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Packing for a Shelter Visit

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Are you planning a visit to a local shelter in hopes of adopting a new dog? Good for you!! There are so many great dogs out there just waiting for a home. It’s important to pack the right items for your shelter visit both to make the application process go smoother and, fingers crossed, to help you bring your new dog home!

You’ve probably done your homework on sites like Petfinder and AdoptAPet, two wonderful resources for learning about local shelters and rescue groups and the animals they presently have available.

You’ve figured out where you’re going…but just what should you bring with you on a shelter visit when you’re in hopes of adoption?

Making the Application


Every shelter will require you to complete paperwork. You’ll need to provide information such as your address and contact info, possibly a reference or two, information on where you live, how long you’ve lived there, whether you rent or own, how many other pets you have and their ages, etc.

If you rent, you may need to get a form signed by your landlord stating that it is OK for you to have a pet.

It helps to download a shelter’s application form BEFORE you make a shelter visit. Have it all filled out in advance, if possible, or at least have all the information rounded up and ready to go!

Your Veterinarian’s Contact Information

Do you presently have pets or have you in the recent past? You’ll want to provide your veterinarian as a reference. Many shelters will check to see that all animals in your household are up to date on vaccinations, also.

Everyone in the house

Some shelters will require that everyone who resides in your home be present to approve the adoption; even if this isn’t a requirement, it’s a good idea. You are adding a new member to your family so it’s in everyone’s best interest for this to be a family decision!

Taking Your New Dog Home

Some shelters require a few days to check out your references and information; others will allow you to adopt the same day. When we adopted our Isla in 2023, we took her home within an hour of selecting her.

If there’s a possibility that you might be coming home with a new addition to your family, you’ll also want to bring these items with you to the shelter:

A Leash

Unless you’re getting a small puppy or tiny dog, you’ll need to walk your new dog to the car and then into your home. An inexpensive adjustable leash/collar combo is a good idea if you don’t know what size dog you might be getting.

You can get a fitted collar and separate leash after you have your dog and his measurements.

A Crate

You’ll need to secure your dog for the drive home. Do you have a crate you can use to keep him secure?

A Carrier

If you are adopting a puppy or a small dog, a carrier can be a great way to bring home your new family member. We brought our puppy Isla home in a soft-sided carrier.

Towel or other bedding

You want your dog’s first time in your car to be a great one. Welcome him with some soft bedding to lie on for his ride to his new home.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy: an old towel or an old t-shirt works great. (And a used t-shirt with your scent on it is a good way to get your new dog familiar with you.)

Checkbook or cash

Or call to learn if the shelter accepts credit cards. Policies vary from shelter to shelter, especially in small towns.

Your phone or a camera

Don’t forget to take a photo of your new family member on adoption day!

Paris Permenter
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