Paddy's Paws Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What should I do if I am interested in a dog on your website or adopt-a-pet page?

We encourage you to fill out an application to start the approval process. Before you can meet any of our dogs, you must be a approved. 

Where/When may I see the pets available for adoption?

Paddy’s Paws does not have a shelter. Our dogs are all in foster homes, either in Wisconsin or in Texas where they are waiting to travel to Wisconsin. Appointments for meet and greets will only be set after you are approved for adoption.  To be approved, we need to have received your application, run a background check, have vet and reference checks performed, complete an in-home interview (homevisit) and have the entire application  reviewed by one of our adoption coordinators.

How long does the application process take?

We are a 100% volunteer run organization so the approval process can vary on each applicant and the completeness and quality of each application.  Once your application is received, we will begin initial processing in the next 3-4 business days. Due to the extremely high volume of applications received, priority for processing is given to Wisconsin applicants, particularly those who live in Jefferson County. If your application meets the vet checks, background checks, and property checks, it is forwarded to the homevisit team.   Because we are 100% volunteer run, it can take an extended time to schedule a homevisit for those outside of our volunteer area.  Our volunteers select the visits they are comfortable completing, and we do not require them to select specific visits.  Our volunteers are primarily in the Jefferson County area, so visits outside of this county can take an extended time to schedule.  Our representatives select visits based on proximity and level of comfort (full background check information is provided as well as vet history and pet history).  We fully acknowledge that not all visits will be able to completed in a timeline that will work for all applicants, nor will all applications be selected for a home visit. 

What is your address?

We do not have a facility as we are a foster based organization, but we are based out of Fort Aktinson, Wisconsin. Many of our foster homes are in the Jefferson County area. Our transport events are also in the Fort Atkinson/Jefferson area. 

What is your phone number?

We do not have a phone number as we are a foster based organization.  We receive many requests each day and as we are a volunteer-run organization, it is easiest and most convenient for us to reply to emails versus phone calls.  You may email us at paddyspawswi@gmail.com 

If I am the first one to apply for a dog, will I get to adopt him/her?

No.  We are not a first-come, first served organization.  We try our very hardest to find the best match for our dogs and our adopters. Being first doesn't hurt, but it's not a guarantee. We commit to being as open and honest about the selection process as we can.

What if the dog I liked is adopted, will you help me find a different dog?  Do I need to reapply?

Our goal is to help all approved adopters find the right dog for them. There is no need to reapply or to start the process over again if you are interested in a different dog.

Can I apply without knowing what dog I want?

Absolutely!  We strongly encourage anyone potentially looking to adopt to get pre-approved.  We have a match-making team dedicated to screening adopters who are not sure which dog they'd like. Once you are approved to adopt, this incredible team will send you suggestions of dogs who might be a good match!

Do you allow out-of-state adoptions?

Wisconsin applications are priority, but northern Illinois applications will be considered if no small children are present in the home, the home is owned, and an excellent vet reference can be provided. It may also take longer for applicants to get approved due to the time involved in locating an individual in your area to conduct the pre-adoption homevisit on our behalf. You will also need to make arrangements to meet with one of our adoption coordinators, and have an in person meet and greet in order to complete the adoption process.  Additionally, we will not ship pets, all adopters must travel to the dog's foster home or to the transport event. At this time we are unable to process applications from other states.

We want a dog, but plan to keep it outdoors. Will our application get approved?

If you are intending to keep the pet as a yard pet, in an outdoor kennel, or your garage, we will deny the application. We require that Paddy’s Paws' dogs be raised as indoor animals, and our foster homes spend a tremendous amount of time socializing them as such.

How big will that puppy get?

Due to the fact that the majority of the dogs in our program are often rescued from high-kill shelters, or the streets, we are unable to tell you how big a dog will get as we do not have parent information. We try to make an educated guess based on the puppy's size, age, and estimated breed, but cannot make any guarantees.

What is your adoption fee? Why is the adoption fee so high?

The adoption fee is $250 for all dogs. Puppies will also need a spay/neuter contract and must attend a puppy class too. The fee only covers a portion of our rescue partners’ investment into the care of your adopted dog. Your dog has been part of a foster home environment where they have received love, socialization, and often some training. In addition, dogs are current on all vaccinations as needed for their age unless otherwise noted, microchipped, and spayed/neutered prior to adoption. There is also a cost involved in transporting the dogs. In the case of dogs who have been treated for heartworms, this cost runs $300 to $600 per treatment. Taking all the costs of feeding and other supplies as well, our adoption fee is really very minimal. Paddy's Paws also sends all adoption fees back to the Houston rescues so they can continue to help more dogs in need.

What if my current pets are not spayed or neutered?

