Should I adopt a dog? The short answer is YES! You should adopt a dog from an animal shelter or dog rescue. In my opinion, it's best to Adopt Don't Buy if you can.  

Adopting a dog saves two lives; the life of the dog you're adopting and the life of another dog that your adoption enabled the shelter or rescue to make room for. However, you should adopt a dog from a reputable animal shelter or dog rescue!  But how do you know if a dog rescue or animal shelter is a reputable one?

Should I Adopt a Dog?  Adopting a dog near me. How to get a dog
Jessie, our newly adopted Silky Haired Terrier dog

Do some research online, and if possible in person at the facility, to ensure the animal shelter or dog rescue is reputable. If you're not sure where you can adopt a dog, search online for "adopting a dog near me" and see what animal shelters or dog rescues come up.

Adopting a rescue dog is a bit different than adopting a shelter dog, however for both of them you should research; 

* Their entire Dog Adoption Process end to end and what it entails.

* Dog Adoption Fees and exactly what the fee includes.

* Where they obtain their dogs and how and where they are cared for until adoption.

* Whether or not they are an actual 501c non profit organization.

* If it's an animal shelter, see who they are owned and operated by; a government/community entity or privately owned. Search online to learn a little about them and their history. Who and where are the veterinary staff that cares for their dogs?

* Same thing with a dog rescue. Who owns them and how large are they; are they a 2 person rescue or is there a full staff?  

* Do they have a physical facility you can visit or are they operated completely by volunteers out of their homes? Not that it's a bad thing to be run solely by volunteers with no physical dog housing or veterinary facility, but you should know the details of how and where they operate.

The catalyst to my writing about adopting a rescue dog or adopting a dog from a shelter is because for the first time ever, I recently had a very negative dog adoption experience.

I've had dogs all my life, with all but one of my dogs and cats being successful shelter or rescue adoptions. I've been blogging about dogs and dog health since 2013. I've also been an animal shelter volunteer, dog fosterer, and dog adoption advocate for years. I never thought I could be blindsided by a dog adoption process, but I was!

Many of you who follow me on social media know that I recently adopted a Silky Terrier dog named Jessie.  Many of you also know that I suffered the devastating loss of my sweet Maltese mix dog, Phoebe in early 2022.

After 8 weeks of difficult treatment, my sweet girl Phoebe lost her fight with the infection that ravaged her little body. 7 months after losing her, I missed having two dogs so badly, that I began looking for another little dog to add to our family. 

For some weird reason, the shelters closest to us have mostly large dogs for adoption. They rarely have small dogs, and the few that come into those shelters are snapped up immediately. It was so heartbreaking to see a little dog that seemed perfect for us, only to learn they'd already been adopted before I could even  inquire about them.  

After two months of disappointment, I decided to widen my search for adoptable small dogs by looking on What I found was a bit shocking. 


Some of the "adoption fees" would curl your hair! And most animal adoption organizations had varied levels of dog adoption fees depending on the size, breed, age, and prior medical or transport costs covered by the shelter or rescue.  If you didn't scroll through the entire listing and pay close attention to their adoption fees, or you didn't fully understand the fee structure, you could end up falling in love with a dog whose adoption fee was hundreds or even more than a thousand dollars!  

One such organization rescued dogs from an overseas dog meat market. Although commendable, their rescue process was complex and costly. The dogs had to be transported from overseas to Canada, and quarantined there before being transported to the U.S. where they could be made available for adoption.  

These adorable dogs were available for adoption at the bargain price of ..... $1,200! Is it just me, or is that dog adoption fee shocking? So basically, only people who can cough up significant amounts of cash would be able to give these rescued dogs a loving home.  

I know for a fact that this particular Florida animal shelter fundraises heavily and gets a ton of money donated, both nationwide and from the local community. Not to mention, buying a pure bred puppy is about the same cost!  Great job guys, way to really discourage pet adoption!  (*insert sarcastic smirk*)

One particularly upsetting incident was when I found an adorable little dog I was interested in. I submitted an inquiry to the dog rescue via on a Wednesday but didn't hear back. I then learned this particular dog rescue was to participate in an adoption event at an animal shelter close to me! I was so excited, I emailed the rescue again asking if I could meet the dog at the event. No response. 

So, I went to the shelter the morning of the adoption event and located the rescue. Lo and Behold the little dog I was interested in was there! You might think that's great news but it wasn't. I quickly asked about her but was told that she was "already adopted". I said "she was just adopted an hour ago?", when the event started.  "No, she was adopted several days ago"  What The Fluff!? 

