I found myself in the market for a new dog this past summer and after the quickest of Petfinder.com searches, realized just how many dogs fit my criteria that needed homes. Within 100 miles of my zip code popped up four hundred and thirty one pages of adult, spayed or neutered American Pit Bull Terriers. I knew of the pet overpopulation problem in our country, but that number really stopped me in my tracks. I realized that, particularly in my chosen breed, rescue is the only option with which I am personally comfortable in selecting a new snuggle buddy. Also, rescue is a really good deal! For about $200, you get a dog that’s already vaccinated, heartworm tested, spayed/neutered, and in some cases, professionally temperament tested. That’s a lot of bang for your buck right there!
So I thought to myself, with 431 pages of options I will have my pup home in no time at all! Not so much. It’s important to note that before adopting a dog, you must adopt a considerable amount of patience for the process if you want to truly find the right fog for you. The vast majority of rescue workers are volunteers with full time jobs and families. I found that response times varied greatly from organization to organization.
The Adoption Process
The process begins with a written application, usually submitted online. The applications are typically lengthy and can seem, quite honestly, a bit nitpicky and obtrusive. “How many stairs do you have to walk up to reach your front door? Are you planning on getting married or having children in the next several years? If you own your home, who is your homeowner’s insurance provider?” After filling out a plethora of these and speaking to the screeners, I realized that rather than using these to accept or reject an applicant, most rescues use the applications as a tool to guide prospective adopters to a dog that is best suited for them. In the case of pit bulls and other “aggressive breeds,” the application process is designed to institute a level of protection for the dogs—an attempt to weed out applicants who may be drawn to these breeds for the wrong reasons.
Meet and Greet
After your application has been approved, you get to the fun part—meeting dogs! Although this is an emotional decision, here is where it’s important to be as objective as possible. Take a look at where the dog has been living. If it’s coming from a kennel situation, ask about house training. If you have children, take them with you!
Once you’ve settled on which lucky pup will be your new best bud, the rescue organization will likely do a home visit—most of the time this will be in conjunction with delivery. Like the stringent questions on the applications, most rescuers don’t use this as a tool to reject adopters; rather, they utilize the time to assist in settling the dog into the new environment and answering any lingering questions that the new owners may have. In some cases, the rescue organization will bring a trainer along to give a quick seminar on how to help the new family member in their adjustment phase.
My sweet rescue, Loretta, made her way into my home and heart after about a month of looking and applying. Like too many of these dogs left in limbo, what I know of her background is not a pleasant story. But Loretta doesn’t care anymore! She’s forgotten most of her past and now revels in her new life filled with car rides, playing with the kitty and snoozing on the couch. And me? Not only do I have a great dog by my side, I know that I saved her.