If you have just started searching for a dog to adopt at your local shelter or rescue organization, you were probably given an application to fill out. A rescue group will generally have a more extensive form than a shelter might and will ask several questions regarding how you will care for your new dog. The process will likely include an oral interview as well as a home visit.
While this may feel daunting, the rescue group just wants to ensure that the dog will have a good home. They have committed a lot of their time and resources to save dogs and they do not want their furry wards to experience additional trauma.
The best way to pass a rescue dog interview process is to answer questions honestly and show that you are truly committed to caring for your adopted dog. You will need to demonstrate that you can provide a loving and safe home as well as a lifeline commitment to care for your new pup.
How to Make a Good Impression and Pass the Adoption Interview
Be Genuine and Sincere
The best way to pass an adoption interview is to just be yourself. Be genuine, truthful, and upfront about how you can raise a dog as well as some challenges you may have. Remember, the staff just want to make sure your adopted pooch will have a good home. If you seem insincere or less caring about the dog’s needs and more about getting a dog to serve your needs, you may get a firm no.
Ask Your Own Questions–Is this Dog a Match for My Family?
Keep in mind that the rescue group also wants to make sure the dog is a good match for you and your family. So, by asking your own questions, you can demonstrate your interest and concern. Sadly, returning a dog to a shelter can be heartbreaking for everyone involved. If you have done your homework and you spend time with a dog to see if he is a match, the staff is more likely to respond well to your application. You will be more likely to pass the interview if you come prepared.
Therefore, do some research about various dog breeds as well as mixed breeds. Be sure to consider age, gender, size, and whether you want a lap dog, a companion, or a pup to take on hikes, bike rides, or daily runs. Consider how much time and energy you can devote to a puppy or high-energy dog who may need a lot of outdoor exercise. Be sure everyone in your household is on the same page regarding the kind of dog that will fit well into your family routines.
But also keep an open mind, and don’t be surprised if you fall in love with a slightly different type of dog than you had imagined. And, if you have the resources and a big heart, consider adopting special needs or older dogs. As an example, seniors and dogs with disabilities often get overlooked. Even, dogs who have a totally black coat are often overlooked as people seem to prefer dogs with some color. Yet these pooches can be some of the most loving, and grateful dogs you could ever own.
Typical Questions You Will Be Asked
How Will You Raise this Dog?
- Why do you want to adopt a dog?
- Who lives with you in your household?
- Does everyone in the house approve of getting a new pet?
- Do you have children? Are they good with pets?
- Do you own or rent your home? If you rent, will your landlord allow a dog?
- Do you have a fenced backyard, and if not, how will you provide exercise opportunties for your pup?
- Do you work full-time? If so, who will provide midday breaks for your dog?
- Do you have the budget for food, supplies, and medical care?
- Do you currently have pets? Are they good with other animals?
- Where will the animal be kept during the day? At night?
- How will you care for the dog if you have to leave town?
- Are you committed to caring for a dog for his full lifetime?
Passing an Adoption Interview is for Your Best Interest as Well as the Dog’s
If you have never owned a dog before or perhaps have had different breeds in the past, the questions will be a good reminder of what is involved. The questions may prompt you to understand what is involved such as cost and time comittments.
I have owned a lot of dogs in my life. But when I recently adopted my two rescues, Charlotte and Georgia, it had been a while since I had owned dogs. I was semi-retired and worried about the cost of dog food. Little did I know that was to be the smallest cost! I had forgotten about vet bills, grooming fees, doggie daycare, chewy toys, and numerous dog beds — two for each room! See more about the annual costs of owning a dog in my post Should a Senior Adopt a Rescue Dog? You may also want to read, How to Know if Adopting a Rescue Dog is Right for You?
Are You Committed to the Dog’s Well-Being for His Lifetime?
The reason that many dogs are rescued or end up in the shelter in the first place is often due to an owner’s inability or unwillingness to continue caring for a dog. For sure, re-homing a dog is sometimes unavoidable when families are faced with unexpected life changes. And owners sometimes die leaving their dogs without an alternative person to care for them. This is particularly true in the case of older dogs, who not only grieve the loss of their human parent but end up without a home as well.
Shelters and rescue groups were thrlled during the COVID epidemic with the sudden influx of people who adopted pets and emptied the shelters. Yet, two years later, they became disheartened as many of the dogs were returned when people went back to work.
