How to Adopt a Rescued Dog

Sydney (Image:, Pauline Gill)

There are a number of rescue organizations across the country. Some focus on rescuing specific breeds, such as greyhounds that are put down after their racing seasons are over, or other breeds that have been abandoned such as Labradors, pugs, German shepherds or even toy poodles. Each group has its own mission to rescue certain breeds or to rescue dogs who have been abused, chained, penned in or abandoned or are on the list to be gassed. These organizations network across the country, helping place dogs in foster homes or permanent homes. Costs for an adopting such a dog are reasonable, considering the expense of spaying or neutering, shots and veterinarian checkups to prepare the dog for its new home.

Things You'll Need

  • List of all animals you have owned
  • Veterinarian's name and address
  • $150 to $300
  • Dog crate

Go to a breed website, if you are looking for a specific breed. There will be a link for rescued dogs. Petfinder is also a good choice for all breeds. Simply select the breed, age, size and your zip code. A list of dogs will come up for your surrounding area. Some of the dogs are not purebred, so read carefully before deciding to look at a dog. The American Kennel Club has links to purebred rescue organizations. Usually each state has purebred rescue groups that are networked across the country. Check with your veterinarian. Purebred breeds cost more to adopt than mixed breeds. Plan on spending at least $300.

Check out Petfinder if you are not particular about a purebred. This website has many mixed dogs that have a dominant breed trait. For instance, if you like the personality of the Lab, do a search on Petfinder for Labradors. You will get results for both purebred and mixed breeds. Peruse the dogs and click on the pictures for more information. Most rescued dogs are in foster home care. There will be a writeup about the dog and usually a variety of pictures with contact information. The Adopt a Pet website also has purebred and mixed breed dogs.

Pick out a dog to learn more about it, and contact the foster home or the organization. You will be asked to fill out an application that details information about you, your home and your knowledge about dogs. You must give a name of a veterinarian who can vouch for you. You will be contacted and asked more questions. The organization wants to make sure the pet is placed in a home that will accommodate the pet and that the pet is not left alone the majority of the time.

Sydney after being adopted
Sydney after being adopted

Be prepared for the foster parents to bring the dog to you for a home visit. They will ask additional questions and watch how the dog interacts with you. If the dog is not under foster care but is at a kennel, you will be asked to visit the kennel. Again, the purpose of visitation is to watch the interaction and to make sure the dog is placed in a good home. It's also important to match personalities.

Buy the dog. If you are approved to adopt the dog, the cost will be about $150 to cover shots, neutering/spaying and any other veterinarian costs. Some money may be allocated to rescue another dog. Most rescue organizations are nonprofit, and foster parents are volunteers. The rescue organization will take the dog back if you cannot keep him. Don't expect a refund.

Tips & Warnings

  • Give the dog time to adjust. It takes a dog a while to realize that this is a new home.
  • Teach the dog the rules of the house, and expect that the dog will need some training.
  • Don't allow the dog to sleep with you. Buy a crate and have the dog sleep in it at night as well as when you are away. Dogs love crates because they provide security. If the dog is not used to a crate, it will adjust and learn to enjoy the comfort a crate brings.
  • Don't buy a crate that is too small. The dog should be able to stand and turn around.

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