How to Adopt

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Adopting a Friend

Thank you for your interest in adopting a rescued animal. We are excited to assist you in your search for a new best friend and furry family member.

Sometimes finding time to walk the dog or clean the litterbox seems like one more task to cram into your busy day. But it's so worth it, here’s why:

  • Just being around an animal decreases your blood pressure. It’s true! Doctor Dog anyone?!
  • Our pets decrease our reactions to stressful situations. No more stress about that big work project – just look at your pup and you’ll be on the way to rest and relaxation.
  • Pet owners on average get more exercise. Who need the gym when you can be at the park with your pup?!
  • They make us laugh! They do always say that laughter is the best medicine!

If you are interested in adopting through Ruff Start Rescue please review the general Criteria for Adoption below and email us at for additional questions.

Criteria for Adoption

Please read the list below of general requirements for adopting families. We do understand each situation is unique and that no two adopters are the same so please don’t be discouraged if you feel you may not “meet” one of the criteria listed below.

  • Applicants must 18 or older
  • Applications should be filled out completely.
  • Dogs should not be left crated for more than 8 hours. If you have plans for a dog-walker or additional caretaker during your time spent away from home, please note that in your application.
  • If you have a current pet, we ask that they be up to date on vaccinations for the safety of both them and the adopted animal.
  • We ask that your resident animals be spayed/neutered. Animal overpopulation is a real problem and is something we see day in and day out in our rescue work. There are already so many unwanted stray animals in need of rescue and we do not want to contribute to the problem if we can prevent it. We do however understand there may be medical reasons for your resident animal not being altered and that is something you can discuss with the Placement Coordinator once your application is submitted.
  • If renting, please be sure you are aware of any breed restrictions, requirements for number of animals, or any other special pet related rules your landlord may have regarding having a dog or cat in your home. If you live in an association please also be aware of any breed or weight restrictions that may be applicable.
  • All applicants must be willing to receive a home inspection and meet and greet prior to adoption.
  • If you have a current pet, we would like them to meet your potential new pet before an adoption is finalized. We know that sometimes not all animals get along and we want to set your resident animal and potential adopted animal up for success and long term friendship!
  • We know that life happens and things can come up unexpectedly. If for any reason you are unable to keep your adopted pet we ask that you return the animal to Ruff Start Rescue.

Thank you for your interest in adopting one of our animals!  Click here to complete an adoption application.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at

We are a 100% Spay / Neuter Rescue

We are proud to be a 100% spay/neuter rescue, which means that all of our adoptable pets will be altered prior to adoption. We ask that all of our applicants have their resident animals altered as well. We understand that sometimes there may be a serious medical reason as to why you animal cannot be altered, please talk to us. We are here to listen and help if we can. We exist because there are many homeless and neglected animals in the world that are in need and our way of working towards a No-Kill Nation is by requiring all able animals of our foster and/or adoptive families to have altered pets.

We believe animals are family

All of the animals in our rescue are living in homes with their foster families. This is an environment we prefer over a shelter environment, where many of our rescued pets were saved from. Although a home setting is ideal for pets to thrive in, it isn’t always easy for these animals to transition from the shelter environment to living in a home. Our fosters work diligently to help these animals adjust to living a more normal life as a part of a family. We believe that our rescue animals are meant to be family pets and work tirelessly to ensure they find their fur-ever family and are able to live in a safe space with all of the love they so need and deserve!

No medically unnecessary surgeries please

Each animal has its own unique traits and characteristics and we ask that you take these into consideration before deciding to adopt. As a part of our adoption agreement we do specify that we will not allow any medically unnecessary surgical procedures to be performed on any of our rescued pets, before or after adoption. Some examples of these medically unnecessary surgical procedures include declawing, defanging of cats and debarking or cropping/docking of a dogs tail and/or ears. As a rescue we are strongly against the declawing of cats as we have seen many times the negative impact it can have on the cats health and well being. Not everyone knows the risks and problems that are associated with declawing; if you are interested in knowing more about why we have this stance, please contact us and we would be happy talk with you and share the educational materials we have compiled here at Ruff Start.

Pets as gifts? Maybe, and here's why!

We know that puppies and kittens (and older pets!) can be wonderful presents for children, loved ones and friends during the holidays and for birthdays, too, and we will do our best to help you find the best match for your lucky recipient! Becoming a pet owner is a huge responsibility so please, if you are giving the gift of a pet, please be sure this pet is something that the recipient will be able, willing, and wanting to have around for years to come. We want to do everything we can to prevent any potential returns as it can be very hard on the animal, and on the owner too!

Out of state Adoptions

Although we would love to be able to have our animals find homes all over this amazing country, 95% of all Ruff Start adoptions take place in Minnesota. We have an extremely high number of adoption applications each day from Minnesota applicants and when at all possible we want to lessen any potential stress on the animals and transport can be a high stress situation for the animals for 2 miles, let alone 200. Part of our adoption process is to conduct a home visit. Out of state applicants would increase the amount of time it would take us to complete home visits and could potentially stall adoptions for a significant amount of time. While this is the standard, we do understand that there will be times where out of state adoptions make sense perhaps for an animal that has been in rescue for a longer time or requires a special adopter due to their specific situation (for example: certain breeds, age, behavior, health issue). We welcome everyone to apply; however, please know - we do not typically adopt animals out of state. If you are interested in a particular animal and would like to ask if we would consider an out of state adoption please email  


Adoption is easy to do and by doing so you are saving more than just one life.  Each animal that is adopted frees up one of our Foster homes to take in another.  When we take another animal into rescue we are also freeing up that space in the shelter/pound to be able to take in another animal in need.  So in all reality, by adopting one pet you are saving 3! You don't have to be a hero, just someone willing and ready  to bring the endless love of a pet into your life.


This year in America, 8 million pets will end up in shelters and half of them will be euthanized because they never find a home. The facts tug at the heartstrings, but there are also practical matters at hand. According to Humane Alliance and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), caring for those pets will cost taxpayers at least $1 billion. It's a lot of money spent on a problem that can be turned around rather easily, if we adopt our pets. And encourage our friends to do the same.


Cat Sheltering Projoect on adoption page