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Is it necessary for shelters to require home visits?

I’m going to state my case briefly, and then get out of the way to hear your opinions. Please share them in the comments below.

Is it necessary for shelters to require home visits?

No. I do not believe shelters or rescues should require home visits. As long as we are killing several million healthy dogs and cats annually due to a “lack of homes,” we should ease up on our adoption requirements.

I understand where shelter workers are coming from when they require home visits. They don’t want the dogs to end up in abusive homes. However, the condition or appearance of a person’s home will tell you nothing about the quality of care the pet will receive in that home.

Not only that, but the idea of a home visit sounds scary to potential adopters. While those of us in the rescue world understand home visits are usually no big deal, the general public does not know that.

The idea of a stranger inspecting their home is alienating to adopters, and it gives them a reason to obtain a pet somewhere else.

Home visits should be used in extremely rare cases such as if the dog or cat requires unique medical care or if the dog has unique behavioral issues. Home visits should also be used if there are any red flags on the adoption application that can’t be clarified in any other way.

Even in these cases, the term “home visit” or “home check” should be avoided. Instead, the shelter should say it will do a “home delivery” and bring the pet to the adopter. This sounds much friendlier.

So what do you think?

Is it necessary for shelters to require home visits?

Should shelters require home visits?


Monday 11th of October 2021

Yes, I think they are VERY important. I have had awesome application and then get to the home for a meet and greet and have walked into filth, kids treating animals with disrespect and the parents doing nothing and other animals trying to attack or going after my foster. I have also been there and seen 1 SO not want the pup and other pushing for it, which doesn't work out well. I went on a home visit with a puppy once and she pooped in the kitchen and the husband stated yelling at her and the wife was very stand offish and when I tried to give her the puppy to hold, it was like she was disgusted and didn't want to touch the puppy. Well that puppy was adopted by someone else and is loved on and is doing great. I have also had not so great applications on paper but incredible meet and greet/home visits and they are some of my favorite adopters. My first adoption I didn't do the home visit. He was a semi feral puppy. She came to pick him up from me and an hr later he got loose from the backyard when she left him alone. I always check out the yard for any issues and then point them out. If I see any issues in the home, I point them out as well. I have heard horror stories of home visits from other fosters, and I will continue to do my home visits and meet and greets. In 4 yrs I have only once been told they didn't want me in their home and I moved onto the next app. During covid, we were doing home visits in the back yard. I will drive up to an hr away to make sure my fosters go to the right home. I will always do home visits/meet and greets.


Sunday 1st of March 2020

I do not agree with the home visit requirement that certain rescues impose. I know some have commented that the visit is no big deal; however for me, it is not the home visit itself that is concerning, it is the requirement of it. It is like being invited to a party - I want an invitation if even I can't go. Don't require the visit for applicants, open it up to all and decide after if you need this. I personally think it is an invasion of privacy but to each their own. I get my rescue dogs at the SPCA or Animal Control. They don't require a home visit. Most people who want a rescue dog do not have nefarious intent and just want to save a dog and have family companion.

Lindsay Stordahl

Sunday 1st of March 2020

Yes, I feel the same way.

Tina Mayer

Wednesday 9th of October 2019

I think it incredibly thoughtless that I don't even hear back from rescue groups. They just disappear from your life. For me, it's clearly age discrimination. I have very good dog resume but am 70 and that tips the scales to anyone 10 or more years younger. The mantra is that 'we are incredibly busy' and that seems to excuse the need for common courtesy. I'm not asking for a long handwritten letter rejection letter. A simple e-mail will do. Something along the lines of we found a better family, old girl, and hope you will consider another one of our rescues in the future...if you're still alive, that is. Packing my bags for a visit to the Lancaster puppy mills. They don't care if my walker has a thousand miles on it, they just want my $$$$. The chances of a dog with health or temperament problems is equal to that of a rescue. Signed, Disgusted in Maryland

