How to Adopt a Dog As an Unmarried Couple
A dog is technically property. Adopting as an unmarried couple means you and your partner will be purchasing the dog together in a legal sense. In many ways, the process for adopting is similar to a married couple adopting a dog. However, you want to make sure the shelter you select allows unmarried couples to adopt together. Have an ownership agreement in place in the event you break up.
Taking Certain Considerations
Establish mutual legal ownership.A dog is technically property in the eyes of the law. If you're adopting as a couple and are unmarried, you need to make sure you both are legal owners. It's a good idea for both of you to be legal owners of the dog so your rights are protected in the event of a breakup.
- Talk to a variety of shelters and ask about how they determine legal ownership. Legal ownership is usually established on adoption paperwork and vet bills. See if you can fill out the paperwork together so you're both the legal owners.
Decide who will be the primary caregiver.Who will take care of the dog most of the time and what is that person's lifestyle like? If one person will be the dog's primary caregiver, you want to make sure you choose a dog that matches with that person's lifestyle.
- Is one of you going to spend more time with the dog than the other? Maybe one of you works from home and has a flexible schedule, for example. Make sure the person who will spend more time with the dog is able to meet the dog's needs. Think about the kind of dog that person can best care for.
- You should also keep in mind how this may affect emotions in the event of a breakup. Whoever is the primary caregiver may be slightly more attached to the dog, so this is something to keep in mind.
Assess your budget.If you're paying for the dog together, find a price range that works for both of you. If one person is paying more for the dog, or paying for the dog completely, think about how this will affect legal ownership and whether it will be an issue down the road.
- Think about how much you can reasonably put towards a dog in the coming months. Remember, there is more than just the cost of the adoption fee to consider. You also have to think about things like vet visits and supplies you will need early on.
- If one person is paying more for the dog, have a talk about this. Make sure you're both okay with one person putting more money forward and, in the event of a breakup, the issue of money will not determine ownership.
- Total costs do vary, especially if your dog has extra vet bills for any reason, but on average the first year cost of a dog is around ,270.
Look for shelters in your area that allow dual adoption.You can find animal shelters online or in your local yellow pages. Call a variety of shelters and ask about their policies on unmarried couples adopting dogs together.
- Most shelters will probably accommodate you, but stricter shelters may not allow unmarried couples to adopt as they may fear a breakup could affect the stability of the dog's home life.
- Make sure you are both allowed to sign documents assuring you're the legal owners of the dog.
Finding A Dog
Bring any documentation required.Before leaving for the shelter, check the website or make a phone call. You want to make sure you bring any documentation required to adopt if you find a dog you like. You will probably need a picture ID, as well as things like proof of address and income.
- If you intend to do a dual adoption, make sure both of you bring these papers.
Let the staff know the temperament you want.No one will be better able to find a dog that meets your needs than the staff or volunteers. These people spend many hours a day caring for the dogs at the shelter, so they should have a sense of each dog's personality. Let a staff worker know the temperament you're looking for in a dog and they should be able to help find you a match. Let them know how the two of you function as a couple and what your overall lifestyle is together, as this will help the shelter find a dog that meets both your needs.
- You should also let them know if you're looking a particular breed or age.
- If one of you will be the dog's primary caregiver, let the shelter worker know this.
Look for a friendly dog.You want to make sure you pick a dog with a good temperament. Ideally, you want to be able to keep the dog long-term without problems. A friendlier dog is less likely to pose a problem.
- Look for dogs who are opening their mouths and squinting slightly when you walk by their cages. You should also look for dogs whose tails are wagging slowly.
- Dogs who are barking loudly or growling, or who crouch when you pass by, are less likely to be friendly.
- Make sure the dog is friendly towards both of you. Some dogs may take more to one person, and you want to make sure the dog you pick works for both of you as a couple.
Complete any requirements at the shelter.When you find a dog you're interested in, there may be certain requirements. You may have to, for example, spend a set amount of time interacting with the dog before you make your final decision. Make sure to follow these rules so you can smoothly complete the adoption process.
- Remember, such rules are in place for a reason. You want to make sure the dog you select is a good match for you, and the staff does as well. It's okay if you realize, while interacting with a dog, that you've changed your mind about it.
- As both of you are adopting a dog, both of you should follow the rules closely to make sure the adoption goes through smoothly and you are both the legal owners of the dog.
Completing the Process
Sign any contracts using both your names.If possible, sign contracts using both your names. As an unmarried couple, you will want to make sure you are both the legal owners. You may also each have to fill out an adoption contract or application.
- Contracts and applications usually ask for basic information, like your name, address, and so on. Applications may ask a few questions about how you plan to care for the dog just to make sure you'll be a solid owner.
Pay all required fees.Shelters usually have upfront adoption fees. These can vary from shelter to shelter, and some shelters may charge more for puppies than older dogs. Make sure to pay the fee before you leave to complete your adoption.
- Know how the fee can be paid. If the place is cash only, for example, make sure to bring cash with you.
Have an ownership agreement in place.While no one likes to think about it, breakups do happen. It's important you have an ownership agreement in place in the event you and your partner split up.
Video: How to Adopt from a Shelter | Puppy Care
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