Frequently Asked Questions:

Policies & Procedures


We are not veterinarians. All of this knowledge is based on personal experience as animal rescuers, volunteers, and lovers of furry folk.


  1. What is your address? Can I come and see the dogs before I apply?
  2. My cat had kittens. Can you take them?
  3. Please take my dog. Why can't you take just one more?
  4. Are these dogs for sale?
  5. Where do these animals come from? How do you get them?
  6. If they aren't adopted today, where do they go?
  7. Are they put to sleep if they aren't adopted?
  8. Do you have a listing of available pets?
  9. Are they healthy?
  10. Do you have medical records?
  11. Does he bite?
  12. I want to adopt this dog, but I have a cat. Does he get along well with cats?
  13. Will the dog I adopt from you be a good hunting dog?
  14. Do you have kitties who are good mousers?
  15. How do I adopt?
  16. My dog just died. How do I adopt?
  17. How much does it cost to adopt?
  18. Why does it cost so much?
  19. How long does it take to adopt?
  20. When can I take him home?
  21. I'm going out of town tomorrow. I want to adopt, but will you hold him for me so I can pick him up next Saturday?
  22. What if the animal I adopt doesn't work out? Can I find him a good home?
  23. Can I bring my other pet to meet the dog I am thinking of adopting?
  24. Why do you require cats be indoors only?
  25. Why do I have to have the dog I already have spayed if the dog I want to adopt is neutered?
  26. If you have AKC papers for the dog, will you give them to me when I adopt?
  27. If I adopt from you, can I put the pet's microchip in my name?
  28. What if you don't have the kind of pet I am looking for?

  1. Q: What is your address? Can I come and see the dogs before I apply?
    A: We do not have a facility where you can meet dogs. As a breed-specific rescue, we are a network of foster homes spread over a wide geographic area. We hold events, usually at PetsMart, usually in the Fredericksburg and Springfield, Virginia areas, once a month where the foster parents bring the dogs and approved applicants come to meet/adopt the dogs. The best thing to do is to apply before an event so your application can be processed before the event. That way, if your application is approved, you can adopt, if you choose to do so, at the event. For our adoption event schedule, see our calendar.

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  2. Q: My cat had kittens. Can you take them?
    A: Oh, how often we've heard that question. If we took everybody's unwanted kittens, we would be overwhelmed with kittens, not to mention veterinary fees. So besides ending up in bankruptcy court, we would have to find homes for lots and lots of kittens. If we agreed to take your kittens, would you have their mother spayed or would we end up with you asking us to take more kittens in another four to six months? If we could, we would save them all. Right now we are filled to capacity. When we do have space and someone asks us to take their unwanted kittens, under no circumstances do we EVER take them without proof that the mother is already spayed or is being spayed as soon as your veterinarian allows if there is some medical reason for delay. Also, our mission is to save lives of animals who are scheduled to die in shelters that are trying to do the impossible and inundated with unwanted animals than to take them from individuals who are looking for an easy answer. The easy answer is to spay and neuter.

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  3. Q: Please take my dog. Why can't you take just one more?
    A: We know it's hard for those asking that question to understand from our side of that fence because one more doesn't really take up a lot of extra space or require a lot of extra food or money, but if we took in all of the "just one more" pets that we get requests to take, we could start our own football league for pets and have enough spectator pets to fill the stadiums. Again, the only solution is to spay and neuter.

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  4. Q: Are these dogs for sale?
    A: We don't "sell" dogs. Our dogs and cats are homeless and available for adoption. There is an adoption donation the adopter must make to our organization as part of the adoption process, which in no way covers the costs.

