5 Things to Know About Adopting a Dog in Philly

With rescue applications through the roof, here’s how to ensure yours is the winning ticket.

dog adoptions

Gus, a PSPCA rescue, lost a leg as a result of severe matting — but that isn’t slowing him down! Here’s what you need to know about dog adoptions in Philly. Photograph by Lisa Godfrey

With rescue applications through the roof, here’s how to ensure yours is the winning ticket.

1. Be honest on all fronts.

“There’s no ideal candidate, but there is a specific ideal family for a specific dog,” says Colleen Scheuren, a volunteer foster and auxiliary board member with Home at Last Dog Rescue in North Wales. Her whole goal is minimizing the chance of a mismatch, so be up-front about your lifestyle from the get-go. (Any secrets, after all, will come out in the home visit.) FYI: Frequent travel isn’t a deal-breaker, so long as you indicate help is lined up for when you’re away.

2. Know how to handle potential red flags.

For Scheuren, two questions can make or break an application: 1) Have you ever surrendered a dog? And: 2) What would make you surrender a dog? It’s okay if your answer to the first is yes — “Things happen that are out of people’s control, and we understand that,” she says — but the response to the second better not be long. “If you have several answers, that means there are many things that could make you easily say, ‘Eh, this dog isn’t my priority,’” she adds.

3. Pick your references wisely.

Home at Last asks for two non-family members and, if applicable, a recent vet. Make sure your picks have seen you act with patience and empathy, since a foster parent will be asking how you handle difficult situations (like, say, acclimating a dog to a new home).

4. Prep your kids for the home visit.

Scheuren knows a match has been made if the children are respectful of the animal — no jumping on the dog or ear- or tail-pulling — and aren’t freaked out by regular dog behaviors, such as playful nipping and excitable barks. She also expects parents to correct any bad conduct.

5. Act fast. (Really fast.)

When multiple families feel right for a dog, the one that expressed interest first typically takes it home.

Published as “How to Adopt a Dog” in “The Dog Days of COVID” article in the December 2020 issue of Philadelphia magazine.