Adopt A Dog

The rehoming procedure – from arrival to adoption

How do our dogs get prepared for their loving forever homes?

Dogs come to us from many different scenarios.

Some need to be rescued urgently on welfare grounds and taken to a place of safety, heading to kennels to begin their assessments.

Others are surrendered from family homes, in these cases they are often first assessed in their usual environment to give us the benefit of extra information that helps us when looking for their perfect new home.

Regardless of their history or circumstances, their assessments are overseen by qualified and experienced members of our ‘Dog Wellbeing Team’, as well as our Canine Care Coordinator.

Every dog is different and so their support plan is tailored to cover everything from their medical needs to their emotional wellbeing. They each have a designated trainer or behaviourist within the Dog Wellbeing Team who are all on hand to help, as well as key volunteers to take them on adventures and make sure life is fun before they are ready to come home to you.

Every step of the way the dogs are sharing their video diaries on social media so please do follow our Facebook or Instagram accounts if you would like to see them.

Dogs who are elderly, sick, very young, or with no behavioural issues and full history, who pass all of the assessments may be fast tracked to an experienced, pre-vetted and pre-approved foster placement from our Lifeline List.

Usually though, once they have had their vet check-up and vaccinations they go to the lovely kennels that we rent for further assessments. There are a few reasons for this:

This is so we can get the right match first time, it’s a big responsibility to be in charge of where someone spends the rest of their life!

Like us each dog has a passion in life, a drive for a certain thing and we need to help them channel that and express themselves, exhibiting their natural behaviours in a constructive, fun and safe way.

This also helps us with match making and tells us what the dogs can and can’t cope with. Safety is of the utmost importance, even the most sociable dogs who are in the wrong environment can get themselves into all kinds of trouble and we take our duty of care to them, our adopters and the public very seriously.

If they have been surrendered owing to ‘behavioural / emotional struggles’ we aim to help them to feel better about the things that cause them distress and anxiety, through a multiple perspective support plan. They may need to stay with us a little longer until they are more confident and have a better understanding of the world around them.

When we have enough information about their ideal new environment, ongoing training needs and any lifestyle adaptations which may need to be made to help them feel safe, it’s time to find them the perfect adopter with the enthusiasm to commit to continuing their wellbeing/training plan with our support.

Every dog is introduced to their vet early on in the process. They each have their vaccinations or titre test, preventative treatments and our neutering policy means that we ensure their procedures are done too.

Before neutering they are not just medically assessed, their emotional wellbeing is taken into account too. If they need to build confidence and become more emotionally balanced before neutering can take place then extra safety plans are put in place for them, as well as the support sessions with professionals that they need in order to prepare.

Any procedures which need to be performed routinely, urgently for their welfare, or in the near future to prevent long term discomfort, will be paid for with the donations we gratefully receive from the public. This includes anything from dentals to orthopaedic operations, and adoption signover doesn’t take place until they have fully recovered and been signed off by their vet.

Some dogs come with ongoing needs like allergy medication which must be carefully considered in your family discussions about your new commitments. It is important to remember that medical bills can occur at any time in a dogs’ life and that the financial responsibility of dog ownership is always significant, so you must ask yourself if you would be ready for a big bill should an accident or new condition happen a year down the road and whether you would be prepared to take out insurance.

We have some permanently fostered dogs like Betsy whose bills we cover for life, these are rare exceptions who are in severe circumstances and this situation would be discussed with anyone taking on a dog with certain conditions.

About us

Arrival at the kennels.

When the dogs arrive at the kennels they are taken to their new temporary bedroom which is heated with an attached run, accessible through a dog door in case they choose to go out. They will have any belongings they’ve arrived with or new ones, a big comfy bed, some new toys and enrichment and of course their food of choice and their water.

Their kennel carers and key volunteers work closely with our Dog Wellbeing Team to support them with their individual wellbeing plans. This is a crucial time of getting to know them inside out and helping them leave their fears at the door, it’s where the first part of their transformation begins and life starts to become fun!

They all need some time to decompress and settle in before official assessments begin but their wellbeing plans are being constantly adapted and improved from day 1.

Our Canine Care Coordinator oversees their daily care and reports back to our Dog Wellbeing Team; together they monitor progress to make sure that baby steps are being taken in the right direction and the dogs’ pace.

You can look back on our social media videos to see some of the agility classes, sheepdog assessments, train rides, environmental training trips, walks on the beach, visits to local businesses and other things they get up to here, no two days are the same and we are constantly looking for new places to go and people for them to meet. If you have any dog training experience, an enclosed field, any farm animals, interesting things for them to see or friendly dogs to help them socialise, please get in touch!

When they are ready to find a forever home, the adoption process begins..

