As their current pet parent, it's your privilege and responsibility to review their applications and choose the best safe and loving home for your pet. You know your pet better than anyone, so you're uniquely qualified!
This article will guide you question by question through the application and provide insights on how to review any applications you receive for your pet.
1. Why am I looking to adopt a pet?
Great answers are anything that has to do with love or companionship. If someone wants a companion for his or her other animal, that can be fine, but ask follow-up questions to ensure that if your pet doesn’t become the best playmates with their existing pet, that your pet won’t be given away or relinquished to an animal shelter.
If the answer is “I want my children to learn responsibility”, or “I’m adopting a pet for my child”, please ask questions about the parents’ intention to take responsibility for your pet’s care when/if their child loses interest or becomes too busy to handle daily walks/feeding/litter box cleaning, or leaves home, etc. Many pets are relinquished to shelters for just this reason.
“As a gift” is another answer that should prompt further questioning. Is the gift for someone in the same household, like a spouse or a child? In that case, make sure the recipient is aware of the gift and that the person who filled out the application is willing to take responsibility for the pet’s care. If they’re not, the gift recipient should be the one to fill out the application. If the gift is for someone outside of the household, the recipient should absolutely be the person to fill out the application. After all, your pet will potentially be living in their home, so you’ll want to know all you can about them and also meet them!
2. A little more about me
Applicants select from one of the following:
- college student
- stay-at-home parent
- None of the above (required to type their own answer)
This question just gives you a basic idea of the applicant. Please do not use this to discriminate against someone due to age, young or old!
Fun Fact: Retirees can make amazing pet parents, as they have time and love to give and many retirees are extremely fit and active. We’ve also known many wonderful pet guardians who adopted during college. The key is to make sure they understand the commitment they’re making, and to require proof that they’re allowed to have pets where they live.
Children: This is where the application shows if they have one child, two children, three children, or 4 or more children, and their general ages (infant, toddler, pre-teen, teenager):
If your pet isn’t good with kids and the adopter has them, go no further. If your pet is good with kids, OR if, let's say, they're good with teenagers (and not younger children), and the applicant only has teenagers—and you decide to move forward with a Meet & Greet, ask the adopter to bring their kids with them.
Then, observe the way the kids interact with your pet. Just as importantly, observe the way the parents guide them. Do they let their kids treat your pet roughly? If they intervene, are they kind to their children, or do they yell at them? You can tell a lot about how someone will treat a pet by the way they treat their children. Also, watch how your pet reacts to the children. Pets often give off subtle signs of nervousness or discomfort, such as lip licking, yawning, at times panting, or not-so-subtle signs, such as trying to avoid the children.
3. My Home
Applicants select between:
For dog parents, if your dog barks when left alone, an apartment or condo may not be the best fit. However some dog parents use doggy daycare, bring their dogs to work, or work from home, so you can ask for more details of each applicant. If the adopter lives in a house, ask about the backyard:
- Will your dog ever be left alone in the yard? For how long?
- How tall is the fence? Ask about the height and security of any backyard fence and gates.
For cat parents, if your cat is an inside only cat, you can ask if their windows are all securely screened.
Pro Tip: You can ask an applicant to email or text you photos of their home and other pets, or better yet, do a video tour, to see if their home looks looks safe and secure. Remember, applicants can't see your email or phone number so you would need to give that to them.
4. Pet Resume
The applicant is asked if they have pets, and if so what type(s) of pets, and how many of each:
If your pet is not good with other animals, obviously you’re looking for a pet-free home (or a home belonging to an expert professional behaviorist who simply won’t give up).
If your pet is good with other animals and the adopter’s pets are good with the type of pet you’re rehoming, that's a good sign. For dogs, do a careful introduction at the Meet & Greet before finalizing the adoption. For cats, make sure that the adopter is comfortable keeping the cats in separate rooms and doing a slow cat-to-cat introduction.
5. Household Lifestyle
The activity level options are: Minimally Active, Moderately Active, Active and Highly Active:
How active are you? Make sure this answer matches the degree of activity your particular pet needs. If you’re adopting out a senior pet, he or she may not need or want much exercise. But if you’re adopting out a really high-energy pet like a Jack Russell terrier mix or an intelligent highly-driven dog like an Australian Shepherd, your dog will likely require a lot of activity in order to avoid frustration behaviors like barking or destroying household items.
How many hours per day will your pet be alone? Acceptable answers to this question vary by pet. You know your pet best. So many different factors play into what will make your pet happy in their new home, including but not limited to what type of pet you have, your pet's age, their energy level, the environment, training, daily exercise, and any other pets in the home.
Where will your pet sleep? Where people keep their pets is as diverse as the people on this planet! Some people believe pets should never come inside their home, others think it would be cruel to have pets not sleep on the bed with them at night. When looking at responses to this question, consider what your pet is used to and happy with, and what would make him happy in his new home. If the response is simply "inside", be sure to ask where "inside" is -- is that anywhere inside their home, inside a garage, or inside a crate in the kitchen?
For cats, while we advocate for keeping cats safely indoors-only, if your cat was an outdoor or indoor/outdoor cat, be sure the family is willing to keep the cat completely enclosed for 30 days, the time most rescuers tell us it takes for a cat's internal compass to reset to a new location. Other pets, too, can be more likely to roam from a new home, so keep that in mind as you consider the answers to this question.
After I’ve screened the adoption application, what’s next?
Respond to all applications as soon as possible:
If you're not interested in moving forward with an applicant: click the "Politely Decline" white box on the application; this sends an automated polite message to let the applicant know and helps the person move on to find another pet who needs a home.
If the application looks good, and you'd like to take the next step: click "Contact Adopter" to see their phone number. Call and speak on the phone; this is the perfect time to talk specifically about your pet and his or her needs and quirks. Give the applicant the opportunity to ask you all of their questions as well. Check out What questions should I ask applicants on the phone?