If you are considering adopting a dog from an animal shelter or a dog rescue group, that is wonderful! Every dog adopted from a shelter or rescue group helps to eliminate despicable puppy mills and, more importantly, saves a dog's life. Unfortunately, some dog rescue groups make adopting a dog almost as difficult as adopting a child. The first hurdle you must clear is the initial adoption application. An "incorrect" answer here will send you home in shock and empty-handed. For this reason, it is important that you read this application BEFORE you fall in love with a specific dog.
Most rescue groups – especially puppy mill dog rescues and breed-specific rescues – require that you submit an adoption application and have it approved before they will even talk to you or allow you to see their dogs in person. You will be able to look at pictures of available dogs on the rescue website; but until they have approved your application, that is as far as you can go. Fortunately, not all rescues are so terribly demanding; and by comparison, shelters are downright welcoming!
I can not overstate the importance of this initial application! Please understand that I am an honest person. I do not lie and would never tell anyone to lie on an application. Having said that, there are certain answers that, if stated on an application, will immediately disqualify you. When you read the application, you will need to determine if any of these apply to you. Then you will need to decide how you want to handle the situation. You can try to avoid having to admit the truth, or you will need to look for a less demanding rescue group.
For the questions below, I will give you the "correct" answer, by which I mean the answer the rescue wants to read or hear from you. I will also give you answers that will disqualify you. If there is some other acceptable answer, I will state that as well. For a few questions, I will just say NOTB – None Of Their Business – or I will just tell you to go elsewhere.
Typical "Problematic" Questions:
1. How much money do you make? This is one of those NOTB questions. Supposedly, they want to make sure you can afford to adopt a dog, but I consider the only answer to be given here is "I make enough."
(Just FYI – some rescues are actually discriminatory; and questions dealing with salary, type of home, where you live, etc. are used to weed out certain people.)
2. How much time during the day will your dog be alone?
Disqualify: All day or I work all day.
Correct: NONE. Someone is always home.
Acceptable: Not much time. I go home at lunch and my neighbor will let the dog out two or three times a day.
3. How much time will your dog have to spend outside alone?
Disqualify: All day.
There is no other acceptable answer.
4. Is your yard fenced with a 5 '(or 6') wooden fence?
Disqualify: No fence; electric fence; 4 'chain link fence. (I have not found any rescue that will accept an electric fence.)
Correct: Yes, I have a 5 '(or 6') wooden fence.
Acceptable: This will depend on the dog. For an older small dog, a shorter fence might be acceptable.
5. Do you have children? What are the ages?
Disqualify: Baby or children under 6.
Correct: No children, or all are 10 or older.
Acceptable: Ages between 4 and 10 will depend on the dog.
6. What pets have you owned and, if you do not still have them, state why not.
The second part of this question is NOTB ! They are trying to find out if you have put any pets down or have returned any.
7. Where will the dog sleep?
Correct: In the house, with us , in a crate.
8. Is everyone in the family enthusiastic about getting a new dog?
Disqualify: Any answer that is not YES .
9. Have you ever returned or given up a pet? This might be worded: Is there any acceptable reason to return a pet?
Correct: Never. I would never do that.
Acceptable: This can be tricky. If an adopted animal and your current pets could not work things out, you might still be approved.
10. Have you had a pet put down ?
Disqualify: Yes. Most rescues do not believe there is any acceptable reason to put down a dog. Aggression is never an acceptable reason. Severe injury or illness might be considered acceptable, but that depends on the rescue. Some believe in the "as long as they can breathe" philosophy for keeping an animal alive.
Before you get attached to a dog, read both the adoption application AND the adoption contract. If you realize that you will not get approved (small children, live in apartment, yard not fenced, etc.) or you can not accept some of the contract requirements, then do not bother to look at pictures of their animals. Instead, look for a different rescue or go to your local shelter or Humane Society.
Puppy mill rescue groups and breed rescues tend to have an inherent distrust of human beings. Thus, their requirements are very strict. Rescues that make a concerted effort to save dogs from euthanasia at shelters are more people friendly and understand that their first goal needs to be getting these animals into loving homes.
Be patient and check websites frequently. Visit your local shelter frequently. Your perfect dog will find you!