We’ve all heard it: adopt, don’t shop. What exactly does that mean when it comes to getting a pet? Adopting will take one more dog or cat out of a shelter and off the streets, whereas pet stores breed for profit. But have you heard of Always Adopt?
For those of you looking to adopt (especially in the New England area!), this event is for you! We rescued my sweet little Sawyer here in 2015, and it was one of the best days of my life.
Why Always Adopt?
Searching for a puppy was such an overwhelming experience. I’m a huge PetFinder fan, but it’s easy to get slammed with thousands of results in your area. Talk about time-consuming! I can’t remember how I found out about the Always Adopt events, but let me just say: lifesaver.
Suddenly, I went from searching through thousands of online rescues and breeding sites, to actually meeting hundreds of available dogs and puppies in person! I can’t even begin to explain how much easier it is to have that many dogs in one place.
ALWAYS ADOPT is a non-profit organization hosting super-sized pet adoption events in Rhode Island, allowing many rescue groups and shelters to showcase their dogs, so that potential adopters can get to know them in a relaxed, spacious and happy environment. All the dogs are on leash and adopters are encouraged to bring the whole family.
Our goal at ALWAYS ADOPT is to give pets that have been abandoned, exposure to the families that want to adopt and give adopters the chance to meet and interact with their new family member. Thankfully most people want to adopt their next pet. They, like us want to save these beautiful at risk pets and offer them a wonderful, safe home for life.
There it is, guys. What more could you ask for?
How Does It Work?
Step One: Adoption Application
Always Adopt has a universal application on their website. You have the option to complete it before or during the event. Pre-screened applicants get exclusive entry: the first 200 enter at 10am, the next 200+ enter at 11am. Those who wait to complete their applications at the event can enter the building at 12-noon.
I’ll tell you this right now: PRE-SCREENING IS WORTH IT.
By completing our application in advance, Scott and I were able to walk out with a puppy. A lot of families had to wait several days for the application to be processed to take their dogs home. Such a tease! After completing your pre-screening, a volunteer will make a followup phone interview to ensure that you fully understand and are prepared for the responsibilities of a new pet.
While the application is long, it does save a lot of time at the actual event. When the doors open, there is a mad rush toward the dogs (especially the puppies!). You don’t want to waste any time filling out paperwork!
Step Two: Phone Interview
One of my favorite parts of this organization is how seriously they take each and every adoption. In my phone interview, I was asked to provide detailed information about our work schedules, prior knowledge about dogs, planned preparations for taking a new dog home, and so much more! The volunteers really make an effort to make sure that you’re fully prepared to take care of a dog. They’ll make sure you have the time, money, enthusiasm, and space before approving your application.
While it kinda seems like they’re going to drill you during the phone interview, there are only a few things you really need to remember:
- Do your research. Have an idea about what breed and age you’re looking for. The Always Adopt website and Facebook page post pictures of all the adoptable dogs before the event.
- Make sure you have enough time. Always Adopt stresses this more than anything: you need to be home a LOT to take care of your dog, especially in the first couple of weeks. They don’t want their dogs cooped up in crates all day, every day.
- Be prepared. I had a massive list of supplies I planned to buy before the actual day of the event (crate, food, toys, etc). The interviewers love to see that you’re prepped and taking this seriously!
Step Three: Adoption Day!
Two adoption events each year: midsummer and late-fall, hosted at the Balise Toyota of Warwick, RI, or Clark Farms of Matunuck, RI.
Don’t get me wrong, guys. Adoption day is STRESSFUL, especially if you’re searching for a specific breed, dog, or age. The organization advises that if you see a specific dog you like on their website/Facebook, to apply to the individual rescue before the event, to avoid competing with other interested families.
I found it super helpful to walk into the event with a plan. They provide maps with each rescue’s booth locations. Scott and I had a list of puppies we wanted to see, so we used the map to know exactly where to go.
There are so many people (even during the “early bird” part of the day) that when I picked up Sawyer for the first time, I refused to put him down. Scott thought that I was being so silly, but I knew that the second I put him back in the kennel, another family would pick him up and claim him. It’s that competitive, people!
Even with pre-screening, there’s still a good amount of paperwork to do after choosing a dog. We had to arrange a home visit in order to be approved for the adoption (most of the rescues do this). Since we had come all the way from New Hampshire, we actually had my dad FaceTime us from the house, and gave the rescue volunteers a “virtual home visit”.
Sounds crazy, right? No matter how hectic it may seem, this event is SO worth it. To have that many adoptable dogs in one place is so much better than searching online. You can even bring your own pets, to see how they’ll get along with your new dog! And while this event may seem too competitive for you, just remember that the more prepared you are the better. Over three hundred dogs were adopted by the time we left at 1pm. You WILL find a new family member at this event. It is truly worth the effort, and makes the adoption process so much easier.
For all of my adopters out there, share your favorite picture of your fur-baby in the comments below!