Angela D Keene

Monday 23rd of December 2019

We just are not all the same. Have you guys considered how dogs are treated during their "rescue"? What we do today is insanity. We take these dogs out of cages, yes they get to see a vet, but then we immediately re-cage them in an even more frightening / loud situation in the name of rescue. We are trying to change that, for the dogs. All I can say is that we can't do what we are trying to do irresponsibly . It's only about the adoption because it's all about the rescue. With enough safe, responsible fosters, a lot of unnecessary trauma and pain could be spared. But we're on about "the inconvenience of it all". It breaks my heart. If it's THAT big of a deal to you that nobody ever see your home, then yes I guess you do need to go to a puppy mill. ME - I'm not in it for all of that, I could care less what you have at your home unless you have 20 animals we didn't know about. I care about the DOG I am TRYING to find a foster for. A home for. By all means if the biggest part of that process to you is the stupid home visit... I just think it's a really silly reason to say you won't give "that" dog a home. Oh no I won't go through them they want to come inside of my house. What are you living in - Fort Knox??? Your "stuff" is so much better / special than anybody else' "junk"? I hope some of this has just been for the sake of argument because I can't wrap my mind around making a ten minute deal SO intrusive, SO unreasonable that you snub your nose at a dog you would otherwise love. Don't get it. Ten minutes .. and you ainna doin it. Ok then.

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 10th of October 2019

I can understand your frustration!


Sunday 9th of December 2018

Okay, Angela but not all home visits are equal. I'm dealing with a rescue right now and the lady's attitude on the phone is very rude. I've passed the application process, all my references have been checked including our vet. I have owned dogs all my life, I have never given up a dog. The dog I'm trying to adopt is over ten years old. The fee is five hundred dollars. My visit is tomorrow and I'll tell you, it is invasive. I understand the need for it too but, there is also a need to put people in place who do come into our homes, who have some modicum of people skills too. This woman scares me. She is not someone I would normally invite into my home but, nonetheless I'm stuck with her and she has all power of yes or no over us. We are GREAT dog owners, very responsible and I have dealt with breeders in the past and gone through this process just fine. Not all home visits are equal. I do wish that some idea of what they are looking for when they come into MY home was told to us ahead of time. We have a huge fenced yard, is that all they want to see? Our home is not huge. I am afraid I will be rejected just because this woman is on a power trip. I said to her on the phone very nicely "I'm looking forward to meeting you." She replied in a snide and snotty manner 'Oh, I just bet you are." And you know what? She did that to throw her weight around, to intimidate. This dog is a great fit for us right now and a perfect fit for this dog. I've spoken to the foster already. All hangs on the word of this one woman who I do worry can say "No" for capricious reasons without cause just to feel power over and you and I both know there ARE people like that in rescue right now. It has been a very long and arduous process and this is the second time I've been through it. Sadly, next time, I'll just go to a breeder. Rescue fees are high and the requirements are just as stringent. With a breeder, I know what I'm getting into with a puppy. This is just sad because I'm hearing more and more people saying the same thing. Yes, a home visit is too invasive. Someone who is NOT a professional anything with any credentials is given the power to say yay or nay over your future and the future of the dog. You are asking us to trust a person we do not know too into our homes. A great vet recommendation should be enough. I have given three more references besides. That's enough. I'm really uncomfortable having someone into my home, I do not know and who is judging my home and me in that manner when my references have all checked out as great. So you do keep on being so strident about this. This policy is driving people away from you are great dog families. Alternatively, would I be allowed into this woman's home or to grill her as to her credentials regarding her ability to professionally judge my home? I think not and my guess is, she doesn't have any.


Monday 10th of December 2018

Olivia where are you? This didn't happen in Tulsa, did it?

