The idea has been going through your head for a while.
You’ve envisioned what your future life will look like together. You imagine their face being the first thing you see when you wake up, and when you come home after work.
You’ll go on adventures together and explore the great state of Texas.
You feel you’re at the right place in life and are ready to make the ultimate commitment: to adopt a dog.
But what next?
At Tomlinson’s, we understand what a precious family addition a pet is. That’s why we’ve come up with a step-by-step guide so you can start the adoption process for the pet of your dreams.
1. Research the Type of Dog(s) You Want to Adopt
Figure out what kind of personality you have and what dog will be a good fit for you and your family.
For example, if you’re a low-energy person and value your quiet time, adopting high-energy pets — such as an Australian Shepherd, a Bearded Collie, or a Beagle — is a recipe for disaster.
If you live with others, consult them first. Make sure everyone’s involved, including other pets that already live with you. Think about what kind of dog will fit in with everyone’s lifestyle.
Take this test and find out what is the right dog breed for you.
2. Find a Reputable Dog Rescue or Shelter
Research local shelters like Austin Animal Center, Central Texas SPCA, or Wilco Animal Shelter. Or, search for an Austin dog rescue that specializes in the breed or type of dog--Google is your best friend here.
You can also ask your friends, neighbors, and family members for recommendations.
Talk to people who’ve already gone through a pet adoption process. Listen to their advice and do your research to find the shelter or rescue center which fits your needs.
Note: To make sure the adoption center is reputable, look for online reviews. Check their website or call to find out if they have a license. Ask if they’re a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization.
3. Meet the Dogs That Caught Your Attention
Search for Dogs Online
Once you’ve figured out what kind of dog you want and where you'd like to adopt from, check your chosen rescue or shelter’s website. Most will have options that allow you to narrow down the search by choosing a dog breed, age, and more.
Check all the listed information for the dog that caught your attention. Also, think about questions you want to ask before you adopt the dog, such as:
- How old is the dog?
- How did it come to be in the shelter?
- Was it adopted before?
- Has the dog been examined by the vet?
- Is it potty-trained?
- How much exercise does it need?
For more ideas, check out 53 questions to ask before adopting a dog.
Meet Dogs in Foster Homes
Call the local shelters from which you want to adopt a pet, and make an appointment for a visit.
Don’t stick to just one dog. We recommend asking to meet several dogs, as you never know which one will steal your heart.
Note: If dogs are in foster homes, you'll need to work with the rescue organization to set up a meet-and-greet. Be patient, and try to schedule a visit with the foster parents, or ask to talk with the foster family on the phone.
Use this time to ask all the questions you have. The more questions you ask, the better prepared you’ll be when you meet the dog in person.
Our advice: When you meet the dog you’re interested in, spend at least half an hour with him or her. Go for a short walk together, and sit down on the floor and spend some time playing with him. Do a personality test on the dog, and see how well you (and your family) get along with them.
Ask yourself: have you found that special four-legged pet that steals your heart? If so, it’s time to start the official adoption application.
4. Submit an Adoption Application
Submitting an adoption application is the first official step to take when adopting in Austin.
Contact your chosen rescue or shelter. Have them send the application to you, or visit them in person and fill out the necessary information.
This is the info you’ll be asked to provide:
If you lease your home, you’ll have to provide a letter from management or a pet lease agreement. This serves as proof you’re allowed to have a dog in your home.
You must say if there are any restrictions, such as:
The adoption center will want to make sure your home is adequate for an animal, so be prepared to answer questions:
- Is there a yard?
- Is the yard fenced in?
- Is the fence secured and well maintained?
- Is there a lock on the front gate?
- Is there enough space for a dog?
Here you can find out the recommended yard space for different dog breeds, and here you can find out the adequate amount indoor space.
Veterinary information can include:
Clinic information — If you own a dog now or have owned one in the last 5 years, you must provide the phone number and name of the clinic which holds the information about your pets.
Veterinary check — You may be asked to take your current pets for a veterinary check to ensure their good health.
Veterinary services — Any kittens and puppies you have need to be neutered, vaccinated, and currently on heartworm preventative.
Vet authorization — Authorize your vet to speak with the rescue or shelter and answer questions they have about your current or prior pets.
First-time dog owner — If this is the first time you’re adopting a dog, you’ll be asked to provide the name of the local vet who will take care of your pet. Make sure to find one in advance.
You may need to fill in information about your daily life, such as:
- What time do you go to work?
- What time do you get home?
- Does your schedule allow you to go home immediately after work?
- Do you understand the importance of having a lot of quality time with your pet?
- Where will the dog be when you’re away from home?
- How much time will the dog be unsupervised?
Here is an adoption process example application for you to have a look at, and here are some tips on how to ace your rescue dog application.
Once all the information you’ve provided is checked out, you’ll be asked to sign a pet adoption agreement.
5. Adoption Fee
Once the agreement is signed, it’s time to pay for the adoption fees. These vary by rescue organization and can go up to $350.
Most animal adoption centers will accept:
Check with your chosen Austin animal adoption place for what kind of payment they prefer.
The adoption fees typically pay for:
- Vet wellness exam
- Spray or neuter services
- Rabies vaccine
- Distemper vaccination
- Heartworm test
- Flea/tick treatment
- Collar and ID tag
Note: Shelters and rescue groups incur many of the initial vet costs as they prepare the animals for their new home. Your adoption fee helps them recoup some (but often, not all) of the costs they've incurred caring for your new pet.
Here you can read more about how much it costs to have a dog as a pet.
6. Trial Adoption
In some situations, a trial adoption may be allowed. You may still be required to do all the adoption paperwork and pay the adoption fees.
Note: This kind of adoption is not typically allowed for kittens and puppies. It’s mostly allowed for an adult dog, as younger ones tend to get along well with other pets in the home.
When Can You Bring Your New Pet to Your Austin Home
Some adoption places will allow you to take your new animal home the same day.
Others will require you to take a couple of days to get your home ready for the new addition to the family.
Did you know? If you already have animals in your home, some animal adoption centers will ask you to arrange a meet and greet between the resident and newly acquired pets before taking them home.
In some cases, additional animal training may be needed, which can also prolong the time until the new animal is in your home.
7. Get Your Austin Home Ready for a New Furry Addition
We recommend buying food, a crate, and other necessary essentials after you know which animal you’re adopting. Some animals may need a special diet, or you’ll have to consider their size when buying crates and collars.
Once you know which dog will be yours, go shopping before you bring it home. We don't recommend making a shopping trip on your ride home with your new dog, as chances are the dog will be stressed.
Buy the Basics
Start with the essential dog supplies you’ll need:
Spoil Your New #AustinDog at Tomlinson’s
Our final advice: take it slow, enjoy the moment, and take lots of pictures.
We know what a momentous time adding a new member to the family is, and we want to help you make sure it goes smoothly.
We’ve got everything you need for your dogs, right here in Austin, from supplements to toys.
Check out our blog, where you can learn how to make a dog-friendly pumpkin spice latte.