Questions To Ask The Rescue You Are Planning To Adopt From

Well I have to say, I’m struggling with the rescue culture and how hard it is to find a responsible rescue nowadays.

For a long time I have wanted to be involved with a rescue to volunteer and help with my services but truly have been shocked how many rescues are not truthful when it comes to providing full disclosure about dogs in their care (or present the issues in a down playing way) and then provide a lack of support after adoption. This simply leads to owners that are burned by the experience of adoption and then often do not want to do so again and will even rather buy from a back yard breeder in the future.

So I kept searching and finally actually found a rescue I align with but not before I had a long conversation about the rescues policies etc. to make sure I can comfortably be of help and feel good about it.

I wanted to give you some insight on the questions I had for the rescue before aligning myself with them and I feel these questions are also really good for anybody who is interested in adopting and having the best experience which will then hopefully prevent any heart break and headache.

Also, sometimes when being on the look out for the right dog, it actually helps to get pre approved by a rescue because by the time a dog gets listed on a social media page you’ll have several people applying and it may get harder to actually acquire the dog. But if you have a file in already and are approved for a potential dog, the rescue can contact you with a potential match even before they advertise the dog somewhere else and it gives you the chance to talk to them and make sure they are a good choice before being emotionally attached to the picture of this cute furry creature that just stole your heart through a picture.

So here are 10 questions to ask a rescue that you are considering to adopt from

1. How long do the dogs stay in foster homes for assessment times?

Ideally, dogs stay in foster homes a minimum of 3-4 weeks or even longer to ensure they can evaluate the true temperament of a dog



2. Is the foster providing any pre training for the dog such as crate training, manners etc.?

If they either say “that depends on the foster” or the foster doesn’t provide anything, be prepared to have a dog that may require more initial training and transitioning time from scratch. Also, if they say “that depends on the foster home” that means that the foster home itself likely isn’t receiving a lot of support from the rescue initially and they just let fosters decide what to do. If you can find a rescue that can tell you that all foster homes have received support from a trainer and are actively helping to prepare the dog for its new home through certain structure and training, surely tells you they are seetting the dogs up for success.



3. Can I meet the dog before adopting and if so, how often?

Of course the rescue wants you to make a decision rather sooner than later if the dog is a good match as other potential homes may be available for the dog, but it shouldn’t be an issue to be able to meet the dog and spend some time with it 2-3 time within a time frame of 1-2 weeks if you are really serious about giving this dog a home if it is a good match.



4. Once I take the dog into my care, is the dog immediately mine or is there a “test period”?

Generally, most rescues do provide a few days of time to see if it’s a good fit or not however, since many dogs go through a honey moon period during the transitioning time where they may not show you their true personality until they feel secure in the new home, many responsible rescues will actually make it mandatory, that the dogs stay in their name for at least a month or up to 3 months (depending on the dogs history) which also gives them the right to take the dog back at their own discretion if they deem that the placement is not a good fit. At the same time, it also gives you the opportunity to give the dog back without any hassle and hopefully find a better match if behavoiurs pop up that are truly not a match for your lifestyle. Now that shouldn’t be an encouragement to just go and try dogs out for 3 months at a time as this wouldn’t be fair to the animal, but it gives you security that the rescue isn’t just pumping dogs out and really cares to make sure that you are the final home and are there to support you through that initial time.



5. What if the dog I take in turns out not to be a good match?

What you’d like to hear is that the rescue either is happily willing to take the dog back into their care or are able to provide you with trouble shooting and resources that may resolve the concerns that you are having.



6. Do you have dogs in your care that have a human or bite history and if so, will I be informed if the dog has a previous history of biting a human or animal?

Well I guess the answers that you are hoping for in regards to these questions are obvious. There are many rescues that will not accept dogs into their program that have a knows bite history and it that case they will tell you that. Of course, they do rely on the person that surrenders the dog that they are truthful and sometimes they simply won’t know. If the rescue takes dogs with bite history and just the fact that you are asking this questions makes clear to them that you are thorough with your own evaluation and it’s just a good way for your to set your tone in that case. Also, if they rescue does adopt out dog with a know bite history, make sure to ask what happens if the dog you are adopting with a bite history re offends in your care.



7. Will I be informed of every thing and all potential behavior issues that are known from the get go when I apply rather than just when I decide to adopt the dog?

Too many people share the experience with me where they either simply weren’t informed about very apparent issues OR only the day of adoption. At this point the new owner have already committed to the dog and prepared their home for it and then often feel obligated to take a dog that they maybe weren’t ready for. So if you ever feel that some information isn’t disclosed straight up or only at a later time, simply walk the other way. Believe me, it is the best decision for you to make.



8. What kind of support is provided to me within the firs few weeks of adopting and afterwards?

In the ideal case, a rescue has either support from a trainer in place or to help you with the transitioning time setting everybody up for success and have protocols that you can follow to help you make the best out of your new friend. The initial few weeks are crucial and lack of transitioning support is often times why many dog owners call me after having the dog for 1-3 months.



9. What if I can’t keep the dog even after having had it for several years? Do I have to look for a new home myself or can I return it back to the rescue?

A responsible rescue will always take dogs back into their care if needed and/or help you find a suitable home while you still foster the dog if that’s possible for you. Again, it’s not and excuse to dump the dog at the next inconvenient opportunity but it shows that the rescue is there to take care of their dogs in the long run and isn’t just in it for the money.



10. Will I be restricted what dog trainer or other care I can use for my dog?

Fact is, in Canada, once a dog is in your name, it is considered property and rightfully yours. Legally, once a dog is in your name, a rescue can not restrict you to anything. Some rescue will put clauses into their adoption policy that you are only allowed to make use of certain trainers in the area or certain training techniques and if not followed, will remove the dog from your care. Just FYI, legally they can not do that and providing such a clause in an adoption contract is a huge red flag. A rescue should be able to give you recommendations for trainers they are working with in which they align with their services but that doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to use anybody else. Of course, when choosing a trainer or other care for your dog, always screen them and make sure that you agree with everything they provide but just know, that if a rescue is threatening to take away your dog if you are not following exactly what they want, they are just pushing their own agenda and are not always working in the favor of the dog in the end.

About the author:

Simone Krebser - CPDT: Owner and head dog trainer of K9 Possible Dog Training serving the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia from Osoyoos to Penticton and Kelowna. Certified dog trainer, certified pet first aid instructor, member of the IACP, dog crazy and chocolate/cheese addict. “My life revolves around dog’s day in and out and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is my goal to help enhance the lives of all the adventurous and outdoorsy dog owners that crave no limits”

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