WHAT IS A HOME SAFETY INSPECTION OR VISIT?
A “Home Safety Inspection,” often called a “Home Visit” is CPCRN’s final step in our three-part adoption process. When an applicant reaches the final step towards adoption of one of our rescue dogs, the applicant has passed the first two steps (the application review and the reference checks) towards the adoption of one of our dogs.
Since CPCRN is a national rescue program, much of our adoption process is handled through e-mail and phone calls. The home visit is truly the only chance that we have PRIOR to the placement of one of our rescue dogs (IF the home is approved to adopt) to assure that the Cairn will be in a safe and loving home. This is also the opportunity to verify that the dog, which the adopting home is requesting, is the correct dog for the home. This is based on your inspection.
Please know that we are NOT looking for a spotless home that will pass a “white glove” inspection: far from this, few ever would. We are looking for a home that is free of dangerous clutter, a home that is safe, and a family that is prepared to love a rescue dog and make this dog a member of the family. ALL CPCRN dogs are housedogs, meaning they sleep in the home at night and are not kept outdoors for the majority of the day when the family is at home.
I HAVE NEVER DONE A HOME INSPECTION, WHAT WILL I BE LOOKING FOR?
CPCRN has an On-line Inspection Form, as well as a Printable Version, that will guide you through the inspection process. This form is broken down into several categories, such as the applicant’s neighborhood, the exterior of their home (both front and back), and the interior of their home. Questions will also be asked about the condition and temperament of their current pets (if any). You will be asked to describe the family members’ interaction and attitude. We strongly feel that ALL members of the family must truly want a dog, NOT just one member. Because of the importance family members play in the happiness of a rescue dog, we ask that ALL family members be present at least through most of the inspection, ESPECIALLY if there are children in the household. We also have a form, broken down by type of room and area of the home (i.e., bathroom, kitchen or back yard), and this will guide you through common potential hazards in those rooms. This can be taken with you as a guideline.
The purpose of the safety home visit is to meet the prospective adopters and to see the environment they will provide for their dog. CPCRN essentially wants to know if you would feel comfortable leaving your dog or other family member’s dog with this applicant? Do you feel that this home will be a safe home that provides a loving and caring atmosphere?
THE HOME VISIT: ONCE AT THE HOME, WHAT DO I DO?
When you arrive at the home, introduce yourself and briefly explain the function of the home visit. Tell them you are visiting to meet them and to evaluate the appropriateness and safety of their home for a dog. It is usually easy to start off a conversation after that by saying “So, you’re thinking about adopting one of our dogs,” then pause for a reaction. Let them talk and volunteer information. NOTE: If you are not comfortable with the applicant as a dog owner or are in any other way uncomfortable, simply end the interview on a nice note and leave.
You are at the applicant’s home to check out the home, so please don’t be shy here. Generally, you can start out by asking with which area of the home the owner would like to start. It is important to look at ALL rooms or areas of the home where the dog COULD go, which includes the yard, basement, garage, and living area. We have a Home Safety Inspection Checklist on our website, which can be printed and taken with you. This is to serve as a guideline only.
Check to see whether the living quarters are dog friendly. Are there a lot of small objects (children’s toys) exposed cords, houseplants, etc., that a dog might chew on? Are cleaning materials secured in cabinets? Is the house reasonably neat and clean?
In the yard, check the condition of the fence (if any). Is it in good repair? Is the yard totally enclosed? Can the dog get out of it by digging under or jumping over the fence? Are there areas where the dog could injure itself? Will the dog have access to the basement and/or garage (if any)? Are there hazards present? Does the description of the home and yard match the information on the application?
