Adopting a dog is a great way to add a new member to the family. When you adopt a dog at a shelter you’re choosing to help fight pet homelessness. But what is the process like and what do you need to know?

To begin your search for a new best bud, you can start in the comfort of your own home. Start looking in online platforms such as Petfinder, The Shelter Pet Project, or Adopt a Pet.

There you can see which dogs are available for adoption in your area. You can pick a few that you like but you’re not making a final decision yet, this is only the beginning. Keep in mind that these platforms may not list every shelter and pet. So it’s important to check your local shelter’s website as well. 

Besides, it’s always worth visiting the shelters in person. There’s always a chance that you’ll only find your perfect match after looking into a pup’s eyes. Sometimes that’s all it takes for you to fall in love.

3 steps of the adoption process

Although dog shelters want people to adopt, they want it to be permanent. They know that the only way they can help a dog is by making sure that they go to a home where they’re a perfect fit. So, dog shelters know it’s essential to check people before they let them adopt a dog.

This means that there is a process that you’ll need to go through before you can take your new best bud home. The goal is to ensure that each dog that gets adopted goes to a family that is a good match for their personality. This makes it less likely for a dog to end up in a shelter again. 

This process also filters out people that are choosing to adopt a dog on a whim. It also helps ensure that the new dog owner is ready for every aspect of owning a dog.

This 3 step adoption process is very common in most shelters and here’s what you can expect from it.

how to adopt a dog interview

1. Sending an application

Most shelters ask you to send them an application. You can do this online through their website or by email, or you can do this in person at the shelter. You’ll also need to be at least 18 years old to start the adoption process in most shelters. It’s common for the shelter to also ask for a U.S. government-issued photo ID (it can be a driver’s license or state ID).

2. Adoption interview

This is the most important part of the whole adoption process. It’s where the shelter determines if you’re ready to adopt a dog and which dogs can be a good fit for your lifestyle. Be aware that some of the questions can seem personal and intruding. Each question serves a purpose and it’s there to ensure that the right dog goes to the right family. Don’t take them personally.

Each shelter will have its own set of questions and interview procedure. But most interviews look more like a conversation rather than a survey. Here are some questions you can expect:

  • What is your family situation? They’ll need to know how many people are in your household. They will all be a part of your new pup’s life so it’s important that they’re all on board with the decision to adopt a dog.
  • What is your housing situation? The goal is to know whether you live in your own home or if you’re renting a house. If you’re renting it’s important to know if the landlord agrees with having a dog in the house or not.
  • What is your work situation? Shelters need to ensure that you’re financially prepared to provide for your new pet. Besides, they’ll also need to know how long will your dog be alone at home while you’re working.
  • Do you own any pets and what is your previous experience with pets? They’ll need to know what happened to any previous pets you may have had. It’s also key to know if you currently have any pets and if you know how to properly introduce them. If you have pets, they should be able to get along with your new furry buddy.

3. Meet and greet

After you’re approved and before picking which dog you’ll adopt, it’s crucial to do some meet and greet. Shelters ask that everybody in your family meets the dog you’re interested in before finalizing the process. This includes other dogs you may have. This step will ensure that you’re all a perfect match and help with your new pup’s transition to its new home.

If the dog you chose is already spayed or neutered, you may be able to take it home the same day. Otherwise, shelters may be required to spay or neuter the dog first before letting it go home with you. Either way, you should have all the gear ready to take your new dog home.

Finally, the only thing left to do is pay the adoption fee, if there is one.

how to adopt a dog meet and greet

How much does it cost to adopt a dog?

Not all shelters will ask you to pay an adoption fee. When they do, it can range from a few dollars to several hundred.

Adoption fees help cover any costs the shelter may have had with your pup while it was waiting for a new home. Things like medical care, food, and transportation. By paying the adoption fee you’re also helping the shelter provide the same care to other animals. It acts as a donation that will allow the shelter to continue to rescue and rehome pets.

Besides, paying the adoption fee can often save you money in the long run. It can include procedures like spaying or neutering, vaccines, and other veterinary treatments. These could easily add up to $500-$1000 and shelters rarely ask for this much.

Free pets may come with no medical care. This means that you’ll have to be the one supporting all the vet bills mentioned before. Your local shelter will be able to tell you what is included in the adoption fee you’re paying. Although this can be daunting, you can make costs more managable by looking into pet insurnace plans.

Making sense of it all

Most dog owners that chose to adopt a dog at a shelter will tell you that it was one of the best decisions they ever made. Now that you understand what the adoption process looks like, you’ll feel even more confident with the decision of adding a new family member while helping to fight pet homelessness.