Every dog deserves a good home: one that will provide stability, comfort, friendship and safety in addition to basic needs such as food, shelter and medical care. Screen potential dog adopters by querying them and their references with carefully chosen questions that will provide insight into the environment in which the dog would be kept if it were adopted.
Length of Acquaintance
Ask the reference how long she has known the adoption candidate. The longer the acquaintance, the more likely she is to be familiar with any animal care-related history that would be relevant. Ask the reference if she would be comfortable with surrendering her own pet to the applicant.
Ask if the applicant owns or rents the property where the dog will live. Renters tend to move more often than owners, increasing the chance that the dog will have to be re-homed yet again. Renters require permission from their landlords to keep animals, and it is possible for an applicant who is a renter to neglect this detail and have to return the animal at a later date when the landlord discovers its existence.
History with Animals
Inquire about the applicant's history with animals. Find out if he has owned a dog before, and why he got rid of it. Ask how high a priority the animal was in the applicant's life, and how committed he was to its care. Was his previous pet left outdoors or kept in? Use your questions to try to determine the relationship the applicant had with his previous pet.
Find out the family dynamics the dog will be facing. Ask how many people live in the house and if there are children present. If so, find out their ages. The temperament of the dog may or may not be compatible with active, playful children.
Determine the amount of supervision the dog is likely to have. Ask the reference if the applicant has a fenced backyard, and how often someone is home. Is the applicant from a family with a stay-at-home parent who manages the household while the children are at school and the spouse is at work, or are there significant periods of time when the house is unoccupied? Use your questions to get an idea of the amount of human contact the dog will have.
Find out as much as you can about the financial stability of the applicant. Ask how long she has been at her current job and if she is responsible with money. Your goal with this line of questioning is to determine if she can afford the costs associated with keeping a dog, from basic food costs to additional vet expenses that may be required.
Nancy Lovering is a writer, photographer and teaching assistant. She took novel writing at Langara College and photography at British Columbia Institute of Technology. She obtained her teaching assistant certificate through Delta School District Continuing Education. She previously worked as an assistant controller while in the Certified General Accountants program, and has training in dog psychology through Custom Canine Teaching Ltd. in Vancouver, BC.