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  5. Q: Where do these animals come from? How do you get them?
    A: Now, there's a question that may take us into next week answering. In a nutshell, they find us. They're the lucky ones. So many more never get a chance. Most were scheduled to be euthanized in shelters, and we saved them from the claws of death. Shelters perform a very valuable service to our communities. They provide a valuable lost/found service. Most of the shelter workers we know personally are very compassionate people and very dedicated to the animals. However, they cannot possibly house all of the animals they receive. Most shelters don't have anywhere near the amount of space required for the volume of animals turned in. Ergo, they have no choice but to euthanize and try to teach/preach about spay and neuter. When we have space available to take in animals, we try to focus on saving the animals from shelter euthanasia. Each individual pet has a different story, although some are common. They come from different situations. In sum, for one reason or another, their families would or could no longer care for them, but they all have one thing in common. If people would spay and neuter, there wouldn't be homeless animals. If more people were part of the solution, instead of part of the problem, there wouldn't be so many animals put in bags in dumpsters. Could you imagine the tax relief if people altered their pets and we didn't have to have so many animal control officers and shelters? Although we don't always know if what they tell us is the truth, some of the more common excuses we have animals in our care are:
    • Unwanted puppies/kittens
    • Allergic to animals
    • Moving; can't take pet
    • Pregnancy in family
    • Eats too much; can't afford
    • No time for the animal
    • Inability to house-train or won't use litter box
    • Wandered onto property
    • Runs away
    • Jumps up
    • Too much hair
    • Claws furniture
    • Incompatibility with another pet
    • Death of owner
    • Placement in nursing home/failing health of owner
    • Chewing, no time to train
    • Barks or meows too much
    • Animal scared of children
    • Children scared of animal
    • Breaks off chain
    • Discovered by landlord
    • Animal scared of thunderstorms
    • Inability to pay medical bills
    • Got a puppy; can't afford a dog, too
    Some were strays no one claimed. Some came from shelters. Some we rescued from abuse or neglect. Some were tossed in dumpsters or thrown out of moving vehicles. It's a lot easier for us to answer this specific question about the individual pet in which you are interested than to generalize.

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  6. Q: If they aren't adopted today, where do they go?
    A: They, sadly, go back home with their foster parents and live in foster care until they do find a home.

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  7. Q: Are they put to sleep if they aren't adopted?
    A: NO! We don't sentence animals to death for the crime of being homeless. Also, the term "put to sleep" implies that the sleeper awakes at some point. When an animal is "put to sleep," he/she never wakes up.

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  8. Q: Do you have a listing of available pets?
    A: Absolutely. Please click below to search our database. For more detailed descriptions, please write or call us.

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  9. Q: Are they healthy?
    A: To the best of our knowledge. We cannot, of course, make any guarantees as far as health. However, everything we know about the animals we tell you. If an animal has a health problem or has had a health problem that has been corrected, you will know. All medical records accompany the pets to their new families. If a pet is on medication, whatever remaining medication there is will accompany the pet to his/her new home. If there is a concern, we could tell you which veterinarian cared for the pet so you could discuss these concerns with medical professionals prior to adoption. All of our adoptees are current on vaccinations and deworming. All dogs and cats WITHOUT EXCEPTION have been spayed or neutered. Yes, that means the eight-week-old puppy. Yes, that means the ten-year-old cat. All dogs have tested negative for heartworm disease and are current on heartworm preventative. Dogs who have tested positive for heartworm disease and have been treated have completed treatment and test negative prior to being available for adoption. All adult cats have tested negative for feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline AIDS (FIV). All kittens have tested negative for FeLV. There are some special needs animals in our care. We don't kill them because they're older, blind, or have any other attributes considered by some to be "unhealthy." (We think these attributes make them more special!) We specify the needs of the animals you are interested in adopting up front so we can find the right lifetime home for each pet.

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  10. Q: Do you have medical records?
    A: Most definitely. Normally when we get the animals, medical histories don't accompany them. So the pets have to go through veterinarian visits and vaccinations as if they had never seen a doctor. When you adopt the animal, we give you the entire medical file.

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  11. Q: Does he bite?
    A: Sometimes we have animals in our care who have behavior differences, such as dogs who have been taunted and teased by children or abused by a particular type of person and, therefore, protect themselves against what they see as those likely to harm them. If a dog has a particular fear of which we are aware, we will absolutely always tell you. We adopt these animals from foster homes. They live in our homes with us and become temporary family members. We want what is best for the pets. If a pet doesn't like men, for instance, we will find him a family that consists only of females. And his biography will so state. We do not place knowingly aggressive animals or dogs who have bitten.

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  12. Q: I want to adopt this dog, but I have a cat. Does he get along well with cats?
    A: This is similar to the answer to "Does he bite?" If a dog doesn't like cats, we won't place him in a home with cats. If a cat has a fear of dogs, the cat won't be placed in a home with dogs, etc. Our concern is what's best for animals. That applies to all animals. That includes the animals who are already a part of your family as well as the animals in our care. This is of particular concern with Siberian Huskies because they instinctually have a high prey drive. It is important to us that we adopt the animals to homes where they will be safe and happy.

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  13. Q: Will the dog I adopt from you be a good hunting dog?
    A: Our animals are adopted as family members. He very well may hunt, but we have no idea and expect that he sleeps in the house with the rest of the family at night.

