In general, shelters require potential adopters to visit the facility and meet the dog in person. The potential adopter then fills out an adoption application and is interviewed by the shelter staff. If it is a good match, the adoption contract is signed and any required fees are paid.
The order of the steps may vary. Some shelters require adopters to fill out the application first before they are allowed to visit any dogs, while others do the visit first. Some private rescues, especially those that use foster homes rather than a single shelter, may bring potential candidates to the adopter's home for the first meeting or require a trial period before finalizing the adoption. Some rescues also require a home visit by one of their staff to make sure the home meets their standards. Most shelters require that all members of the household, including other dogs, to meet the dog before it is adopted.
Once the right dog is found, the adoption counselor helps the owners fill out final paperwork and reviews any necessary medical or behavioral information about the dog. The adopter may have to leave the dog at the shelter for a few days if any medical care is still necessary. However, in most cases, the adopter can take the dog home immediately.