I wanted to scream at the woman and ask why the hell she brought an already adopted dog to an animal shelter adoption event! I felt that was so unfair, and a bit cruel. Of course, they were not only adopting out dogs, they were taking donations for their dog rescue - Of Course they were! The more adorable dogs they had in their little pen, the more money people would plunk into their donation jar. Needless to say, I was furious, and becoming more jaded and cynical by the day.

I continued my online search and soon found another adorable little dog I was interested in. I contacted the dog rescue and they responded the following morning saying she was available for adoption - Finally, success!  The woman who contacted me moved fast. She asked me a bunch of qualifying questions about my home and ability to afford vet care for a dog. She then set up a video home check two days later. It all went great and she approved me as an adopter. Yay! 

Should I Adopt a Dog?  How to adopt a dog, Where can I adopt a dog
Jessie is Obsessed with her Squirrel Tree toy from Outward Hound!

Here's where the red flags should have hit me. In my excitement at having finally found a seemingly perfect little dog, I didn't thoroughly research their adoption process.


🐾 I saw in the PetFinder listing that the adoption fee was $250. Unfortunately, that fee didn't apply to the dog I was adopting, her fee was $600!  I failed to realize that there were tiers of adoption fees and that I needed to scroll through all their fees to see that.

🐾 The dog wasn't at their rescue facility, she was actually at a foster's home. I would need to travel to her home for a meet and greet with the dog, and if it went well I would take her home. I was confused as to why the foster wouldn't bring the dog back to their dog rescue facility for us to meet her and complete the adoption?

🐾 They never disclosed it, but when we went to see the dog, I noticed something hanging down beneath her rectum.  The foster told me their veterinarian said "it's nothing" and "she's fine".  When I asked my contact at the rescue she said the dog had been in heat before arriving and assured me they would never adopt out a dog that "wasn't healthy". She told me it was a swollen vulva due to her being in heat. Well after nearly 3 months the protrusion is still there. I suspect it's a permanent condition, maybe a prolapsed vagina, related to her having puppies (and some possible difficulties giving birth). So either their Vet staff in inept or they lied to me about it.

Should I Adopt a Dog?  Dog adoption, Should I adopt a dog from a shelter? Should I adopt a dog from a rescue? Adoptable dogs, Dogs for adoption
The protrusion on Jessie's rear that the rescue said was "nothing"

🐾 Although their fee included vaccines and spay/neuter, I would need to bring the dog myself to their outside vet clinic to be spayed.  They don't spay/neuter at their clinic, their Vet staff only performs a general exam and gives vaccines!  The dog I wanted is an adult female dog - I don't understand how a rescue or animal shelter allows an adult dog who isn't spayed/neutered to leave their facility! An accidental pregnancy could happen, and what if the adopter simply fails to bring the dog to the vet clinic to be spayed/neutered? That seems so irresponsible.

🐾 The dog rescue's facility was an hour away from us, but they performed spay/neuters at another veterinary facility that was even further from where we live.  It was in a crowded, sketchy part of the city and we really didn't want to make that trip for her to be spayed.  I preferred to do the spay on my own, but my veterinarian quoted me about $1,000 for a small dog spay!  So I investigated our county's low cost spay/neuter program which was only $150!  A very reputable animal shelter close to home was able to perform a low cost spay surgery which went perfectly.

The rescue never followed up to see if I had actually had my newly adopted dog spayed! How irresponsible is that?!  It's like they took my $600 and never looked back. A truly reputable rescue would have handled the spay/neuter themselves, and if they couldn't they would certainly verify that it's been done.

It's been almost 3 months since we adopted little Jessie and she is doing very well. She is sweet and loving and full of energy! We can tell that she is so happy living with us; she loves the house and the yard, and she loves me and John. She and Icy are still working through their relationship, but it gets better each week. Jessie was a little intimidated by her at first, in fact she's a bit wary of all other dogs, but we're working on it and she's slowly getting better. 

She has a few little..... quirks that need to be managed as well but I think we'll be just fine. Stay tuned for more posts about Jessie, how she's settling in and how we are handling some of her less than desirable behaviors, LOL!  Hint: She has a serious chewing habit.

I have dealt with, and volunteered at, several animal shelters that have been wonderful. Many have very efficient and thorough animal sheltering and animal adoption processes, and highly qualified, caring staff. However, this rescue is one I would Not recommend to anyone, and I would never adopt a dog or any other pet from them again. 


SHOULD I ADOPT A DOG?  Dog adoption, Should I adopt a dog from a rescue? Where can I adopt a dog?

I still strongly support adopting a dog from a rescue or animal shelter, but now I know that animal shelters and animal rescues are not all the same. There are no mandatory national standards for shelters and rescues, so they can each make their own rules and dog adoption requirements. All I can say is do your due diligence! Don't impulse adopt, research the dog rescue or animal shelter as thoroughly as you can before you adopt. That's what I'll be doing in the future for sure.

