My dog adoption application got rejected … then approved

In order to adopt or even foster a dog from most rescue groups, I have to lie or at least leave out some information on the application form.

This is just a fact.

It’s not a criticism towards rescues; they can do what they want.

It just means they are limiting who can adopt from them, and they are encouraging people to leave out information on the application forms.

I wrote about that here and really pissed some people off.

Now, you might be wondering why I would have to lie in order to adopt a dog, because I seem like a pretty good pet owner.

Judge me if you’d like, but here are the reasons:

I will get rejected from adopting from most rescue groups because:

1. I’m not willing to allow a “home visit.” I will be rejected because most rescue groups require a “home check” prior to adoption.

2. I’m not willing to announce to my landlord I have cats. I will be rejected because most rescues call landlords to make sure multiple pets are allowed.

3. I choose not to vaccinate my senior cats. I will be rejected because most rescues require current pets to be “up to date” on shots.

My dog Ace and me!

So, going back to the title of this post on why I was rejected …

I know not to waste my time applying to most rescue groups because I am not willing to allow a home visit.

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
  • requiring a background check


So my dog adoption app was rejected …

OK, so I actually found a group that doesn’t do home visits for all adopters. I got around the home visit because I was already a volunteer.

I decided to be honest on my adoption application because like most adopters I truly want to be honest.

So, I checked “yes” when it asked about renting and “yes” when it asked about cats.

I could’ve easily lied about both.

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 I was 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 had obviously discussed the situation and decided to make an exception to their policies, which every rescue group should be willing to do!

So now I am approved to adopt, and all I have to do is show up at an adoption event and I can take home a dog since I’m already approved.

When the time comes, I will most likely adopt from this rescue because I know I won’t make it through the adoption process with any other rescue organization (unless I’m willing to lie).

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?

Have any of you ever lied on a dog adoption application?

Other helpful posts:

How to get your adoption application approved
Do rescues make it too difficult to adopt?
How to choose which dog to adopt from a kill shelter

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33 thoughts on “My dog adoption application got rejected … then approved”

  1. Haha, I’d totally have to lie on an application! I don’t vaccinate my indoor cats, never give my dog heartworm treatments, and my dog isn’t up to date on vaccinations for things I know won’t kill him (like kennel cough/bordatella). I’m glad that rescue approved you in the end. I’d be really miffed if a DOG rescue declined my application over permission to have a cat, which has nothing to do with the dog.
    Great things can happen when rescue groups keep an open mind. The group I’m with recently got an application for a cat we have had forever, I think about 2 years. The lady seemed a little off, though, so I was asked to meet her in person to show her the cat and “vet” her. The woman had no car and was completely computer illiterate. She couldn’t even find our website with us helping her over the phone. We weren’t sure she would be able to take care of the cat in an emergency, and I think most rescues would have shot her down right there. I met the lady, though, and she was just perfect. The cat had a medical condition worsened by stress and her home was so quiet. The lady doted on this cat, and she’d talked with her vet about what kind of cat she should get (her vet had recommended a cat over 5), and her last cat had lived for 18 years, so clearly she could get to the vet ok even without a car. She was a great owner! And that poor cat who’d been bounced around from kennel to kennel for 2 years has a home now!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Wonderful news about the cat! This is an example of when a “home visit” can be helpful. I prefer to call them “home delivers.” Or, if it’s to vet the person out, then “meet and greets.” The whole “home check” phrasing is just way too scary for people, even though I’m a volunteer who did these home visits back in the day. I was so informal and approved everyone.

  2. I have always thought that they have such strict policies for the safety of the animal, and I agree with that. However, this is an interesting perspective, and I love Jessiavy’s comment above showing how exceptions are okay too. I am glad you got approved, because I am sure you will make a lucky dog very happy to be adopted. I could not agree more: the easier it is to adopt, the more dogs who will not be euthanized from remaining at a shelter too long.

