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7 Reasons Why It’s So Hard To Adopt A Dog From A Rescue

Why Is It So Hard To Adopt A Dog From A Rescue

Do you plan to get your future doggo from a rescue?

Or have you tried and got rejected many times?

Hmm. Bet no one warned you it won’t be that easy.

But why is that so?

Read on to discover:

  • What makes adopting a rescue dog difficult.
  • The requirements needed in order to bring them home.
  • If rescues are making it impossible for people to adopt one.
  • 9 common reasons why adoption applications are getting denied.
  • 3 useful tips and 3 doggy parent experiences that may help you out.
  • And many more…

Why is it so hard to adopt a dog from a rescue?

It’s hard to adopt a dog from a rescue because of specific requirements that may vary from each center. Some have flexible rules while others are stricter. They’re also careful to avoid rehoming or cases of abuse. It can also be due to a long complicated process, high demand, and volunteer shortage.

7 reasons why it’s so hard to get a dog from a rescue

#1: Specific requirements

Dogs in rescue centers have had a rough life.

They were either abandoned or abused by their previous keepers. So finding people who would truly take care of them is an important task.

This is why organizations put up certain requirements. By doing this, they’re ‘filtering’ people out. Ensuring selected applicants are capable of taking good care of them for a long time.

Since, well, having any pet is a lifetime commitment. It’s like having a child and definitely not easy (but very rewarding!).

So what will they require?

Centers will need references. Like the number of the applicant’s vet. This is to see if he or she attends to the pet’s medical needs. And to get an opinion if he or she is reliable as a potential adopter. 

And also, for the landlord’s number if the candidate is living in a rented apartment. They do this to ensure the person is telling the truth about his or her life situation.

Plus, to prevent any issues after adoption that might stress the dog out. Like finding a new place to live due to landlord disapproval.

This is why lying on a pet adoption application will not work. 

Some centers may also require a fenced yard. And prefer people who mostly stay at home and don’t travel a lot.

Actually, the list goes on. But the detailed requirements will be discussed shortly.

So stay for a bit. 🙂

#2: Complicated and lengthy process

It's So Hard To Get A Dog From A Rescue Because Of The Complicated And Lengthy Process

Many people may find adopting a dog ridiculous due to its long and complex process.

This is also why some give up in the middle of the application. Or after failing one.

First will be filling up forms. Followed by interviews. 

They’ll ask for detailed information, including but not limited to an applicant’s:

  • Lifestyle.
  • Occupation.
  • History with dogs/pets.
  • Current home environment.

Then check the house of the applicants. To make sure the dog they’re taking in will live in a safe environment. And one that suits their needs.

One thought…

“How are they doing this during the pandemic?”

Like online Zoom classes, home checks and meetings are also done virtually nowadays. 

But back to the topic.

Why are they doing this?

Don’t they want the dogs to find a new home right away?

Well, most rescue groups only want the best for their furry friends. 

If they’re too fast about the evaluation, it could result in a returned dog. Or worse, abused and abandoned due to mismatch.

If their rules are too loose, they can entrust a dog to some people who are not yet ready to have one. So their process could really make you think and reflect…

“Why is it so difficult to rescue a dog?

Should I really go and adopt one?”

However, due to the same reason, many aspiring parents with good intentions may lose hope. As their dog adoption application keeps on being denied.

#3: Some have strict rules

Not all rescue groups are the same. Although most policies are similar, there are some that might cause many to raise an eyebrow.

From things like requiring them to purchase an organic blanket. To requirements that some people can’t meet. Such as not having any children, other pets, or a full-time job.

“Are they making adoption impossible for many?”

Well, such rules are made with the dog’s safety and applicants’ in mind.

This is because some doggos may be vulnerable or cause harm to small kids. Their nipping can leave scratches on a kid. And children may also injure a tiny pooch due to mishandling. 

Also, dogs will require full attention. And it isn’t ideal to leave them alone for long hours. Or else, they may get lonely or depressed.

“How about in other countries? Is it also the same?”

Aside from the U.S, it is also hard to adopt a dog in U.K rescue shelters.

This is because they’re also strict and prefer a household without any pets and children.

