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PO Box 764
Stephens City, VA 22655

German Shepherd Badge

Adoption Process

Requirements For Adoption

Out-of-State Adoptions:

  • Our primary area of adoption is within the state of Virginia, but we do adopt out-of-state.
  • The adopter would be expected to travel to us to meet the dog.
  • We will not ship a dog and do not offer delivery services for adoption.

Adopting a Puppy:

  • If you adopt a puppy less than six months old, the puppy will not be spayed or neutered.
  • You will be required to spay/neuter your puppy at six months of age.
  • If you adopt a puppy less than four months old, you will be required to continue puppy shots in addition to spaying/neutering at six months of age.

Adopter’s Minimum Age:

  • You must be 18 or older to submit our adoption application and adopt one of our dogs. 
  • If you have a Co-Adopter, he/she also needs to be 18 or older.

Current/Past pet care requirements


  • Required - Spay/Neuter*
  • Required - Vaccines against Rabies (required by law)
  • Required - Annual Heartworm testing
  • Required - DHPP/DHLPP/DH2PP (Parvo, Distemper, Hepatitis)**
  • Required - Preventatives for Heartworm and fleas/ticks
  • Recommended - Annual well visit
  • Optional - Bordetella, Lyme/Borrelia, Leptospira (dependent on risk factor)


  • Required - Spay/Neuter*
  • Required - Vaccines against Rabies (required by law)
  • Recommended - Annual well Visit
  • Optional*** - Preventatives for fleas/ticks, Feline Leukemia, Distemper/ Panleukopenia , Rhinotracheitis , Calicvirus**

* - Unless advised against by a veterinarian
** - If vaccines are declined by the owner, annual titer tests are required
*** - Optional for indoor cats, required for outdoor cats

Adoption Fees:

  • There is a non-refundable application fee of $20.
  • Our adoption fee is $325 for dogs aged 6 and under.
  • Our adoption fee is $250 for dogs 7 and up.

Special Notes:


Our volume is extremely high. If you apply for approval to adopt from SSR, here are some helpful hints:


  • Please make sure you've contacted your vet.  They need your permission to speak to us.  PLEASE VERIFY that ALL your records are present and up to date for vaccines, heartworm testing and preventatives -- this is by far the item that causes delays and issues with moving forward to approval.
  • Please add apps@shenandoahrescue.org to your email address book to help keep our messages from going to the spam folder.  If you have a question about your app status, that's the place to email to find out.  We appreciate your patience, we are all volunteers, so we are working as quickly as we can.
  • Please be on the lookout (and tell your references too) for calls/texts/emails from unknown numbers (and check spam for unknown senders). Especially in the beginning, we communicate heavily through these methods and volunteers can have telephone numbers from all over.

There are six steps in our adoption process.

STEP 1:  Submit an Application

Pay a $20 Application fee (all of which goes to the dogs) and then complete our Adoption Application.   The application form works best on a desktop computer and is not fully compatible with mobile devices.  If you must use a smart phone and have issues, please email us at apps@shenandoahrescue.org for resolution.

The Adoption Application will let us know a little bit about you, your home, your lifestyle, and what you are looking for in a canine companion.  The application will ask for several kinds of references.  Please let your veterinarian and/or landlord and references know that we will be calling and they have your permission to speak with us.

***Please remember, we are all volunteers working around our shedules.  The approval process can take up to a month to complete and there may be periods of time you do not hear from us.  Please be patient while we are working to process your application.***

Please note:

  • Personal references should not be related to you in any way, nor be anyone who has any stake in your approval such as a spouse or domestic partner.  In order to avoid delays, please let your references know we will be reaching out to them, and ask them to check their phones for missed calls and/or their spam folder for emails.
  • The vet reference is for any current or deceased (within the past five years) pet for which you have had personal ownership or responsibility.  If you have multiple veterinary sources, such as a mobile vaccine clinic or the like, please provide these records to your primary vet.

You can apply online through the following link:

Adoption Application (https://www.shenandoahrescue.org/adoption-application)

STEP 2:  Phone Call

Once you have submitted your application, an SSR representative will likely call you and go through your application to answer any questions that we (or you) may have.

We will also ask you to do things like call your landlord, vet, and references to give them permission to speak to us regarding your application.  This is a good time to ask any questions you have about SSR and the adoption process.

STEP 3:  Perform a Reference Check

Next, an SSR volunteer will call your landlord (if applicable), as well as your personal and veterinary references.

STEP 4:  Conduct a Home Visit

Following a check of your references, an SSR volunteer will come to your home.  During this visit, the volunteer will need to meet all members of your household and walk through your home and yard.  We will discuss the adoption process with you, answer any questions you may have, and discuss the dog in which you are interested.

After the home visit is completed, the volunteer will submit a Home Visit Report to SSR.  At that time, a decision will be made to either accept or deny your application.

Please note:  

  • If approved, your approval will be good for two years. 
  • If there is a change in your address or family status, please notify us.

There are no guarantees you will adopt the dog for which you submitted an application.  There may be multiple applications for that dog and the dog may have been adopted by the time your application is approved.  Or, that dog may not be a good fit for your family situation, e.g., the dog may not be good with children or other dogs, not handle houses with stairs, or one of many other situations. We want each dog to go to a home best suited to that particular dog to assure a lifetime, loving home that is trouble free.

STEP 5:  Find the Right Dog

Once you have been approved as an adopter, we assign a caseworker to you to assist throughout the remainder of the application process.  Having a caseworker is optional, but it is often helpful to have someone available to answer any questions that may arise and help put you in touch with foster parents to arrange meetings with compatible dogs.  A great way to meet more than one dog is to attend a local adoption event.

Foster parents reserve the right to choose a family best suited for their foster dogs.  Communicating with the foster parent of the dog of choice is the appropriate next step.  If the dog in which you are interested is not local, you are expected to drive to meet the dog.  That could result in you bringing the dog home the same day, but is not a guarantee.

STEP 6:  Introduce the Dog in Your Home

We understand that you may not be sure how a dog will work out to fit your family’s needs, without bringing it home first.  We offer a one-week trial period to make sure the dog is a suitable family member.  If you have traveled to obtain your dog, it is expected that you will return your dog in the event that it does not work out.  We will hold your adoption payment for one week, to ensure everything is going well.  Our goal is to place the right dog in the right home, so there is no pressure if it isn’t a match.

The foster parent of your dog will contact you to find out how things are going.

If you have any questions about our process, please contact us.