  3. I’m glad they discussed it and changed their minds. This says something positive about them. It is good for rescue groups to have rules, but they need to know when it is okay to make exceptions to those rules. Yes, I’ve lied on applications. But I’m not going to tell you what I lied about. Judgments (not from you) will be sure to arise. I love my dogs dearly, but I’m not perfect. And some of the ways I raised my pets in the past were not as good as they have been for Maya and Pierson. And it was mostly because back then I didn’t know any better and because some things were viewed different back then. Since many adopters want to know the history of every single pet I’ve had in my life (and it’s quite a lot), I fail to mention some that may not have had the benefit of my enlightened knowledge.

  4. I’m glad your application got accepted.
    We wanted to adopt a GSD puppy and the breed rescues scared me away big time. Just reading their requirements made me feel like I’ve already failed, ha ha.
    You have to be their county resident, over 25 years old, a home owner, experienced with the breed and show them vet references, and so on. $500 for a young purebred dog.
    Well, that’s why people go to the backyard breeders.
    “Luckily”, the pounds are full of GSD (mix) puppies and we got one without any application, you just need to show your driver’s license and pay small fee. We love our dog.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’ve looked at some of the German shepherd rescues in the area too. Unfortunately I just can’t put up with that, and it’s not really worth the effort. Same with the pitbull rescues. I would like to go to a regional pound, but I’m kind of scared I’ll pick a dog that’s not right for me.

      1. You might want to try German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County. They’re just one county up from you and I’ve heard they have really sane adoption requirements. I had a volunteer tell me they don’t have a yard requirement, which is hard to find in a large breed rescue. Of course, I doubt you want to drive 90 miles and go through another app now that that one rescue finally approved you!

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          Oh cool. I will keep them in mind. Thank you. I don’t mind driving 90 miles for the right group.

  5. I’m glad they changed their mind in the end! I’ve totally fudged adoption stuff. Before I got Gina, I was denied adoption of 2 kittens because I checked indoor/outdoor instead of indoor only. I then realized that most cat rescues require their cats to indoor only. Ok, they’re asking for people to lie on this one. Which is what I did in the future.

    Kaya should have require a home check but they didn’t do it because they did not feel like driving over the bridge from SF to Oakland so they settled for a video of my fence. I was so relived because I had no furniture at the time & part of my fence was only 3 feet tall, yet a 10 foot drop on the other side. I was able to crouch down & avoid the height in the video.

    And even though I had permission from my landlord to get a dog, I did not want them to call him should he change his mind for some reason or have concerns so I had my mom pretend to be my landlord! In addition, he only said ok to 1 pet, so I photoshopped the pet section of the lease to say pet(s) were allowed. I knew he would not have an issue once they were already there & well behaved. 🙂

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh wow! I love your examples! Thank you for sharing those. I have to say we have thought about “borrowing” a friend’s house for our application purposes. It’s just easier.

      The sad thing is I’m laughing at this, and meanwhile there are so many dogs desperately in need of homes. 🙁

  6. It does seem counterproductive to exclude so many good homes because they have kids, or lack a fence, or whatever. We really considered having my parents go thru the process for us because we were shut out by about 3 rescues just because we had kids under 5. We ended up having to play the lottery with the SPCA because they have little or no restrictions.

  7. Hopefully the landlord doesn’t read your blog! I think those lies are inconsequential. The big things are what matters like love, good food, money to care for a pet. Now if dogs were not allowed and you were adopting a dog, that would be a different story. Mom rented with cats for years and either said she had no cats or one cat. The cats didn’t destroy anything, no harm done. Sometimes rules need to be broken.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’ve had cats for 10 years in 5 different apartments. Some allowed cats, some didn’t. But I’ve never said I have a cat.

  8. I adopted a cat once from an organization and the process was anything but positive. I walked in feeling like I wanted to help by adopting a cat that needed a good home, and left with some pretty negative feelings about the process and organization. I was approved and adopted the cat, but it was like they assume everyone is unworthy and unqualified. I understand there have to be some rules and policies for rejecting applicants, but it’s their attitude that really turned me off. I’m so glad you got approved by your rescue and some common sense prevailed.

  9. I do think some rescues can be too strict! Like the one I volunteer at tends to reject people who work outside the home more than 6 hours/day, which I think is ridiculous. I’ve had dogs while working 8 hour days outside my home. We walked the dog before and after work. And she was absolutely fine! Or other people who work and have high-energy dogs bring in dog walkers. So I don’t see that as a reason to reject people offhand. They should at least ask what the person would do to make sure the dog gets enough exercise, etc.

