses, which usually come out of the rescue volunteer’s own pocket.

    You need a safe way to transport your doggie home, so come with an appropriately sized portable kennel and/or a pet seatbelts that you can buy at your local pet store or order online.

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