If the current pets in your home are not currently spayed or neutered, we will deny the application. Many territorial and behavior issues are related to unsterilization, and it can cause issues when a new pet is brought into the home. Spaying and neutering also helps prevent the pet overpopulation problem. If you are interested in having your pet spayed/neutered so that you may adopt one of our pets, we will happily reconsider your application once proof of neuter is provided. 

I live in an apartment.  Can I still adopt a dog?

Absolutely! However, we will need to discuss a plan for exercising your dog, including, perhaps, visits to a fenced in dog park. We realize that different dogs have different exercise needs and that some dogs are a better match for apartment living.  We will work with you to find a dog suitable to your living situation.  In addition, we will check with your landlord to make sure dogs are allowed in your rental unit. We'll also check on any weight, size, or breed restrictions. This is particularly important if you are adopting a puppy because we cannot guarantee what size or weight a puppy will grow to be.

Do all dogs adopted from Paddy’s Paws need to be spayed or neutered?

Absolutely! All dogs over the age of six months will be spayed or neutered before they are adopted out. Puppies adopted under the age of six months must be spayed/neutered by their adopter by a date agreed upon in the adoption contract (usually by six months of age). Paddy’s Paws takes spaying/neutering very seriously, and will follow up to make that all of our puppies get spayed/neutered. Puppy adopters should be aware that spay/neuter surgery can cost more than $200 and adopters will need to provide Paddy’s Paws with the name of the vet clinic performing the surgery and the date of the surgery, along with a copy of the vet paperwork.

How old do you have to be to adopt from Paddy’s Paws?

All applicants and co-applicants must be at least 21 years old.

I am nervous about paying for and committing to a dog I have never met.  

We totally understand! And, because you are committing to that dog without actually meeting him or her ahead of time, we have an option built into our contract allowing a two-week trial period to determine if it is the right pup for you. You will also have a meet-and-greet with the dog to see if it is a fit.  Before taking your dog home, you will be required to fill out an online adoption contract and pay the $250 adoption fee, but if anytime within the two-week period after adoption you decide your dog isn’t the right fit, Paddy’s Paws will take the dog back and reimburse you the adoption fee.  In fact, we will always take the dog back!

Can I give a pet as a gift?

No. Adding a pet to your family is a serious life decision, not something to be taken lightly. We require all family members to be present for the home visit and do not want a new dog to be a surprise.

Why haven't you responded to my email yet?

We are an organization run 100% by volunteers, all with full-time jobs. We try to answer emails and questions as quickly as possible, but we ask for your patience. 

Adoption Application Process

Why do I have to fill out an adoption application?

Paddy’s Paws and their affiliated rescue partners put much more than just money into our dogs. They are treated as members of their family while in our care. We want to ensure that the dog you want to adopt is the right fit for your family as well. We pride ourselves on being a “match maker” for dogs and their prospective homes. We use the applications, vet reference check, personal references, and in-home interviews (homevisits) to ensure this.  Filling out the adoption application is the first step in the preapproval process

What does it mean to be preapproved?

Preapproval means that you have completed all of the necessary steps to become an approved adopter. Preapproval involves filling out the adoption application, having a background check performed, vet and personal references called, and an in-home interview (homevisit) with one of our volunteers. Your application will then be shared with the rescue for final approval. Once preapproved, you can set up meet-and-greets with available dogs.

Why do I need a veterinary reference?

We will call to check all vet references. If your pets are not current on their shots, or are not spayed or neutered, we will deny the application. It is important for your pet’s lifetime health that they receive their annual shots. Additionally, it is a Wisconsin state law that all pets (dogs and cats) receive an annual rabies vaccination. It is also essential that pets are kept current on their monthly heartworm preventative. Heartworms are not only deadly to your pet, but the treatments to eliminate them far exceed the cost to prevent.

What is a homevisit and why is it required?

A homevisit is an in-home pre-adoption interview. Once we have begun the applications process, you will be contacted by a volunteer to schedule a time that is convenient to both parties. A homevisit allows us the opportunity to get to know you and your family, explain our adoption process and policies, and helps us to find the perfect match for you and your family.  It also allows you the chance to ask any questions you have prior to meeting any dogs.  During a homevisit, Paddy’s Paws does require that all members of the household be present.

Once I am approved for adoption what are the next steps?

Once you are approved, we will send you an email sharing this. Being approved, means that you will have the opportunity to set up a meet-and-greet(s) with available dogs that we think may be matches for your family. 

Meet and Greet Questions

What should I bring with me to the meet-and-greet?