    Anyway… I’ve never lied because I’ve never needed to. For our adopted pups, we owned our home, so no worries about landlords. I can totally understand your lying on your past applications! And the home visit thing is a bit weird. The shelter where I volunteer doesn’t do those. I don’t think they’re really necessary.

  10. Bruce’s rescue group (northern breed specific, so pretty uptight about home checks and fencing) waived our home check because they were excited to be getting rid of him…

    A friend of mine was denied by another local to us northern breed rescue because they asked how she contained her CURRENT dog, and she answered “by teaching him recall.” They did not ask how she planned on containing a northern breed, which she would have answered with “leashes and fencing.” They would not reconsider after she explained this to them. I was pissed for her.

  11. Before I got Chip I was looking to rescue a dog, but the entire process has put me off for life!

    The main reason they wernt giving me the dog was because my boyfriend (who was 22 at the time) did not seem “enthusiastic enough”. They had done home checks (twice!), introduced the dog who was living with us at the time to the rescue dog, I brought up ALL of my housemates (I lived with 4 other people at the time) to meet the new dog and was only when I brought my boyfriend they said he wasn’t enthusiastic enough and that was the grounds that I was rejected.

    I am basing my experiences on two of the main dog rescue centres in Ireland because they genuinely have put me off going through rescue centres going forward. Thankfully I did manage to rescue a dog in the end but did not go through any rescue centres. It was a friend of a friends dog who couldn’t look after the dog and none of the rescue centres would take the dog off her.

  12. I am with you 100% on this we went through 5 boxer adoption agencies in the area and even had a “home check” where the people entered just our living room and said the house was fine for a dog, not sure if they lied but we never even heard back from ANY of them! Finally we reached out to a shelter about 2 hours north in VT where they had our Ace waiting. He was listed as a boxer but now we find that he is more boxer/pit mix and we are more than okay with that. They wanted a home with no dogs or cats but they said they did a cat check and he was fine. Come to realize he gets a little excited to see our cat and barks her away but we are working on that still. I just feel bad for all the other dogs that could not come to us. Ace had been to many different homes and returned, we weren’t sure about keeping him at first he was a handful but now I can’t imagine life without him. We only had to send pictures of our house to the shelter he was at and his adoption fee was almost completely waived just because he neeeded to be adopted. I’m glad they took a chance on us. we don’t have a fenced in yard either so it was so difficult getting a dog! It’s crazy! I hope to help more in the future when we have a big enough space to allow more dogs, once Ace learns to behave around others 🙂

  13. Today I attended a local adoption event at Petsmart, in Delaware.

    I fell in love with a 4 month old puppy, decided to fill out the application TRUTHFULLY. They asked if I had a dog (which I do; a 10 month old Border Collie/Blue Heeler). My dog is a sweetheart but has anxiety toward meeting new people. So I went home to get my dog to do a “Meet and Greet” for the two dogs. Obviously due to my dog’s anxiety, he was nervous being around this puppy (who was very playful) and kept running away from him.
    Well… I was denied the adoption, because my dog was too shy and they felt he was getting pressured to be around a new dog.

    I understand where they’re coming from, but if I was put in a fenced area, with another dog & 3 other adults, yes I would be nervous and feel pressured.

    I was very upset 🙁

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Those types of meet and greets are tough on most dogs. So sorry to hear this and I hope the group changes how it handles/requires dog intros.

