Adoption Guide

The decision to bring a new pet into your home is a big one. Operation Paws for Homes wants to make sure your adoption goes as smoothly as possible. With many wonderful dogs and cats to choose from, we’ll work with you to find one that is a great fit for you and your family. All of our dogs and cats are in foster care before adoption, helping each one make a smooth transition into its new home.

Your Application

Our Adoption Application is designed to ensure a good match between dogs and adopters. Before you begin the application, you’ll want to take care of the following:

  • Important Your current pets must be up-to-date on shots and preventatives before introducing a new pet to the home.
  • Do your homework on what type of dog or cat (age, temperament, personality, etc.) is best for your living situation and your lifestyle.
  • If you rent, talk to your landlord about pet policies.
  • Think of three personal references we can contact for your background check.
  • Talk to a trainer, dog walker/pet sitter, doggie daycare, etc. to have a plan in place for your pet's long term happiness.

Once your application is submitted, our volunteers will review your application. This review will include:

  • Contact your landlord, if you rent
  • Contact your Vet, if you’ve had dogs or cats in the past 10 years
  • Interview your references
  • Interview you

Our approval process generally takes 2 to 7 days. The most common delay to approving an application is being unable to reach your references.

Selecting Your Pet

Once your application is approved, we will set up a time for you to meet the dog or cat you want to adopt. Our dogs and cats are located in loving foster homes throughout Virginia, Maryland and Southern Pennsylvania. You can also attend one of our many adoption events.

Our Dog and Cat Galleries have our most up to date listing of pets available for adoption. We adopt each dog or cat to the first approved and available adopter. The dog or cat of your choice cannot be held or reserved until after your application is approved. If the pet you want is adopted before your application is approved, we will gladly help you select a new pet. Generally, you will be able to finalize the adoption at the event or meeting.

Adoption Fees and Contract

At the time of adoption, you must complete our Adoption Agreement and provide payment of our adoption fees.

Due to medical, food, and fuel cost increases, OPH raised adoption fees on September 1, 2022

  • Adult dogs: $375
  • Puppies: $450
  • Seniors: $275
  • Cats: $200

Costs for boarding after the dog has left the shelter and is awaiting transport to our rescue, along with associated transportation costs, account for a large portion of our dog adoption fee.

OPH does not administer lyme and lepto vaccinations for the dogs it adopts out.

OPH does not conduct blood profiles for our dogs or cats, unless recommended by our veterinarians.

OPH does not conduct DNA tests on the dogs it adopts out. We use information provided by the shelters, veterinarians and volunteers to give a best estimate to the dog's breed. As a result, we cannot guarantee the exact breed of any OPH dog. We do our best to inform adopters about the potential dog breeds for each dog.

Approved to Adopt Applicants Explained

In reviewing our website, you will see that many of the dogs and cats in our rescue are listed as Adoption Pending for their status. To explain what this means and why many adopters find their perfect match with incoming dogs or cats, we provide this short summary. Please also discuss any questions with your adoption coordinator once you have submitted an application.

Once we have an incoming dog or cat that will arrive to the rescue, we advertise the "Coming Soon" pets on our website. Many adopters will go through the approval process and keep a close watch on the incoming dogs and cats. Once you are approved for adoption, you will be one step closer to finding your forever dog or cat! In addition, you will be able to work with your adoption coordinator to be paired with an incoming pet with whom you can set up a meet and greet.

After Adoption

At OPH, we work to ensure that your adoption goes smoothly.


All dogs will be current on their DHLPP, bordetella, rabies (age appropriate), and will be tested for heartworm (age appropriate), and treated for intestinal parasites prior to adoption. However, please remember that our dogs come from shelters in rural areas. Certain intestinal parasites may not present themselves while the dogs are in our care.

Worms are a common problem for dogs, especially young dogs and puppies. They often require multiple dewormings to ensure you dog is worm free. OPH provides 1-2 (sometimes more) dewormers while the dog is in our care. Many dogs will require a third or fourth dewormer.

Our dogs are also up to date on flea, tick and heartworm prevention before you take them home. You must continue these monthly treatments as a condition of your adoption. Please note that OPH does not provide heartworm and flea preventative after adoption.


All cats and kittens will be current on FVRCP and rabies vaccines (as appropriate for their age). As noted above for dogs, it is not uncommon for cats coming from shelters to have intestinal parasites. While in our care, cats and kittens will receive at least one to two doses (sometimes more, as appropriate) of dewormers. It is possible your cat or kitten will require additional treatments.

Our cats and kittens are up to date with flea and tick preventatives as appropriate for their age. We recommend you continue these preventives after adoption.

Medical Concerns

If a medical concern arises we may be able to help. Some conditions are not observed in a foster dog or cat until they transition to a new home. As outlined in our adoption package, we ask people to contact us at if anything happens medically so we can offer assistance if we are able. We cannot reimburse you for vet bills or guarantee the health of a dog or cat.

Medical Records

Electronic copies of your pets's medical records are provided at adoption and hard copies are mailed approximately two weeks later. If you do not receive a copy of your records at the time of adoption, please email with the name of your dog or cat and provide an email and mailing address. This will help us expedite the receipt of your records.

Returning Your Pet

If you can no longer keep an adopted pet, OPH reserves the right to require a behavioral assessment at your expense before accepting any pet back into rescue. Please be aware that OPH is foster home based, meaning that we do not have a facility to house our pets. We will make reasonable efforts to find a volunteer foster home as quickly as possible for the pet. Foster homes are located in VA, MD, DC, and PA. OPH cannot predict which foster home will be available to take your pet, as our foster families are volunteers and choose pets based on which pets will fit in the dynamics of their home.