The best information to know before you begin is the difference between the ASPCA and the SPCA. The ASPCA stands for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals. It is the oldest non-profit organization. They include the same care but have little to do with shelters. They are backed by huge corporations such as PETA and the Humane Society.

The SPCA is the Social Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The SPCA is found in many nations big and small. They campaign for animals welfare, involved with cruelty cases and adoptions from their shelters. Their financing comes from donations and government funding.

This guide deals with the SPCA when adopting.

For some consumers, adoption feels like second hand goods. Yes, they have had previous owners; why they are there for adoption is the real question. Consider that the owner just couldn't keep the dog any longer because of a move where animals aren't allowed. Perhaps their owner passed on. It was found as a stray. Given to the SPCA because its owner's realized they made a big mistake in choice by not doing their research. Very rarely will you find a purebred in a shelter. You also will never see dogs that have been known biters and aggressors.

To begin the process, I would look online. There are three major online pet adoption websites used by shelters as their advertising. You can see what is there before you drive to the local shelter. Or possibly you may see one at shelter just a little farther down the road. The sites are:, and Sign up for account. Costs you nothing. They all have very good educational articles. The shelters themselves often have their own website. You can go directly to their website to see the available adoptions.

How they work. They all work the same way basically. You fill out your specific filters such as: breed, gender, age bracket, your zip code and choose the amount of miles your willing to drive and press enter. All the dogs that you requested with your filters will appear. Remember when you put in breed, put in what the most desired breed is because the dogs are usually a mix.

Scroll thru the dogs. When you see one you are interested in, click on the dog and get its information. It will include (if they know), why it came to the shelter, any history or background they have, what breeds they believe it to be, age, what to consider if you have other pets or children at home. It may say: does not get along with cats for example. All medical problems that have been taken care of, spaying/neutering, shots etc. It will sometimes include the application fees and adoption fees. Most important, it will show you where the dog is and who is caring for it. This is the group you will be working with.

Don't start filling out any applications until later. You'll know why a little down the line.

The best advice is to go meet/greet the dog at the shelter that you are interested in. You can go see them in their kennels (harden your hearts). A volunteer handler will gladly take the dog outside to a fenced in area to see how it interacts with you. Plays with toys or fetch the ball. Ask it to perform certain necessary commands: Sit, Stay and Lie down. You need to know what you are getting yourself into. If this dog came from a somewhat abusive arena, they probably don't know any commands. The dog could be five years old and not know anything, which is just the same as getting a puppy. Think, Think, Think. As always don't let emotions rule your head!

Do not expect to bring your new friend home that day. You can fill out the paper work there but the dog stays with them for a mandatory 48 hours. The dog must be spayed/neutered before it leaves. Another waiting period. Lastly, this is a big one! Should someone else have an application in the system for the same dog, and waiting for approval and receives it; the dog goes to them first. There are often long waiting lists.

Every shelter has its own way of doing the adoption process. Just don't go to the closest one to your home. There are many shelters that would enjoy a visit from you.

Adopting is a step up from the puppy mills. Yet adoption does come with frustration, disappointments, a lot of applicants before you, and long waiting periods to see if you qualify. In some cases applications fees are non-refundable.

Before you spend anytime filling out an application, it is important to read the adoption process and policies for all applications you submit. You will save yourself a lot of energy and time knowing their rules and regulations first. One rule on the list could completely disqualify you. An easy one that will stop you right from the starting gate is required fencing.

This is a general list with most application process rules you would encounter. You'll be able to quickly acknowledge whether to continue to an application or not.






Your Next Step is:
Finding Your Puppy
Breed of Their Own
AKC Breeders
Puppy Mills
Elsie's First Year
Shelters can come and check up on you and the dog at any time
The application fees may not be refundable
You must have fencing and not underground electronic fencing
If you rent, you will need a statement from the property owner permitting animals and you need to have your lease with you
I Be prepared to have many applications ahead of yours
Some sites have available lists of needs for your first dog. Read it thru carefully. Be sure you can afford to buy these items. The AKC has such a list on their site
Financially will you be able to afford: adoption fees, application fees, costs of veterinarian bills, booster shots, rabies shot, monthly heartworm, monthly flea/tick, annual municipality licensing fees and of course food?
There are mandatory house/home inspections
Any dog from a shelter is always spayed/neutered if age appropriate, has  
heartworm testing, deworming and up to date shots done prior to adoption. They have a clean bill of health. Depending on age, be ready for more shots and the shelter usually will spay/neuter for a lower cost anytime after six months
Think carefully about these statements Before you start the application. Filling out the application is a long and arduous task. They are all slightly different, yet ask the same questions. Beyond the usual name, rank and serial number, are questions like these to expect:
List of pets you currently own or have owned in the past 5 years. They want to know everything about them including age, breed, name, gender, cause of death for any that have passed and age at the time
All veterinarian information
Have you adopted before and from whom
All the name and ages of those living in the household, including any children with age and gender
All the people who may visit your home including any children with their ages
What kind of dwelling do you live in
Where is that dwelling
How much acreage do you have
An inspection of your house/home is mandatory
Do you have a fence to exercise the dog and if not, how do you plan to exercise the dog daily
Do you plan on putting in a fence
What happens to the animal if you move or die
Some applications require the applicants to have full background checks
How many hours are you away from the home daily and what happens to the dog during these hours
Where will the dog sleep
Are you willing to take the dog to Obedience School
You must spay/neuter the dog if not of age at the time of adoption. Then you must return with proof it has been completed
Dog may not be house trained. Are you willing to do so
Have you ever given up a dog before
Do you have a pool
Have you tried to adopt elsewhere and with whom
Have you ever been denied an adoption application, if so from whom and why
What reasons do you find acceptable to give a dog up (usually a checklist)
Calculate the cost for one dog for one year
These are the typical application questions. Do you want to go thru this adoption process?  It can turn out to be a wonderful experience or, you can see why it would lean you towards a puppy mill without all the hassle. Are you deciding between the two? Then you should adopt. Even better, consider your next two options; purchasing from an AKC Breeder or taking in a Rescue Dog.