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My Dog Adoption Application Got Rejected

If your dog adoption application got rejected, I’m so sorry to hear that.

I want you to know that it’s most likely nothing you did wrong. A lot of rescue groups and shelters are very, very picky about who their “perfect” adopter might be.

They have the right to set whatever requirements they choose. But sometimes their policies are counterproductive to getting dogs into good homes.

Personally, if I want to adopt a dog or a cat from most rescue groups, I have to lie or at least leave out some information on the application form.

I will get rejected from adopting from most rescue groups because of these reasons:

1. I’m not willing to allow a “home visit.” I have nothing to hide, but I believe this policy is ridiculous except in very specific cases. For example, if the dog is known to climb fences, the rescue might want to see the adopter’s specific fencing.

2. I’m not willing to announce to my landlord I have cats. I’ve had cats for over 15 years and have rented this entire time. I’ve never told any of my landlords that I have a cat (five different locations). I pay my monthly “dog rent” for my dog. I choose not to announce I have a cat in order to avoid an additional pet fee.

3. I choose not to vaccinate my senior, indoor cat. Most rescues require current pets to be “up to date” on shots. They typically will not make an exception even though our vet is fine with me not vaccinating my 15-year-old indoor cat who has kidney disease.

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Why my dog adoption application got rejected

My dog adoption application got rejected
My dog Ace

I know not to waste my time applying to most rescue groups because I am not willing to allow the home visit that most of them require.

I strongly believe home visits are an invasion of privacy, and while I have nothing to hide I believe it’s wrong for rescues to “inspect” people’s homes.

There are still at least 3 million dogs and cats killed in U.S. shelters annually, and I can’t support a group that puts up these barriers to adoption:

  • requiring a home visit
  • requiring adopters to hand over their social security numbers
  • background checks
  • requiring a specific income

How my dog adoption app was denied …

I actually found a rescue group that does not do home visits for all adopters. I got around the home visit because I was already a volunteer.

Like most adopters I truly wanted to be honest.

So, I checked “yes” when the application asked about renting and “yes” when it asked if I have a cat.

I could’ve easily lied about both and said I own my home and do not have a cat. But I chose to be honest.

Then, I waited …

I got a call from a polite volunteer who told me in order to adopt a dog I would have to provide my landlord’s permission, in writing, saying I could have cats.

I said I was not willing to do so because that would welcome my landlord to charge additional pet fees. I’d rather tell the landlord about the second dog without mentioning the cats.

She politely told me I could not adopt a dog.


I was really bummed because I truly wanted to support this rescue and had already had positive experiences volunteering at adoption events.

So I said, “OK, that’s too bad.

I even paused a bit, giving her the chance to change her mind.

I even went so far as to say, “Are you sure you don’t want to pretend you didn’t see that I have a cat?”

But she said no, policies are policies.

And I politely said, “OK, that’s too bad, and goodbye.”

I remained polite and positive to the volunteer.

… And then my dog adoption application got approved!

About a week later, I got a call from a different volunteer saying there was a misunderstanding and they didn’t really need my landlord’s permission as long as I was OK taking on that “risk.”

Hell yeah I’m willing to take on the “risk”!

Good Lord.

Basically, some of the volunteers discussed the situation and decided to make an exception to their policies, which every rescue group should be willing to do!

“We are not the landlord police,” is what the volunteer said.

Good things happen when rescues are willing to be a bit more reasonable.

More people are able to adopt, which means more volunteers, more donations and more positive word of mouth. And of course more dogs find loving homes.

What do you guys think about all this?

Do you support rescue groups with difficult policies, or do you run like hell from those groups?

Was your dog adoption application ever rejected?

If so, please know that it’s not your fault. There are always ways to adopt a dog if that is what you want to do. It just might take some time to find the right rescue group or shelter.

There are also a lot of people listing their young, adult dogs for adoption on Craigslist.

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Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training, dog exercise and feeding a healthy raw diet.


Friday 31st of December 2021

I was turned down because 1. they said that I was too old, they don't accept applications from people over 50. 2. 2 dogs in my care died in the last 5 years. I was a foster home for more than 2 decades in another state and would be asked to foster dogs with major issues. Only 2 of the dogs out of all of the dogs that we fostered were not able to overcome their history and I kept them. I chose not to lie when they asked if I had a dog that died within the last 5 years. I said yes, one was 17 years old and one was 8. The 8 year old had epilepsy as well as other major health problems. He was also one of the rescues that I kept. So having a problem with either dogs death was completely unreasonable. 3. I have a special needs adult daughter. 4. I was not willing to give them her social security number. I asked them if they thought that a 20 something would be a better home considering that I would be home all of time, have 30+ years experience, have a long relationship with a vet as well as a pet sitter who was a vet tech in the local animal emergency center for more than a decade, own my own home, have a fenced yard and have references from 2 rescues as well as a shelter. Her answer was Yes the 20 something would be because I might die. This is just insane!


Tuesday 21st of September 2021

It's utter bullshit that all these animals are dying every year but a person like myself, who has a dog door, owns his own home and has a dog park not even 1/2 a mile from my house, can't even get a dog. You know what this stupid-ass power trip does, don't you? It forces people in my shoes to go to a puppy mill. Is that what they want? Because that is what's going to happen if this BS continues. I won't go to a puppy mill. I'm done with it all. I so wanted a dog during lockdown but selfish jerks came from other states and snatched up any available dogs in my area. Is that fair? And they ask to inspect my home?? For a DOG? What is wrong with society?

Heather Bush

Saturday 3rd of July 2021

As a shelter employee, this article is awful. We have applications in place for a reason. the methheads wanting to adopt a pitbull to breed, the person that was denied because housing won't allow certain breeds only to send in someone to try to adopt the same dog. Landlords are called because people allow pets to damage the rentals. And if the landlord says no, then what?! Bring the dog back? Give it away?? Alot of wasted time and unneeded stress for the pet. I'm super picky where my pit bulls go. Half the people that want them are clueless. The dog is smarter them they are. Want to keep a husky in an apt?! No way!! Calling landlord 1st. How.many pets we take in every year from people hiding them in a rental and now need to unload them. Its crazy the lying and deception people will do for a pet!! Shame shame!

Judy Bell

Saturday 16th of January 2021

I've just read this entire blog. All the problems with being rejected by these rescue groups is still going on, and this is the year 2021! Over the years, I have adopted 4 rescues: cairn terrier, Irish wolfhound, Scottish deerhound, welsh springer spaniel. All had great and loving lives forever. I have been applying to rescues now for months since my Springer died suddenly from acute pancreatitis. Rescues now say on their websites: "do not call or email us as we will not respond...." So, people have to wait and wait to hear nothing. I believe there now is much fraud, deceit, dishonesty with msny 501c3 rescue groups eho take donations, etc, but just keeptheir dogs in their foster homes forever. Ehat do they do with the donated money? Do they file a report to he IRS? Are those who donate actually paying their salary?


Wednesday 1st of May 2019

2sister Labs were put down because adoption enter needed my landlords approved. I was only going to foster till a home was found... of course my landlord said no as I had already explained my property manager sucks. We are a loving caring home with big yard and lots of time for pets.... we were denied. This is after we had already gone down to rescue and meet with both girls with my entire family... sucks

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 1st of May 2019

So sorry to hear that.