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The Adoption Process - Home Visits

Updated on October 4, 2015
"She's fixed!" Nope! She wasn't!!! Kind of a bad surprise when you suddenly have some $60 added expenses you didn't expect!
"She's fixed!" Nope! She wasn't!!! Kind of a bad surprise when you suddenly have some $60 added expenses you didn't expect! | Source

Why Home Visits?

It's simple:
Your purpose of a rescuer should be to find the dog or cat a permanent (aka FOREVER) home! But fact is that a lot of animals end up back in the 'system' and too often die eventually anyway!

If you are a rescue and you have the option of doing home visits without slowing the process of rescuing more, please do so! It will prevent rash decisions and ensures that animals and people are perfectly match and their relationship will work out!

Below is a list of things you may want to consider when conducting home visits!

The 'Inspector' and the 'Inspected'

Picking the right 'Inspector' is a mix between common sense and people skills. You don't want somebody who is too set in their ways. It is important that the inspector is open minded and able to adjust to any kind of environment. The well-cared-for homes of the more financial blessed isn't always automatically a great home. A single-wide trailer doesn't necessarily mean that the home will be under standard!

If you are out of town or out of State, it is still possible to conduct home visits. Contact a rescue in that area and have them conduct the home visit for you! If you are part of the crossposting machine, this shouldn't be as hard as it seems!

Use one of the checklists either you made up or you can get from other rescues that have done many home visits and know what they are looking for. It comes in handy.


Basic Information

A home visit checklist is a document that should be treated like any other important document. It starts with the basic information and you may want to keep it for future records; especially if your visit leads to what we call a DNA (Do Not Adopt)!
You may want to bring the animal to be adopted or another one with you!

Date of visit:      

Name of Home Visit Volunteer:      

Name of Applicant:


You should asked the potential adopter to ensure that everybody involved in the life of the animal is present (if possible). You are looking for a total picture and the insurance that your 'charge' will be safe and happy!

All residence of the home are to be present for the Home Visit!?


How many people in the family?

Are children respectful of pets (your observation)?

How does the family respond to the dog?  

How do family members react to each other?  

Is the main caretaker physically able to care for dog? Yes No



Neighborhood/House/Living Conditions

This is important and the use of mapquest or yahoo maps helps. A few years ago a rather lacking adoption coordinator decided to not do a home visit. Coming to find out that the fence around the yard was a line of wire hanging lose and not providing a barrier. The nearby road had heavy traffic. And when the dog provided to be no stuffed animal without needs, it was let lose.
This beautiful creature I knew personally followed the kids she loved so much to the bus stop and was hit in front of them and a bus full of other children. She died on scene!
In addition to the lack of home visit, the rescue had not responded to the adopter's request to take the 'damn dog' back!

Describe the street Busy Quiet In between


Describe the setting Rural Suburban Urban

Any safety concerns?

How do the neighbors feel about a (new) dog ‘next door’?

Condition of the house:      

Condition of the garage:  

Hazardous items? Yes No

Poisonous plants? Yes No

Are there lots of stairs? Yes No

What type of flooring do they have?   

Are there lots of small objects or knick-knacks at dog level? Yes No

Are living quarters dog friendly? Yes No Comment      

Is there a yard? Condition of the yard:  

Is the yard fenced in? Yes No

Are there any areas of gates or fence where a toy dog can slip out of dig under to escape?      

Do you see current leashes/harness if no fence? Yes No

Is there a chain tie outside? Yes No

Do they have a pool/pond/stream/lake in their yard? Yes No

If yes, how do they plan to keep their dog secure from drowning?


Knowledge/Pet History

You want to match the pet with their future owners to guarantee a good 'working' relationship. That requires that you know how much knowledge the future owners possess about the animal they are trying to adopt.

Did they have pets before?

What kind of pets?

Who is the primary caregiver of the pets?

Do the parents understand their responsibility towards their child(rens)’s pet?

How long ago?

Level of knowledge/experience:
First Pet First Dog Intermediate Multiple Years of Experience Licensed Vet/Vet Tech/Trainer/etc.

Explain some of the ‘issues’ a former shelter animal/homeless dog can have. How would they solve the ‘problem’?

What are their expectations of the dog?

Care and Treatment of Animals

This is kind of a question/educate phase. You want to make sure that the potential adopter understands the needs of the animal in general and give them an idea of the needs of that specific animal.

Where will the dog eat – is it a clean area?

What kind of food will the dog eat?  

What foods are they currently using for other pets?

Where will the dog relieve its self?   

What is the condition of their current dog’s teeth?   

Where will the dog sleep?      

How will the dog get exercise?      

Where will the dog stay when left home alone?

Will they allow dog to have free run of the house? Yes No

Will they allow the dog on furniture? Yes No

What will they do if the dog becomes very ill?   

How will they housetrain?  

How would/do they discipline a dog?

How will they work through behavioral issues?

Other Animals in the House

It helps if they already have other animals in their house. You can see how they are cared for and how the 'owners' handle them. It is also a benefit for the 'new one', allowing it to have somebody of their 'kind' to bond with.

Current pets (Name, type of pet, sex, age, how long owned, where kept):

Are pets well cared for? Yes No Neglected Abused


What if their current pet(s) and rescue dog don't get along, what will they do?

Shay & Zeke
Shay & Zeke

Home Visitor Observations and Comments

This is the part where the experience of your 'Inspector' comes into play and where 'feelings' may play a major role. If you know your 'Inspector', trust their judgement! It is not God-given, but a lot of times may be a true view of the quality of the home!

It is also the part where concerns and issues are addressed and you as the rescue have the responsibility to address those concerns and issues; providing your 'new family' with the best possible 'start' that you can give them! Nobody likes surprises; especially not bad ones!

How did they react to my dog?    

Are there any other concerns or limitations?   

Would I personally feel comfortable leaving a dog here? Yes No


Do they have any concerns about the rescue dog?      

Lifetime Decisions

Most of the animals rescued out of the 'system' have seen their share of hell in life and it is your responsibility to make sure the remaining part of that life will be a happy one!

Take their future seriously and take your responsibility seriously!

Don't abandon your adopters and leave them out in the cold! It is on you to make sure that the 'relationship' will work out! Educating them and answering their questions and concerns is a big part of that!

Standing behind what you do, is another!

Awesome "Adopt Me" Dog Commercial!


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