Tails from an Animal Welfare Volunteer: How to Successfully Navigate the Adoption Process

By Fionna Keller, Animal Rescue Volunteer
Guest Blogger

I volunteer weekly for an amazing, all-volunteer run rescue in Canada. If I had to sum myself up in one sentence, I would say that I am passionate about all things animal welfare. Being directly involved with several rescue organizations and animal adoptions has been one of the most difficult, but also one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. From time to time, I hear people complain that they find the adoption process complicated and/or lengthy. Some adoption applicants get frustrated, and occasionally even give up on adoption all together, because they don’t always hear back from volunteers regarding the status of their application. Here I hope to explain why adopting may take a little time, as well as give some tips on how to successfully navigate your way through the adoption process.

One of the biggest issues anyone who works in animal rescue has to deal with is limited resources, both financial and personnel; some rescues are 100% volunteer run and most operate entirely on donations. At all-volunteer run rescues, most of the people involved work full-time, are parents, have their own pets and commitments, so they do the best they can by giving the time they can. Sadly, there are only so many days in a week and hours in a day. Often, there is no rest, or break, or time to pause. Furthermore, for every dog that comes in, 5 more are waiting to get in.  Often these rescues are just trying to keep their heads above water and save as many animal lives as they can. If things are taking a little time, please be patient. They probably have not forgotten you. I encourage you to consider that they are working diligently on the other end saving lives that hang in the balance. If for some reason you don’t hear back from a rescue or organization, I recommend you follow up and try again. Remember as well that the reward of adopting is two-fold: not only are you saving the life of the dog you are adopting, but also of the dog who gets into the rescue to take his or her place!

Furthermore, while adoption forms are often lengthy with many questions and some may be off putting, please know that there is a method to that madness! Lengthy adoption applications with probing questions protect the animals in our care and weed out half-hearted adopters.  No animal advocate ever wants to make the mistake of placing an animal with someone who might endanger them or abandon them. I have seen firsthand how devastating it is on a dog when they are abandoned.  It is terrible; they are so afraid, almost broken. Many are stressed for days and some even become depressed. Lengthy and probing application forms help avoid having the animal returned a second or third time.

This is a problem that we all need to take issue with!  It is a terrible reality how many animals are abandoned, abused and euthanized every year. (3-4 million are euthanized every year in the U.S. alone!) All rescues are doing their best to try to help as many animals as they can.

If you haven’t heard back from one particular rescue, know that they are a small piece of a larger whole; there are plenty of excellent rescues to adopt from. Your options are far from limited! Please don’t give up on adoption if you aren’t hearing back from one rescue.  Try them again or try another. If you genuinely care about the welfare of animals, you must be part of the solution.  Be the change you wish to see in the universe – don’t give up on adoption.