  14. I have been around dogs all my life and really like working breed dogs (my last 2 were mixed breed working dogs, living to 15yrs 8mths and 16yrs 5mths – very good ages for medium sized dogs). One of these dogs came from the RSPCA as a puppy and the other was a stray I took in when he was about 4 months old. So when my last dog passed away I decided to get another one. The rescue organisation I approached would not even talk to me about the dog I was interested in – I had to first Email a completed application form with lots of questions which took ages to complete. They quickly came back via Email with all the rejection reasons- (1) I was not going to let the dog sleep inside at night time (these are working dogs, not small fluffies, designed rugged, and ‘outside’ at my place means a water tight shed with trampoline beds, mattresses, blankets and a good quality coat in winter). (2) The dog would be on it’s own too much as I go to the office 3 days a week – yet they asked me how I would pay vet bills (duh! by working and earning money. My last dog’s vet meds were $350 per month for the last 12 months of his life. Without a good paying job I could not have afforded this. By the way many working dogs have an independent streak and don’t need 7×24 company). (3) would prefer that it went to a home with another dog, but no mention of this in the profile. I figured it would be the same story with other rescues and dogs so I rang the pound and asked what information they would want from me – just name and address so that the dog could be registered. So that’s where I went. I got a dog with more problems than I realised (including fear aggression), I paid a behaviourist for 1 on 1 sessions (with money from my job), taught her basic obedience and gave her lots of TLC. The first 8 weeks were hell, but I have had her for 11 months now and she is a wonderful companion – she still has fears, but we both manage these much better now and it is wonderful to see her become a happy and at times cheeky dog. I would not be without her. My vets are surprised that she was sold to a member of the public and she would not have passed a temperament test if she had ended up elsewhere. My vets were also surprised that I was rejected by rescue, knowing how I care for my dogs. My dog chose me for a reason and I was prepared to put in the time and effort to help her become the best dog she can be. A few months after I got her I checked the rescue listing that I had been rejected on – the listing was on hold as the dog was being trialled as a bomb detector dog – go figure!! My philosophy is that at least a dog in rescue is safe (even if hardly anyone is good enough to adopt it) while a dog in the pound is one that you will be saving from death row. And remember, many dogs in pounds do not have major issues or behavioural problems like mine did – many are lost pets whose owners have not found them or are surrendered by owners who for whatever reason cannot keep them anymore.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I love the idea of saving a dog’s life directly as you did. I’m worried I’ll adopt one that is not a good fit of too challenging for me. Do you have any advice on choosing the dog?

      1. The warning signs were there with this dog. She was at the back of the kennel that she was sharing with another dog, and although shy, she did get up and came right up to the front when I called her over and was OK with me putting my fingers through the wire. The volunteer suggested a couple of other dogs (I think long timers) and brought them out into a yard for me. They were nice dogs but nothing clicked. I asked for this one to be brought out, and when she was brought into the yard, she almost crawled in commando style. Eventually she became more upright and would come to me when I called her. She was obviously very timid, but sold me when she sat in front of me and hooked a front paw over my arm and started licking my hand. She had chosen me. Make no mistake though – after 2 days at home the timidness with me went and she became domineering and defiant (apparently not uncommon with timid, abused dogs who now feel safer and so start to assert themselves as pack leader), so within 5 days of bringing her home I was asking one of my vets who is also a qualified behaviourist for help. I really thought I had made one of the biggest mistakes of my life in getting her, but I knew that if I returned her that her prospects were not good. I figured that she didn’t ask to end up where she did, and she had obviously been abused (eg used to cower every time I walked out the back door), so why shouldn’t she be given the chance to try and adjust. I have also had to accept that she will never be a well adjusted dog. She is now very happy and settled in my one person household. She is the most affectionate dog (towards me) that I have owned. She doesn’t like my partner coming over – so if she is inside he needs to sit still and not look at her. If he stands up she will confront him and bark. So, if he wants to move around, I have to put her outside – not a big deal as she is happy outside. She doesn’t handle traffic, lots of people and children – it is all to much for her, so we avoid those situations. Thankfully she gets on with most dogs and has some favorites that she enjoys seeing on our walks. That’s another thing, I never thought I’d be able to walk her as she was so scared of everyone and everything. We started with 5AM walks just around the block, which would take ages as I would sometimes need to coax her along. Thankfully she is very food motivated. We now walk for just over an hour a day and are sometimes out for up to 2 hours if we see her doggy friends and I put her on a long lead to play. I don’t think I will ever be able to have her off lead outside of home as she is too unpredictable because of the fear she still has. Despite the challenges it has turned out to be very rewarding for me to see a much happier and more confident dog, even if she is still fearful.

