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Our Adoption Process

We're so excited you're considering adopting your new best friend!  So let's talk about our Adoption Process.

Shenandoah Shepherd Rescue adopts all over the continental United States.*  It is our goal to adopt our dogs into homes which match their individual needs best. This means that while you may apply for a certain dog, there is no guarantee your preferred dog will be a good match for your home.  Our Adoption Application is designed to ensure both you & your new best friend are a perfect match! 

Below is a step-by-step overview of what you can expect as you move through our Adoption Process.

  • Why is SSR called a shepherd rescue if you rescue all types of dogs?
    While we are a German Shepherd rescue, we will never turn a blind eye to dogs in need. There are countless reasons we may rescue non-German Shepherd dogs at risk of euthanasia. The two most common scenarios occur when a German Shepherd and non-GSD come into the shelter together. The second most common is when a German Shepherd is placed into a kennel with a non-GSD - we call those "kennel mates" - and both are at risk of euthanasia. We never leave a friend or kennel mate behind!
  • Where can I see available dogs?
    In addition to viewing them on our website here, we frequently have adoption events across Virginia. Our fosters will bring their SSR foster dogs to these events as they are able. Keep an eye on our social media to see which dogs are attending events near you!
  • Is Shenandoah Shepherd Rescue a registered Non-Profit Organization?
    Yes, Shenandoah Shepherd Rescue is a registered 501c3 organization, meaning all donations made to us are tax deductible. Our EIN is 81-4746690.
  • Can I surrender my non-SSR dog to your rescue?
    We know that sometimes life happens and people find themselves unable to properly care for their animal. Our greatest fear is that someone will feel so desperate that they consider giving or selling their animal to a stranger. Without the required references and home checks, animals run the risk of being placed into unhealthy and abusive homes. We want to ensure your loved one gets the home they deserve. Before you make the decision to surrender, give away, or sell your animal, we may be able to help you find solutions that will allow you to keep your animal as a member of the family. While we can't guarantee miracles, we do have extensive experience dealing with a multitude of issues and can certainly offer suggestions and alternatives to giving up your animal. Please review our Owner Surrender Request page for more information.
  • How long does approval take?
    It could take a few weeks to finalize an adoption from start to finish. Typically it takes one to two weeks to complete the reference and vet checks and conduct a home visit. Because SSR is volunteer based, coordinating schedules (yours and ours) can take time. After the home visit, you should hear from a SSR representative within a week regarding whether or not you have been approved. After you have been approved, you'll be assigned a volunteer caseworker to help match your family with the perfect SSR dog! We encourage applicants to do everything possible to expedite the process. Please review our Adoption Process - and what you can do to help move it along quickly - in more detail here.
  • What are your adoption fees?
    When applying to adopt, there is a non-refundable application fee of $20. The application fee does not apply to the adoption fee. Dogs aged 8 Weeks to 12 Months- $400 Dogs aged 13 Months to 6 Years - $350 Dogs aged 7 Years+ - $250
  • If I apply for a specific dog, will I get that specific dog?
    When applying for adoption with SSR, all applications are for general approval. While we do offer the ability to select the dog you're most interested in, there is no guarantee that your preferred dog will be available when your application reaches approval. It's important to understand that SSR is committed to ensuring the right dog is adopted to the right family. This is a critical part of our adoption process as it sets both our dogs and their adoptive families up for long term success. Additionally, this practice minimizes the risk dogs being returned for behavioral or other "poor fit" conditions. Please understand that even if you are in love with a certain dog, that dog may not be the best fit for your family. In these situations, your SSR caseworker will explain why the dog is not a good fit for your family, and will present you with several other available dogs which fit your family's unique needs.
  • What does your adoption fee cover?
    The fees cover the cost of medical expenses (including spay/neuter for dogs over six months old), food, kenneling, and transportation for all of the SSR animals while they are in our care.
  • What is your Adoption Process?
    After an Adoption Application has been submitted, we review your application, check veterinary records, and conduct a home visit. If you are approved, you'll be assigned a volunteer caseworker to help you find the perfect dog for your family. Please see our Adoption Process page for more information.
  • What should I expect when I finalize my adoption?
    You will be required to sign an adoption contract. You will receive all of the medical records obtained by SSR regarding your pet, along with an SSR tag. The SSR tag identifies your pet in our system and can aid in recovering a lost pet. In addition to the paperwork, an adoption fee will be collected.
