There are a number of different ways to adopt a dog. Knowing what to expect before you begin the process will help greatly. Requirements can differ greatly between pound and rescues, and even between the different rescues themselves.

If you are a first time dog owner consider investing in a dog training book to start off on the right foot. Ask your local rescue if they have a recommendation or check the top rated books on amazon. It might seem a little premature to get the book before the dog but it can help when you are selecting a dog to adopt as you will know of more potential issues and can request more information from the dog rescue or pound before adopting.

We will now break down the process of getting a dog from a rescue and a dog pound.

Adopting a dog from a rescue

While this process and requirements will differ from rescue to rescue the general adoption path will be similar for most, we will break down the steps in more detail below. First you will be required to fill out an adoption application form. Next a home check will be required. At this stage the rescue volunteers should advise if ok to proceed or if any issues are present that need to be resolved or that mean you are not a suitable candidate for adoption from that rescue. If they say you are OK to proceed you will start the process of picking out a dog that matches your circumstances. 

Adopting a dog in ireland

Filling out the adoption application form

What is involved in a home check

What happens after the home check

Selecting your new dog

How much does it cost to adopt from a rescue

Frustrations with the process


Filling Out The Adoption Application Form

The application form is often available to download directly from the rescues website. If not, contact the rescue directly to request one. On the form you will be asked for your name, address and contact details. You will be asked for your occupation and how many hours a day will be away from the house. You will be asked for details of your current pets or any previous pets that you have had. You will have to give details about your accommodation situation, if you own or rent and if you have access to a garden. Details of the fencing around the property will also be required.  They will ask for details of who lives at the house and if there are children what ages they are. Also required will be information on what will happen to the dog when you are caring for it - where it will be during the day, where it will sleep at night and what plans you have  if you were to go on holiday. 

Fill out the application truthfully to get matched with the right dog. All the animals are in the rescue because their owners couldn’t, or more often wouldn’t, care for them. You will want to ensure the next home the dog receives is perfect for their needs and your own.

What Is Involved In A Home Check

Once the application form has been submitted to the rescue they will contact you to arrange a home visit. A volunteer will come to your house to meet you and your family and see where the dog will be living. They are not coming to make judgement on your suitability to own a dog. The aim is to match the right dog with the right family. 

 In most cases the volunteer just relays the information back to the rescue and does not make any decision themselves. They will ask questions similar to what is on the application form and review the setup you have for your new dog. 

What Happens After The Home Check

After the home check the rescue should provide you with feedback. They may recommend some changes before they can allow you to adopt a dog. In general these recommendations are based on years of experience on adoptions that did not work out so do not be offended if they suggest something that needs to be changed. Some rescues require fully fenced in gardens others do not. Some rescues will not rehome dogs over the age of two to families with young children. If you are unhappy with a recommendation or if they have advised that they can not at this time rehome a dog to you ask for the reason why. It may be something you can correct to the benefit of yourself and your future dog. 

You also might have had a certain breed or size of dog in mind. The rescue may give recommendations on a different type of dog that would suit your circumstances more. To find the perfect dog to adopt you do need to be flexible. 

Selecting Your New Dog

So you have finally made it to the last but most important stage. While the earlier stages can be slow as you are waiting on volunteers to get back to you and to do the home check this stage is definitely good to take your time with. Depending on the current age of the dog that you are interested in, this is a decision that may affect the next 10 to 15 years of your life so don't rush it. 

If you have had a dog before you will know you will have an idea of the size and breed that you are comfortable with. If you have not had a dog before it is best to take the advice of the rescue to find a suitable match.  If the rescue allows it, fostering the dog with a view to adopt is always an excellent idea. This will give you time to see if you and the dog are a good match. 

Adopting a dog in Ireland

How Much Does It Cost To Adopt From A Rescue

This will vary from rescue to rescue, but will be in the range of 150 to 300 euros. You will often hear ‘If I am adopting, why do I need to pay? Am I not helping you by taking the dog?’

Your donation covers kennelling, food, vet bills, spay/neuter, microchip and vaccination of your dog. Rescues are a non-profit organisation and are always in real need of extra funds. Chances are the required donation will not even cover the costs paid by the rescue for the care of the dog during its time there. The more you give ensures that they can pay the cost of the next dog they will take in too.

Frustrations With The Process

The biggest complaint I usually hear when people try to adopt a dog instead of buying one is the slowness of the process. It can often take some weeks for the rescue to get back to potential adopters. This is due to the rescue being mainly staffed or fully staffed by volunteers. These people will have full time jobs and families and will only have a small amount of time per week to commit to the rescue duties. As you are looking to commit to the lifetime of an animal which may be 10 to 15 years or more please be patient and trust that you will find a suitable dog from a rescue. 

We would also advise contacting more than one rescue. If there are more in your area. While you may not meet the requirements of one rescue that does not mean all rescues will have that same requirement. 

Rehoming a dog from a pound

In general the process for rehoming a dog from a dog pound is much quicker than going through a rescue. You need to pay a fee to the dog pound. This varies from pound to pound but will be in the range of 50 to 100 euros. This will often cover the cost of the dog licence and a microchip. The dogs will not be spayed/neutered by the pound. Depending on the pound they may not fully assess the dog suitability or temperament in the same way a rescue would.  If you are an experienced dog owner and know what type of dog you want, the dog pound is definitely worth contacting.

When rehoming from a pound you are on your own if there are any issues after bringing the dog home. If it doesn’t work out you can bring the dog back to the pound but as it is now a surrender the dog can be put down. Dog pounds in Ireland have greatly improved in the last number of years and a large number only rehome now through rescues. 

About Rescue Animals Ireland

Rescue Animals Ireland aims to provide valuable resources and educational materials on responsible pet ownership, animal welfare, and the benefits of adopting from shelters. It also aims to raise awareness about the importance of adopting rather than buying pets, emphasizing the positive impact it has on both animals and their new owners.