I just want to take a moment to say that I Do Not blame in any way for the disappointing behavior of this animal rescue organization. I don't expect them to police every aspect of every organization that lists dogs for adoption. I did see a few pet adoption organizations on their site that I personally know  to be reputable, such as Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League in West Palm Beach Florida. I would still recommend as a resource for adoptable dogs and cats but don't expect them to fully vet out every single organization that lists adoptable dogs on their site.

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Tail Wag Wisdom said...

Oh Cathy, that is a heck of a story! Jessie is adorable! She's exactly where she needs to be in her furever home with you, John, and Icy. But WOW!!! Some of these rescues are not what they they appear. I learned that hard way as well when I adopted Henry. I was amazed at the adoption fees some where charging, some of the paperwork was over the top, while others had no paperwork at all. Henry's rescue had really no paperwork and they didn't follow-through on any check-ups on him either. His rescue had him in foster care, like Jessie. I didn't realize that fosters could hate the dogs they are fostering. Henry's did, but I'm lucky he adjusted after awhile. It sounds like Jessie is slowing adjusting as well. We never know exactly what they go through before we get them and can love on them. I hope your vet can provide some good medical advice about her hind end (whatever that is all about). I can't wait to read more about your adventures with Jessie. I'm sharing this will all my dog parents.

Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them said...

Thanks so much Terri! I was a dog fosterer for years and My issue was that I fell in love with all of them LOL! I can't imagine any foster hating a dog in their care. They should never have been a foster parent, that's so awful. Henry is so lucky to have chosen you as his furever mom! Jessie has a few issues which I'm working on with her, but she is so loving and sweet. I know we'll be just fine. It's true, you never know what they've been through before.

LaylasWoof said...

I found Layla on at the shelter where she had been dumped, my friend who is a rescuer pulled her for me and the rest is history. There are some amazing rescue organizations and then there are some that I am not sure what they are doing but I will only adopt a dog and never pay a breeder a dime, there are so many desperate for homes. Great post and eye opener as people should be aware of the pros and cons with rescue organizations

Impurrfectlife said...

Oh my! Cathy I'm so happy for you that you found Jessie and things are going well with her coming into the family fold. I'm so sorry about everything you endured in your quest to adopt a new dog. I, like you, thought that most animal shelters and rescues would be the same in terms of requiring any adopted pet be spayed first. Who knew that isn't the case?! I'm glad you shared your experience. It's a teachable lesson for us pet parents and new pet parents looking to adopt. When I adopt in the future, I think I'll stick to organization I already have a connection with to be on the safe side.

FiveSibesMom said...

Wow...I am so sorry for all that you went through. I'm so happy you found Jessie and Jessie has you! There are so many amazing rescue organizations, as you know, but it is horrifying to hear when they aren't. My Mom's last dog, a senior poodle/bichon mix came from a shelter. They believed the dog would be a perfect fit for my elderly Mom, who we told them would need a laid back senior, and house trained. Well...after yes-ing us, Tara became part of my Mom's life...and then the truth came out. She was not housebroken. And she bit. Whenever she felt like it. My Mom worked with her for quite awhile, but it was not a good fit. They would not take her back...and just really dropped her off and never checked back. I was pretty upset that they lied...thankfully, a younger family member took her and rehomed her with good friend and she did well. Typically, I know of awesome Husky rescues and they go above and beyond and are so helpful and strive to find that perfect fit. But, as with everything, a few bad apples are out there. I'm glad you wrote about it...and I've Pinned to share so others will hopefully be forewarned.

LaylasWoof said...

When looking to adopt I approached a pure bred rescue organization and they would not let me adopt as I lived a couple of miles away from them so they could not do a home check, your story reminds me of a Rescue here in SF that I would not trust as I have heard such bad things about them, but I will only adopt and never buy as there are so many that need homes and you are so blessed with Jesse, she is adorable

Beth said...

I'm so happy that you were able to bring Jessie into your family! She will be a pampered pup!

It is disappointing that some rescues seem to be so poorly run, and often without the animals' best interest at the forefront. I know it can be hard, especially with limited volunteers and staff, but sometimes I think that some people switched from being backyard breeders to "rescues."

Britt K said...

Unfortunately, it sounds like you adopted from a "retail rescue." It's the term used to describe rescues that try to move as many dogs through the organization as they can with minimal cost to themselves focusing instead on how to make money off it. They view the rescue process as a money making opportunity and not as an opportunity to really make a difference for the animals in their care.

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