  • Do you adopt out of state?
    Yes! We are willing to adopt to approved applicants outside of Virginia. However, out-of-state applicants must be willing to come and meet the dog. We do not transport our dogs to adopters.
  • Does SSR require applicants to have a fenced yard?
    As a general requirement for approval, SSR does not require a fence. However, there are some cases where SSR dogs will require a fenced yard for their own safety. In these cases, we cannot adopt to families without a fenced yard.
  • Does SSR adopt to people living in apartments?
    Yes. SSR does not deny applications if you reside in an apartment. However, your apartment's pet policy will need to be provided so we may verify your eligibility to adopt a dog.
  • What if my apartment doesn't allow German Shepherds, but allows other breeds? Can I still adopt from SSR?
    Yes! While Shenandoah Shepherd Rescue focuses on German Shepherds, we routinely get dogs of all breeds and sizes. If you want to help us save lives, but can't have a GSD, you can still adopt from us. We will simply notate on your application that you have a breed and/or size restriction, and only present you with dogs that are approved for your situation.
  • Will you transport a dog to me?
    No, we do not transport dogs to adopters.
  • Why do you need to visit my home?
    Conducting a home visit is a critical part of ensuring our dogs will be adopted into a safe home and be well taken care of for the rest of their lives. While our SSR volunteer is visiting you at your home, they'll want to meet all individuals and pets living in your home. Typically, we take a tour of your house and yard (if there is one). We'll want to see where the dog will be fed, sleep, and exercised.
  • Can I have a trial visit with a dog and return it if it doesn’t work out?
    We do not allow trial visits, as they are highly disruptive to our dog's well-being.
  • What if I can’t keep the dog? Can I return him/her?
    Yes, absolutely. We understand that sometimes... things happen. When you sign your adoption contract with SSR, you agree to return the dog to SSR in the event you can no longer keep them. Please note that the adoption fee is not refundable after seven days post-adoption.
  • Can I meet a dog before scheduling the home visit?
    You can meet a dog at an adoption event before you complete the adoption application process. You cannot set up a private meeting with a foster unless you have been approved as an adopter. This saves both the adopters and fosters time.
  • Does the dog I want to adopt have to be spayed/neutered?
    Yes. There may be instances where the dog is too old or has certain physical or medical conditions that make altering surgery high risk. That said, if medically possible, all SSR dogs will be spayed or neutered prior to adoption.
  • How do I know the dog I want to adopt is healthy and up-to-date on shots?
    Every dog saved by SSR is evaluated by a licensed veterinarian, neutered/spayed, and receives vaccines prior to adoption. Note that some of our (otherwise healthy) dogs do have special needs. You will be made aware of them should you want to adopt one of our wonderful special needs dogs. However, SSR does not guarantee the health of any animals we offer for adoption. We make every effort to identify and treat any issues identified while the dog is in our care, but sometimes illnesses or other medical conditions simply do not present while the dog is in our care. When you adopt an animal, you should take it to a licensed veterinarian as soon as possible for a baseline checkup. Please keep in mind that rescue animals available for adoption may have been exposed to a variety of diseases and conditions. In some cases, symptoms may not be evident for several days or weeks. If you notice symptoms in the animal you adopted, please take it to your vet for evaluation and treatment.
  • How do I know if the dog I want to adopt has any aggression issues?
    One of the advantages of being a foster-based organization is that our foster parents learn about each dog they foster and share that knowledge with prospective adopters. SSR fosters are happy to discuss the dogs's eating habits, training, dispositions, and any issues that have arisen during their stay with the foster. These issues may include medical issues, behavioral issues, interactions with people and other animals, etc.
  • Do you allow out of state adoptions?
    We typically adopt within a 250 mile radius of Northern Virginia, but there are no limitations.
  • I have gone through the application process, am now approved and ready to start looking at potential dog matches. Can you ship, deliver or arrange transport to get the dog to me?
    SSR requires in person pickup by the adoptive family, and we do not permit any type of delivery or transport services. The adopter, anyone living in the home and any current dogs living in the home are expected to travel to the fosters location to meet the dog prior to adoption.
  • I live far away. Is there any way I can meet more than one dog at a time?
    After completing the application process and getting official approval by SSR, you will be assigned a caseworker who will help you organize your meet and greets. SSR typically hosts multiple adoption events monthly at various locations. These events are a great way to meet multiple dogs at the same location and you do not need to be an approved adopter to attend an adoption event. Be advised, if your entire family and personal dogs are not all able to attend the event, you will be required to arrange another visit to the fosters home in addition to the event meeting before you can bring a dog home.
