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The Adoption Process - Responsibility to the End

Updated on October 6, 2015
Jordan and another Border Collie Mix were dumped when they came down with mange and were completely naked!
Jordan and another Border Collie Mix were dumped when they came down with mange and were completely naked! | Source

Until Death does us apart

The worst case scenario horror story came to full attention and circle with a beautiful little girl named China.

China had been thrown out of a car, found, fostered by a great lady... She was taken in by a rescue and due to her beauty (she was a Pekingese Mix) soon adopted.

And here is were the rescue failed!

A simple check on Yahoo Maps or any other internet map service would have revealed that the house was a little over a hundred feet away from one of the busiest country roads in that area!
Using Google Earth or doing a simple home visit would have revealed that a rope around the front yard was in no way adequate fence!

The once perfectly house-broke and happy little girl was thrown outside by its adopter, because she was snappy and had accidents!

When the adopter contacted the rescue, the first lady checked the messages but didn't relay this one (coming to find out that she had issues with the lady who did the adoption and wanted her to have a 'great day'. This is also the lady who owned the 501! Wonder why she bordered!). The lady handling the adoption ignored the urgency in the adopter's conversation to 'get that dog' and tried to make it work.
The former foster and I lived 10 min away and could have gotten her in a heartbeat!

When the foster finally was called and went to get her, China had followed the adopter's kids to the bus stop and was run over by a car!

If you care, prepare!

I have to be honest:
I am not the person to allow anybody in my house. I have had my experiences with people and am a very private person. If you are not family, a very close friend or a maintenance guy, seize fire and move out! I had my house emptied by one watching it for me, trashed by another watching it for me, my yard vandalized by a so-called former friend...

Seize fire and move out!

BUT, I am not your Joe-Smo adopter!

When you took an animal in your rescue, you signed a invisible contract to care for this animal for life! I am a firm believer that marriage and adoption are contracts for life!

Here are a few steps I feel are important for a standard adoption:

The Application

Here are some basic questions that should be asked on any adoption application:

Which pet are you interested in?

Basic Information:
First Name
Last Name
Spouse/Partner/Housemate Name
City Important when they already have pets and the city has pet limits!
County Important when they already have pets and the county has pet limits!
Home Phone
Email Address
Confirm Email Address
How long have you lived at your current address?
If less than three years, please list previous address

It would be good to get one or two prior address too! One 'rescue' got banned from having any animals in one County and just moved to another!

How did you hear about .......

Reason for adopting a cat or dog
- Companion for
-- Myself/Family
-- Another Pet
-- Friend/Relative Do they even want one? And if they do, this should be filled out by them to make sure the pet is safe!
-- Guard Dog Most guard dogs live outside in kennels or on chains. And while some dogs may be happier in an outside environment (especially if they had a rough past and have some 'issues'), most don't!
-- Hunting Too many hunting dogs are discarded after the season or if they fail to perform!
-- Agility
-- Family Pet
-- Child's Pet So what if the child gets tired of it? And are you aware that a child is not mature enough to be held responsible for feeding and care of the animal?
-- Gift Most of the post-Christmas season is spend by returning unwanted gifts! Not a good idea!
-- Other

How many children live in the home
- Number
- Ages

How many adults live in the home
Do all adults work outside the home Some dogs don't do well left alone for long periods of time! And who takes the dog out when the owner(s) is/are gone for most of the day?


Are all family members (or roommates) in agreement about adding a new pet to your family You don't want to start a 'relationship' on a bad note! Pets know when they are 'unwanted' and it makes them miserable!


Are you 21 or older Some young people are mature and responsible. Others aren't!


Do You

- Rent Requires written permission from Rental Agency/Property Owner! Some require pet fees. Is that adopter capable of paying for pet fees as high as $1,000 or more?
- Own
- Live with Family Requires written permission from the family!

If renting, does lease allow for pets


If renting, please provide landlord's name and telephone numberIf a dog(s) is currently owned and spends time outside, is it contained on your property and howDo you have a fenced in yard


If yes, what type of fenceApproximate size of fenced areaIf not fenced, how will you exercise your new dog and allow appropriate potty timeAre your pets tethered


Where will this pet spend most of it's time?
How many hours a day will your new pet be without human companionship?
Where will your pet be kept when alone (Run of house, in a crate, garage, basement, tied out, fenced yard, dog lot, etc)?
Where will the new pet sleep at night?
Please be specific:
If you are adopting a dog or puppy, who will train it? With other words: Do you know how messy puppy training can be?
If you are adopting a kitten or cat, how do you plan on meeting your new kitty's instinctual need to scratch? Are you willing to provide your kitty with objects to scratch or are you gonna dump it when the couch gets scratched up?
Declawing is a barbaric, inhumane, painful and long-term damaging/crippling method to destroy a cats life! It can be compared to cutting a human's fingertips off!

Are you prepared financially to spend a minimum of $500 per year for veterinary care, food, and other related expenses? Trust me! That can add up quick! Average Dental is $200+! Average vaccinations/vet visit (unless you do your own shots) is the same!


A well cared for pet may live in excess of 12 years. Does your lifestyle, career, and family plans allow you to make this commitment? So what if you get married, pregnant, move, work, go to school? I have had two 18 year old dogs in my life. Most others lived longer than 12 years!


Have you or anyone in your immediate family ever applied for a pet through... in the past? We want to know if we denied you for valid reasons before and should do so again!


If yes, please list applicant's name and approximate date
Under what circumstances would you give up a dog/cat? You be surprised of the answers!
Have you ever had to give up or find another home for a pet in the past? THIS IS IMPORTANT!