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  14. Q: Do you have kitties who are good mousers?
    A: Our animals are adopted as family members. Cats are indoor only. If you have mice inside, the cat may very well be a good mouser.

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  15. Q: How do I adopt?
    A: Follow the procedures outlined in our adoption process page, which all boil down to making the pet a family member, agreeing to providing a good home, and loving the pet for the rest of his/her life.

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  16. Q: How do I adopt? My dog just died.
    A: We are sorry to hear about your loss. Some people can't bear living without a pet & need to fill the void right away. Some people need a longer grieving period. Please don't rush into a decision you may regret. Take your time & be sure. In whichever category you fall, remember the new pet will not be the old pet. If Rover brought your slippers, don't expect Fido to know what you're talking about when you ask him for your slippers. The same as children, pets have different personalities. Having said that, if you truly are ready, follow the procedures outlined in our adoption process page, which all boil down to making the pet a family member, agreeing to providing a good home, and loving the pet for the rest of his/her life.

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  17. Q: How much does it cost to adopt?
    A: It depends on which animal. A detailed answer can be found on our adoption procedures page.

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  18. Q: Why does it cost so much?
    A: It really doesn't. We aren't in the business of making money. We are in the business of helping animals. If you compare our adoption donations with what it costs us to take care of one animal, maybe that would make it a little clearer. Our expenses far outweigh our donations.

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  19. Q: How long does it take to adopt?
    A: It all depends. We want what's best for each particular dog or cat. It takes about 15 minutes to fill out the application. Then the interview happens. Then there is a home check and whatever other verifications are necessary.

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  20. Q: When can I take him home?
    A: Usually as soon as the process is complete. The process involves the application, interview, home check, other verifications, and anything else required in the approval process. If the animal's age or medical status require a waiting period, that happens as well. It is possible to take the pet home the same day the application is filled out, but it is rare. Of course, there are exceptions. Again, it depends on the individual pet and circumstances.

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  21. Q: I'm going out of town tomorrow. I want to adopt, but will you hold him for me so I can pick him up next Saturday?
    A: We wish we could, but we don't have that luxury. We don't have a shelter, and our foster homes are always full. When shelters call, if we are full, we have to say, "That dog has to die. There is no room at the inn." So if we have two equally good applications and one can take the dog this week & you can't until next week, you have to understand it is not fair to the dog or to dogs waiting for space in our program to hold that dog for you. Unfortunately, there will be homeless dogs available when you are ready to adopt, but we cannot guarantee you the dog you want will still be here next week. He may be here, but we cannot guarantee that. So please be ready for your new family member to join your family when you complete the adoption application.

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  22. Q: What if the animal I adopt doesn't work out? Can I find him a good home?
    A: No. We enter into contractual agreements with all adopters. Without exception, all adopters are required to sign these agreements. In them, they all clearly state (in big, bold letters) that you must bring the animal back to us if ever you decide, for any reason, you no longer want the pet. We will and have successfully enforced that provision in a court of law.

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  23. Q: Can I bring my other pet to meet the dog I am thinking of adopting?
    A: Absolutely. We encourage you to thoroughly think through any potential adoption. Pets are for life, and the decisions should not be made lightly. Not only do we encourage you to have your pets meet before adoption, we REQUIRE if you are adopting a dog, all humans who live in the house and all canines who live in the house meet the dog you are interested in adopting. If you have a frequently visiting dog, we may require that as well.

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  24. Q: Why do you require cats be indoors only?
    A: First and foremost, because your cat is a member of your family. Remember the old saying, "It's 10:00. Do you know where your children are?" Secondly, there are cat leash laws in some jurisdictions. Thirdly, your cat's safety depends on it for many reasons. Being outside, they are exposed to, including but not limited to, the dangers of:
    • Predators
    • Fatal diseases
    • Famine
    • Poison
    • Inhumane traps
    • Moving vehicles (How many poor kitties have we seen lying motionless in the road?)
    • Non-moving vehicles (Cats seeking warmth in car engines die when the ignition is started.)
    • Humans who are harmful to animals
    • Inclement weather
    • Parasites
    • Pet Overpopulation
    • Trees (There's that old image of a firefighter bringing a frightened cat down from a high treetop because the cat got scared and ran to the highest perch. Where would a declawed cat run?)
    It doesn't hurt cats to be indoors, but going outdoors does hurt them. Also, most Siberian Huskies are not cat-friendly. Those who are generally see outside cats as prey. We can tell you lots of anecdotal evidence of Siberians who sleep with kitty siblings inside the house and have killed cats outside, including the kitties they sleep with inside. There is no reason for a cat to go outside. When one considers the danger, there really is no reason to put a cat in harm's way by letting the cat outside. For further information, the Humane Society of the United States has a very thorough section on its Web page called "A Safe Cat is a Happy Cat, and Your Cat is Only Safe Indoors." Another great resource is from the Cat Fanciers' Association, "Your Cat is Safer Indoors." If you want to take kitty outside, consider a cat fence. Read "Max's House: Healthy & Happy Indoor Cat" for a veterinary perspective. For a personal account about why not to let kitty outside, see "This is All I Have Left of Her." Last, but not least, check out "Feeling Guilty? Don't."