The Adoption Process

Each applicant will need to fill in the application form at the top of this page.

Your information goes straight to our secure database to be kept on file and used for our reference, it is protected by our GDPR policy.

We encourage you to include as much detail as possible and to please email with any supporting documents like:

– Landlord’s permission for pets or proof of home ownership,

– A copy of a photo ID with your address and supporting utility bill

-Photographs of your home, fences and garden

– (if applicable) details of a previous pet’s vet/ groomer/ behaviourist/ rescue or other animal care professional who we can contact for a reference

To avoid disappointment at the first hurdle, please do read all of the information provided about the dog you are applying for to make sure your circumstances fit their non negotiable criteria.

It is helpful to know which dog you have in mind, however if we find that we have another dog who is better suited to your lifestyle, experience level or hopes whom you hadn’t considered before we will let you know.

Ultimately we will be using the information you give as a guide to help find you the perfect new addition, so it’s really important to fill in the form as truthfully and as informatively as you can. Remember that there are no wrong answers if they are honest, it’s all about finding real matches and creating bonds that will last a lifetime.

If you have applied to welcome a specific dog into your home, you will find out whether you have moved forward to the next stages of their shortlist or whether there is any reason we feel that a better match can be found for you. If the dog you’d hoped to meet is not your perfect match but you have a wonderful home for the right dog, you will be offered a place on our ‘lifeline list of foster carers and adopters’ and we will notify you of potential matches who come in.

If you sent a general adoption application we will let you know whether we have a potential match for you, or whether you will be offered a place on our ‘lifeline list of foster carers and adopters’ ready for if a potential match comes in.

Although you will have emailed photographs of your home and fences with your application, when a potential match is found for you a volunteer will be in touch to arrange a home check which is tailored for their specific needs.

This can last around 90 minutes and it is absolutely nothing to worry about, the safety of your fences will be checked amongst other things and you will have another chance for an in depth chat and any more questions that may have arisen for you.

Footage will be taken during the home check for the professionals overseeing the dogs’ care to review, in order to best advise you. It is stored on our secure database and will not be made public.

There are other times that videos and photos will be taken for the Dog Wellbeing Team to review, like when your matched dog has visits to your home. If you have resident pets or children whom we need to assess their interactions with, there will be some extra sessions to monitor things more closely and ensure everyone’s safety.

There may be nice clips of dogs in your home which we would love to use for social media updates, but everything will be sent to you for review and only posted with your prior consent.

Due to GDPR we do not post identifying footage of adopters or foster carers, their locations are also protected.

On that note we would like to add that we really appreciate comments of support for the dogs on social media, but to help us to keep your identity and the dogs’ new location safe we advise those who adopt, foster and surrender dogs not to comment publicly about their direct relation to their cases. We will always act as a middle man if there is a previous owner who wishes to have updates, to protect both parties from situations where emotions run high.

Your home-check report and footage will be assessed by our Rehoming Team and Dog Wellbeing Team who will discuss everything at length.

We will let you know if there are any safety adaptations that would need to be made for the dog in question, for example heightening fences, installing baby gates or applying temporary window frosting stickers.

We will also let you know where everything stands with regards to whether there is still a shortlist, or whether you are the only remaining applicant to progress this far in the matching process.

We would like to add a reminder here that rehomings are never on a first come first served basis, the dogs will ultimately choose their own homes by letting their behaviourists know where they are happiest and being the only applicant at this stage does not guarantee that the matching process will end in adoption.

When we have all of the information we need about your family and lifestyle, and have matched you to a dog who has completed their assessments, we will begin the “meet and greet” stage.

All of your family members, including any resident dogs and regular visitors (especially dogs and children) must begin by visiting your matched dog either at the kennels or at a safe and convenient place near their foster home.

This is done in stages, with resident dogs and immediate family first and others during subsequent visits. If things are going well we progress to meeting for walks in public areas to give you further handling guidance as they react to different things, then on to play dates at your home to familiarise them and discuss a settling in plan before sleepovers begin.

Before the pre-adoption settling in period can begin the dog must be fully comfortable with their new carers and environment to make the transition as smooth as possible, which means that the number of visits will vary for each adoption. It is also important that everyone at home is feeling fully confident that they have the information they need to make an informed choice about welcoming their new family member permanently.

It is always best to know that a match isn’t quite right before a dog comes home, so this lengthier process and your honesty throughout is crucial to avoid heartbreak later down the line.

To avoid disappointment in cases where parents decide to withdraw their application during the process due to behaviourist advice regarding the match, meets and training days involving children in prospective homes can be disguised as after school educational activities until we know for sure that there is a high chance of success for permanent adoption. Every child is different and so the tailoring of the process means full involvement from their parents too.