If yes, please explain.
If you choose to or are required to move in the future, is there a possibility you would not be able to take your pet(s) with you? Probably one of the top three reasons I hear when I see adds on craigslist or elsewhere when people want to 'get rid of' a pet!


If yes, what would you do?

Please list all companion animals you have had in the past 10 years:
Pet 1 - Name of Pet
Pet 1 - Type of Pet (dog/cat) and Age Dogs and cats don't always get along! Seniors may not do well with youngsters!
Pet 1 - # of yrs with family
Pet 1 - Spayed or Neutered (y/n) IF NOT, YOU MAY HAVE A BREEDER ON HAND!
Pet 1 - Indoor/outdoor Only very few dogs/cats like to be dumped outdoors!
Pet 1 - What happened to the pet? If you dumped one before, you probably will do it again!

Please provide a veterinarian reference. (YOUR VET'S OFFICE WILL BE CONTACTED TO VERIFY MEDICAL HISTORY)
Who is/was your veterinarian? If your current pets never see the vet, the new one will probably not either!
Veterinarian's Address
Veterinarian Phone Number
What name is your vet record(s) listed under?

Please list three personal references other than relatives: A daughter wants told the rescue to not EVER give her Dad another animal!
Name of first Reference
Home PhoneCell/Other
Relationship to Applicant

If the animal you have applied for is not available, what is your breed preference for adopting?
Have you applied to other rescue groups and/or are looking at your local shelter for a new pet? And been denied for valid reasons; possibly making you a candidate for the 'Do not Adopt (DNA)' list!



The Adoption Staff Member should review the application. The vet and other local vets should be contacted; including the vets from prior addresses. Animal Control should be contact for both the current and the prior counties. It may even make sense to pay for one of these online services that provide background information. A 'rescue' up North had multiple convictions for animal cruelty, but always moved and started over!

The Meet and Greet aka Interview

An easy way to see your adopter interact with animals and to conduct a informal interview is a 'Meet & Greet'.

If they don't like the dog jumping on them or the cat rubbing on them, it may not be a good match. And if the kids are rough with the animal, it should be a warning sign!
You can tell during/after the meeting if they are a good match or should/should not have any animals at all. And it is a perfect opportunity to repeat some of the important questions from the application.
Have them tell you about their house, their life, their animals, their jobs. Match the information provided against the application. A conversation in a relaxed atmosphere may reveal some things they didn't want you to know about!

While this shouldn't be as formal as a job interview, it does have to follow similar strategies! And you want to make sure that adopters and pets are a 'match made in heaven' and a basis for a lifetime relationship!

If it doesn't work in those 30 minutes or so, how is it going to work for a lifetime!?

It doesn't stop when the check is signed!

China's death could have been prevented! If not with a home visit, than with follow up phone calls or even a follow up visit!

The same foster later found one of the Jack Russel puppies she had fostered for that same rescue on craigslist 'for free'!
A good amount of 'free' dogs and cats on craigslist and other classified websites end up bait for the local dog fighters or breeding stock for the local backyard breeders!

I'm sorry, but your responsibility doesn't end when the check is signed!

This rescue did a 3 week email and a 3 month email! No visits, no support offered to truly make it work, no interest in that animal's welfare after three months!

I respect rescues and legitimate breeders who provide counseling and support for their adopters and stay in touch. I am a big fan of reunions!
True animal lovers like to talk to other animal lovers. It is a constant learning game and exchange of information and experiences!

The perfect rescue for me provides clinics, courses, counseling for their 'charges' and the new 'parents'! If you can find a professional dog handler or trainer, offer classes at your rescue! It will give your adopters a chance to learn what they need to learn and could bring you some donations. If you charge $5 after the first month or two per class?!
If your adopter keeps coming back and falls in love again?!
Puppy/kitten Kindergartens provide a perfect opportunity to help 'parents' with issues, socialize those 'babies' and stay in touch with those you said you cared for!

Happy Customers return!

You said you care...

...and I am holding you to your word!

I know rescuing isn't cheap, but people support you and donate to you because they belief in what you do!

You can't blame owners that dump their animals for being irresponsible, if you do not properly prepare for an adoption of a living creature! If you don't care when the check is signed, who else should care afterwards?

I know this is a lot of work! I did it! And I found that too many people seem great at first impression and turn out different when you dig deeper!

China didn't have to die!

And if this rescue would check on some of the micro-chips they implanted into their animals, they would probably find that there are probably more sad cases!

It's a life! And their unconditional love isn't always returned in kind!


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    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      this is awful.. poor baby.. why do people do these kind of things. thanks for writing this great hub


    • nataliejs profile image

      Natalie Schaeffer 

      6 years ago from Farmersville, CA

      Thrown out of a car?! The poor baby! :( Why do people get animals if they don't want to commit to taking care of them? Part of that commitment is proper training and house-breaking. I like how you put the reasoning with the application questions. It helps adopters better understand the ethics of an animal rescue facility. I am against the declawing of cats, as well. (How would they scratch themselves?) And no, a stupid e-mail is not what I call "making an effort" to make sure the pet is in good hands; the only way to truly be sure of this is by physically visiting where the pet resides. It's so easy for people to lie in an e-mail and then turn around and abandon the pet somewhere or give it away to breeders or dogfights.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      I have fostered and adopted dogs in the past with good outcomes. Too bad this had to happen to China. Thanks for sharing...

    • picklesandrufus profile image


      6 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      This is a great and informative hub.Will bookmark it.I know we all can learn from way up!


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