You may wonder
- “So many ‘in depth’ questions, just to adopt a dog? Do they really need all of that information?”
- “But aren’t these all homeless dogs? Wouldn’t any home be better than being in foster?”
Actually, these questions and in-depth applications have a purpose. The people involved with these dogs have had a lot of experience and know the circumstances that have led them to be in rescue in the first place. There are a few real ‘rescues’ in the true sense of the word whose owner had died, or dogs that have been abused or neglected, but fortunately the latter group is in the minority. The majority of the dogs come in because of a change in circumstances, or because the owner just got it wrong.
So why does the application ask the ages of everyone living in the home, or children visiting regularly? Because they need to know if there is anyone in the home that might be at risk if they place the wrong dog with them. Besides the risk to the new owner, we would be negligent, and punishable, if there was an incident.
Why does the application ask where the dog will stay if you are away, or how long it will be left on a regular basis? Because many of the dogs come in because the last owner was forced to rehome it when the neighbours complained about constant barking. Or because it suffered from separation anxiety when the owner wasn’t around which may have resulted in destructive behaviour or self- harming. There would be no point in putting the dog into a similar situation to the one it had left, and cruel to do so.
Why do we ask about training? Because the dog may have come in because no-one bothered to train it in the first place and lay down some ground rules for it. The dogs then become unruly, unsociable and a problem to own. Then they are dumped with rescue to become someone else’s problem by which time they are often out of control and need considerable input to even become adoptable.
Why should we ask about your previous dog ownership? Because we need to know which breeds you have had experience with, and whether you relinquished one in the past because it was not housetrained, you were having a baby, couldn’t manage it, or moving house.
Why do we need to know if you own your own home or live in rented accommodation? Many westies come to us because their owner is moving into a rented property that won’t take dogs. This is always a heart-breaking situation but sadly all too common. If you live in rented accommodation we will need to see a letter from your landlord giving you permission to keep a dog.
Why do we need to know if you suffer from a medical condition? Naturally, some dogs are more demanding than others, and we need to be sure that you are not adopting one beyond your reasonable physical or mental capabilities. Some westies, particularly the young ones would not cope well being exercised by a person on a motorised scooter for example, or may be totally fazed by a person using a walking aid. People with sight problems may be at risk with a dog that dashes around rather than a steady, more reliable dog. Sensitive dogs may react to a person suffering from depression, or an autistic child. By asking the question, we can ensure that you won’t be at risk from a dog that behaves negatively in certain situations.
The questions on the application form and – if you are lucky to get that far – during the home visit are designed to assess your suitability to adopt one of the dogs that come to us, and the kind of personality that would suit your lifestyle best. Nothing is perfect, although the situations that we have met over many years of experience give us a very good idea of which dog would suit a particular home environment, and vice versa. It tells us what we need to ask in order to find exceptional homes for the dogs that are entrusted to us. So why are exceptional homes needed? So that the dogs don’t get moved on again, and maybe run the risk of being euthanised.
So, when you are looking to adopt a dog be prepared to fill out a lengthy application to adopt form and talk at length on the phone with a volunteer before the next step in the process. Please don’t be offended or annoyed, be thankful instead that these rescue minded individuals care enough about the dogs in their care to ask the questions that need to be asked.
There are some amazing people out there, and Rehomers are pretty good at finding them. Having said that, the westies in our care can be pretty amazing too, and deserve a special home that will keep them until the end of their days.