Anyone involved in rescue can tell you that without a doubt the question that will always come up in conversation is "Why do you guys ask for so much information on those adoption applications?" or we constantly hear the statements "Wow! Applying to adopt a dog is harder than applying for a job or adopting a baby". . . .Or one of my personal favorites "You guys really do a background check?" The answer to those questions is YES! We absolutely need all of this information, (although I don't agree that it's harder than adopting a child. I have always felt that statement was a little overboard) and I am going to explain to you why we (Nancy, Dale, Adrian, the fosters and all the people that take a hand in saving the faces that pop up on your screen every day) feel it is so important to screen adopters as well as we do, learning everything we can prior to introducing any applicant to one of our cherished ASF pups.
As many of you know, ASF is a foster based rescue. That means that ASF is able to rescue Aussies all over the US, but only if a foster is available. This means that every single dog you see on our site was taken in by someone willing to open their home to these pups. . . .and many times those smiling faces you see on the site are a far cry from where things began for that dog. For anyone who has never done so before, I beg of you to please go walk through the cold, drab kennels of your local shelter. There, especially if you live in the south, you will find the worst of the worst. The battered and broken. Many of these pups have had their trust for humans shattered and fear even being touched when they come into our rescue. . . .and many know they have pulled the golden ticket and are so incredibly grateful for every treat, touch and meal you give them. The good news is that once they are pulled by ASF, their life is FUREVER changed!
Now, if any of you have ever known anyone who fosters animals, you know that it is a true passion. It is something that you have to love, or else you could never do it. I will also say this. . . .give them a hug, buy them a drink or just say an extra prayer for them. . . they are doing some very difficult work, and they are doing it for love and nothing else. Our fosters bring these pups into their home, treat them as their own, and they help them heal from the inside out. This is also the time when we learn the most about our pups. Are they dominant or submissive? Are they highly active or couch potatoes? Can they be in a home with children or adults only? We need to know all of these things to make sure that when these pups are placed for adoption, we are placing them in the best home for their needs. It is also during this time they receive all of their vetting. We are getting them spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and taking care of all their basic veterinary needs. Many times, however, the vetting ends up being so much more than just basic preventative care. We have pups going through heartworm treatment, having masses removed, amputations, cataract surgery (that's right folks, ASF has actually given a dog her sight back!), FHO surgeries, blood transfusions. . . .the list could go on and on. The collaboration between ASF and the fosters to get these dogs back on their feet is a beautiful thing. Ask any foster in this organization and they will tell you that there are many sleepless nights and endless tears. . . but they will also tell you that they love every moment.
So what does all of this have to do with our adoption application? Everything! After all of this time and love has been put into one of our pups, we can't just let them go anywhere can we? Nope! Close attention must be paid! We HAVE to know that these pups are going to a home with really good people who will not let our pup end up in the same place that we pulled them from. Yes, we really do the background check, we need to see what an applicant's home looks like and we truly do need to speak with people who ARE NOT family that can tell us the applicant is of good character. Probably the most important thing that we do is the veterinary reference check. If we have just spent $800 on a pup to go through brutal heartworm treatment, but an applicant's vet tells us that he/she has declined heartworm testing and has not purchased prevention, well then that would just not make that applicant a good candidate for one of our precious dogs now would it? If someone answers that they don't have fencing, but they are applying for a dog that is a known "darter" then we would need to divert them in another direction. If someone lives in an apartment, but is applying for a dog that cries when left alone, then we would need to have them look at pups who will not disturb neighbors when left by themselves. (most people are not fond of eviction) My point is, every question was intentionally placed on that application, and the questions are to help the applicant and us. If there is any one piece of advice I could offer, I would say to be honest! Many times people will lie on applications in an effort to put something on the application that they think we want to read, but then as we start to process we find the inconsistencies. Transparency is always preferred over multiple "clarifications." Again, bottom line, we just want to know an applicant is a good person/family and that our pup will never need to be rescued again!
The application process is basically a way for us to get a well rounded look at an applicant, and if the pup they applied for will be a good fit for them and their lifestyle. Just like an applicant does not want to pull the trigger and make the wrong decision, we don't either. These dogs become such a massive part of our world, and our goal is to make sure they become the center of the adopter's world as well!