|ADOPTION PROCESS AND REQUIREMENTS
Before you Apply:
-German Shepherd dogs, as well as the other herding breeds that we have in rescue, are highly active, energetic, working breeds. They require considerable vetting, exercise, socialization, training, leadership and mental stimuli in order to be well-adjusted, well-balanced, and well-mannered dogs.
-Even if you exercise and play with your dog daily in your fenced yard, please remember that, you MUST still take your dog out on daily walks and outings, in order to work on his/her leash skills, manners, and social skills.
-If you are new to German Shepherds (and other herding breeds), please research the breed to make sure this is the dog for you. We ask that you consider the time and financial commitment that your German Shepherd (or other herding breed) dog will require before applying for one. Please review our section "Is a HUGS Dog Right for You?" for additional information.
Some Basic Information about the Adoption Process:
-As part of the application process, we ask that you provide references (to include a veterinarian), and a home visit is required.
-Applicants must be adults 19 years old or older.
-We require a securely-fenced yard (for more details please see our Safe Containment/Fencing section below). Use of Tie Outs or Invisible Fencing is not allowed for HUGS dogs.
-All HUGS dogs MUST be INSIDE, family pets in their adoptive home. HUGS dogs may NOT be outdoor, free-roaming, backyard, porch, outdoor kennel, dog house or garage dogs. NO EXCEPTIONS, PLEASE.
-The dogs we have in rescue are typically from breeds that require lots of direction, strict boundaries and limitations, and lots of exercise and dedication in order to become well-rounded adults. That is why we look for experienced dog-owners, with a proven history of great vet care and dedication to their dogs, regardless of medical or behavioral issues.
-Submission of an application for adoption is not a guarantee of approval. There is no guarantee that applicants will be approved to adopt a specific dog, or that a specific dog will still be available by the time that your application is approved. Applications are valid for 6 months from the time of submission. After 6 months, you may be asked to re-apply. Thank you for your understanding.
-Please note that submitting an application requires HUGS to go through a series of steps. Receiving a phone interview or Home Visit does not guarantee approval. The adoptions team can approve or deny the application at any time during the process.
-We do not have a public facility. Meet and greets are scheduled by appointment only for approved adopters.
-Even for approved adopters, it is not always easy to find a suitable dog quickly (especially when looking for a good match for a home with an adult dog). For example, some dogs will not be a good fit in a home with cats, or a home with other dogs. As an additional example, some dogs will need a very active home, while others may need a more calm and relaxed environment. Final decisions on adoptions are always at the sole discretion of the HUGS Adoption Team.
-We require household pets to have a good routine and preventative vet history; that they be up-to-date on Rabies & Distemper vaccinations; Heartworm testing; flea/tick preventative and heartworm preventative at least during mosquito season; and be spayed/neutered if 6 months or older. In certain, very limited circumstances, the HUGS adoption team, in its sole discretion, may exempt a current household dog from one or more of these vetting requirements (ex. current dog is too elderly or frail to safely be altered, or vaccinated, and the pet's current vet has approved this plan of care).
-HUGS requires its applicants have prior dog-owning experience with good verifiable routine and preventative vet care. German Shepherd Dogs and other herding breed dogs, are particularly rewarding breeds, which bring with them particular challenges. Therefore, they are generally not appropriate for first-time dog-owners owners. Occasionally, we may make an exception to this rule. Any decision to make an exception to this rule is at the sole and absolute discretion of the HUGS adoption team. If you meet all of our other requirements, and would like to see if we can make an exception in your case, please submit an application, as we look at the whole picture, and would make a decision on whether to grant an exception once we review your entire application.
-Dogs that are allowed to free-roam or be outside unsupervised are at a much higher risk of getting injured, lost, stolen, or otherwise get in trouble.
-We require a securely fenced area, at least 1,000 sq ft, attached to the house at the back or side door, with lockable gates. This will help ensure that your GSD has a comfortable, convenient area where he/she can safely get some exercise, potty breaks, and fresh air. Outdoor kennels or pens do not qualify as a fenced area.
