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6 Tips for Adopting a Dog During a Pandemic

Updated: Oct 28, 2020

Photo via Google images

Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone is on the hunt for a fur baby these days?! I had a different post scheduled for this week but decided I wanted to shed light on our pet adoption journey in hopes it would be helpful to anyone else looking to adopt. I don't know how it is in other parts of the country, but here in NYC, the whole process has been super competitive.

My husband and I are a little over two weeks in, and it hasn't been easy. We've been considering adoption for a while and finally decided now is the right time since we're working from home. We even moved apartments last year so that we/the dog could be very close to a beautiful backyard in Prospect Park. We have applied to 25+ dogs so far. Several are no longer available, and we're still waiting to hear back on the others. I don't know what we were expecting, we didn't think it would be super easy, but we didn't realize it would be so difficult.

Photo of my mother's fur baby Tyeric and me

One shelter recently stated that they've been receiving 150+ applications within the hour as soon as a dog is listed. They've never seen anything like it. In a week, they typically get up to 1,000 applications for one dog! I mean, I get it; people are feeling extra lonely during these unprecedented times, but wow, that's a lot of applicants.

If you're looking to adopt a dog over the next couple of months, below are 6 tips to help you on your adoption journey. These are just a few things we've learned and have put into play so far.

  1. Apply immediately! We've been using sites like Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet. In the beginning, there were numerous times we liked a dog and decided to apply later. We quickly realized that approach was a mistake. We would log in a few hours later, disappointed to learn that the dog was no longer available. Crazy, right? As soon as you find a dog you're interested in, apply ASAP, do not wait! Most of these adoption organizations are operating on a first-come, first-serve basis, and as I said previously, they are receiving thousands of applications within hours.

  2. Get organized! Unless you decide to go with a breeder, get ready for a long process. I made the mistake of thinking we would get approved for at least one of the first 5 dogs we applied for. Ha! Who was I kidding? We applied for so many dogs early on. Halfway through the process, we started to forget who was from which rescue, so we created a google doc. Yep, this has become that type of operation! We organized the google doc by Dog Name, Breed, Date of Application, Applicant, Rescue Org, and Next Steps. It's been helpful to have a sheet to refer to in terms of breeds, follow up, next steps, etc.

  3. Save your application answers! At first, it would take us up to an hour to complete an application. Some of the applications can get lengthy! As we finished applications, we noticed that most of them asked the same questions, give or take a couple. So we created another google doc with our answers to the most commonly asked questions. Now we copy and paste from the doc, and we're moving through the applications pretty quickly.

  4. Double-check your lease or rental agreement! If you rent as we do, you should know if dogs are allowed in your building ahead of time. Also, make sure the dog policy is stated clearly on your lease, and it's easy for the adoption team to locate. It may be helpful also to know the size and types of breeds allowed. We had someone from a shelter tell us recently that "small dogs allowed" on the lease wasn't sufficient. They needed specific information.

  5. Alert your landlord and references ahead of time! Every application we have completed has either asked for a copy of the lease or said they would reach out to our landlord directly to confirm the pet policy. Landlords can be difficult to get a hold of, especially if they are short on staff due to the pandemic. Alert them ahead of time that you're looking to adopt and that they may be getting phone calls or emails from the shelter. Also, don't forget to alert your references. I want to stress that time is really of the essence here; the quicker the adoption team can reach everyone to verify information, the faster the process moves. Most adoption organizations don't hold dogs.

  6. Attend in-person adoption events if available! This one is a bit tricky given the current pandemic, but we've noticed a few small in-person adoption events popping up around our area. It can be challenging for shelters to get a good sense of what kind of dog parent you'll be just from looking at an application. Showing up to an in-person event gives the animal shelter a chance to get to know you better and increases your chances of getting approved. Don't forget to wear your mask. We're headed to a pet adoption event this weekend!

  7. Bonus tip - be patient! I can't stress this enough; patience during the process will go a long way. Understand that you might not get approved right away. The shelters are overwhelmed with applicants; it may take them weeks to process your application. A lot of these shelters are short on staff due to COVID. Trust that they want to get the dogs adopted quickly, and they are working as fast as humanly possible.

I hope these tips are helpful. The good news is we've started to get some traction on a few of our applications. Hopefully, the next time I write about a dog, it will introduce our new pup. Has anyone adopted a dog within the last few months? Did you find the adoption process seamless or difficult? Feel free to drop your tips in the comments.

*Update 10/28/20 - A week after I wrote this post, we were approved to adopt a 4-month-old puppy from Puerto Rico! All of our hard work and persistence paid off. We can't wait to meet our new fur baby Kyle this weekend!


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