Thank you for volunteering your time to conduct a foster or adopter home check for HARTT! We appreciate you representing HARTT in a positive light to interested individuals or families and making certain that our HARTT animals will be safe, secure and loved in their new homes. Visits normally take 1 hour.
YOU play a critical role in the foster or adoption process – we value and need your candid feedback about whether the environment you will be visiting is suitable for this dog.
BEFORE YOU GO:
- Familiarize yourself with everything about the dog – the families will ask questions and expect you to know much of this information. Know the dog’s age, breed, temperament and health status. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t guess or make anything up – refer them back to our Rescue Coordinator. Be sure to know the dog’s “back story” – this information may be available from a post on the HARTT site. If you are unsure, ASK before you go (don’t wait until the last minute)!
- Carefully review the foster/adoption application. Make note of anything you want to ask about or need clarification on, or items you are concerned about.
- Do a “virtual” review of the property location before you arrive. Input the address into Google Maps – you should be able to get a general idea of the property, maybe the fencing, whether it backs to a busy street or the desert, if there is a swimming pool, etc.
- Input the home address into any internet browser – if the home was bought/sold in the last 10-15 years, there is a good chance you can see actual pictures of the inside of the home and yard on sites like Realtor.com, Redfin.com or Zillow.com. Of course, there could have been changes made to the features of the home (and certainly the décor) since the photos were taken, but this might help you to formulate your plan for your visit. This is an easy way to ask questions ahead of time or even save a drive if you see something that’s a major concern (ie, short, 3’-4’ walls, large gaps between wrought iron fence slats, no fence at all, etc.) that could rule out the placement altogether.
- STUDY this checklist so you know in advance the items you will look for, and the sequence.
- BRING: a measuring tape; a clip board; this checklist; a pen; a clean, printed, color copy of the “Escape Proof your Dog” document; and information on the dog. Take pictures/video!
WHEN YOU ARRIVE:
Be professional, warm and engaging – remember, this is a BIG DEAL for this family – they are hoping to welcome a new animal family member into their home! Be courteous but don’t make any statements that make them feel they are either “approved” or “denied”. We don’t want to create false hope, however the person doing home checks usually isn’t the person with final approval authority.
While you spend time with the family, be observant and be an active listener. Notice things around the home, notice the interactions of family members, and listen to what they say – make a mental note of any concerns. For example, you may see a food bowl on the floor with food in it – they may “free-feed” their existing pets(s), but that’s a bad idea when introducing a new pet who may try to compete for food. Or, you may hear them talk about inappropriate training techniques, such as teaching housebreaking by “rubbing their nose in their business”. These types of comments could be red flags.
POINTS TO COVER:
Dogs need time to figure out this is their home. It’s best not to ask anything of the dog for the first week or so. Encourage and welcome them to join in with the family, however give them time and space if they feel overwhelmed. Try to err on the side of quieter household activities for the first few weeks (no loud cheering for TV sporting events, no rowdy play, no loud music, etc, so as not to overwhelm the new dog.
If the family has any special ideas or questions about any of the following, or similar topics, please refer these questions to HARTT’s Rescue Coordinator (and notify her when you leave the home, so she can follow up quickly):
- crate training
- house training or obedience training
- resource guarding
- introducing the new dog to a family dog or cat
- medical questions about the animal beyond the information you’ve been provided
- whether or not they are “approved” or would be a “good choice” for the dog
Emphasize that fosters/adopted dogs should not be taken outside the home for at LEAST 1 month.
Make sure they resist the urge to take their dog (ESPECIALLY nervous, shy or fearful ones) on neighborhood walks, to the dog park, to the pet store, or to the coffee shop. All of this can wait! The dog needs to acclimate to the home environment and understand she is safe here first, before going on an outing. The vast majority of dogs who go missing are lost within the first few weeks when the dog is still a significant flight risk.
Explain that collars (the traditional buckle or clip type) and tags STAY ON 24/7. No exceptions. However, Martingale collars that are used to keep dogs from backing out on a walk or when frightened should NOT be left on the dog – they should be removed and stay attached to the leash, when the pet is not leaving the property. When going on a walk or on an outing, the dog wears BOTH collars but the leash is attached to the Martingale, not the collar with the ID tag.
Thank the family for allowing you to visit and tell them that our Rescue Coordinator will be in touch with them within a day or two.