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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.

You’ve probably done your homework on sites like and, 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?

  • Contacts. 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.
  • Your Vet’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!

Some shelters require a few days to check out your references and information; others will allow you to adopt the same day. 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?
  • 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.)
  • a checkbook or cash (or call to learn if the shelter accepts credit cards)
  • a camera. Don’t forget to take a photo of your new family member on adoption day!