It’s finally time. You’re ready to bring a furry family member into your home. Discussions about the responsibility of taking care of a dog were talked through at length.  You’ve looked on Petfinder,, or followed your favorite local rescue. Maybe you’ve already found a couple of dogs that caught your eye, or you know what you’re looking for but want to see options.

But before you take the plunge, here are a few questions you need to ask, not only when you attend the adoption event, but while you’re inquiring about the dog. Working with a few rescues, I have noticed the organizations can ask a lot of information about you, but you deserve to know about the rescue! So here are my go-to questions that will help you make the right decision for your family.

What to ask a rescue….

When researching online:

  • Get the right contact info. If you’re on adoption websites like Petfinder or Adoptapet, a lot of times rescues will post under each of their dogs where and who to contact specifically in the section where you learn about the dog’s background. While there may be a “contact the organization” button to click on, be sure to read and make sure there’s not a separate website or email. A lot of times, organizers like having one source of contact since they have so many inquiries and they will not check those sites, so you may never hear back.
  • Find out the dog’s background and story BEFORE meeting! This happened to me recently. I saw a couple of adorable Boston Terriers, clicked on them, and realized they had the same story on each one! This couldn’t be accurate, as they completely different ages. Also, they will usually say if they’re good with kids, dogs, cats, or housetrained. Contact the organization and get as much information about their background as possible. That dog could not be what you were looking for after all.
A typical profile on
  • Look at the reviews! Check google, their Facebook page, Yelp, or any other site where you can get trusted feedback. Did past adopters find the organization helpful? Did they feel the dogs were treated well during their time in the rescue? Also look for responses from them when negative comments are posted. That shows they care and are willing to help.
  • Where does the rescue get their dogs? Do they get them from no-kill shelters? People who surrender them? A mix of both? It’s always good to know where these dogs come from.
  • Is there an adoption application? This is SUPER important! Good rescues will have thorough application process, where they ask questions such as what type of residence to you have (apartment, house, etc.), your vet information, are you able to care for this dog on a daily basis (and not leave it alone for 8 hours a day), references, and other pertinent questions. This shows they want to find the right dog for the right family. Additionally, some rescues take up to a week to process their application, so apply early to get the dog you’ve been eyeing! If the rescue doesn’t have an application process, or it’s not clear how they vet applicants, please make sure you contact them first to see their process. DO NOT work with a rescue you feel isn’t thorough!
  • Do you have another dog? Can you bring your dog to the adoption event? If not,  perhaps at another place by appointment? You want to make sure they get along!
  • What is their vaccination process? Do they do the spay/neuter process? Most rescues do. Some also provide the first months of heartworm and any other medications for the first month the dogs may need. Be sure you are aware of the cost of these important medications and vaccinations they may need.
  • And of course, what is the cost?! Most adoption fees cover the above care. You may think $500 is “a lot”, but if you think that’s costly, then you shouldn’t get a dog. Ask what that fee covers.

What to ask (and do!)

At the adoption event:

So you asked all the right questions, including above, and are ready to attend the adoption event, or meet at the rescue by appointment only.

  • Get to the event early. Speaking from experience, people don’t get to there until the late afternoon, and all the puppies are gone, or the dog they wanted was adopted. If you have your heart set on a dog that you know is going to be there, make sure you arrive right when the event starts, so you’re not disappointed.
  • Be clear on the contract! Some rescues will have a contract upon adoption, where it states their refund policies, what happens if the dog is sick within the first two weeks of being in your care, etc. Be sure you understand everything.
  • What are the medicines they are giving? Some dogs in a rescue’s care can get sick, which is common, as may not have been treated before or get kennel cough, a frequent occurrence in closed spaces. Be clear on the dosage, what it’s for, and how long the dog needs it to be treated.
  • Talk to the foster mom’s (if they’re there!). If you have an idea of what you want but are looking at options, the best way to find out if a dog is right for you is to talk a foster mom! They obviously know the dog best, and they will give you an honest opinion. As much as they want the dog adopted, it’s more important to find the right family. So ask away!

What some questions you recommend potential adopters asking? Comment below!

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