Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why do pet adoption organizations ask so many questions?

Scrolling down the rows of adorable photos on Petfinder’s website, I came across a reddish-brown spaniel, about 9 months old, with silky ears and soulful brown eyes. I had to have that dog!

Before I could adopt Kelly, however, I had to pass an interview conducted by Kelly’s Rescue Mom. I anxiously sat on the couch as she scrutinized my home and examined my daily routine. Here are some questions you, too, may be asked when you’re ready to adopt that one special dog:
1. Could you provide veterinarian records?
While it doesn’t matter if your current dog had fleas or your previous dog once hurt its paw, adoption organizations want to see that you sought proper treatment for your pets. They’ll also want to ensure vaccinations were kept up to date. This information will show that you provided good care for your pet, and will care for the new dog as well.
2. Do you own your home?
Some adoption organizations require you to own your own home. Others will ask to see a copy of your lease and the pet policy, if you are a renter. They may ask to talk to, or receive a written consent from, your landlord. Making sure the dog is allowed at its new home helps ensure it won’t have to be returned (or worse, abandoned) later.
3. Do you have a fenced-in yard?
You’ll need a safe area for your new dog to run and play. You may even be required to have fenced in yard before you can adopt a dog. A representative will come to your home to verify this. In addition, they may visit to see if your home is safe, and big enough for the breed dog you are considering.
4. Do you work full time?
Adopting a dog is more difficult for those who work outside the home full time. Many organizations will not adopt to families where no one is home during the day. Others will only adopt older dogs, not puppies, in that situation. Families with staggered or flexible schedules, where one adult is home most of the time, or where an older, responsible child is home in the afternoons, will have an easier time adopting a dog.

5. What are the ages of your children?
Every adoption organization will ask about the members of your household and ages of the children. The SPCA will not adopt puppies less than 6 months old to homes with children under 4 years old. Some dogs are not a good match for young children.

While they may seem firm, these questions help place a dog in the right home, with the best care possible. And, with typical adoption fees ranging from $100-$350, you’ll want to be sure the dog is the right match for you and your lifestyle, too.

And the happy ending for us--we adopted Kelly, and she's a joyful and loving member of our family. Good luck finding your fur-ever friend!
(This first appeared on, July 2009)


  1. This post on Networked Blogs really grabbed my attention, because my daughter Stacey just adopted a gorgeous Australian shepherd-chow mix male, 8 months old, and she really had to jump through hoops, as did we.

    They called me as a reference last week, and it felt like a psychiatric intake interview. I went through the list of all the dogs in Stacey's life since childhood. When I said they had a big backyard enclosed by a stockade fence, she said, "Good, but dogs can dig under those fences - you'll have to put pavers all around.

    As a working single Mom with two young girls, Stacey had to work extra-hard to prove she's a deserving dog owner. Among other things, I vowed to come down at least once a week to spend quality time with the dog while Stacey's at work. I may actually do this, once I get my Mac laptop - I'm there often enough anyway.

    These people are like religious sealots, but it's for a great cause. Still, I think they take it a bit too far.

    Julie Lomoe's Musings Mysterioso

  2. Another thing I wasn't aware of, was that if you're looking to adopt a kitten, most places will ask you if you already have a kitten or cat...because kittens love to play, they want the kitten to go to a home with another cat (or they want you to adopt two kittens at once).
    When we were looking to adopt our kitten, we did not own another cat; however, the rescue where we eventually got Cinnamon allowed us to adopt just one kitten because of our opposing work schedules, one of us was home most of the time to play with her.

  3. Unless, that is, you find your dog in the woods outside your cabin... :) More like HE found ME!

  4. Great comments! I can see where you're coming from Julie. While the questions are in place to protect the pet, sometimes they make it impossible for an otherwise valid and responsible candidate to adopt. I have a friend who wanted to adopt, but didn't have a previous veterinarian (she hadn't owned a dog before) so they turned her down. This person who could have taken a dog out of a shelter was forced to buy from a breeder then.

  5. Good point Kate, thanks for adding that. And Lexi, I'm glad Cooper found you!

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Kelly and Ike say thank you for your comments!