Best Practices: Adoption Process

Here is another take on the adoption process by Jessica Kamish of Pug Partners of Nebraska:

My rescue is fairly new, we’ve only be up and going for about 2 years now. And unfortunately one of the things we don’t have is a true adoption packet for our adoptors. We have of course considered it in the past, but currently don’t have the time to put it together. To compensate for not having one, we make sure to overly inform our adopters about pugs during their home visits and we always check up with them after one week and one month to make sure everything is going well. We also encourage them to get in touch with us or our foster homes if they have any questions at all.

If we were to do a packet, I would be sure to include a few sheets about the pug breed, training, and medical issues. A lot of the time we find people don’t understand some of the health issues pugs can have, so we always make sure they understand that pugs are not a cheap breed to own.

We do have an adoption contract that each adopter has to fill out in order to adopt from us. We also do send each adopter the vet information along with a coupon for a first free vet visit to our vets once they get adopted.

Eventually we would like to have official packets that would include all this info to our adopters. Different big name pet store chains, like Petsmart and Petco do have adoption coupons that your adopters can get if you have them sign the contract at the store.

It is very important to our group to make sure that the adopters completely understand everything on our adoption contract and that they know we are here to make sure that everyone is happy. We want to make sure we find the right fit for each pug along with each family.

When pugs get adopted we do send each one to their forever homes with at least four days worth of food. We also make sure to inform all adopters about the importance of high quality dog food. We even have a listing on our website of all the foods we recommend, that way if adopters aren’t sure they can always check on the website to be sure they are feeding their pugs a healthy diet.

For pugs we always recommend they wear harnesses rather than collars because of their breathing. We as the rescue do purchase harnesses for all of our pugs to have while in our foster care. Sometimes we will send these along with the new family, but often times they will go and buy their own.

Pugs aren’t typically very active dogs, so they aren’t usually big toy players. But if they do have toys that are ‘theirs’ we will always send those along.

It is nice to at least send one item along with the dog that he or she will smell that is familiar to them. If they don’t have a toy, we will recommend sending their beds or a blanket along with them so that they have something that will help make them feel secure in their new homes.

Eventually when we do go to put the packets together I would also like to include local information about different pet specialty stores, trainers, and other pet specific business that may be of benefit to the new families. We have spoken with several of the small pet retail stores in our area and all are interested in giving coupons to our adopters, we just haven’t had a chance to put this together.

Setting Fees for Dogs

Setting the fees for our pugs was relatively easy to do. We started out with using the same prices as the rescue in Kansas City did. Then about six months into running the rescue, we decided it was time to re-evaluate our prices.

To set our prices, I went to all the different pug rescue websites and checked into each of their adoption fees. I made a list of each rescue and what their prices were for each category of dogs (like for puppies, adults, seniors, special needs, etc.). From there I looked at similar breed rescues in our area. And finally I looked at our cost of each dog. Our cost for each dog on average is $325. I also took in to consideration how much a pet store would sell a pug for, which around here is anywhere from $700-$1200. I also looked at a few breeders websites from our area to see their prices. From there we had a board of directors meeting and went through all the information and came to the conclusion to start our adoption fees at $275 (for the seniors), $300 for pugs between 5-8, $325 for pugs 1-2 years old, $350 for pugs under a year, and then $400 for puppies. We don’t always completely follow this scale, but we try to stick to it best we can.

Finding adopters

Online listings

Once a pug has been evaluated by our veterinarian and is in their foster home, we request a small bio and a few pictures of each pug to be sent to us via email. When we receive the information we first make a page for each pug on our website, Then we make an album for each pug on Facebook. Our website then can add the photos from facebook directly to our website.

After this part is complete we upload informtion to and also with Petfinder is a great way to spread the word about your adoptable pets. The website is fairly easy to use and generates a lot of interest for our group. lists adoptable pets on a whole bunch of websites. Here is the link to see all the sites they post to:

Occasionally we will have a foster home post their foster pug on, but we typically don’t recommend they do this. Craigslist isn’t the ideal place for our pugs to be listed and often times we get more spam than actual interest from the public.

For us the best way to get the word out is facebook. Without facebook our group would not be as successful as we are. It’s an amazing tool that I feel every group should fully utilize.


We try to attend as many events as possible. Running a rescue you will find that there are a TON of events you get invited to. You must make sure that these will be of benefit to your group, or else you will get burnt out.

Not only do we attend the events that other rescues are at, but we also try to have our own adoption events at various places, like local retail stores and such. I would highly recommend that if you are starting up a rescue to find someone who can be in charge of the events for you. Its hard to manage these along with everything else that comes your way when running a rescue.

These are a great way though to get out to the public and spread the word. We generate a lot of interest by attending events and having events.

Local Press

This isn’t something that we have dealt with too much since our existence. For us facebook does a better job of helping us get the word out than the newspaper does. The  few times we have utilized the local press is for our big fundraising event called Pug-O-Ween and also when we did a big rescue with another shelter when we rescued 20 pugs. I’m not sure that any of the actual TV appearances we have made have had a big impact on our rescue. I think by holding events and posting to facebook, we generate more than the news ever has for our group.

Local Business Partners

This is a great way to help get the word out. But like local press, it does take time and energy to build relationships with other businesses in your area. We have created a flyer for our supporters to post around town for us, which seems to help spread the word.

If this is something you want to look into more, I would recommend asking the business to display a flyer (or business cards etc.) in exchange for putting their website link on your website, or by putting their information in your adoption packets. Either way this makes it so the benefits of doing this benefit both parties and not just the non-profit.

Post to Twitter

This entry was posted in rescue best practices manual and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.