        So, to your question re choosing a pound dog and what advice I would give. Firstly, it is essential that all household members including any furry ones meet your planned addition to make sure that they all get on. Very scared dogs need to chosen with caution – do you have the time, money (to get professional help if you need it), inclination to work with them as it is hard work but can be rewarding? What is the household like? Obviously one with lots of people, noise, children running around is no place for a timid dog, and can be dangerous as fearful dogs can be aggressive dogs. Think about the size, characteristics and energy levels of the breeds that might comprise your rescue. I have a working dog breed (Australian Stumpy Tail Cattle Dog) and people in suburbia often don’t understand the needs and traits of these dogs. They are usually high energy as they were bred to cover long distance with stock. They can be very mouthy and nip and bite as these traits were selected so that they could move sheep and cattle, but obviously not desirable around people and especially children which they have been known to try and herd, so any biting/nipping behaviour must be stopped and not allowed in any circumstances. They are also very intelligent dogs so need daily mental stimulation as well as physical stimulation. A bored working dog will find it’s own amusement which you may not like. They can be independent thinkers and stubborn – once again traits important to herding when on the spot decisions need to be made, so they need a firm and guiding hand to manage them. The mantra goes ‘a tired cattle dog is a good cattle dog’. A lot of these dogs end up abandoned because people don’t understand them and that is the same for any breed. So if you have an active lifestyle an active dog is fine, but if you are more sedentary then a more laid back breed or older dog may be more appropriate. Of course a pound is not an ideal environment to assess a dog, but spend as much time as you can with the one you think is right out of a kennel and in a yard so that you can interact with it and get to know it better. And I suppose most of all, don’t forget what it’s like to get a new dog – for many years before getting this one my dogs were older, mature and well behaved – we sometimes forget what puppies and young dogs can be like. There is adjustment for both the new dog and the new owner so time needs to be allowed to happen for this. Ask the volunteers and / or workers at the pound what their experience with the dog has been – good and bad. How long has the dog been there – if it has been there much longer than anyone else is there a reason for this that you should know about? How did the dog arrive at the pound? Was it a stray or surrendered (why?). Try and find out as much as you can. And remember, like people, no dog will be perfect!

  15. I know the last comment was a year ago, but I found this thread on google today and it helped mellow me out, and I wanted to share my experience. A few hours ago, I was rejected from adopting the world’s most perfect cat. I live off campus at college and am graduating soon, and I was trying to adopt him because I wanted to take him with me on the new phase in my life. Plus, when you meet the world’s most perfect cat, you adopt him right? But the adoption service was unsure because I had a mailing address that was affiliated with the college. Despite proving that I lived off campus and had permission from my landlord, they refused the adoption because they thought I was lying somehow. I was, and am still devastated. I had been trying for weeks and brought in paperwork after paperwork in order to appease them. Nothing was good enough. The saddest part is that the cat in question was 7 years old, obese, taking medications, and had been at the shelter for years without another applicant trying to get him. I hope that he gets adopted in the future, but at this point I don’t know what to say. I guess I’m just glad I read this because it makes me feel like the failure of the process wasn’t my fault. This was my first time trying through an adoption group, and I never had any idea they would be this awful. Maybe I’ll just look into craigslist in the future…

  16. The unrealistic expectations of these rescue shelter zealots is irrational and hurts the chances of dogs being adopted. My friend last year got rejected twice for a mini goldendoodle meanwhile she has a nice house with a big gated backyard. Her husband has an 7 year old son which they think was the main reason for the rejection. She ended up getting what she wanted but from a breeder. This is what shelters and rescues are pushing people to do and it’s a damn shame.

  17. Not to mention also, I got my dog at a kill shelter pound after being rejected twice from rescues whom all had mutts! The place I got my dog wasn’t the most reputable but I am thankful for them because I got my Lulu girl.

  18. Kerry Maywheather

    I tried to understand from your side why you think it’s okay to lie on an application to rescue and animal but did you not stop and think what would happen when you did get caught with animals in your rental…. What would happen to the animals that you “rescued” they wold again be without a home. Your disicion to lie on the application is both careless and reckless and I really wish they held true to not approving the adoption. Sorry not sorry

  19. 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

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