Adoption - How To's
Congratulations! You read "Thinking of Getting a Puppy?" decided you are ready to get a dog.
There many methods to finding your perfect puppy. I strongly recommend you try and adopt first, because there are so many wonderful dogs (and puppies) waiting for their furever home. Here are some helpful resources and things I learned while trying to adopt a dog, and the process I went through to find Evie!
There are many wonderful websites and apps out there to help you find adoptable pups nearby. The two I used most often were PetFinder and Adopt-a-Pet. They let narrow your search by filtering through age, size, breed, etc. and can notify you of new postings that fit your preferences. I actually never turned it off so I still get notified of new puppies every once in a while :)
Social Media channels are also a great platform. I followed local rescue groups on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated on new postings, and attended multiple adoption events to meet the dogs. If you're in the DMV area, I highly suggest Homeward Trails Animal Rescue where I found Evie.
These are the photos I first saw of Evie on Petfinder. Evie's mom, Pickles, was found on the streets of Baltimore and brought into Homeward Trails for care. At the rescue, they discovered that she was pregnant and Pickles soon gave birth to three beautiful puppies named Ketchup, Mayo, and Relish. Pickles and the Condiments! It's hard to believe that they're from the same litter because they look completely different from each other.
Shelter / Rescue
Many people get confused and use the two interchangeably. What's the difference? Shelters have a physical facility, whereas Rescues are generally run out of a network of foster homes.
Shelters are typically very overwhelming and crowded for both the animals and staff/volunteers. Many homeless, abandoned, neglected, abused, lost or surrendered dogs end up in overcrowded animal shelters, who don't have the capacity to care for all of them. With a shelter, processing time for adoption is usually shorter and they have fewer requirements as compared to adopting from an animal rescue. One of my friends adopted a cat from the BARCS during a free adoption event, and he was able to bring her home on the same day! (This does not apply to all animal shelters, please do your research and call the shelter for information.)
The adoption process from a rescue is generally more daunting in comparison to adopting from a shelter. The adoption can take weeks and could mean multiple visits before being finalized. They tend to be stricter because they want to make sure that you are not only capable of ownership, but also the best fit (activity level, temperament, environment, special needs, etc.) for that particular dog. This may seem frustrating, but is actually an advantage to help make sure you are going home with the right dog. The wait will all be worth it in the end!
When you find a dog you like, you will need to fill out an application so they can get to know you better and assess if you would be a good fit for each other. They typically ask for your:
- basic information - name, address, etc.
- living situation - do you own? house/apt? does it allow dogs? do you have a fenced in yard?
- employment - occupation, employer, etc.
- family - who do you live with? are there any children? is anyone allergic/afraid?
- experience - have you owned dogs before? why do you want a dog?
- pets - do you currently have any other pets? describe breed, gender, age, temperament
- training - what's your schedule like? are you willing to take your dog to training classes? socialization?
- finances - how much have you budgeted for your dog? how much are you willing to spend?
All the basic stuff! Applications will vary by organization, but you get the idea.
The interview will focus on your personal experience with dogs and your current lifestyle, to match the best fit with your experience. The call will also include questions about your current pets and their temperament, if any. This is also an opportunity for you to ask them questions!
I had a few phone screens and got rejected a lot because I was still in school, and they weren't sure if I would be a reliable pawrent. But with a lot of persistence, I finally got approved for one! I had to show that I am fully capable of providing for a puppy and be responsible for it's health by keeping up with vet visits and preventative treatments.
Moving forward, the rescue will contact the references/veterinarians listed on your Adoption Application to obtain additional information. Some rescues may also require a home visit.
I had a hard time passing this stage. My family has a dog named Lexy, but my parents didn't feel the need to bring her into the vet for regular checkups, and only got rabies vaccines every 3 years (as required by Maryland). For those who are curious, Lexy is currently 15 years old and still going strong! She's young for her age because my mom cooks chicken for her everyday. They didn't neglect her in any way, and she is still extremely healthy, but many rescues thought this was a red flag. I had to explain that I am going to take my future puppy to the vet for their annual checkups, keep them updated on all vaccinations, and do whatever it takes to keep my puppy happy and healthy.
Meet & Greet
After you are approved, you will coordinate directly with the foster parent to set up a time to meet the dog you're interested in. Plan to bring a deposit incase the puppy is a match with what you're looking for!
I met Evie when she was 5 weeks old at her foster mom's house. She weighed 3 lbs and was the cutest little nugget in the world. I fell in love with her at first sight and immediately put a deposit down. I continued to visit her every weekend until she was 8 weeks old. It was so nice to watch her grow up and play with her sisters. We are eternally grateful to her foster mom, Cindi, for taking such amazing care of her.