How Can I Find a Dog Online?

More and more people are turning to dog adoption the modern way. There are several options available if you would like to adopt a dog online.

Oregon Humane Society’s Online Matching Service

Lewis stares at the camera with soulful eyes sure to melt hearts. Finding an online match shouldn’t be that difficult for such a catch.

But in this case, the heartthrob is a 28-pound, 5-month-old Australian Shepherd mix. The Oregon Humane Society (OHS) developed an innovative online matching service to help people adopt a dog online. Doing so will ensure Lewis finds a new home based on more than the pup’s good looks. Stealing a page from online dating services, this nonprofit uses a database with extensive search criteria to improve the pet adoption experience.

“It’s a pretty unique feature,” says David Lytle, the OHS’s public affairs manager. “We are the only Humane Society I know of that has this find-a-match feature implemented so extensively.”

How Dog Matching Works at Oregon Humane Society

When a dog arrives at the OHS, a staff member photographs and weighs the pup and enters its information into a database. “Just as fast as our staff can enter this data, it’s posted live,” explains Lytle. “If a little Cocker Spaniel comes in the door at 10 a.m., usually by noon, all of its data is up.”

The database listing is updated every 10 minutes. Adopters can surf through listings that offer a photo, vital statistics, and information about each dog’s personality. For instance, Lewis “is a social butterfly who seems to enjoy meeting other people and dogs.” However, Lewis isn’t suited to a home with cats.

Successful Online Adoptions

When someone adopts a dog online, its status is changed on the database. People from far and wide seem to notice. “We get so many comments from around the world,” says Lytle. “People love the updates.”

Although fans worldwide follow the service’s animals, almost all the adopters come from the Portland area. The questionnaire filled out by potential adopters asks about the breed or size of dog you want and the suitable activity level and desired personality. The database searches for matches based on the criteria that would-be adopters provide.

If you see a dog that you’d like, you can place a hold on the pup. If no matches are found, you can request that the OHS send you an email when a suitable dog arrives. Since the service started last August, 3,000 people have signed up for email notification, says Lytle. The service is precious at OHS, where 10,000 pet adoptions are processed each year.

“We’re very happy with it,” Lytle says. “We’ve gotten good feedback from the community.”

Across the Country, Other Shelters Have Also Taken the Dog Adoption Process Online.

Meet Your Match – ASPCA

The ASPCA’s Meet Your Match program evaluates animals to help owners bring home their ideal companion. “Meet Your Match isn’t just based on superficial qualities. We go deeper, including asking about the pet’s personality, your personality, and other important factors,” says Senior Vice President Gail Buchwald of the ASPCA Adoption Center. Whatever the outcome, the resulting adoption is a win-win for the owner and the pet.

Iams Home 4 the Holidays 

This program is one of numerous pet adoption drives taking place now. According to The Humane Society of the United States, of the 8 million pets that enter animal shelters and rescue groups every year, approximately 3 million of these healthy and treatable pets are euthanized due to lack of adoption. John Van Zante, spokesperson for the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Santa Fe, Calif., who helped start Home 4 the Holidays, says the data in 1998 for San Diego County alone, where 40,000 dogs and cats were euthanized, led to the creation of Home 4 the Holidays.

“I contacted all 14 shelters in our region, asking that we are committed to putting our egos in check and working together to solve the problem,” says Van Zante. “We kicked off the first Home for the Holidays in November 1999.” Since that initial year, millions of pets featured in the program (which runs from November to the beginning of January) have been adopted into loving homes.

PetSmart Charities 

Your local PetSmart store has a PetSmart Charities Adoption Center, which helps to match potential owners with a canine companion. “PetSmart charities partners with more than 2,000 animal welfare organizations, which use this space to showcase pets looking for a home,” says PetSmart Charities Communication Manager Michelle Thompson. “To date, PetSmart Charities has helped save more than 4 million pets through adoptions.” You can visit PetSmartCharities to find an adoption event near you.

Before You Begin Adopting a Dog Online

The ASPCA, PetFinder, and other organizations work hard to ensure a thoughtful process occurs before anyone can adopt a dog online. Such groups also try to help all pets, not just the popular breeds or photogenic puppies. Betsy Banks Saul, the co-founder of PetFinder, points out that “overlooked pets often make great additions to a family, but many people don’t even realize they are discriminating when they begin looking to adopt.”

Tips for Finding Your Dream Dog

Even if you don’t live near Portland, the find-a-match program can help your search for the right dog. Look at the types of questions OHS poses to determine what questions you should ask before adopting a dog online. Factors to consider include:

  • Your activity level
  • Whether you already have pets in your household
  • The size of your home and any possible pet restrictions
  • Whether you have children

Only considering dog breeds isn’t sufficient, says Vicki Kirby of the Humane Society of Fairfax, Va. “It is amazing to me how many people want a dog they know nothing about,” she says. “They see a picture and fall in love with the dog’s look and have no idea what this type of dog is really like. The most important quality to look for is the dog’s personality and disposition. Even if they know the breed’s traits, a particular dog may not have those traits.”

The Humane Society of Fairfax uses a questionnaire that can be downloaded online then faxed or emailed. The society also sends email notifications when a potential match arrives. Of course, it’s essential to meet your likely new pup in person, say both Lytle and Kirby. And it’s never a good idea to fall for a pretty face.

“We always tell people you need to know yourself and know your lifestyle,” Lytle says. “You might be seduced by a young Border Collie that is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, but if you have knee or hip problems, and your idea of exercise is just one walk around the block, you and the border collie are not going to be happy.” Instead, devote time and care when selecting a dog, which will vastly improve your chances of living happily ever after.

For further advice on choosing the right dog for you, check out our article ‘What’s the Best Dog Breed for Me?

The Online Dog Adoption Process

Depending on the program you choose, the process to adopt a dog online might go as follows:

  1. Visit the program’s website, search for pets available for adoption in your area, and answer some initial questions.  
  2. If you find a dog you are interested in adopting, make an appointment to visit the shelter. Or a video call to meet them virtually if that’s not possible.  
  3. Sign in at the shelter, where you will mention the sort of dog you hope to adopt (age, breed, or a specific dog seen on the facility’s website).  
  4. Answer questions asked by shelter personnel to determine your living situation; (e.g., if you have other pets at home). 
  5. Visit the dog and also others that are in the shelter. 
  1. Pay the adoption fee. The adoption fee may or may not include things such as; spaying or neutering, full veterinary exams, necessary vaccines, or microchipping.

The individual who will be caring for the dog must be present at the time of adoption. If you already own a dog, bring your pet to the shelter to meet the new addition to the family.

If you would like to read further on the dog adoption’s ins and outs, look at our article ‘Is Adopting an Older Dog a Good Idea?‘ 

The rewards of adoption, Van Zante says, are priceless: A new dog truly is a treasured gift that will keep on giving.

Article written by Author: Kim Boatman, and The Dog Daily Expert

How Can I Find a Dog Online Adoption

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