How To Adopt A Dog In 6 Easy Steps

Deciding to adopt a dog is an exciting moment that can quickly turn into a frustrating time if you’re not sure where to start, or what steps to take that can help streamline the process.


So here’s a step-by-step guide showing you how to adopt a dog.

1. Google Is Your Friend

Google “dog rescue groups near me” and/or “animal shelters near me”.

You can also include your zip code, city and state, to help narrow down the results. (“dog rescue groups near me 12345” or “dog rescue groups near 12345 Los Angeles, Ca”)

2. Research And Select Your Top 5

Select 5 rescue groups and/or animal shelters from the search results to focus on. This makes the process feel much less overwhelming. Be choosey and read up about them so you are familiar with their specialities.

3. Follow Them On Social Media

Follow each of your selections on social media (Instagram and/or Facebook). This helps you keep in touch and stay up to date on which dogs are available for adoption. 


A lot of rescue groups will also post about any delays in application response times and other important information that can potentially ease a lot of frustration on both your end, and theirs.


Many rescue groups and shelters will post videos of the dogs in foster homes; watching them helps you get to know the personalities of any dogs or puppies you have your eye on.

4. Pick Your Top 1-3 Dogs

Select 1-3 adoptable dogs or puppies from each of your selected rescue groups and/or animal shelters. 

Some rescue groups prefer you only express interest in 1 dog, while others prefer if you give them more than 1. 


Be sure to read all the information they provide on their website or application page. Be sure to meet them in person to understand how your energies align. 

5. Fill Out An Application And Wait

Fill out an adoption application for each rescue group on your selected list with as much relevant detail as possible.


It’s safe to say every rescue group that you find with a Google search has their applications filled and submitted online via their website, or even via links in their social media profiles.


This lets the rescue group and shelter teams know you’re an interested adopter and helps streamline the adoption process later on.

Tip to Remember: Many rescue groups are volunteer-run, meaning they all may have full-time jobs and families to care for on top of running a dog rescue and reviewing adoption applications that are submitted daily. 

Some rescue groups may list info on their site or within the application about potential wait times until you hear back from them and some even have a “if you haven’t heard from us in over __ number of days, please email…” 

This is why it’s extremely important to review all of the information on their site about adopting a dog from their rescue group so you can have a better understanding of a timeline of when you’ll hear back and when you should give them a little nudge after submitting your application. 

If there’s no timeline information provided, we suggest waiting 7-10 days after submitting your application to send a short, polite, and friendly follow up inquiry about the status of your application.

6. Always Keep Looking!

If you end up not hearing back from one, or more, of the rescue groups or animal shelters on your selection list…just search for more!


Not hearing back after submitting an application could mean a lot of different things. Don’t take it personal.

Remember: the perfect dog will find you when the time is right. It’s totally understandable to be excited to adopt a dog and want to get one ASAP. 


Instead, go into the process with the expectation that it will take longer than you originally thought it would to prevent any frustration from being impatient.


Yes, the wait is hard…


But the outcome is more than worth the wait!


Once you find your new forever best friend, be sure to let others know you chose to adopt a rescue dog and inspire them to do the same by repping the The Symbol For Rescue Dogs®!



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