Obviously I cannot speak for all rescuers. In fact I can only speak on ours. Most of what I myself am looking for is that they don't have thirty animals hiding inside that they're not telling us about. Do I need to see every single room? No not really but please don't close and lock bedrooms. Actually just seeing that you've left doors open would be enough for me. I wouldn't need to go in each one. I just want to know there aren't animals hiding or six kids we don't know about etc. The last home visit we did - We went in and the lady was using a cardboard box for a litter box, and the kittens she had were crapping all over the house because they're too little to get up in there. She also had 3 cats she had gotten "since we spoke on the phone" and none of them had ever seen a vet. Two were very ill. This visit was for a potential foster. Obviously we turned her down. Her heart is in the right place, and we understood that, but we couldn't take the chance of bringing a wounded kitty there to heal.

I would never treat anybody the way you seem to be getting treated by this rescue you're talking about. But I've met at least one rescuer that I will have nothing more to do with for the kinds of reasons you speak of as well, so I do know they are out there. I'm sorry that you've run into one of them. But do know there are rescuers out here who do in fact do home visits who could care less about the size of your home (unless you're trying to adopt a great dane :) and we don't want to know every aspect of your life. We only want to know that our dogs are safe, and that's it.

Three references would be more than enough for me. Actually, seeing that you've kept up with the animals that you do have - that they've gotten their shots and have seen veterinarians for their ills would speak VOLUMES to me - to the point where the home visit is for no other reason than to make sure you'd be "willing" to let us in. I would rather expect that visit to be boring, as I would already have seen that you are a good dog owner on paper. I myself would be in your home for approximately five minutes. Meet the other animals there, meet any kids and watch you love on your dog while you talk. Good enough. Perfect. You're in.

Again I am sorry that you've run into a pissy rescue. But please don't lump us all together. Some of us have gone into this business because we truly love and care about animals and care little about any authority that comes with that except in those conditions where it does in fact keep our dogs safer.

Please understand that for most of us, home visits are quick and painless and just a final "yep looks good!" That is all they are "supposed" to be about. Consider the lady above who held a camera a certain way so she could hide stuff from the rescue. The reason we have to do home visits is HER!! Not you, understand, but people like her.

It's a funny thing you know - not one person aside from myself seems to have been bothered by what she did to try to hide holes in fences from the rescue. Nobody said a thing to her. But SHE is the reason why we must do what we do. Feel absolutely free to let her know that!!! She's right here.... Her name is rachel. Anybody upset about that? Or just me? If it weren't for people like her, we'd have no need my friend. But she / they exist, and so we must. Honestly - if we must shake fingers on this issue, they really need to point in her direction and those like her.

Also, if you're in Tulsa, don't go to a breeder - Come talk to me!! I PROMISE our home visits will not be pushy and intrusive. I only want to meet the other pups and gauge their personalities / activity levels so I can match your dogs with an appropriate foster with similar activity levels etc, and maybe to see your kids pet them vs trying to rip off their tail :) Give us five minutes, ten if we get into a fun convo, and we're all done.

We are not all the same.

Lindsay Stordahl

Sunday 9th of December 2018

I hear ya, Olivia! Best of luck to you with the home visit.


Saturday 21st of July 2018

I will always do home visits. Not only do you have people holding cameras down low so you can't see the part of the fence that your dog is going to get out of and hit by a car, and not only is this indicative of how your dog will be treated / kept safe in the future in their care, but rescues like ours are not "in" possession of over a hundred animals at a time. So we don't "have" to take the same kind of chances that they do, and why would we? Our dogs are not on a euth list, and we couldn't take all the euth list dogs in if we tried. So what we have is what we have, and we're going to make sure that the dogs in our care end up in what we deem (and we have that right) an appropriate match for him or her. To do anything less would be irresponsible on our parts whether it bothers some people or not. Our job is to rescue animals whose lives suck right now - and to get them into homes where we can say with certainty they will be for the entirety of their lives, receiving the best "we" can give them, through that careful match making. Love, attention, veterinary care and safe keeping. It's our job. Stop asking us to do less for the animals in our care.