Adoption process

The process

When we have heard of a dog that is a possible candidate for rehoming, our associates and friends in Italy liaise with the refuge (or occasionally directly with the owners) to confirm that they will allow the dog to be adopted overseas. If they are willing, we get an assessment of the dog’s situation, age, character and needs, the dog is tested for Mediterranean diseases such as Leishmaniasis and Ehrlichia, and we start to share the details via Facebook to look for a suitable home.


Once you have decided to offer a home to a dog, we will ask you to fill in an application form. We have lots of advice here if you’re thinking of adopting – please do read this before applying.

Each application is discussed by the committee together with the foster home or refuge. We are very much are guided by the opinions of the volunteers in Italy, as they know the dog best.

One of the reasons we formed this charity was that there were so many wonderful homes available, and sometimes a dog is lucky enough to have many lovely offers. For young purebred dogs without major issues we are often overwhelmed with applications.  Please do understand that if it turns out that another home is a better fit for this particular dog, it is not because we think your home is not a good one! Much of the process is about matchmaking. The dogs’ needs always come first, and we work with the refuge or foster home to give that dog the very best possible chance of a successful rehome. We often have a lot more potential adopters than dogs available, so we have to give disappointing news to many wonderful people. If another home is chosen this time, please don’t feel that it is any reflection on you or the home you are kind enough to offer.

We then move forward to home checking.

Home Check 

Home checking is a normal part of every re-homing process in every organisation. For SOFA, as we are rehoming from overseas, it has an additional importance as the volunteers in Italy are giving us a great deal of trust in letting us take the dogs out of the country. In Italy it is much more normal practice to re-home dogs only within visiting distance of the refuge, where the refuge continues to monitor them. The visit gives an independent confirmation that the information in the adoption form is accurate, that your home and the dog are well suited to each other, and gives you a chance to discuss issues related to the breed and rescuing.

A volunteer in your area will ring or email you to arrange a convenient time for a visit, which normally takes around an hour. Whether or not the application is confirmed is not decided by the home checker – they send their completed form to the committee who again discuss, together with the Italian volunteers, whether the home is a good fit for that particular dog.

Adoption confirmed

Once everything is confirmed, we then ask you to sign the adoption contract. Should the dog be too young to be sterilised, you will also have a sterilisation agreement to sign. (Need details of why? See our Q & A)

We arrange:

  • Disbursement to the refuge for vaccinations and passport preparation
  • Any other medical fees needed, for instance spaying or neutering.
  • Transport

Transport is normally via DEFRA registered dog transporter, though may be by volunteer, depending on availability.

Passports prepared and ready
Passports prepared and ready


If possible the dog is transported directly to the new home. Sometimes this is not possible and the dog may have to be collected at a drop-off point. There is advice on this page on arrival and orientation.

Adoption donation

The agreed adoption donation is transferred to us in the week after the dog arrives. This contributes towards the costs, and we fundraise the rest of the money needed.

Settling into their new life, and afterwards.

Advice on settling in is also on this page, and we generally keep in touch with you regularly over the first few weeks and as needed ongoing.


We also keep a list of potential fosters, both short and long term. If adopting a dog is difficult we consider placing it in foster in order for the dog to be more closely assessed and begin its rehabilitation. And though it is rare, sadly, an adoption may not work out well. In this case we place the dog into a suitable pre-checked foster while we search for a new permanent home. Please do contact us if you are interested in fostering.

Vera on arrival at the refuge was in a sad state, but her new home has transformed her!