You will have plenty of opportunity to ask questions and have discussions with the professionals on our Dog Wellbeing Team.

It is vital the everyone is completely honest throughout this process so that we can be sure that the match is right, failed rehomings can have a devastating impact on a dog’s psychological wellbeing so you must be fully committed and up front if you feel that you cannot move forward at any stage, for any reason.

After as many meets as necessary and sessions with a professional on our Dog Wellbeing Team, your matched dog will be brought home to you by our Canine Care Coordinator and your dogs’ designated trainer/behaviourist to begin their settling in period.

Your family will have another talk to explain your dog’s personalised training plan again, giving you practical advice, demonstrations and written reminders too where needed. When your dog has settled and everyone is 100% happy, we will leave them in your safe hands.

This time isn’t an opportunity to ‘try before you buy’, but the start of a lifelong commitment to the dog who will be uprooting everything they know when they move in with you, if you are still not 100% certain now is the most important time to say.

Often it starts with day stays and sleepovers depending on the dogs’ needs and it is always a minimum of 2 weeks at home before the official adoption day.

The pre- adoption settling in period may be extended if a dog is recovering from surgery or an ailment – only when our financial responsibilities end do yours begin. Carers taking on dogs with more complex emotional needs may have an extension for extra support sessions funded by the charity whilst everyone finds their feet, but when they and their support team are happy that everything is on track there is a unanimous decision to move forward to full adoption.

Regular communication is vital, especially during this time. We want to support you every step of the way and need to ensure the welfare of our dogs, so any concerning lack of communication may result in them being collected and brought back into our care.

At the beginning of the pre- adoption settling in period a £300 adoption donation is paid, half of which is refunded if it doesn’t work out but only if all advice has been followed. A refund may be refused only if an adopter acts irresponsibly, neglectfully or breaks contract.

You will have been advised about any medical appointments they may need to attend, which will have been booked at the vets you wish to register them to at a time that is convenient for you; these costs are all covered until the official adoption and a rescue volunteer will also attend the appointments.

What is Rescue Backup? (RBU)

RBU covers many important topics which relate directly to the welfare of the dog and the safety of the public, if you find your perfect pooch through different organisation we are thrilled that a life has been saved, however we urge you to make sure that you have reliable RBU and we will explain why below.

In the first instance, the rescue organisation must ensure that a qualified behaviourist has assessed the dog as much as is physically possible, that medical checks have been carried out by a trusted veterinarian, and that all preventative treatments have been given to make sure there is no threat of illness, disease, parasite infestation or injury which will cause any discomfort to the dog, and that any behavioural struggles are pinpointed early and supported in the right way.

The organisation has a duty to carry out very thorough home checks and vetting procedures for the safety of the dogs and the adopters and offer ongoing support for the rest of the dog’s life.

When a dog has RBU they are safe for the rest of their life. Should any adopter or foster carer become unable to care for their dog, the rescue must always welcome the dog back in and have a good foster network and/ or sufficient funds put aside for emergency boarding at all times in case of an emergency return.

The organisation should have public liability insurance to cover foster carers and those in pre-adoption stages, ideally offering you 4 weeks free insurance with an IVC from PetPlan or a similar company to begin when your new addition is officially adopted.

Your dog should come home with their insurance, relevant paperwork, neuter or neutering agreement, an updated microchip, safe equipment, the food they are used to and they should have received their preventative treatments. It is recommended that any stray dog who arrives from the pound has a quarantine period of around 2 weeks to make sure they are not carrying an infection that could affect any resident pets or other animals.

The minimum adoption donation is £300 with the addition of fuel costs (25 pence per mile).

This helps to cover some of the things they needed funds for whilst in rescue like medical care, specialist support, kennel space and new belongings. It assists us with being financially able help the next dog who needs us and also covers:

– Everything they come home with including plenty of food, their preferred bed and/ or crate, toys, treats, equipment and anything else they may need.

– The support and training sessions involved in the matching and settling in process (and the post adoption support scheme that some of our rehabilitation dogs need)

– Copies of two of Veterinary Behaviourist Dr Kendal Shepherd’s books, to give you loads of trusted material to read to understand your dog better.

– Rescue Back Up for life and training support, with access to an emergency phone line and also a group chat to connect with your dog’s key volunteers and designated trainer any time. ‘Once a Spirit Dog, Always a Spirit Dog’

– 4 weeks free insurance with PetPlan is issued on adoption day. It is now mandatory in the adoption contract to have public liability insurance and also medical cover where possible; there are some exceptions to the rule and many different policy types which can all be discussed with your dogs’ support volunteers.

Do you have a question that hasn’t been covered above?

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