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Adoption FAQs

How do I begin the adoption process?

We are glad you are considering adopting one of the many wonderful CLR labs that need a forever home.The first step is to submit an online application. Since we are a 100% volunteer organization, we have limited availability to address your questions or call you until you have submitted an application. We are more than happy to respond to your questions once you have been approved. The application can take two weeks to review and process. Once you have an approval, your application remains active for a year.  We do not have an office or any full-time paid employees, so we do not have an available phone number. If needed, one of our volunteers will make contact.  Most of our communication is by email.

Complete Adoption Application

How do I know CLR has received my application?

You will see a confirmation screen after you click Submit as well as receive an email copy of your application. If you don’t see the confirmation screen, you may have missed a required field. A red asterisk indicates a required field.

Why does the application process take up to 2 weeks?

Since CLR is an all-volunteer organization, most of us have day jobs and family obligations. We receive many applications each week, we process them as quickly as possible. You can help the process along by providing accurate information in your application, answering any questions you receive from us quickly and accurately, and letting your vet (and landlord, if applicable) know that CLR will be contacting them. This includes, but is not limited to: providing the correct name (e.g. married name change) and the correct phone number for your vet’s office.  In addition, it would expedite the process if you check with your vet to make sure your records are available.  If you have used several different vet practices, we need to know where we will find the current vetting records. Often, we are waiting for others to respond to us with required information.

Please note that Cincinnati Lab Rescue will contact your vet one time. Should there be any issues (no permission to release records, errors in vaccination records, overdue vaccinations, etc.) it will be up to you to contact your vet to get vaccination records and provide them to CLR.

Can I apply to adopt a specific dog?

You are encouraged to list dogs that pique your interest, but there is no guarantee they will be available when you are ready to set an appointment.  We do not hold specific dogs for future appointments. Experience has taught us that holding a dog rarely works for the dog or the adopter. The reality is that the dog that catches your eye may not be the best match for your family, and the dog has lost an opportunity to find his/her forever family.

Will you contact me if the dog(s) I listed on my application are adopted?

No. As the application says, the list of dogs you provide is for information only. Our application is not to adopt the specific dog or dogs you listed, but rather to be able to adopt any dog from Cincinnati Lab Rescue once you are approved. The approval process can take up to two weeks, so some or all of the dogs you listed may no longer be available by the time you are able to make an appointment. We hold adoptions every Saturday, and typically we update the list of available dogs on our site by Sunday or Monday. This enables you to check on the status of the dog(s) you are interested in yourself. If the dog(s) you were originally interested in get adopted, don’t worry. There are always more dogs in need!

I saw the listing for a particular dog on your website. Can you give me more information about that dog, or send me more pictures?

If you haven’t submitted an application, or your application is not yet approved, no. We try to put all the information we have about each dog into that dog’s listing on our website, and we keep that information up to date while that dog is in our care. So, we don’t have any more general information about the dog available that isn’t already on our site. Once your application is approved, and you are deciding which dogs you would like to meet in your appointment, we may be able to answer some specific questions.

Veterinarian is a required field. What if I don’t have one at the moment?

Vet information is a required field since we always conduct a vet check for current and prior pets. If this is your first pet, please enter No vet in the field for veterinarian and a fictitious phone number such as  555-1111 for a veterinarian phone number.

Why do you need to contact my vet?

Part of being a good dog owner is providing proper medical care. CLR has worked with the vets at our partner animal hospital to develop a set of criteria that define a good vet check (such as regular wellness checks and heartworm prevention). If those criteria are met, we can quickly move the application on to the next step. Because we realize that there are always exceptions and we may not get the full picture from one call or email with your vet, we may contact you to seek more information and clarification. This enables us to make an informed decision on every application.

What is the next step after I receive an adoption approval?

Once you receive an email approval, we ask that you let us know (by email) what future Saturday you would like an appointment. We will respond as soon as possible, typically within a day, to set a specific time for your appointment.  Once that date and time are established, we will follow-up with an appointment confirmation.  The confirmation will include directions to our facility.  Early in the week of your confirmed appointment, we will need to know which dogs you would like to meet.  Some of our dogs are always in foster care, so we need to provide our foster families advance notice to have those dogs present.

How often does CLR get new dogs?

New dogs arrive at CLR almost every week. We typically have 4-6 adoptions each week, and then the following week bring in as many new dogs as were adopted. Our site is immediately updated over the weekend with the dogs who were adopted, and new dogs are added when they are available for adoption. We encourage you to keep an eye on the website for new additions.

We keep the website up-to-date so the current information is accurate.

Can you tell me if a particular dog is good with kids/dogs/cats?

Many of our dogs come from shelters and we often don’t know their history. If a dog goes into foster with CLR, we may get more information about the dog’s interaction with the family’s kids, dogs, and cats (depending on whether the family has any of each). Of course, we can also observe the interaction of each dog with the other dogs in our rescue. If we do have information about whether a dog does particularly well or poorly with kids, dogs, or cats, that will be included in the dog’s profile on our website.