So after many denied applications, some people there decided to adopt rescue dogs from other countries instead. Because they have an easier process due to more flexible rules.

A study investigated more on this matter. And found that people in the UK who had this problem imported their Fidos from:

  • Spain (19%).
  • Cyprus (22%).
  • Romania (34%).

Warning: Importation of canines has risks. If not careful, they may bring contagious diseases. So medical screening and constant monitoring of the dogs shall be made.

#4: They’ve seen the worst scenarios

You and I know that rescue dogs had a tough life. But volunteers have seen it all.

They witness pooches hurting physically or emotionally due to cruelty. And save those living in poor conditions.

So the process becomes difficult. To ensure the same scenario won’t happen again to those innocent dogs. Plus, there are ‘terrible’ people out there. As there are reports of abuse after adoption.

This is another reason why adopting a dog from a rescue group is hard. But not always impossible.

#5: To avoid the possibility of rehoming

Dog rescues are being too picky?

They’re doing it to ensure an aspiring parent will adopt a pooch who fits him or her well.

This is to reduce the chances of rehoming. As not only it’ll be heartbreaking for the applicant, but also even more difficult for dogs. 

These Fidos have been moved a lot. And suffered from countless rejections. So once the center entrusts them to their parents, they’re hoping they’ll be their fur-ever home. 

Reading tip: 19 Reasons Why There Are So Many Chihuahuas In Shelters

#6: High demand

“Why is it so hard to adopt a dog right now?”  

Well, you might not be the only person who’s reading this right now. There are others out there who are hoping to adopt one too.

This is why rescue groups get a ridiculous amount of pet adoption applications daily. And they also observed that there’s a higher demand for dogs now.

And it’s due to…

‘Covid influx’

Research says that there’s a 250% increase in dog and cat adoptions since last year, 2020.

Why’s that so?

The pandemic made everyone stay more inside their houses. Because of this, many people thought of getting a company – a dog.

#7: Volunteer shortage

One problem with some dog rescue groups?

Numbered volunteers.

Rescues are private organizations. And they mainly rely on them.

There’s already a high demand for adoption even before. So volunteers need to check many applications.

But these people have full-time jobs. As well as families. So they only work in their free time.

Which can also be a factor for the long waiting time.

9 reasons why dog adoption applications get denied

#1: Not meeting the space and security requirements

You're Not Meeting The Space And Security Requirements

What are some basic reasons for denying dog/pet adoption?

  • Not owning a yard.
  • Not having a fence or it’s too low.
  • Having a pool but without barriers.

An enclosed yard is required for a secured play area.

Some require the fence to be at least 6 ft. (1.8 m.) high. Because most rescue doggos will be scared at first. And may tend to run away.

Also, certain breeds can easily jump over them like Huskies – the famous escape artists.

#2: Not having their own place

Applicants who have a short-term lease (less than a year) may also be denied. As rescuers may see it as a problem in the future. Like, “What if the next place they’re living in doesn’t allow pets?”

And also if their landlord doesn’t allow pets.

#3: Having children and other pets

Centers usually know the nature of their dogs.

So lively large ones may knock, hurt, or scare small kids. While tiny or nervous Fidos may feel uncomfortable in a ‘busy’ environment. Or get injured by young children who don’t know how to properly handle a dog.

Also, some hounds might have issues living with other animals. 

#4: Not always at home

Those who work long hours 5 times a week and travel a lot are also deemed unfit. As centers believe that rescue dogs need full attention. So it’s not a good idea to leave them alone for lengthy periods.

Note: The first few weeks are also important for Fidos to settle in.

#5:  Family members must be on board

Applicants’ family or partners, must also be on the same boat as them. Meaning, everyone is willing to take care of the dog. And no one is allergic to them.

This is to ensure that the Fido will have a welcoming environment to live in.

#6: Unsuitable lifestyle

Application forms will have questions about habits. To know what dog suits them best.

For example, taking care of energetic breeds may be difficult for a non-active person. While pups who love laying down might not fit an active individual. 

#7: Lack of experience with the breed of choice

People can also be denied because they didn’t previously own a dog of the same breed.

Yup. Some centers could be picky with particular kinds of Fido. As they could be difficult to handle. Especially if applicants don’t have prior experience.

