So what’s the next step? Fret not; we’ve got you covered:
Step 1: Do Your Homework!
Before you drop by the local rescue or shelter and fall in love with a dog that may outgrow the weight restrictions of your apartment building, invest some time researching breeds that will best fit your situation. Consider the dog’s weight (and what he will weigh when fully grown), age and temperament. A puppy will require housebreaking, obedience training, while an older dog may be better adjusted. Some dogs have temperaments best suited to a family, others won’t do as well with children, and so on.
Step 2: Hunt for a Dog that Fits Your Criteria
Visit the local pound or shelter if it’s open to the public. Search online as well—researching breed-specific rescues in driving range and Dog Adoption websites that allow you to search by breed, age and gender within your zip code.
Step 3: Have Your Family Meet the Dog
If you come across a dog online that fits the bill, arrange a visit. Some dogs may be in temporary foster homes and will either be transported to the main rescue location or to your house for a home visit. Make sure all the members of your household get to meet the dog. The same goes for shelter or pound dogs.
Step 4: Fill Out The Application/Prepare for Screening
Whether you find a dog from a rescue online or a shelter dog, you’ll have to fill out an application. This may just be a formality for some places, but others will want a closer investigation – be it a reference check, extensive interview or a home visit to see the conditions in which the rescued animal is to live. Some breeds may require a fenced yard or certain number of square feet to be comfortable, so don’t take it personally if the rescue declines your application based on the fact that you live in a studio apartment.
Step 5: Pay An Adoption Fee/Sign An Agreement
No shelter or rescue dog is “free to a good home,” and you’ll be asked for an adoption fee that can range from $50 to $400 depending on the breed, age of the dog (puppies tend to be more expensive as they’re in demand more often than older dogs), the kind of organization you adopt from and what part of the country you live in. This fee is usually a pittance compared to the work that’s gone into the dog you are adopting – usually it offsets the price of spaying/neutering the dog, feeding and caring for it, as well as ensuring it has all the right vaccinations. Dog adoption fees are also a screening measure used to weed out people who are unwilling or unable to spend money on their pets. Once you’ve paid the fee, you’ll be asked to sign an adoption agreement, guaranteeing that the dog will be looked after and cared for indoors (rather than chained to a tree in the yard).
Step 6: Take Your Dog Home!
Congratulations, you’ve done the research, found the dog and successfully wooed the shelter/rescue folks! You are ready Adopt A Dog! Be sure to buy a crate your dog will be comfortable in (and a soft blanket or bed to go inside it), as well as a leash and collar and a supply of food and treats before taking him home. Don’t forget to get him tagged and microchipped to assure his safety. Then, give him plenty of hugs!