Do You Have the Dog’s Best Interest at Heart?
These interview questions are also designed to weed out potential owners who may only want a dog to serve their purposes such as having a dog to take on a walk or a dog who barks and can protect the house. Someone who only wants a watchdog may plan to keep him outside in the yard, which could subject him to lonliness and harsh weather. The rescue group will also be wary of someone who does not seem to have the resources, knowledge, or time to adequately provide for a dog’s needs.
How to Prepare for a Home Visit
Think About Your Home and Spaces for Your Dog
Rescues who save dogs from really awful situations such as puppy mills or hoarding situations, may also want to do a home visit. These rescued dogs are usually placed in a foster home first to help them recover and learn some social skills. Many have never lived in a home environment or may have been in a home but without adequate food and other resources.
Therefore, the rescue group will take the additonal step of visiting your home to ensure that these dogs never have to endure abusive behavior again. And even though it may seem intimidating, remember that they really want the adoption to work. Unless they see some huge red flags, the home visit is mostly a final assurance that this will be a good placement. Here are some of the things you can do to prepare:
- Install a fence in your yard or make repairs to an existing fence if needed.
- Make sure gates and doors are secure to prevent a dog from escaping
- Ensure that your yard does not have plants that are toxic to animals
- If you don’t have a yard, make your patio area more dog friendly or locate local parks.
- Make a space for a doggie bed
- Find a local vet
- Determine where you will purchase dog food and supplies
- Locate a space in your pantry or freezer to store dog food
- Try to have all family members present for the interview
- Determine what areas of the house your dog will be allowed in
- Will you use doggie gates or a crate to contain your dog when you are away?
My Experience In Preparing for a Home Visit
In my case when I adopted Charlotte and Georgia, I made sure I had no holes in my fence. I put fencing around two very wicked rose bushes with long thorns, and I covered the dirt in my garden area with heavy cardboard to keep them from getting muddy or digging. I also placed a large crate in my bedroom where I placed them for short periods when I was away. Later, after they settled in and I could trust them to roam around the house, I got rid of the crate.
The person who had rescued and fostered them, brought them to my house for a visit. Before she arrived, I had already decided where I would place their day beds in the living room and their bed for sleeping in my bedroom. When she walked in the door, she gasped when she saw my new, off-white Berber carpet. But I told her I had a good connection to a local carpet cleaner. Little did I know how much I would need him. See more about my initial meeting with my dogs in my post, Preparing to Meet My New Rescue Dogs. You will have a few laughs!
Sample Rescue Group Application Forms
When I searched a handful of rescue facilities, most of them had a similar process for adoption. Many of their questions where very similar. Probably the most comprehensive form is for a senior dog rescue facility, Lily’s Legacy. I think this is due to the unique nature of adopting senior dogs who sometimes have special needs. It is because this organization has great passion and concern for the fate of older dogs. It is truly heartwarming to see these noble older dogs get placed into loving homes to live out their golden years in love and peace.
See the links below of various adoption applications for a handful of rescue groups. It will give you a good idea of what the interview process may be like:
- Lily’s Legacy –Senior Dog Rescue
- Texas Chihuahua Rescue
- Green Mountain Pug Rescue
- Australian Cattle Dog Association
- Hello Bully Dog (dogs rescued from fighting rings)
- Greyhound Friends for Life
As you review these applications and websites, you will have a better understanding of what these dogs have gone through and why they are so carefully placed. If you do your homework, you will be prepared to meet their unique needs. Sometimes I think there is no greater love than the love shared with a rescue dog! And they are truly grateful!
You may find that it is a bit of an effort to find a dog and complete the adoption process. But in the end it will be worth it! Not only will you find your new best friend, but you will have some reassurance that your newly adopted rescue dog is a good match for you and your family. If you do your homework, you will not only pass, but probably ace your adoption interview!
Deanna Euritt is a dedicated dog enthusiast with over three decades of experience in raising and training a diverse range of dogs, including many rescue pups. Her practical expertise is rooted in real-life experiences, where she has successfully navigated the challenges of nurturing rescue dogs into confident, well-adjusted companions. Residing in Northern California, Deanna’s days are filled with adventures along trails and beaches with her beloved dogs, Charlotte and Georgia. In her writing, she offers insightful, compassionate advice to fellow dog lovers, leveraging her extensive personal journey in the world of dog care and training. See About Us.