#8: Not attending to medical needs

You're Not Attending To Your Dog's Medical Needs

Rescuers will also check veterinary records. To see if the applicant’s pets were vaccinated. As well as if they’re spayed or neutered.

If they’re not, they’ll consider the applicant unfit to own a new dog. Because providing their medical needs is necessary.

#9: History of rehoming a dog

Centers can also reject an application if the person has rehomed a dog before. They may think that it could happen again. And they don’t want to risk it.

3 tips on what to do if you find it hard to adopt a dog from a rescue

#1: Apply to many rescue groups

Reality check, most centers receive many emails a day for one dog. This is why your chances are slim.

So, don’t be afraid to send in many applications to different rescues.

It isn’t unethical. As long as you’re polite to say you’ve already adopted one if another group calls. Or kindly say that the dog they have isn’t the right match.

There are other rescues near your area. So check them out. See if there’s a dog that you may like or fits you.


Volunteers have limited work time. So they’ll only have a few minutes to scan your form. And decide whether you deserve a second look or not.

So before sending your application, make sure:

  1. You fit ALL the requirements of a certain center/dog. Because if it says they require a fence and you don’t have one, you’re out right away.
  2. Each application is filled up completely. Seeing many blanks in the form may give off a ‘rushed’ feeling.
  3. You wrote complete sentences if there are questions. To show them that you took the time in answering them.

#2: Don’t be shy to follow up

Waiting for a response?

If it’s been a week already, you may follow up through email. But, do it politely.

This may give them an impression that you’re serious about adopting. And can make them remember you if you inquired kindly.

However, if your application was denied, asking for feedback might be helpful. But again, avoid sounding rude.

So look on the bright side. You may learn something from failed applications.

And, it’s also possible that your future doggo is only one ‘follow-up’ away! 🙂

#3: Try to foster instead

There are centers with limited capacity. So they can’t cater to all dogs or animals. And if you want to help and take care of one, this could be the way.

Search for other rescue groups. See if they need more foster parents.

According to PetMD, this may take 10 to 12 weeks. So it wouldn’t be that long.

These dogs are also up for adoption. So if you get too attached, it’ll be hard. But there are also chances that you’ll end up keeping them.

Good luck! 🙂

3 dog parents share their experiences

Dog parent #1:

A friend of mine recently adopted a dog from a shelter. And it took him around 6 months to finally bring his furry buddy home.

Mind you, within that period, he was visiting the shelter every Saturday to walk his favorite dog, Almond.

Before the official adoption, he was allowed to take care of the Fido for a while. As they bonded more and got to know each other better, my friend decided that Almond is ‘the one’.  

Meanwhile the shelter checked my friend’s background. As well as his current life situation. And also asked for his landlord’s number.

They also asked to see the contract and the details of the landlord. This was to verify my friend was telling the truth. And to ensure that dogs are allowed in his place.

The whole process had my friend thinking that he constantly had to prove himself. But it only made him want to take care of Almond more! 

And now he’s sending videos to the shelter via WhatsApp. So the volunteers and workers at the shelter are at peace. 🙂 

Dog parent #2:

One aspiring dog adopter also shared her experience in a forum on why she was denied by a rescue.

She owns her home, has an enclosed garden, and lives in a quiet area with nice scenery. Plus, she also owned a dog before.

However, the center said she can’t adopt the Lurcher that she wants. Because the applicant:

  • Has kids at home.
  • Never had a hound before.
  • Plans to take them every day to work.
  • Resides where the dog was rescued (The shelter didn’t explain why. Maybe for psychological reasons).

So, having a secured home may not guarantee an adoption. As there are still other requirements that need to be met. Especially for particular dogs.

Dog parent #3:

Another parent also shared a story. But it’s about what to expect when you adopt one.

According to her, rescue dogs are without a doubt very grateful. It’s like they know that she ‘saved’ them.

However, it’ll be hard at first. As most of them have emotional baggage. So it’ll take time to make them feel comfortable and gain their trust.

Housetraining also wasn’t easy. And some of her dogs had separation anxiety.

But, she pointed out that the effort you’ll give to them will be doubled. Or even tripled.