Talk to the applicants. Don’t make this a formal interview! Engage the applicants in conversation about the dog they want to adopt and dogs they have had in the past. PLEASE try to let the applicant talk. This is your opportunity to learn about their relationship with their animals. Observe their behavior. Get a sense of how they would be as dog owners. How do they interact with each other? Do they express basic considerations and caring to their spouse, children, and other pets? Do the children seem as if they would be respectful to pets? Will the adults monitor the children’s behavior with the dog? Do the children listen to the parents? Does the applicant have a basic understanding of the dog’s needs and behaviors? Are there other pets in the household? How will they introduce the new dog to the other pets? Do they understand that sometimes a rescue goes through a period of adjustment? How will they handle this? Do you feel that they can be financially responsible in the event of an accident or illness, or do you sense a financial concern on their part?
Generally we are considering their application for a specific dog, however, you might feel that they would be better suited for another dog. Perhaps they have applied for a young dog but might not be able to handle the exercise requirements or energy level, therefore, they should consider an older dog.
When the visit is over, thank the applicant for their time. REMEMBER, do not give them any indication that they have been approved or will be. Tell them the information is passed on to a committee of board members who will make the final decision on all adoptions. Not every home is right for every dog — even great people can be wrong for a specific dog, or a dog of any type.
IF I SEE POTENTIAL HAZARDS OR NEEDED IMPROVEMENTS, MAY I TELL THE APPLICANT?
YES, please feel free to make comments and suggestions as you walk through the various rooms and the exterior of their home. This is greatly appreciated. It is often easier for an applicant to visualize what you are talking about or to see an actual hazard such as chocolate on low tables (chocolate is poisonous to dogs) or medications on night stands or low tables (could be lethal).
DO ALL HOMES PASS THE HOME VISIT?
NO, all homes DO NOT pass the home inspection. We have all had an occasion where once we arrived somewhere, we were quite disappointed in what we found. The same could apply when you go out to do a home inspection. We depend on our home inspection volunteers not to make judgments and to only report findings as honestly and accurately as possible. Having a “dog safe” home has nothing to do with how nice an applicant might be, or their desire for a dog. We really count on your gut feelings and your eyes here. We owe it to our rescue dogs to find the best home possible. Not all homes are the “best” homes.
You are a volunteer for CPCRN. The applicant has been informed that YOU ARE NOT the person who will be responsible for making the decision on their ability to adopt a dog, the complete CPCRN Board votes on EVERY placement, and the Home Safety Inspection is only ONE phase of the complete process. PLEASE remember that many applicants are so eager to be approved that they may be almost relentless in asking you questions geared towards your saying that they will get a dog. In their eagerness, applicants tend to hear what they want to hear, not necessarily what you are saying, so PLEASE do not give any applicant an indication that they are approved, OR that they “probably will be approved” for a CPCRN rescue dog.
WHO MAKES THE APPOINTMENT FOR THE INSPECTION AND HOW LONG DOES AN INSPECTION TAKE?
Most home safety inspections typically last about an hour or shortly less. Often, you will really enjoy meeting potential Cairn people, and by mutual agreement you may stay and chat a while longer. However the “business” part should NOT take any longer than 45 minutes to an hour, and this should be done first. PLEASE do not schedule a home inspection after daylight hours.
CPCRN will usually have the home inspection volunteer set up his or her own appointment with the applicant. Prior to calling the applicant, please visit MapQuest.com on the Internet. VERIFY the driving instructions that MapQuest gives you to the applicant’s home with the applicant to assure that these are accurate. PLEASE be on time for your appointment, and if you find that you will be late or unable to make the appointment for ANY reason, contact the applicant. The CPCRN volunteer should identify themselves as a representative of CPCRN when they call, and also when you arrive. If you have a CPCRN business card, feel free to give one to the applicant.
WILL I NEED TO SCHEDULE THE APPOINTMENT QUICKLY?
We really appreciate it when you can contact the applicant, introduce yourself and set up your home inspection almost immediately. Obviously, you may have plans and the applicant may have plans, so that this may take a few days or longer to set up the appointment. REMEMBER that we cannot hold a dog for an applicant. Because of this, long delays could mean that the dog that they are applying for may be placed in the meantime. Please inform CPCRN via e-mail at [email protected] when you have scheduled your home inspection. Please also inform us of any delays you may encounter.
