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My girlfriend and I are talking quite seriously about adopting, and we came across the following event in Rhode Island next weekend (see link below). MY GF surprised me and filled out an application without telling me…not that I’m against it but I’m more concerned with the whole event itself. The application is a “pre-screen” to get us into the event early.

http://www.alwaysadopt.citymax.com/event_details.html

It looks like they partner w/ lots of shelters/rescues and bring in a bunch of dogs to a car dealership space and letting people see them, meet them and potentially adopt. Are these types of events “OK”? It seems to me as though these might be overstimulating and even stressful for the dogs, unless most of these dogs are pre-screened themselves and already socialized.

I suppose I’m looking for guidance as to how to approach this type of event. I want to make sure we’re doing this the right way. The optimist in me says we’re going to walk away with a dog that day! The skeptic in me is wondering if this isn’t just a big push to purge local shelters of their current inhabitants. I’m also concerned that this might not be the best scenario to really “get to know” the dogs. For the dogs it’s a new place, new dogs around, new people around, new smells, new sounds…you get the picture. It doesn’t seem like a situation conducive to really getting a feel for the dogs temperament, which is important to us. Not trying to sound depressing, just trying to see this from multiple angles.

We will be first time owners, just want to get as much information as I can. Does anyone have any insight/experiences on these types of events?

Thanks!
 

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I have mixed feelings about such events. I've never been to a huge one where it's a ton of dogs in a very large area, but I've been to numerous events where there are a number of dogs for adoption. Stuff like adoption days at Petsmart, the farmers market, state fair, outside stores, etc. On one hand, a fair number of dogs do indeed find homes that otherwise wouldn't have that day, and many dogs do just fine in that situation. I know of a few people who adopted dogs through such events and are happy as can be. I certainly wouldn't discourage you from going!

On the other hand, it would indeed be far too stimulating for many dogs in rescue. I've seen some dogs on petsmart adoption days basically hiding in the back of their cages, and some that growled or lunged towards customer dogs walking by and shopping. Doesn't mean that they're bad dogs, but they simply may not be not up for that task yet. It could actually set them back socialization wise. A good organization will try hard to only bring dogs that are up to the task, but you can't always tell until you get there. Many are as happy go lucky as ever, though, and that says a lot about the dog. Of course, you need to be prepared for "surprises" when you get home, as is the case with any rescue dog. All of the above could also be applied to dogs in a shelter situation.

The other problem I would have with it is the potential for impulsive decisions. Some people (like your family) may have been planning for a dog for awhile and are more than ready to take the dog home that day. Many others perhaps are not, and get lured in by the cute puppy when they aren't ready. When you have so many people coming through it's hard to thoroughly evaluate everyone's situation. I've also found that people at adoption events are often overly pushy. I've never gone to one with the intentions of getting an animal (I'm always at the store/event anyway and happen to see cute animals to visit, haha) but it seems like someone is always trying to push me to adopt one. Say I'm petting the cats the lady will say "Oh, she loves you! You know you want to take her home!" I'll say "I wish, but I already have a cat and can't have another." (making it clear that I'm not interested) then she'll say "Don't worry, I have 5 at home! They'll get along just fine!" and the conversation just devolves from there. Trust me, if I wanted to take an animal home I'd be the first to let you know ;) There's usually a change donation jar, so I'll usually give any loose change I have as my way of helping.
 

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It really depends on the individual shelter/rescues policy on weather you will bring the dog home that day. I've seen some people take the dog home in less then an hour and others that had to wait for a home check and a second meeting with the dog in order to be sure if it's a good match. I would say take the chance and at least go just don't jump on the first cute face you see and be prepared to not go home with a dog that day. If you find one or two you are interested in then explain to the rescue that you are interested but have concerns about the dogs behavior in this environment and see if you can set it up to go visit the dog at the shelter or have a trial period at your house. You never know until you ask. Good luck in your search and I look forward to seeing pictures in the future.. just don't rush it.. find the right dog for you.
 

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I think those events are good. Yes they can be stressful, but often its gets dogs homes that would've continued sitting in a shelter. I think a little stress is worth it. Our local petsmart has these, and I know they try not to bring dogs that they know can't handle it. They often will have info on those dogs but they're not actually there.
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It looks like they have posted listings and profiles for many of the dogs that will be there - maybe you and your girlfriend could look at them and get in touch with the rescues/fosters of dogs that you're interested in before the event? Then you'll be able to go there and meet those specific dogs in a more focused and objective way. By talking to the fosters beforehand, you'll also have an idea of how the dog is like normally, even if they are stressed or overwhelmed at the event.

In general, I think these events are good as long as the rescues know what they're doing - i.e. only bringing dogs that are suited to being at a busy event with lots of people and other dogs. When they don't, at best the dogs get stressed out/shut down, and at worst, there have been (rare) cases where people and other dogs have been attacked at adoption events.
 
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