How to adopt a dog from the RSPCA

How to find a dog

We follow our local RSPCA branch on Facebook and just so happened to spot a post that they shared showing a very handsome Pug called Henry. They were asking for people to donate food, as Henry was new to the centre. At the time, we weren’t actively looking for another dog, but it was something we were considering. It seemed like fate!

We went into the RSPCA with a bag of pug food, with the intention of also registering our interest.

As well as following your local RSPCA Facebook page, I’d suggest heading over to their website and registering for email alerts. That way you won’t miss your perfect dog!

Perfect match form

At the time, we thought that you could just go in and see all of the dogs, before choosing which one you like. Turns out, that’s not how it works at all. You fill out a perfect match form, which you can see below (correct at March 2020). You can also download the form here and drop it into your local branch.

The form asks about what breeds you are interested in, what your lifestyle is like, if you have time for training and if you have any children or other dogs. The point of the form is to find out if your lifestyle matches the needs of the dog that they are looking to regime.

The RSPCA will then choose Henry’s perfect owner or family and you’ll receive a phone call to say that you have been chosen as his perfect match. For us, this call came a few days after we submitted out form. Funnily enough, we were actually the second choice. His first perfect match didn’t work out for whatever reason!

Meet the dog

Once you have been chosen as a dog’s perfect match, this is the point where you can come into branch and meet the dog for the first time. If you have another dog, they suggest that only the humans come along for the first time, so as to not intimidate the new dog.

We received our phone call and were invited in a few days later to meet Henry and find out more about him.

At our local RSPCA, they have a meeting room, where you can spend some time alone with the dog. They have toys in there and the dog can be off the lead, allowing you to form a bond. There is also a short walk around the centre, which you can use, although the dog must be kept on the lead. It’ll allow you to see what the dog is like at walking on the lead and gives you a sense of how active he or she is. Our local RSPCA also have a few enclosed outdoor areas, so you can get to know the dog in a variety of different settings.

Staff are on hand if you have any questions, but they leave you to get to know your new dog and encourage you to visit as often as possible.

Introducing another dog

Once we had been in to visit Henry a number of times, this is when we were encouraged to bring our other pug, Oscar, in to meet him. They like the dogs to meet at the RSPCA first, so that they are meeting on neutral ground. It also gives you a chance to make sure that the dogs actually like each other before the adoption takes place.

Luckily for us, Oscar and Henry hit it off instantly and became the best of friends from day one. They were playing and chasing each other, having lots of sniffs and they seemed so comfortable in each others company.

It was at this point that we knew Henry had to join our family!

We were encouraged to bring Oscar in often, so that the boys could bond. We took them on walks together and let them play in the visitors room together. They had a blast!

The home check

Before you are allowed to legally adopt a dog, the RSPCA arrange a home check, to make sure that your home is fit for a dog. However, in our case, this was extremely quick. Where we already had Oscar, this showed that our home was most likely suitable. it’s also worth noting that this was just days before the first UK Covid-19 lockdown, so the check was probably less thorough than it would usually be.

In normal circumstances, they would be checking that there are no hazards and that your garden is escape-proof. In our case, he didn’t make it further than the hallway and we were signed off!

Preparing your dog for adoption

The RSPCA do everything to ensure they are giving you a healthy dog. They neuter every dog before it is adopted and they give the dog all the jabs it needs. They will also do any operations that are needed and they cover the cost of everything. In Henry’s case, he needed a lot of work…

He had entropion surgery, as his eye lashes were growing inwards and irritating his eyes. This actually didn’t work the first time, so he had this operation done twice. He had rhinoplasty, where they widened his nostrils to make it easier for him to breathe and at the same time they cut away some wrinkles so he could breathe easier. He also had a small fatty lump removed. It wasn’t concerning, but it made sense to do it at the same time.

After Henry had his operations, they wanted to keep him in the centre for a few days to minor everything and wouldn’t send him home with us until they knew everything was okay. When he did eventually come home, we were given all of the medication he needed to recover and we were given appointments at our local vets, all of which were covered by the RSPCA.

Adoption Day

Once you have passed the home check and once your dog is ready to come home, the RSPCA will arrange a date and time for you to collect the dog.

We’d suggest getting a harness and lead in advance and bringing this with you on collection day. It’s also worth bringing a dog seatbelt if you are taking your new dog home in the car. You’ll be given anything that the previous owner wanted to stay with the dog. In our case, we were given his favourite toy. We were also given his medication and a bag of food, to gradually switch him over to our food.

If you’re considering adopting a dog from the RSPCA, we would love to hear from you!

Head over to @TheHandsomePugs on Instagram and drop us a message with any questions.

We don’t claim to be experts at all, but we would love to talk to you about our experiences and help you to find your perfect dog. We had a great experience with the RSPCA and we can’t recommend them highly enough.

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