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Our Adoption Process

Cairn Rescue USA's adoption process takes approximately 2 to 3 weeks after we receive your completed application and you are matched to a dog in our program to complete (but this is VERY IMPORTANT: YOU GENERALLY MUST BE MATCHED TO ONE OF OUR DOGS BEFORE WE WILL PROCESS YOUR APPLICATION- we don't have very many Reference Checkers so it is not possible for us to process every application we receive). We also reserve the right to deny an application at any time in the process if in our board's or officers' opinion the applicant and the dog are not a good match or for any other reason.

The first step is to fill out our online Adoption Application, which is reviewed by the Placement Director for your region (Regional PD) to ensure it is complete and meets our adoption criteria. If your application is incomplete or does not meet our adoption criteria, it will be declined at this stage. Applications which pass this first screen are sent to the 2nd step, which is Matching. The matching is done by the Regional PD with input from the foster home(s) that have the dog(s) that you are interested in. The Regional PD may also call you at this stage. Matching is not first-come, first-served. Rather we seek to match each of our dogs with the best possible home for its needs. For this reason, it may take the Regional PD one day to find a dog that is a good match for you or it may take her a couple of weeks or even months, depending on how flexible you are as to the Cairn's age, gender, health conditions and behaviors and the dogs that are available in your area at the time.

If the Regional PD determines that you and the dogs that you applied to adopt are not a good match, if those dogs have been matched to another family or been adopted, or if you have not expressed interest in any available dog at the time you submit your application, the Regional PD may be able to suggest another dog in our program that would be a good match based on the information contained on your application. Or if you later see a dog in our program that you are interested in, you can let us know by e-mailing us at We often have dogs that have just come in and thus are not listed yet, but the Regional PD will know about them. Many of those in fact get matched to applicants that are awaiting matching, so it is in an applicant's best interest to submit their application early on. PLEASE NOTE, HOWEVER, that at this time, the number of applicants looking to adopt a Cairn Terrier or Cairn Terrier mix greatly exceeds the number of available dogs in our program and this is true for Cairns everywhere in the country.

Once the Regional PD has matched you to a dog (and if you did not express interest in the particular dog on your application, after we have confirmed that you are interested in the dog the Regional PD has suggested), we begin checking your personal and veterinary references. We will alert you so you in turn can let your references know that we will be contacting them. This and making sure that the telephone numbers and email addresses of your references are entered correctly in the application will help speed up the process.

Once your reference check comes back satisfactory, we will contact you to schedule a home visit or we may waive it due to Covid-19. If we do conduct it, the home visit generally takes about 45 minutes and is conducted by a Cairn Rescue USA volunteer. This is an opportunity for you to ask any questions you might have. It is also an opportunity for us to make sure that your home is Cairn-ready and call your attention to any hazards in your home you might not be aware of, so that they may be remedied prior to your Cairn's arrival. In addition, it is an opportunity for us to make sure that the particular dog you are seeking to adopt will fit into your lifestyle and into your household. For that reason it is important that all household members be present.

Once your home visit is completed (or waived), we put you in contact with the foster home that has the dog you are seeking to adopt. This is another opportunity for you to ask any questions you might have about the dog and for the foster home to assess if you and the particular dog would be a good match. You may think that the process is much too thorough but we invest a lot of time, effort and money rehabilitating our dogs and we want to make sure that the homes adopting them will love them as much as we do and be their forever homes.

The final step is for the Board of Cairn Rescue USA to vote on your application. Your Regional PD will notify you of the result. If your application is approved, you will also be contacted by the foster home of the dog that you are adopting to coordinate the picking up of your rescue Cairn and will receive an Adoption Contract for the rescue dog you are adopting. At the time you take possession of your Cairn, you will be asked to make a donation to Cairn Rescue USA to help defray shelter fees and other costs paid to procure our rescue Cairns, the cost of transporting them to our foster homes, the costs of providing them with food and appropriate veterinary care, including spay/neuter, immunizations, heartworm testing and prevention, and other medical and/or grooming needs as are required by the particular dogs in our program. For purebred Cairns under 6 months old, the donation is $450; for purebred Cairns between 6 months and 1 year, the donation is $400; for purebred Cairns between 1 and 3 years old, the donation is $350; for purebred Cairns between 4 and 7 years old, the donation is $300; for purebred Cairns between 8 and 10 years old, the donation is $250; and for purebred Cairns over 10 years old, the donation is $150. For Cairn mixes up to 5 years, the adoption donation is $250; for Cairn mixes between 6 and 10 years old, the donation is $200; and for those over 10 years it is $150. For Cairns that have long-term health issues, the adoption donation may be reduced based on the care and medications that the Cairn will require post-adoption. These donations constitute quid-pro-quo donations for tax purposes which means that you are permitted to claim as a charitable donation on your income taxes only the amount that exceeds our good faith estimate of the dog's fair market value (which we list in the Adoption Contract). In addition, if the Cairn is microchipped, we require that you pay a microchipping fee of between $20 and $45 as explained in the Adoption Contract.

For Cairns under 6 months of age, which are not altered at the time of adoption, we also require a $250 spay/neuter deposit, which is FULLY refundable upon presentation and verification of a spay/neuter certificate. In some states we are able to procure pediatric neuters for our puppies and if the puppy that you are adopting has had one, we ask for an additional donation of $100 to help offset a portion of the cost that we incur for the procedure. Please note that adoption donations do not constitute purchase monies paid for the rescue dog, and therefore are not refundable in the event that you decide to return your rescue Cairn or for any other reason.

You should know that we will acknowledge receipt of your application and review it but we will not contact your references until you have been matched to a dog. As mentioned above, sometimes that takes a day, sometimes a week, sometimes longer, depending on how flexible you are on the characteristics of the Cairn you want to adopt and how popular the dogs that you chose are. We keep applications active for 3 months and ask that you let us know if you have found a dog elsewhere. You can increase your chances of adopting a rescued Cairn from CRUSA by being flexible on the characteristics of the dog that you will consider. Families with children should expect a longer wait since few of our dogs have been tested with children and/or are known to be child-friendly, and many have been given up precisely because they ran into a problem with children in their prior household. Once you are matched to a dog, however, the process moves quickly. The biggest delays after being matched to a dog tend to be caused by references not being available and/or not returning phone calls, and by the scheduling of the home visit.

NOTE: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the Adoption Contract. To download Acrobat Reader, click the button below:

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Last Update: 07-November-2021
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