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  25. Q: Why do I have to have the dog I already have spayed if the dog I want to adopt is neutered?
    A: Let's flip the question. Why NOT get your dog fixed? Plainly and simply, it is irresponsible pet ownership to have a dog who is not fixed unless that dog is a show dog. The only reason to EVER breed a dog is to improve the quality of the breed. No dog other than show dogs should be bred. And even many show dogs should not be bred. And if your dog is not used for breeding, there is no reason to keep them intact. We really would like to see homelessness end. We would like not to be doing what we do. If more people would spay and neuter, it would go a long way towards stopping pet overpopulation, making animals happier and healthier, and saving taxpayers money. We tirelessly preach the importance of spaying and neutering. If we were to allow one of our pets to be adopted into a home where there lived an unaltered pet, to us that would not be practicing what we preach. It would be rather hypocritical, to say the least. And then there's that problem of sometimes unaltered animals having aggressive tendencies. We want our adoptees to have playmates on an equal playing field, not to become the trophy of an unaltered pet. Furthermore, an unaltered animal has the desire to wander more frequently than altered animals. We love our foster children. We don't want them to be killed by cars because they followed their unaltered companion chasing a potential mate down the street. But, you know, none of these reasons really matter. What matters is the health of your pet. The risk of cancer goes way down when the pet is fixed. Have your pet spayed or neutered, whether you adopt another pet or not. It's for his or her benefit. And there are lots of reasons why.

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  26. Q: If you have AKC papers for the dog, will you give them to me when I adopt?
    A: Ah. We used to give them. Then a fellow rescuer told us a story of how people convinced her it could cause no harm to give them the papers since the dog was already spayed. They promptly went to an animal shelter, adopted a look-alike, used the AKC papers from the dog they adopted for the dog they got from the shelter, and bred her. We will give them to you, but we will write "RESCUE" in big, bold letters on them.

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  27. Q: What if you don't have the kind of pet I am looking for?
    A: Then please adopt a homeless pet from a shelter or another group. Please see our links page for a listing of shelters & other rescue organizations in the area. If you are looking for something specific, e-mail us, and we'll find resources for you. If you are specifically interested in a Siberian Husky, click here for a listing of Siberian rescues. If you are interested in another breed or species, see Petfinder.

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  28. Q: If I adopt from you, can I put the pet's microchip in my name?
    A: All microchips for all pets adopted from Pet Harbor Rescue are registered to Pet Harbor Rescue and stay registered to us throughout the lives of the pets. We do that for a variety of reasons. First and foremost is the safety of the pet. All dogs adopted from us permanently wear Pet Harbor tags as well, and the contract adopters sign specifies that. When adopters move, typically the last thing on their minds is changing microchip information. So Pet Harbor gets the call if the dog gets out, which is a frequent occurrence during moves and after moving to a new environment. We will safehouse the adopters' pet until we can locate the adopter to return the pet. Additionally, this ensures the pet stays rescued and doesn't end up in a shelter environment. For a couple of anecdotal reasons - we got a call from a California shelter that a dog with our microchip had landed in their shelter. It turns out our adopter had moved two weeks prior and not updated his contact information with us. So the dog got away from her new yard. Had we not been the microchip registrant, they might not have been able to contact the adopter since he had moved and his contact information changed. Secondly, we pulled an already chipped 4-year-old dog from a shelter. When we called to find out the owner, we were told the dog was stolen when he was 8 weeks old. We tried locating the owner to no avail, even contacting the pet store of purchase. Retaining the microchip registration in Pet Harbor Rescue's name guards against this kind of mishap.

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    See the other FAQ categories:
    Dogs & Cats - General
    Administrative
    Volunteering

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