-We expect the secure fenced area to be used as a safe place for the dog to run, play and potty, not as a place where the dog will live or spend time alone. German Shepherds are highly intelligent, sensitive, social, people-oriented dogs that need to be with their people, in order to be happy, well-socialized, and well-adjusted.
-The use of an invisible fence is not approved for a HUGS dog. Invisible fencing doesn't keep out potential dangers to your dog: other dogs or rabid animals; strangers who may come onto your property with intent to harm or steal your dog; or kids who might come taunt your dog and who could get bit. The invisible fence system could fail due to a power outage or the battery dying. Additionally, not all dogs can be trained to obey the system and can still escape, resulting in loss, injury or death of the animal.
-Tie outs are not approved as they do not keep out potential dangers to your dog either. Additionally, they can be a tangle/choke hazard, and they are believed to increase frustration and aggression levels in dogs.
-Even if you have a safe, securely-fenced yard, HUGS dogs should only be allowed to use the fenced area when supervised (ex: you are home watching them, or you are outside with the dog). German Shepherds are intelligent, very family-oriented dogs. If left outside alone for extended periods of time, they can become anxious and frustrated, and develop issues such as digging, barking, and running the fence/fence reactivity.
-Dog doors are not approved, as they allow unsupervised access to the outside, which can be unsafe (see paragraph below).
-Dogs are not allowed to be outside in the yard unsupervised at any time, even in nice weather. Dogs with unsupervised access to the yard can engage in inappropriate behavior that you are not there to correct (including barking and bothering the neighbors, running the fence) and can develop frustration and sometimes aggression. They can also escape, get lost, get stolen, and are more likely to be injured or to injure someone. If you go run errands (even for 10 minutes), we ask that you always put your dog back inside (crated until he/she can be trusted lose inside the house).
-The fenced area is meant to be a safe outdoor exercise area for the dog, NOT a place for the dog to live and spend time alone. German Shepherds crave bonding and being in close proximity to their humans. They are social dogs who love to be involved in all aspects of family life and who need to be with you to be happy.
-The dogs that we have in rescue generally are not suited for apartment living. As stated above, we require a securely fenced area, attached to the back or side of the house, to ensure that the dog has a secure, comfortable area to safely exercise and to enjoy bathroom breaks and fresh air. Our fencing requirement is especially important as many of our dogs are flight risks; additionally, our dogs require large amounts of exercise, training, and time to run under supervision in a securely fenced area, in addition to walks and outings outside of the property. Furthermore, apartment living poses a series of additional challenges for the dogs (having to pass strangers and their dogs in hallways), lack of ready access to a bathroom area (this can be a real problem when potty-training, as well as when the dog is sick or ages), and the potential for our vocal, high-energy dogs to get in trouble for barking and/or being too raucous.
-We regret that some great homes may be passed over because of these policies, but our first concern must be the safety of the rescue dogs entrusted into our care. Thank you for your understanding.
