Scrolling down the rows of adorable photos on Petfinder’s website, I came across a reddish-brown spaniel, about 9 months old, with silky ears and soulful brown eyes. I had to have that dog!

Before I could adopt Kelly, however, I had to pass an interview conducted by Kelly’s Rescue Mom. I anxiously sat on the couch as she scrutinized my home and examined my daily routine. Here are some questions you, too, may be asked when you’re ready to adopt that one special dog:
1. Could you provide veterinarian records?
While it doesn’t matter if your current dog had fleas or your previous dog once hurt its paw, adoption organizations want to see that you sought proper treatment for your pets. They’ll also want to ensure vaccinations were kept up to date. This information will show that you provided good care for your pet, and will care for the new dog as well.
2. Do you own your home?
Some adoption organizations require you to own your own home. Others will ask to see a copy of your lease and the pet policy, if you are a renter. They may ask to talk to, or receive a written consent from, your landlord. Making sure the dog is allowed at its new home helps ensure it won’t have to be returned (or worse, abandoned) later.
3. Do you have a fenced-in yard?
You’ll need a safe area for your new dog to run and play. You may even be required to have fenced in yard before you can adopt a dog. A representative will come to your home to verify this. In addition, they may visit to see if your home is safe, and big enough for the breed dog you are considering.
4. Do you work full time?
Adopting a dog is more difficult for those who work outside the home full time. Many organizations will not adopt to families where no one is home during the day. Others will only adopt older dogs, not puppies, in that situation. Families with staggered or flexible schedules, where one adult is home most of the time, or where an older, responsible child is home in the afternoons, will have an easier time adopting a dog.

5. What are the ages of your children?
Every adoption organization will ask about the members of your household and ages of the children. The SPCA will not adopt puppies less than 6 months old to homes with children under 4 years old. Some dogs are not a good match for young children.

While they may seem firm, these questions help place a dog in the right home, with the best care possible. And, with typical adoption fees ranging from $100-$350, you’ll want to be sure the dog is the right match for you and your lifestyle, too.

And the happy ending for us–we adopted Kelly, and she’s a joyful and loving member of our family. Good luck finding your fur-ever friend!
(This first appeared on, July 2009)