Adoption Process

TLC’s Adoption Procedure

Here are the steps that TLC adoption staff follow when we receive an inquiry about an adoption. It is right out of our Operations Manual. Denial of the application can occur at any point in the adoption process.

Initial Inquiry

1. If the request comes in via voice-mail or e-mail, make a return phone call and obtain the necessary contact information, including the person’s e-mail address and mailing address. Find out if the person is interested in a specific dog.

2. Begin the initial screening: If the person is interested in a specific dog, explain any behavioral or medical issues the dog has and whether the adoption would be a good match.

3. Send the Adoption Cover Letter with a Dog Pre-Adoption Application to the potential adopter via e-mail, fax, or regular mail. On line form is the preferred method.

4. If the potential adopter is on-site, have the person complete the Dog Pre-Adoption Application.

After Receiving the Pre-Adoption Application

After receiving the adoption application, an adoption coordinator reviews the completed application, and then initiates the interview process with the potential adopter. During the interview, the adoption coordinator uses the application as a basis for discussion and to clarify and/or address any issues or questions that the potential adopter may have. The vet reference will be completed at this time.

1. Interview the potential adopter, explaining the adoption process.

2. Set up the visitation time and date. we encourage him/her to spend time with the dog so the dog can get to know him/her.

3. If a specific dog has been chosen, pull the file of that dog and review the contents with the potential adopter. Discuss the special needs of the dog, including medical, behavioral and/or emotional needs.

4. Discuss why a home check is required, what is involved, and who performs it.

5. Explain that a reference from a veterinarian is required.

6. Inform the potential adopter of the adoption donation and what services this donation covers.

7. Encourage the potential adopter to come to adoption event(s) and meet the dog whom he or she is interested in adopting.

8. If no dog has been selected, introduce the potential adopter to dogs who meet the criteria set forth.

Processing the Adoption Application

1. Ensure that all information on the application is complete.

2. If the potential adopter is renting a home or lives in a condo, contact the landlord or condominium official to make sure it’s okay for the person to adopt a dog.

3. Check with the veterinarian reference to ensure that other animals in the household are spayed or neutered and that they are current on vaccinations.

4. Begin the adoption checklist review and begin the homecheck process.

The Home Check

1. If the potential adopter is not local, send out a home-check alert to TLC members in the community where the potential adopter lives.

2. Choose two volunteers from the responses to do the home check.

3. Once the home check is completed and TLC receives the information, print it out and attach it to the Dog Adoption Application.

4. Send a thank-you note to the volunteer who performed the home check.

5. Inform the potential adopter of the home-check results and the approval or denial of the application.

6. If the adopter has other pets, particularly dogs or cats, encourage the adopter to bring them to the visititaion to introduce them to the new dog and to ensure that the match is a good one for all involved.

Preparing for the Dog to Go Home

1. Fill out “Your Dog’s Medical Record” with dates of vaccinations, spay or neutering, de-worming and microchip information. Record the date of the next required vaccinations, and place the rabies certificate and tag, along with the microchip tag, in the pocket of the record.

2. Copy all medical records for the adopter.

3. Prepare the adoption contract and folder and include all records and contact information.

4. Gather paperwork, food, new toy and medication and put everything in a gift bag.

5. If the dog will be transported to his/her new home by air, make appropriate flight arrangements.

6. Obtain the appropriate-sized crate for the dog: Crates should be large enough for dogs to stand up and turn around. Put two hugger-style bowls and a soft, absorbent blanket in the crate.

7. If the dog will be traveling by air or in a TLC vehicle across state lines, schedule an appointment with a veterinarian to get a health certificate for the dog. If the dog is flying, the health certificate must be dated within 10 days of travel; if by ground, the certificate is valid for 30 days. A transportation letter from the veterinarian must accompany the health certificate. If the adopter is transporting the dog, no health certificate is required.

8. Before departure, make sure the dog is wearing all identification tags and scan for a microchip.

Finalizing the Adoption

1. Review the contract with the adopter.

2. Discuss each item in the contract and ask the adopter to initial each one.

3. Review TLC’ returns policy.

4. Review the dog’s medical information.

5. Obtain the adoption fee.

6. Explain the follow-up procedure: An adoption coordinator will call three days after adoption, three weeks after adoption, and three months after adoption to see how things are going.

7. Have the adopter sign and date the adoption agreement. The adoption coordinator must sign as well.

8. Confirm that the tags currently on the dog are correct and match the information in the dog’s file.

9. Scan the dog to ensure that the microchip information is correct and matches the information in the dog’s file.


Adopters do not always call TLC if or when they experience a problem. So, follow-up after the adoption is important to ensure that if a behavioral problem develops, it is caught and addressed early on. Good follow-up helps lower the return rate and maintains a successful adoption relationship. The adoption coordinator makes follow-up contacts via phone or e-mail according to the following schedule: three days after adoption, three weeks after adoption, and three months after adoption.

When performing a follow-up, it is important to ask:

1. How is the dog settling into his or her new routine and home?

2. Are there any behavioral issues that we can assist you with?

3. Has the dog’s name been changed?

4. How are the other pets in the home adjusting to the newest member of the family?

All information received from the adopter should be printed and placed into the dog’s file.

Larry and Terrina Harris

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