Please plan to bring all family members to the meet-and-greet. You should also bring your own leash and harness.  If you are traveling alone, we would also encourage you to bring a kennel so that you are able to safely travel home with your new dog. You also should fill out the online adoption contract ahead of time and bring the $250 adoption fee (check written out to the corresponding rescue).   Below is what is shared in an email with the online contract:

Please complete the online contract below prior to the meet and greet.  If not a fit, the contract will be void.   Please note, in setting a meet and greet, you are committing to take the dog home same day if he or she is a match.  ONLINE CONTRACT:  https://goo.glPlo86d  

1.  Complete your online contract and a check to be written to the corresponding rescue for $250.  
2.  Please bring your own harness and leash for your pooch.  We recommend a harness, over a collar.  Please avoid use of a retractable leash as those can be scary!
3.  If you are traveling alone, a kennel is recommended for transport
4.  Give a rescue dog at least two weeks to settle in 

There will be more talk of decompression in this email, but I feel the need to say it many times over.  Your pooch 100% absolutely needs time to decompress.  This means resting and quiet time when they get home.  No busy days, no visits to family or friends, no dog parks or baseball games.  Just a few days of quiet time to let their stress hormones subside.  Stress may also cause parasites to emerge.  All pooches will have fecal tests and deworming, but stress can cause eggs to hatch that were missed from deworming.  Worms do happen and we want to make sure everyone is prepared for this.  No need to fret, just means your pooch will need another round of dewormer (more mentioned below).  I tell all adopter, plan on worms. Common forms we see are tapeworms (visible in poo), coccidia and giardia.  Again, deworming and fecals may MISS this in Houston, but it can pop up here after the stress of travel.  The Houston takes every precaution possible to avoid it, but it will still happen.  As a reminder, if you feel the pooch is not a fit that day, that's okay!  Please note that others are potentially interested in meeting the dogs you have holds on, so we may not be able to hold them beyond the transport day.  We may have a general meet and greet, so any pooches that do not go home that day will have the opportunity to meet others.  It's important for you all to understand where they have come from because it shapes who they are.  These will be some of the most grateful and loving dogs you will ever met.  Think about it: Long trip, new climate, new people, new smells, new sights...new everything!  It's scary to be totally displaced from what you know and it can take several weeks for a dog to really relax and settle in.  It is generally recommended to allow a dog at least two weeks to settle into their new environment and adjust to becoming part of your family!  This is a great article to read to help you help them.

Please also bear in mind that introductions can be stressful for new dogs.  Stress hormones flood our sweet rescue dogs for 72 hours after a stressor (sometimes longer) so don't push your rescue dog too much.  We suggest this method for introducing new members into your family and to other furry family members (this is more of an extreme case, but the method is fabulous).   I prefer the below method and find it makes for a much better method than a strange meeting at a strange location, but it is up to you! http://badrap-blog.blogspot.co m/2009/08/fostering-drive-in-s low-lane-for-dogdog.html

Along with stress and a new environment/smells can come issues with housemanners.  We recommend that all adopters treat their new family member as if they are not housebroken at all.  This will allow you to help shape their new potty schedule.  It's not uncommon for dogs to have constipation or diarrhea for a little while after they come into a new home.  Using a grain free food is definitely recommended to help keep the stomach consistent.  American Premium Naturals and Fromm's are two of the foods that we have had the best success with and help ensure a smooth transition and minimize tummy trouble. 
With your dog, you will also their medical records and can view their health certificate, which is required for all dogs traveling across state lines.  To receive this health certificate, they have to have been seen by a veterinarian and deemed free of contagious and infectious disease, and healthy and ready to travel!  

For those who are adopting puppies, keep in mind that puppies are quite susceptible to internal parasites.  While they have all been dewormed, it is not uncommon for puppies to need more than one or two rounds of deworming.  The first dewormer may have only caught mature parasites and might leave eggs behind.  We suggest that all puppies receive a wellness check with your vet and that you bring a stool sample in as well.  Tapeworms are common, as they cannot be detected in a fecal test, but shed during stress (like a trip) so it's not uncommon to see those within a day or so.  This is a great time to talk with your vet about scheduling a spay or neuter timeline. Remember, only puppies over 6  months are spayed or neutered by the rescue so any puppies adopted under that age will need to have their spay and neuter scheduled and covered by their adopter prior to six months of age.  In addition, review their  shot records and make sure to schedule their next round of shots (if they haven't had all rounds yet). And please remember, treat your puppies as newborns!  They are more susceptible to disease and illness so do not take them places where they could potentially run into unvaccinated dogs (dog parks, baseball games, parks, etc) until they are fully vaccinated.   

