Please ask yourself (& household members) the following questions. There are no right or wrong answers, only honest ones.  If you are on the fence about adopting we highly recommend FOSTERING or FOSTERING-to-ADOPT first.


1. Why do i want a pet?

Adopting a pet because your children have been asking for a puppy can be a mistake: Responsible pet ownership requires children who are mature enough to properly handle and help care for a new pet. Adopting a pet to try and save a partnership can also be a mistake, but something we see often. If you are considering adopting a puppy to help you with anxiety, please consider that the puppy's own needs might add on additional stress and strain. Cuddling & companionship are only small parts of owning a dog; the vet visits, monthly medicine, daily feeding, daily exercise and continued training needs must also be considered. HFP hopes to find responsible adopters who are actively looking to help an animal; Not only, "How can this dog benefit my life?" but "What can I do to help give this dog a chance at life?"


2. do i have time for a pet?

Pets need TONS OF ATTENTION (training, exercise, food, vet care/preventative vet care, and lots of companionship)

If you are gone from the home 8+ hours a day your schedule may not be fair to most dogs. If you work these long hours you may want to consider well-adjusted, calmer dogs 7 years or older. Also ask: how will you break up the long isolated day? Can you hire family, friends, walkers, pet-sitters? Can you go home during lunch break and take your dog for a walk, and will you?


3. Can I afford a pet?

Adoption fees are only the starting cost of owning a pet.

Make sure to consider annual expenses for veterinary check-ups, vaccinations, food, pet supplies, monthly flea, tick, heart guard control, emergency visits, trainers, dog walkers, pet sitting, etc. Depending upon the size, breed, diet, etc., the average cost of owning a household pet is approximately $1,200 according, to The SPCA.


4. Am I able to Have a Pet Where I live? do i plan to move?

Many rental communities throughout the Bay Area do not allow pets or have animal breed, size, age restrictions.

Most landlords require an additional pet deposit. If you move in the future, your choice of housing will probably be restricted.

"Moving" is one of the top two reasons dogs are surrendered to shelters/rescues in our area. How big is your current space? Does it have a yard? Does the dog /dog type you are interested in need a yard?


5. how much time do i spend away from home on an average day?

Puppies require a lot of physical interaction, training, and supervision. They will not react well to being alone for a significant amount of time during the day. Most adult pets can adjust to your schedule as long as you give them time to learn the new family rules.

If all of your family members are away from home more than eight hours most days, a dog may not be the appropriate choice for your household. Just another very common reasons dogs are surrendered to shelters is listed as, "not enough time for animal."

6. What breed(s) are right for my lifestyle?


most of our dogs are mutts...

(aka the best kind!) mixed with 4, 5, 6, 7+ different breeds and as such are uniquely individual!

30% of the dogs that end up in shelters nationally are purebreds & we also get many to our program that were bought from breeders. If you are interested in adopting a purebred dog from a shelter or rescue, please do make sure to research the breed to assess if activity levels, temperament and other needs, fit your own family, life style, and experience level.

No matter the breed or age however, you WILL have to put time & work into your new pet. It takes patience and time to teach ANY / ALL dogs basic manners -- not to pull on the leash, not to jump on people, not to play too roughly, how to behave in public, good recall off leash -- it takes even more time and patience with a young puppy. You must be willing to teach your dog the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. This training may take weeks or months, but it can begin very simply.

Have you considered a trainer? We highly recommend going to basic obedience training for you and your new pet (especially for puppies and first time owners).

If you’re renting your home (or is you plan to move to a new rental), check the pet policies in your rental contract or lease – especially regarding size and breed limitations. Many large dogs are surrendered to animal shelters because they were cute, little, fluffy puppies one week and big, clumsy, enthusiastic teenagers the next.

8. How old should my child be for us to adopt a dog?

emma and girl.jpg

many experts recommend:

a child be AT LEAST 6 YEARS OLD before a pet is brought into the family.

At the very least, your child should exhibit self-control and understand (and obey) the word “no.” Consider introducing your child to your friends’ well-behaved pets so you can observe your child’s behavior. While many families think they want “a pet for the children,” it actually takes a very special combo of parent/child/pet to have a successful relationship. If the child is under six years old, the pet should be over four months old. Puppies play roughly, and without careful supervision and training, both your child & your puppy could have a bad experience with potentially serious consequences. It’s your responsibility, to your pet and to your child, to monitor their interaction.

For many kids, the family pet is their best friend – a companion who not only provides unconditional love, but who also teaches them about friendship, responsibility, loyalty, and empathy. Don’t just consider cats and dogs: rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, small birds, and fish can make great family pets and first time pets too!

Help to strengthen the relationship between your pet and child by showing your respect for your pet’s needs. Teach by example that your pet is an important family member, not to be neglected and tossed away when no longer new and exciting. A child should never be solely responsible for a pet. The ultimate responsibility for a pet’s care and safety is that of the adults in the household.


how can i teach my kids to take good care of pets?

The best way to teach your children how to be responsible pet caregivers is to be one yourself. This should start before you even get a pet – make sure you have realistic expectations about pet ownership. Take steps to select the right animal for your family at the right time.

As soon as you bring a pet into your family, set up and enforce rules regarding proper pet care. For example, tell your children not to pull the animal’s tail, ears, or other body parts, and insist that they never tease, hit, ride, or chase the pet. Teach children how to properly pick up, hold, and pet the animal. These simple lessons are essential to helping kids become responsible caretakers.

Although certain pet-care activities must be handled by adults, you can still include your children by explaining why and what you’re doing. For example, when you take your pet to the veterinarian to be spayed or neutered, explain to your child how the operation not only reduces pet overpopulation. Also involve your children in pet-training activities (sit/wait for food bowl, sit/take treat, etc), which not only make your pet a more well-mannered family member, but also teach your child humane treatment and effective communication. 

Ultimately, your children will learn how to treat animals – and people – by watching how you treat the family pet. They’ll study how you feed, pet, and exercise your dog. Conversely, they will pay close attention to how you react when a pet scratches the furniture, barks excessively, or soils in the house! Frustrating as these problems are, “getting rid of” the pet isn’t just unfair to the pet and your children, but it also sends the wrong message about commitment, trust, and responsibility.

When faced with pet problems, get to the root of the problem. Often dog trainers can help you resolve pet issues so you can keep the whole family together. HFP is also here as a resource; per our memorandum of understanding if an adoption does not work out, the animal must be offered back to our rescue. Be honest with yourself now -- which behaviors would cause you to return a pet? Barking, chewing, digging, leash-pulling, car-sickness, leash-reactivity, separation anxiety, fears/phobias, not house-trained?


A pet is a lifelong commitment...

Most dogs live 9-15 years. When choosing a pet, think about your future life plans and goals. Do you plan to: marry, have children, move, relocate, go overseas? Will you join the military, go away to college, expect a career change, need to care for an elderly relative? Think about backup/emergency plans now & make sure you have something in place before welcoming a new family member.


10. ok, so you want a DOG!

Make sure that your family is united in this decision and not simply getting a dog because the children or one person has been begging. Get everyone involved in selecting your new family member and don’t try to surprise someone with a pet. It is a wonderful experience to pick out your special dog or having that special dog pick you. The hard work you put in will be rewarded by providing you with unconditional love for many years to come.