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How long it takes to adopt a dog is going to depend on a lot of variables. Simply put, it could take a couple of hours at the humane society, or it could take days to weeks with a volunteer-run rescue.

Every single shelter, humane society, and rescue have their own rules and regulations when it comes to adopting a dog. So I can’t tell you it’s going to take 1 day, 1 week or 1 month. Most will run a simple interview or application to start, but after that, the options are wide open.

How Long Does It Take To Adopt A Dog?

Dog Rescue

With the rescue I volunteer for, they start with a thorough online application, background and reference check, communication with the adoption coordinator, home visit interview, foster home meeting, a 24 hour wait period, then you after the 24 hours, you can adopt and bring home the dog.

Not all rescues run this way. In fact, our one and only failed adoption, had a very simple online application, a quick phone call with the adoption coordinator, then meeting the dog and adopting on the spot.

Many rescues are run by volunteers, so timing can depend on their availability or how many applications are in front of you.

If you are searching a dog adoption website, it could even take a couple of days for them to get back to your request for information.

Another possibility when adopting from a rescue is that the dog you saw on the website may not be available after you go through the application process. Are you prepared to wait for another “perfect match” to come along?

Conclusion: Adopting a dog from a dog rescue could take anywhere from a day to weeks to months. 

Humane Society / Shelter

Humane societies or shelters usually are much quicker in how long it takes to adopt a dog. You can walk in, fill out an application, have an interview and meet the dog(s) you are interested in and bring him home that same day. So maybe an hour or two is how long it would take to adopt a dog from a humane society.

It’s a great feeling when you want instant gratification on adopting a new dog, so you may think the humane society is your best option. But don’t let the quickness of it all fool you.

And just because you decided you want to adopt a dog today, doesn’t mean you should come home with the “best” option they have. Don’t be afraid to come back another day and wait to find the “perfect” dog for you.

Recommended just for you: What’s the difference between a dog rescue, humane society or shelter?

Is a Faster Adoption Process Better?

Adopting a dog should never be an impulse decision. 10-15 years is the average life-span of a dog. Deciding to adopt a dog should include a lot of research. Research if you are truly ready and what type of dog fits your personality and lifestyle.

Even if you’ve have had dogs before, researching the rescue or shelter and the dog take time. I learned this the hard way. You can read our heartbreaking adoption story here.

What I actually love about our rescues 24-hour policy I mentioned above… is that it makes you really think about whether or not this is the right dog. It truly helps reduce the impulse decisions…. Because let’s face it, all puppies are cute and dogs have a way of stealing our hearts at first sight. And just because he’s cute, doesn’t mean he’s meant to be yours for the next decade.

So don’t be in a hurry. Take your time, research, research, and more research. Don’t choose the first dog you see, don’t adopt a dog just because you feel sorry for him. And certainly, don’t adopt a dog just because you woke up and decided you need a dog.

Head over to our I’m ready to adopt page next, so we can help you in your adoption journey.

P.S. I’d love to hear your experience… come back and leave a comment below to tell me how long it took you to adopt your dog. Where did you adopt her and did it take a day, a week or a month?

About the Author


Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, three dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.

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  1. It depends on what service you go through. When I adopted from the local humane society, it took maybe a week tops, but when I adopted from a breed specific rescue, it took much longer

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