The Adoption Process
All responsible rescue organizations have an adoption process people have to go through when wanting to adopt an animal from them. The general process includes an adoption application, a home check and an adoption contract with adoption donation fee. Don't get turned off or over-whelmed by this process! It is a good thing! Here's why...
The rescue groups' goal is to find the best family/household "match" for the animals in their care. And when looking to adopt a pet, you should want to find the best "match" for your household. So think of the rescue group as a "match maker". The rescue group is there to help you make sure the pet you are interested in is a good match for you but they need to get to know you before they can help. And the adoption application/questionnaire is provides them with this information.
The first step in the adoption process is for the potential adopter is to fill out this adoption questionnaire or application. These can be lengthy and we've seen many times where people don't want to fill one out or feel defensive or that it's unnecessary to ask them questions. Common responses are "I've had dogs my whole life." or "I know how to take care of a dog (or cat)." But the rescue knows the specific dog or cat you are interested in so the more questions they ask the better because it shows that they are being thorough.
Good Rescue groups get to know their animals personality, energy level, social level, etc as much as possible while the animal is in their care. They can then share this information with you when you inquire and they should be happy to answer your questions. We are always happy when people had questions about the dog or cat's personality, habits or energy level because it said to me that they were being responsible and thorough in their decision as well instead of being spontaneous or just going on looks (which has gotten many of us in trouble in life:).
When dealing with a household that already has a dog and looking for a second, once the application is filled out and it seems like it could be a potential match, the next step is scheduling a play date for the dogs. It's best to have this meeting on neutral territory. It's important everybody gets along so take this slow and, depending on the dogs' personalities, having more than one play date is beneficial.
The next step is the home check. This is very important for rescue groups or independent rescuers to do.
Adoption contract and fee
The final step is closing the adoption by having both parties sign the Adoption contract. This is an agreement between the rescue or rescuer and the adopter that the animal is being adopted as a family pet and will be properly cared for. Check out a generic adoption contract here. As we've mentioned before, we also recommend asking for an adoption donation. “Free to good home” ads and postings, can attract people with bad intentions such as B Class dealers who are very well practiced on convincing people they are a “good home”. It is also a good sign that the adopter is willing to invest in their new pet.
Important if adopting out a animal!
If you are adopting out a dog or cat you found or are re-homing, don't be shy about asking questions to potential adopters. You might be eager to get the animal placed but it's important that they are placed properly, in an environment that fits their needs. You don't want to have the dog or cat returned because it didn't work out. It's hard on the animal and the people involved. So be thorough and careful. A good idea is to contact a rescue group or experienced rescuer for advice or assistance with the placement to help guide you and answer any questions you might have. We have generic "adoption applications" and "adoption contracts" here for you to look at and use if needed.
Think of the adoption process as a team effort that benefits all involved. Everybody wants what's best for the animal but also the household. The more thorough the adoption process the better chance the adoption will last the animal's lifetime and that is the goal. Nobody wants an animal returned, it's hard on all involved.