Adopting a dog requires careful consideration. Think carefully about the 'what ifs' and consider current pets, other family members, social and work commitments and how all of these will be impacted by a new arrival.
The dogs living in the sanctuary in Serbia have a different experience to dogs in a UK rescue. Most live in large outdoor pens in groups with other dogs, and even the most friendly may face a huge process of adjustment as he/she leaves the security of his/her pen and pen-mates.
Our team here at Pico's Pack will guide you through the entire adoption process from your initial application and will be here to offer ongoing support. But ultimately the onus is on you to make the adoption work. Commitment, compassion and understanding are required. Below is some further information to assist you when considering adoption. Our adoption form can be filled in here.
1. How much can we tell you about the dog you want to adopt?
A number of the dogs in the sanctuary were rescued as abandoned puppies and only know rural life in the sanctuary; others have been rescued from the streets and have experience of traffic, people and urban life.
Sometimes we know a lot about a dog's history and sometimes very little is known. Our experienced rescuers will assess a dog's personality and describe this as accurately as possible. However there are no guarantees. But if you give your dog the time he/she needs to adjust and be sure to seek support if necessary things should go well. Dogs tend to blossom in a home environment and many move seamlessly into their new home.
Do consider carefully the implications of introducing a rescue into your home and be realistic. Also be aware that we only support force-free training methods i.e. a positive approach.
2. Will your potential rescue dog be health checked?
Yes, as far as is possible. Our vets are very experienced and thorough but again there are NO guarantees. Every dog will have had basic vaccinations (in Serbia this includes against distemper), the rabies vaccination, a titer test and worming and flea treatments, as well as a vet check up before travel. We can organise a test for leishmaniasis should you wish although this is not a common disease in Serbia.
All dogs will have been neutered prior to travel unless they are too young.
3. Will a rescue dog be clean in the house?
Yes - if you train it to! Some simply know from the outset what to do; others need to be shown. This is no different from any new puppy.
Several of the dogs will have lived in a home / garden environment and are housetrained; this will be noted on their profile. Otherwise assume that the dog has lived a mainly outdoor life and will need to be shown the ropes!
4. How much does it cost to bring a dog over and what has to be done?
All of our dogs are neutered prior to adoption except those who are too young. Each dog is chipped, receives the basic vaccinations and is given treatments against parasites. He/she receives the rabies vaccination and titer test. Three months after a successful titer test the dog is able to travel to the UK and will receive a passport.
The cost of adoption can vary between £695-£795 to help cover the costs of travel, certificates and vaccinations. This should be paid at the time transport is booked and is non-refundable. The cost is split as follows:
Neutering, vaccinations and parasite treatments (de-fleaing) - £50
Preparation for entry to UK which includes passport, rabies vaccination, chip, titre test and tapeworm treatment - £100
Transport from Sanctuary in Serbia to Adopter home in UK - between £500 and £600 depending on location
Serbian paperwork - £45
Our current transport provider is a UK carrier providing a bespoke, door to door service from Serbia to the UK, only transporting 5 dogs on any one journey which is a less traumatic way to travel and ensures a premium level of care.
5. Can I adopt from you if I have young children?
In general we don't adopt to families with children under the age of six/seven but this is not a blanket ban and every application is assessed on its own merits - and of course every dog is different. Exceptions can be made.
We don’t recommend adopting if you have a very young child as juggling a new dog’s needs with a baby is very hard work.
6. Can I adopt a dog from you if I live in a flat?
Again, every application is assessed individually and some of our adult dogs may adapt to life in a flat as long as they have regular exercise and access to some green space.
We would suggest that a puppy is only rehomed to a flat if there is direct access to a garden. Puppies have small bladders that need to be emptied frequently and in order for them to be clean in the house they need easy and quick access to a garden; this isn't practical if there are several flights of stairs to negotiate.
7. Can I adopt a dog if I work part time or full time?
Most of us have to work, that is how life is. However, we can’t let one of our adult dogs go to a new home and be left for long periods at a time. At a push, an adult dog can be left for up to four hours once he/she has been well settled.
Some of our dogs go to doggy day care when their adopters are at work; some have dog walkers. But most go to homes where someone is around for the greater part of the day. For a puppy, we will rehome only to a household where the puppy is not left alone for more than any two-hour period in a day.
8. How can I know if my adopted dog will get on with my cat?
In some cases we do know if a dog gets on well with cats and this will be noted on his/her profile. But the introductions are very much up to you - and your cat! Is your cat dog savvy? Do you feel you could manage staged introductions and deal with any negative behaviour from either the cat or dog?
We cannot guarantee that your adopted dog will fall instantly in love with your cat (or vice versa) and it can take time and dedication to make it work.
9. What should I expect from my rescue dog when he/she initially comes?
There's not any one answer to this and whilst some settle in remarkably quickly others take some time to readjust after leaving the security of his/her pen and fellow canine companions, and of course to decompress after the journey.
In the first few days the dog should have some quiet time in a quiet space. For many of the dogs this will be their first time in a house and with all the strange noises, gadgets and unknown faces.
Many will not be used to walking on the lead and whilst some take to it immediately, for others it takes a bit of time. We recommend walking with a harness and initially it is useful to have a slip lead.
Many younger dogs seem to experience a real puppy phase. This is where patience, stimulation and consistency are required. A dog is an addition to the family. Give him/her time, set boundaries, take our advice; give your heart and you'll be rewarded many fold. We provide an Adopter’s Guide with tips and advice. One to one support is also available.
10. Will I need to change anything in my house?
A home check will be carried out before the adoption is approved. This will check that you have a secure garden with fences intact. This is essential. Rescue dogs can take time to understand territorial boundaries.
Walking with a harness is the most secure way of exercising as a properly fitting harness cannot be slipped.
In addition we also recommend a slip lead at the beginning. Some people use a child gate in the house to confine a dog to one area. This can help initially but it's good for a rescue dog to have a quiet place where he/she can retreat and feel safe.
Our adoption guide and adoption contract will be sent to you prior to the dog's arrival. You will be supported by our team following the dog’s arrival to help everything go smoothly and of course we will always be available for support and advice.
11. Socialisation and Your Adopted Dog - What to expect.
It is important that all dog owners commit to helping their canine friend become a good canine citizen. We would suggest that you find a good training class in your area - or a socialisation class. Joining a class is a great way to get you and your dog off to a good start and to cement the bonds between you.
The idea of what is acceptable behaviour in a dog can vary from one person to another. However, we need to have a broad definition of how a socialised dog behaves.
We all want our dogs to be comfortable in most domestic situations such as when the TV or washing machine is on or you are vacuuming. We want visitors to be able to come into our home and for our dog to be comfortable with that, neither throwing himself at them in wild greeting nor snapping and growling at them in fear.
We also want our dogs to be at ease when walking through the park, to enjoy outdoor walks and to be confident meeting other dogs.
Having a dog who is comfortable with his/her home environment and regards it as a safe place, and is a fun companion whilst out is very achievable for the dogs we offer for adoption. For some shelter dogs this may take some time and a little patience but for most if measured exposure takes place at a comfortable pace for the dog and each 'session' ends successfully, then the world will become you and your adopted dog’s oyster.
Available dogs who are ready for adoption are on our Meet the Pack page.