We do require adopting families to bring any dogs and children living at home to your appointment, to understand how each of our dogs interacts with your family members.

We also highly recommend viewing the first video at in order to better understand dogs’ interactions with children.

We are unable to test our dogs with cats, so our information is limited. Dogs and cats can often learn to coexist, though it may take a while depending on their temperament.

When and where do you hold adoptions?

Adoptions are held exclusively on Saturdays from 9:30 A.M.-2:00 P.M, with the last appointment typically starting at 12:30 P.M.  We schedule specific appointments so we have sufficient time to assist potential adopters find the best match for their family and complete the entire the adoption process. The location is included with your appointment confirmation.

Why do you only hold adoptions on Saturdays?

That is the only time the adoption facility is available to us. Also, our volunteers have committed that time to be available to help you.  Although we occasionally are present at special events, we NEVER do on-site adoptions.

Will I have the opportunity to meet every dog that I'm interested in?

Not necessarily.  We often receive multiple requests for the same dog, so the dog you list may have a prior appointment. We also try to limit each appointment to 1 or 2 dogs, so we will ask you to prioritize. If you don’t find a match with your listed dog(s), we may have other dogs on site for you to meet. Remember, your application is active for a year, and if you do not find a match, you are welcome to visit again.

Why do you require the entire family, including our current dog(s) to be at the appointment?

We believe the best matches are made when the entire family, including current canine family members, are present, engaged in meeting the dogs, and active in the selection process. We are most successful finding the best match when we are able to meet the entire family and assess the family dynamics.  As objective observers, we feel we can often guide and help you find the right fit for your family.

How should I prepare for my appointment?

You should prepare your home for your new family member. Decide where he or she will sleep, eat, and most importantly, how you will keep your new dog safe when you are not home, for most families, we recommend having a crate for the dog’s safety as well as protecting your home until you feel comfortable allowing the dog more freedom in your home.   Please bring a leash, and we also recommend a prong collar. If necessary, please adjust your family’s schedule so all family members (including canines) are present. Adopting a new dog is very exciting family adventure, but we ask that you understand that adoption days can also be a little chaotic, and we appreciate your patience.

What happens when I arrive for my appointment?

When you come into the facility, go through the front door, then turn right and go through the next door, into the adoption facility. A CLR volunteer will greet you and introduce you to the person who will be conducting your appointment. That person will update you on whether any of your selected dogs have already been adopted, answer any questions, and introduce you to your selected dogs (and other available dogs, if you like). During your appointment, you will be given the opportunity to meet and interact with the dogs, which may include some time alone with the dog. We often encourage you to take the dog for a short walk with your family. For dogs in foster care, someone from their current foster family may be available to answer questions. Please come with an open mind.  Often the dog you thought was the perfect match, isn’t, but another dog immediately grabs your heart.

What if I don’t find the right dog for me?

We will try to work with you to find a match, but if you just fail to connect with any of the dogs you meet, you can come for another visit. Application approval is good for a year. So, we ask that you watch the website until you see dogs that interest you, and schedule another appointment. We do ask that you come with the intent of adoption (i.e., not just browsing), and that you not have unreasonable expectations of the “perfect” dog. We have limited access to our adoption facility, and want to make sure that most of our appointments lead to adoptions. At the same time, we don’t want you to feel pressured into taking a dog that you don’t think is a good fit for you.

How do I complete the process?

You have found the perfect dog, so just confirm with our volunteer, and you will be able to take your new dog home with you that day.  Someone from our team will review the medical files and complete the paperwork sharing transitioning into your home and other helpful information.   At this juncture, you will complete the contract and are asked to pay our adoption fee.  Before you leave, a CLR volunteer will take a family picture for our website.

How much is the adoption fee and what does it include?

The adoption fee is $375, though sometimes less for seniors (determined on an individual basis). We accept checks, cash, and nearly all credit cards.

CLR’s adoption fee includes: a complete vet exam, heart-worm test, fecal, spay/neutering, microchipping, vaccines (DHPP, rabies, and bordetella), and addressing most medical issues discovered in the exam. If the dog is on any current medication, that will also go home with you  along with any special instructions.  We will register the micro-chip information for you.  Many of the dogs only require basic vetting, while others require more extensive medical care.  We promise to disclose any medical issues that we have discovered.

What if we have additional questions once we are home?

When we review the paperwork with you, we always request that you keep in touch with us at 1 day, 1 week, and 1 month.  We now consider you as part of our CLR family, and we continue to be there for you.  Write us at with any questions and we will do our very best to assist you.

Why is there a math problem at the end of the application?

This prevents us from receiving spam by ensuring a real person is completing the form.

Fostering FAQs

How does fostering a dog with CLR work?

Dog friendly families can join the CLR volunteer network by identifying one of several available dogs that need a foster home.  When rescued labs arrive at CLR, they are assessed by a specialist for temperament, and then see a veterinarian team to address any health issues, are spayed or neutered, micro-chipped, and brought up-to-date on all vaccines.  The dogs stay in a temporary kennel before joining a foster family or getting adopted.  Foster families play such an essential role in the health and well-being of the labs; that we hope you give it serious consideration!