WHAT PAPERWORK WILL I HAVE PRIOR TO MAKING AN APPOINTMENT?
Once you agree to do the home inspection, CPCRN will forward you a copy of the application in question, and often the results of the applicant’s reference checks. This is confidential information and we trust that this will be treated as such. DO NOT TAKE any paperwork into the applicant’s home (other than the checklist), ESPECIALLY if you have been given their reference report.
WHAT OTHER INFORMATION WILL I BE GIVEN?
At times, the Board may have a particular concern dealing with an aspect of the application. You may also be specifically asked to look at and report back on that concern. Generally questions of this type deal with fencing or where the puppy or dog will be kept while the owner is not home.
MAY I TAKE A FRIEND, FAMILY MEMBER OR MY DOG WITH ME ON THE INSPECTION?
Please feel free to ask a friend or family member to go along with you on the ride. PLEASE also inform your family member or friend what our CPCRN guidelines are (mentioned above), since the applicant will assume that anyone in their home is ALSO a representative of CPCRN. We understand the necessity of occasionally bringing a child with you. PLEASE ensure that your child is behaved. We suggest that you inform the applicant that you might be bringing a child. Since applicants often have other pets, you will be responsible to ensure that your child is safe.
It is best NOT to take your dog with you, unless you absolutely have no other choice. We are all proud of our dogs and we would love to take them with us. REMEMBER that the home you are going to visit is unknown. Many terriers will mark or over-pee if they smell another dog. This could be your dog, or it may also be the newly adopted CPCRN dog marking over where yours has been. Some homes may have cats or other pets as well. Therefore, we try to leave our dogs at home when we can. Arrangements can occasionally be made contrary to the above: perhaps you are fostering the dog that this applicant is considering, for example, or you are traveling and you have your pet with you. IF you are taking a dog to the home inspection, YOU MUST inform the applicant of this PRIOR to showing up and obtain their approval.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER REMINDERS THAT I MIGHT WISH TO DISCUSS WITH THE APPLICANT?
It can never be stressed enough the importance of reminding the applicant that the Board will always be behind them IF they are approved to adopt a dog. We will gladly work with anyone with any problems or questions that they may have. We are a full support network. You can remind them to visit the website at www.CairnRescue.com and to review the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions). Our website contains fantastic information on grooming, and training & health in the links area. Some applicants have never previously used a crate. A crate is a requirement for placement. They DO NOT have to use the crate once they are comfortable with their dog’s potty habits and training. However, they must have a crate available AT THE TIME OF PLACEMENT, if they are picking up their dog, or arrangements will be made for a crate if the dog is being transported. On our website, we have New Rescue Owner Information with required printouts. These deal with health and safety (first aid kits, garbage and toy hazards, poisonous plants, etc.) and these are great reference materials.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE THAT I MIGHT WANT TO DO TO INFORM MYSELF OF CPCRN POLICY PRIOR TO THE HOME INSPECTION?
Probably not. We can’t stress enough the importance of not making a commitment or to infer that the applicant is approved or will be approved. If the applicant had any questions that you could not answer, please have them write to the board at [email protected]. Generally, the applicant will be informed of the Board’s decision within a week, oftentimes sooner.
AFTER THE INSPECTION, HOW DO I REPORT MY VISIT?
After the Home Safety Inspection, please report back to CPCRN within 24 hours, if possible. IF you are short on time, please let us know that you did the inspection and when we should expect the report. You can complete an On-line HOME INSPECTION Form; You can also copy & paste the Printable Form into an e-mail, and then complete and send it to [email protected].
COL. POTTER CAIRN RESCUE NETWORK SINCERELY APPRECIATES YOUR EFFORTS ON BEHALF OF THE RESCUE DOGS.
The Board of CPCRN