Adult dogs can also have internal parasites (although all have had negative fecals or treatment previously).  A wellness exam is equally important for adult dogs and we also suggest that they receive an appointment as well!  When you adopt, we will need a signed contract and your adoption fee of $250. Checks should be made to corresponding rescues.  I attached the contract so that you can fill it out and bring it along with you.   Fair warning, it's looks scarier than it is! It's the rescues best effort to ensure that our dogs are receiving the very best home and that they will stay there and enjoy a wonderful life.  If you have any questions, just ask!  There is a note about obedience training, and this is a strongly recommended experience for adult dogs, and mandatory for those adopting puppies.  If you need help finding resources, please let us know! We do know that many folks have trained pups before, but we are finding that more and more puppy adopters who did not do a socialization class are encountering problems at 1 to 2 years of age.  To avoid this, let's be proactive!  Please also note that our contract requires you to agree that you WILL NOT utilize shock collar or e-collar training.  What happens if you meet your pooch and it is not a fit?  That is okay!  We want the adoption to be right for everyone!  If the adoption is not a fit, a pooch will go into a foster home and await the right person!  What if you want to think about it for awhile?  We understand that too!  However, please note that many of these dogs have other pending adopters who may be waiting on the verdict of this day.   We do believe what is meant to me, will be!  Again, the dog you see on at your meet and greet will likely not be the same dog you will see in two weeks.  They need time to adjust and acclimate and we emphasize the need for that.  It is so much more beneficial to them to decompress with their forever family than to bounce from a transport to a foster to an adopter!   

What if things aren't going well?  Please reach out to us!  Whether it's been a few days, a few weeks, a few months, or even years...we want to know and help!  Please, please, please do not wait until the behavior gets out of hand and you reach the end of your rope.  Let us help you and your rescue pooch!  Again, we cannot emphasize enough that these dogs will need time to settle in to their new lives and we appreciate your time and help in doing so! We look forward to meeting everyone and welcome any questions you may have! 

I have a dog of my own, can I bring him to the meet-and-greet?

Yes, we encourage you to bring your own dog to the meet-and-greet. We usually ask that you keep your dog in the car (weather permitting) upon arrival and then bring him or her out when ready.

What if we aren't sure which dog we would like because we want to meet multiple dogs and see their temperament first before we know for sure?

All adopters are required to do a meet-and-greet with the dog to make sure it is a fit for both the family and the dog. Sometimes adopters meet a dog and it is not a fit.  That is okay. That just means your dog is still out there waiting for you.

If the meet-and-greet goes well, can we take the dog home? 

Yes! Once you sign the adoption contract and pay the $250 adoption fee, you are free to take the dog home with you.  It is the expectation that dogs will go home the same day as the meet and greet so adopters should have all dog supplies such as harness, leash, crate, food, etc purchased ahead of time.  Please note that we cannot hold dogs longer than 24 hours after the meet-and-greet.

Can we come and view multiple dogs during a meet-and-greet?  

Sometimes it might work out where you are able to view more than one dog the same day. We ask all adopters to pick a "first choice" as we can only place a hold on one dog to be fair to other adopters. If dogs are not adopted on the initial transport day, they go into a foster home. Meet and greets are then set up on an individual basis with the fosters.  Most of our fosters are in the Fort Atkinson and Madison area.  

Can I put a dog on hold while I decide if I'd like to adopt?

If the dog is a fit, we expect all adopters to take home the dog after the meet-and-greet.  We can not hold dogs after 24 hours and will give the next adopter an opportunity to meet and then adopt the dog. 

Can we walk away if we don't connect with a dog or are we committed to taking one?

If you would meet a dog and it is not a fit for you or the dog, you can walk away.  We do not want anyone to feel pressure as we want this to be a great match for all involved. We want it to be a forever fit for that dog's whole life. You could then always set up a meet and greet with another dog that peeks your interest. All of our dog's have a foster home lined up, so if the dog is not adopted, they have a loving home and family waiting for them.   

Post-Adoption Questions

What do I do if the dog I adopted is having trouble?

Let us know - the sooner the better! Small problems that start early-on become big problems as time passes. We have lots of resources to share with you. Moreover, because we have a large pool of volunteers who have been doing this for a long time, we probably have experience dealing with whatever issue you may be facing. Let us help!

What do I do if I cannot keep the dog I adopted from Paddy’s Paws?

Paddy’s Paws' dogs are for life! If for any reason you cannot keep your dog, let us know as soon as possible. We will begin the process of taking them back and rehoming the dog. Please remember we are here for you before that decision is made. If you have problems - no matter how small - let us know before they become big! We can then provide you the advice and support you need to fix the problems before they get out of control.

Do you still have a question? Email paddyspawswi@gmail.com and we’ll be happy to help. Thank you for your patience and willingness to help an adoptable dog find a forever home!