Go to Foster Application

Why is a foster home good for a dog?

CLR dogs placed in foster homes immediately feel the benefit of being in a loving and stable environment.  Many dogs (though not all) have had a difficult history.  When placed in a home offering safety, love, good nutrition, and exercise, the dog can significantly rebound.  Being in a foster home where the dog can manage their energy, learn to trust again, work on their manners, have fun, and become better socialized helps make the transition to a forever family more successful.

Additionally, learning about the dog helps the CLR team assess what we can do to help the dog adjust, as well as assist us in finding the best match for the dog and potential adopters.

How does a match with a foster dog happen?

CLR staff will help match dogs with foster families. Once your application is approved, please email, to let us know when you are available to start fostering, and we will schedule a time when you can come in a meet some potential foster dogs. This is typically done on Saturdays, which is also when we do adoptions. We hold adoption appointments only on Saturdays from 9:30 A.M. until 2 P.M.  Foster appointments are usually made after adoption appointments, around 12 P.M..  If a foster family finds a suitable foster dog, you will typically be able to take the dog home that day.  We would prefer that you bring everyone living in your home (including children and dogs) with you to the foster appointment, if practical  We want to make sure we find a good fit for your entire family, to help ensure a successful foster experience for both you and the dog.

What are the major responsibilities?

When you foster, we do require that you:

  • Purchase a high-quality dry dog food (unless on a prescribed veterinary diet, which we will provide);  Due to recent reported studies,  we no longer recommend grain free food.  If your preference is for us to provide the food, please let us know.
  • E-mail CLR representative and/or foster coordinator for needed veterinary care; if there is an emergency and/or after hours care is needed, 24 hour emergency service is provided for our dogs. CLR will not pay for veterinary care at any other facility unless previously approved;
  • We ask that you work with the dog on basic obedience training and acceptable house manners, A well-mannered dog is more likely to be adopted.
  • Administer monthly heartworm and flea prevention, which will be provided by CLR.
  • Brush out and ensure the dog has good grooming
  • E-mail regular updates including written updates, photos, and short videos to update the pet bio on the CLR website and social media;
  • When the dog has a scheduled Saturday appointment, you will need to bring the dog to meet potential adopters. We will inform you as soon as we know our schedule. We welcome you to share what you have learned about your foster at his/her appointment.

What equipment do I need?

The dog will already have a collar and is micro-chipped. You should plan to have an appropriately sized crate, leash, grain-based dry dog food, food and water bowl, and, of course, dog toys (Kong or Nylabone recommended).  A foster kit (crate, leash, dog bowls) will be provided to those who don’t already have the necessary equipment.

How long does the average dog stay in a foster home?

It varies. Sometimes your foster dog may be with you for as little as one week, or for a few months or longer.  Some dogs in foster care need a little more time to rebound than others and will only be available for adoption when ready for a forever family.  Some dogs will be very popular and may have multiple applications that come in from potential adopters right away.

Will I be able to “give up” the dog to a forever family if I foster? Is it emotionally difficult?

For the dog it’s their “happy ending” to find a forever family.  Your role as a foster is to help jumpstart the dog’s recovery and show the dog how great life can be.  You get to have some short-term fun while fulfilling this vital role. If the dog does find their forever family, think of it as if you are sending the dog off to college….sad to see them go, but happy they are going to a great place!

What if our family is interested in adopting our foster dog?

CLR does not encourage fostering to adopt, because it can lead to “test driving” dogs, which can cause additional stress for our rescue dogs, whose lives have already been disruptive. If you are interested in adopting, we ask that you please go through our adoption process. If you are interested in fostering, we ask that you have the intent to foster: plan to keep your foster dog until adoption (typically) and be ready to send the dog to his or her forever home. That said, if you do decide that you have fallen in love with your foster dog, please contact the foster coordinator to discuss next steps.

Are the dogs easy to take care of? Will they have major behavioral issues?

Every dog is different, and you will be amazed at how resilient and grateful they are for second chances.  Most of the labs you will meet will have wagging tails and few issues; others will need time and care to coax out their exuberance. There are many reasons why dogs find their way to CLR including “owner surrenders”; owners who can’t take care of the dogs anymore, a family moves, and/or many are found in shelters set to be euthanized, or as strays and brought to rescue.  As an ethical organization, CLR will always disclose any known information on the dog’s history.

What if the foster dog doesn’t work out with my family?

If a foster situation isn’t working out, the dog comes back to CLR, no questions asked, no judgements made.  The team will work to match the dog with a more appropriate foster home where both dog and family can thrive.  We always want what’s best for the dog and the foster family.

What if I need help with a specific dog training issue?

The CLR team is here to help.  Please contact the foster coordinator and ask your question.  We have years of experience to help provide direction. For more challenging questions, we seek assistance from a professional trainer to help resolve the problem.

How do I get started?

Please fill out the foster application form and our foster coordinator will be in contact with you.

Go to Foster Application