  • It is very difficult for me to arrange a trip for the entire family. Why do you require everyone to be present at the meet and greet?
    Our rescue dogs often come from unknown backgrounds. They may have fears, or behavioral issues with certain people or pets that we can not anticipate. In order to match our dogs with their forever homes, we need to know that the dog gets along with everyone in the family as well as any pets prior to adoption. If we were to adopt out a dog without having met everyone in the family and after adoption, it becomes evident that the dog does not get along with everyone in the family and needs to be returned, it becomes increasingly difficult to arrange return to the rescue. The original foster may no longer be available to take the dog back, we may not have another available foster and the dog may have to go into boarding which can be very stressful for these dogs. If you adopt a dog from us and it turns out that dog is not the right fit for your entire family, you will be required to arrange transport for that dog back to the rescue when we find somewhere for the dog to go and this may take an extended period of time to arrange.
  • I am arranging a meet and greet for one of your dogs and am traveling a long distance to do so. Will I be able to take the dog home that day?
    SSR gives the final decision on what is best for each dog to the foster. Many fosters will require multiple meet and greets before allowing the dog to go home with you. Please be sure to discuss this with the foster or your caseworker prior to arranging travel to meet a specific dog. The same goes for when you plan to meet a dog at an event. Not all fosters are comfortable with sending a dog to a new home directly from an event where the dog may be overwhelmed and not acting like themselves. While this is not always the case and we do have dogs that get adopted from events, it is best to check with the foster prior to arranging travel to an event as same day adoptions cannot be guaranteed.
  • How do I know if fostering is right for me?
    The benefits of fostering are numerous. Not only is it wonderful for the dog, but fostering is how SSR can keeping saving the lives of dogs at risk of euthanasia. The question of whether or not you're ready to foster is a very personal one. Please check out our Is Fostering Right For Me? page for more information on figuring out if you're ready to foster an SSR dog.
  • Can we visit your facility?
    SSR is a foster-based rescue, which means our dogs are not kept at a facility. All of our dogs live with foster parents until they are adopted. Once you're an approved adopter, you will work with an SSR Caseworker to arrange a Meet & Greet with dogs you're interested in meeting.
  • As a foster, will I have input regarding which adoptive home is best for each dog I foster?
    Yes. SSR fosters help evaluate if approved adopters would be a good fit for the dogs they foster.
  • What is a 'Foster Fail'?
    A foster fail happens when foster parents decide to adopt the dog they have been fostering. Our goal is to place our dogs in other homes, but occasionally the best match for the dog turns out to be the foster situation.
  • What costs should I expect when fostering an SSR dog?
    Nothing! SSR will pay all expenses related to fostering a dog, including vet bills and any medications needed. We appreciate it when fosters provide a bed and food, but SSR will also cover those items. Please see our Fostering page for additional information.
  • How can I volunteer?
    There are many ways to volunteer with SSR. These include helping with adoption events, home visits, photography, social media support and development, transporting dogs, evaluating dogs, fundraising/grant support, advertising/marketing, and administrative duties. Please see our Volunteering page for additional information.
  • I made a charitable donation and am preparing my taxes. What is SSR's EIN?
    Thank you so much for donating to our organization and for supporting our mission! Our EIN is 81-4746690.
  • How can I get a Donation Receipt for a donation I made?
    If for some reason you did not receive - or cannot locate - your donation receipt, we'll be happy to issue you another. Please email with the following information: Full name associated with donation Donation Method (Ex: PayPal, Facebook, GiveButter, etc) Date of donation Donation amount Note: Please allow five business days for us to confirm your donation and issue a new donation receipt.
  • How can I donate to SSR?
    There are a lot of ways you can donate to SSR. Check our our donations page for all the ways you can help support SSR!
  • Can I donate via check?
    Absolutely! Checks may be made payable to: Shenandoah Shepherd Rescue PO Box 764 Stephens City, VA 22655


  • We will not discuss adoption details regarding SSR dogs unless you have applied to adopt.

  • All dogs (6mo and older) will be spayed/neutered.

  • All dogs will be microchipped, and up-to-date on vaccinations prior to finalizing adoption.

  • Our Adoption Fees are $400 for dogs 8 Weeks to 12 Months, $350 for dogs 13 Months to 6 Years, and $250 for dogs 7 Years+

*Adopters are required to travel to meet and adopt any dog from SSR.  SSR does not transport dogs to adopters.

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