Q&A: Why do some pet rescuers require applications to meet adoptable pets?

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Here’s our next post in our new Q&A series about pet adoption! Once a
month we select a reader question and answer it here. Have a
question you’d like us to answer? Email us.

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Q: I love the site and all the information available but my first experience trying to adopt a dog gave me the creeps. The group had no phone number and wouldn’t even answer my basic questions without a full application containing very personal information. I met them halfway and filled out all the information that wasn’t personal but was essentially denied for a non-issue because I didn’t send them all my info. — Sid L.

A: Each year, millions of animals lose their lives to homelessness. Animal shelters and rescue groups are their lifeline to safety. But, with over 13,600 adoption organizations on Petfinder, adoption procedures can vary widely. You may need to reach out to a few organizations to find one that is a match for you.

Learn more about the different types of groups that post on Petfinder after the jump and decide which type is easiest for you to work with.


Adoption centers and shelters
These brick and mortar shelters provide a vital public service to our communities by caring for lost, stray, or surrendered animals.

At a physical animal shelter or humane society you can usually walk right in the door during public hours and visit with the pets the group has listed on Petfinder. Shelters typically have a public phone number and would love to see you arrive at its doors to adopt one of its pets.

Foster-based rescue groups
Foster-based adoption groups care for rescued pets in private homes, not in a shelter setting. Foster groups are made up of animal-loving volunteers who fit animal rescue into their lives along with their many other responsibilities.

Some foster groups rely on an application to learn more about a potential adopter before meeting you personally, especially if they are inviting adopters into their home or will be bringing a pet to your home for a visit. These groups want to make sure it’s safe before sending a volunteer to meet a stranger or welcoming a stranger into their home. Using an application also helps volunteers quickly review multiple inquiries and can aid in determining if the pet and adopter are a match. (E.g. – if the adopter wants an indoor-outdoor cat and an organization adopts only to indoor homes, the application can help the organization steer that adopter toward another group that does not have this requirement.)

Lastly, the phone number of a foster group (if it has one) may be the home phone of a working person or a parent. The group may not have funds or volunteers to staff a public phone, so it may take a few days to receive a response to your inquiry — especially during the holidays.

Animal-related businesses who also rescue pets
Some animal-related businesses also have a volunteer arm to rescue, care for, and adopt out pets. These may be veterinary clinics, pet grooming and boarding businesses, etc.

Businesses who also rescue pets may ask potential adopters to fill out an application before scheduling a visit. This way the business owner can get information without disturbing their regular work day with non-business calls or drop-in visitors.

Some of these rescue groups use their business phone to accept adoption calls. Others prefer to accept initial contact via email or an application so their business can continue to operate smoothly during normal hours.
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People who care about animals are becoming increasingly creative at finding new ways to rescue and adopt out homeless pets. Even some human welfare organizations whose clients can’t keep their pets are now helping to re-home animals. More and more people are seeing themselves as part of the animal welfare community, so you will find different responses when you contact different groups.

If you are more comfortable visiting with an organization before sharing personal information, we hope you will consider visiting one of the physical shelters who post its pets on Petfinder. You can also visit with the many foster groups who hold “meet and greet” events at local pet-related businesses like PETCO. (Check out our event calendar to see if local groups have scheduled special events near you.)

There are so many different ways to adopt a pet. Keep trying. We know you will find your perfect match!

Do you have a question you’d like us to answer? Email us.

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Previous Pet-Adoption Q&As:

Why are some pet-adoption fees so high?