So You Want To Adopt An Animal: The Application and Home Check

After going through the first part of wanting to adopt an animal, the next step is filling out an adoption application for an animal.  Let me start by saying PLEASE fully read an animal’s bio before submitting an application.

The bio will give important information as to whether the animal has any specific behavioural problems, or issues with other potential members of your family. When a rescue organization says that a dog is not good with cats, and you have at least one cat, it will not be a good fit (especially if they will be sharing the same living space).  When a rescue organization says that a dog needs to go to home with older children and you have a toddler, that will not be a good fit.  When a rescue organization says a dog has severe separation anxiety and you are gone for 8-13 hours a day and live in a condo, it will not be a good fit.  Please do not try and plead your case stating that you can “try and make it work”.  Rescue organizations attempt to have zero returned animals, and if the situation does not work, then the animal will have to go through undue stress, as will the rescue organization.

Once you have found the animal that you believe will be a good fit, it’s time to submit an application.  There are some things you need to know when filling out the application:

Fill out everything on the application.

This is just like filling out a job application, you would not leave parts blank.  As someone who worked in Human Resources, we would never consider someone who did not fully fill out the job application.  Rescue organizations are no different.  They need as much detail as possible.  Yes, most applications will take you at least 10 minutes to fill out (if not more), so sit down and take your time filling it out.

It takes time for rescue organizations to get back to you.

If you submit an application, do not expect to hear back about it within an hour or even a day.  Rescue organizations are run by volunteers.  This means people are volunteering their time and are still working full time jobs and are busy with family and other obligations.  When your application is submitted, it will not be looked at right away.  It’s the same with job applications.  You are never called back the same day you submit a job application.  Please also note that depending on the animal, rescue organizations can receive many applications and those will take time to go through.

To give you an idea, when Dean and I adopted Freckles, who is a one eye female, red Boston Terrier, the rescue organization received hundreds of applications for her.  It took close to a week before we heard back.

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So many people wanted to adopt this little girl.

If you are not sure if your application went through, it’s fine to send a follow up email after about a week or so.  But, please do not call, email, or write on social media every single day.

If you go to an adoption event, you will NOT be taking that animal home that day.

Rescue organizations do adoption events for a reason, it’s so people can meet the animals.  These events are also a great opportunity to ask questions about the animal.  Even if you have filled out an adoption application at the event and you have met the animal, you will not be taking the animal home that day (at least for almost all rescues that I am aware of).  Please do NOT get mad at the volunteers.

I was helping out at an adoption event a few years ago with a local rescue and an individual had just (on the spot) filled out an adoption application.  That individual then expected that they would be taking the animal home with them.  When they were told that is not how the rescue’s adoption policy worked (as they needed time to review the application, call references and do a home check), the individual became quite angry and and actually yelled at the volunteers in the store.  Enough to say, that application was shredded.  That is not appropriate or acceptable behaviour.  All I can think is if they got that upset and behaved like that towards volunteers, I do not want to think about what they would do if they got upset or angry at the animal.

As referenced in my other points, applying to adopt an animal is no different that applying for a job.  Even if you go to a job fair, talk with the recruiters and fill out a job application, you will likely not get hired for the job on the spot.  There stills needs to be a formal interview (a second one if needed) and references called.  It’s the same with adopting an animal.  Just like employers need to ensure you are the right fit for the job, rescue organizations need to ensure that you are the right fit for that animal.

Once the your application has been submitted and reviewed, if successful, you will be contacted for a meet and greet.  For the meet and greets, everyone who will be living with the animal needs to attend.  No exceptions.

When we first met Dolly, we were unsure about how she would react to Dean as some rescues who have gone through a lot of abuse can be fearful of men.  Thankfully, she loved him right away and actually gave him her paw to hold.

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Dolly gave me her paw on her first day home with us.

Besides the animal meeting all of the humans, the animal will need to meet any other pets that you have.  This can be arranged with in any manner that would work for you.  Whether that’s meeting up and going for a walk (assuming it’s a couple of dogs) or having the foster parent bring the animal over to your house (as home checks will need to be done as well).

I can tell you that you will know right away if it will be a good fit with your animals.  If they sniff each other, play with each other or even ignore each other (which I found to be the case most of the time), it’s a good thing.  If an animal (specifically a dog) lunges at your other animal, growls and bares teeth, it will not work.

Before we got Max, we were wanting to adopt a second dog as we had a male Boston Terrier, Bandit, at the time.  We filled out an adoption application for a dog with a local rescue and within seconds of meeting, they were going after each other barking and biting. It clearly was not a good fit.  So, we waited to find a dog that would be less adversarial.

If a meet and greet goes well, references will be called (sometimes before you even meet the animal, they will be called) and if everything checks out (just like a job interview), a home check will be scheduled.

For the home check, rescue organizations are looking to see things like if your yard is fully fenced in.  They will ask where the animal (specifically if it a dog) will be during the day and sleeping at night.  They will not be judging you if you have dirty dishes in the sink. Rescue organizations want to make sure that you have everything you need to make this animal safe, loved and welcome in your home.

If everything goes well, and you want to still adopt the animal (because sometimes there are cases where people do change their mind), you can let the rescue organization know and arrangements can made for paying the adoption fees and transferring over of microchip and medical information.

Stay tuned for part three where I go through what to expect when you bring the animal home (hint: it takes time for an animal to adjust so do not expect things to be perfect right away).