Children and Dogs:
-Dogs need slow introductions and require a lot of supervision around kids and other animals. Kids themselves require STRICT supervision, and need to be taught to be considerate and respectful of a dog, and the dog's space. Children should NEVER be allowed to climb on or step on dogs; disturb the dog when he/she is eating, enjoying treats, or toys; pull on the dog's fur, tail, or ears; force affection on the dog (hugs, kisses, etc...); startle or disturb a dog when he/she is resting; or get inside the dog's crate/bother the dog when the dog is in his/her crate, as that is meant to be the dog's safe space. Adults must be extremely proactive, never leaving the children alone with the dog, in order to help prevent incidents. "Horseplay" by children; allowing the dog to run chasing the kids around; or allowing the dog to run around excitedly with the kids can not only result in an easily-prevented injury, it is also not adequate exercise for the dogs. Dogs require a lot of routine and structure, daily walks, in addition to supervised playtime in the yard and outings to help socialize the dog. We strongly urge everyone to be very vigilant with child and pet interactions. Pets, no matter how tolerant they may be, should never be made to "put up with" unwanted behavior by children. Unfortunately, thousands of pets are deemed dangerous and ultimately euthanized each year because of unfortunate, yet avoidable incidents such as these. Even the most tolerant dog will have a breaking point. Kids should NEVER be allowed to test a dog's good nature. It is extremely important to not only closely supervise dogs and kids, but to also teach kids to be respectful and interact appropriately with dogs. Providing excellent supervision and teaching kids of any age safe and appropriate interactions with the household dog, will also improve their future safety around other dogs in general. Due to safety considerations for both children and dogs, household children and children who will play a significant part in the dog's life must be considerate of dogs, and twelve years or older in order to adopt a HUGS dog. Our kids over 12 y.o. rule was implemented with everyone's safety and well-being in mind. Occasionally, we may make an exception to our kids’ age rule. Any decision to make an exception to this rule is at the sole and absolute discretion of the HUGS adoption team. If you meet all of our other requirements, and would like to see if we can make an exception in your case, please submit an application, as we look at the whole picture, and would make a decision on whether to grant an exception once we review your entire application.
-While older children may assist, under no circumstances may children of any age be placed in charge of the dog's training or care, including walking the dog, when adults are not present. This includes children under the age of 18 being responsible for the care of dogs during the summertime.
-In an effort to comply with zoning regulations and local animal ordinances, which vary by location, as well as recognizing that German Shepherd Dogs and other working breeds require more time, energy, and financial support than many other dogs, HUGS has a three dog limit, meaning that dogs will not be adopted to homes that would have more than three dogs. On very rare occasions, we may make an exception to our three dog limit rule. Any decision to make an exception to this rule is in the sole and absolute discretion of the HUGS adoption team. If you meet all of our other requirements, and would like to see if we can make an exception in your case, please submit an application, as we look at the whole picture and would make a decision on whether to grant an exception once we review your entire application. Under no circumstances will we grant an exception that would violate zoning regulations and/or local animal ordinances where the applicant lives.
-There is an added difficulty in arranging out-of-town home visits, coordinating adoption meet and greets, and conducting post-adoption follow-up with out-of-town adopters. Because of that, we prefer to adopt dogs locally. We may however consider other qualified Midwest applicants on a case-by-case basis. We may consider larger distances for harder-to-place dogs (ex: dogs who need to be the only pet in the household, etc...).
-In all cases, we must be able to complete a home visit that meets our standards. Applicants must be willing to travel to the Omaha-Lincoln area for an adoption meet and greet with their prospective new HUGS dog. All household members, including current dogs, must attend the meet and greet. In certain, very limited circumstances, the HUGS adoption team, in its sole discretion, may exempt a current household dog from attending the meet and greet (ex. current dog is too elderly or frail to travel).
-As a general rule, HUGS does not make same‐sex placements. Same‐sex GSDs, and other working breeds like many of our dogs are, very often will start fighting, necessitating the surrender of one of the dogs. We may occasionally make an exception to our same‐sex rule (i.e., when the current household dog is a small breed, or the dogs are not of similar ages), but exceptions are infrequent and are at the sole discretion of the HUGS Adoption Team.
-While a same-sex placement may work out in the beginning, the trouble usually starts when the younger dog reaches maturity around two years of age and decide it’s time to change the pack order. As previously mentioned, HUGS generally does not make same-sex placements, especially when the dogs are of a similar age.
-Please see the "Does Dog Gender Matter" section on our main menu, for additional information.
-HUGS does not make sibling placements, meaning that siblings will not be adopted out into the same home. This is due to the fact that siblings have a strong tendency to start fighting, necessitating the surrender of one of the dogs. If you want to adopt two puppies, we will ask you to chose puppies from different litters