Adoption Process

By adopting a HART animal, you will provide a home for a dog or cat that is in need of a loving, caring family. By visiting our website, you have already shown that you are a loving, caring person or family to consider taking in an animal that someone else has either not cared for or given up. You and your family will have as profound an impact on the life of your new pet as they will on yours.

Because our animals are homeless and have had less-than-ideal lives to date, HART is very careful to ensure a wonderful future life for them. If you are considering a kitten, please be sure to read our policy on adopting out kittens under 6 months of age.

Before we place an animal, there are certain steps to be taken. While at first, you may feel that these aren't necessary, upon further reflection; we hope that you will understand, support and appreciate our reasoning.

First and foremost, we look for the best fit for the animals. As such, we do not place the animals on a "first come, first served" basis. HART absolutely wants you to have a wonderful pet; but our first obligation is to ensure that the animals in our charge are placed in loving and safe “forever homes.” Therefore, we review all applications for the animals and try to affect the best match. This means sometimes we have to decline applicants. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but reserve the right to do so to ensure the happiness and wellbeing of the HART animals. Here is how the process works:

  • First, the prospective adopter must complete an application to start the process of making a good match. You may submit an application online for speedy consideration and you are provided with a direct email point of contact for each animal online. You may also fill out an application at one of our dog or cat Adoption Events.

  • Next, HART associates will interview the prospective adopter at one of the dog or cat Adoption Events.

  • Then we conduct a vet check with your present or former vet clinics to ensure that any current or previous pets were kept up-to-date with shots, exams, etc.

  • Next, HART must complete a home inspection to ensure that the prospective adopter can provide a safe, nurturing family for the new pet.

  • At the time of placement, you must complete an adoption contract, which confirms your careful consideration of and adherence to those things, which are necessary to ensure a safe and loving life for your pet. It also binds you to an agreement that you will return the pet to HART if you are unable to keep it for ANY reason.

  • A minimal dog adoption fee or cat adoption fee will be collected at the time of placement. This fee helps to defray the costs of keeping the animal in either a foster home or a kennel and any medical expenses that have been incurred.

Please understand that we place over 600 dogs and around 250 cats per year! Naturally, some animals come to us with health problems and we provide vet care for them. HART is a no-kill organization.

We provide the best medical care for our animals; a large portion of our budget is spent on same. Additionally, animals leave us with current vaccinations and we have a spay/neuter program as outlined below:

By state law, all animals that are adopted out by a licensed rescue organization must be spayed or neutered by the age of six months, or upon adoption if older. HART supports and complies with this requirement. Puppies are spayed/neutered as soon as they are old enough. All adult dogs are spayed or neutered as soon as they come under HART's care, medical condition permitting. If, in rare instances, a dog or puppy is placed in foster or adoptive care without having been spayed or neutered, the foster or adoptive parent signs a binding contract requiring the spay/neuter as soon as medical condition or age allow. HART provides a spay/neuter certificate that covers the cost of the requisite spay/neuter as part of the adoption fee.

Once you have taken possession of your new family member, your relationship with HART is not over. We forever consider them part of our family. We would love to hear from you about how your new pet is doing and even better, would love for you to bring them to adoption events so we can visit. Also, we like to keep you up to date with what's going on with HART and with our fundraising ventures. We have great fun at our art auctions and wine tastings. Please keep close tabs on the website for upcoming events.

Additionally, if your pet should become lost, we provide a mandatory HART tag, to be worn by the pet at all times, with phone numbers to be contacted when the animal is found. We track the numbers on the HART tag to identify the owner to facilitate a speedy reunion. We can also offer advice on how to effectively look for your lost loved ones.

There are other important things that will be covered during the adoption process such as house-training techniques and feeding regimens, as well as any questions you may have. We truly want your adoption to be as smooth and harmonious as possible. We will always be available to you for concerns and joys. You will be provided with additional contact numbers upon adoption.

To see the animals that we currently have available, please see the Adoptions page. To see when and where you can meet your prospective new pet in person, please see the Dog Adoption Day Schedule or Cat Adoption Day Schedule.

Due to our home check requirement, except in special circumstances, HART can only adopt to people in the Washington, DC Metro Area (VA, MD, DC).