NOTE We always try and take a dog with us. Just having a dog at the residence can reveal a great deal. The dog is usually a good judge of character. Plus, if they already have pets in the house, you can see how they react to an intruder. We realize it's not always possible.
Email and vet references do not always provide a complete picture about whether the prospective adopters will be good owners. Your observations during the home visit will help you assess the applicants as potential Airedale owners.
Contact the applicant family and make an appointment to visit them at their home. When you call, identify yourself as a Home Visitor for Airedale Rescue and ask that all family members be present for at least part of the home visit and that the principal caretaker of the dog be present for the entire visit. The purpose of the home visit is to meet the prospective adopters and see the environment they will provide for their dog.
A form follows to fill out after you do your home visit. Try to wait until you get back to your car to jot down your notes on the form. You want to try to avoid making it feel like a formal interview. When people see their words being memorialized, they tend to start editing as they speak.
When you arrive, introduce yourself and briefly explain the function of the home visit. Explain that you are visiting to meet them and to evaluate the appropriateness and safety of their home for a dog. Talk to the applicants. Don't make this a formal interview! Engage them in conversation about the dog they want to adopt. You may want to start the conversation by saying something like "So, you're thinking of adopting an Airedale" then pause for a reaction. Let them talk and volunteer information. Observe their behavior. Get a sense of how they would be as dog owners. How do they interact with each other? Do they express basic consideration to spouses, children and other pets, do the children seem respectful to pets?
NOTE: If you are not comfortable with the applicant as a dog owner or are in any way uncomfortable, simply end the interview on a nice note and leave.
Tour the house, including the yard and living area.
In the house --
- Are the living quarters 'dog friendly'?
- Are there lots of small objects, exposed cords, house plants etc. that the dog may chew?
- Are cleaning materials secured in cabinets?
- Is the house reasonably neat and clean?
In the yard --
- Check the condition of the fence. Is it in good repair?
- Is the yard totally enclosed?
- Can the dog escape?
- Are there areas where the dog could injure him / her self?
- Is the house situated on a busy road?
Will the adults monitor the behavior of the children with the dog?
Do the applicants have a basic understanding of the dog's needs and behaviors?
Are there other pets in the house?
How will they introduce the new dog to the other pets?
Do they understand that sometimes rescues go through a period of adjustment?
How will they handle this?
When the meeting is over don't tell the person whether or not they are approved. Tell them that the information is relayed to a committee of at least three people who will make final decisions on all adoptions. Not every home is right for every dog. So even great people can be wrong for a specific