Frequently Asked Questions

When interested in pursuing adoption, the best place to start is on our Adoptable Dogs page.  Here you have the option of choosing a specific dog to apply for, or choosing to get pre-approved for a dog in the future.  Applying requires an Animals First account and from there you can submit an Adoption Application.  Once we receive that application, a volunteer will contact you to complete a home visit.  You will use this Animals First account to view your application status and to complete adoption when it comes time to do so, so hang onto that login information! Want to log back in and check the status of your application or request more dogs?  Log into your AnimalsFirst account here!

Once you’ve applied through our system a volunteer will be reaching out with any questions or information needed to complete your application. Our team aims to move forward pending any major questions on abstract situations within 24 hours, so be ready to meet dogs very soon! 

You can apply for up to 9 dogs on the site at one time by clicking “apply for” any dog you’re interested in. If our foster or shelter volunteers think you might be a fit for that particular dog, they will contact you to arrange a meet. It’s not a requirement, but plan to bring anyone you wish to include in the adoption decision to your appointment for a meet and greet, including your dog(s) if you have any. Our dogs are generally ready to go home the same day you meet them. Sometimes there are some extra things that need done before a dog can go home, but in most cases the time from application to adoption can be as little as 24-48 hours! When you seriously begin looking for your new dog it can be a pretty quick process, so plan accordingly!

Dogs are located at either of our shelters in Windsor and Wellington or in foster homes located generally in Northern Colorado, but also as far as Denver and Cheyenne. We do not disclose addresses on our website as they are not “pop in” facilities and require an appointment. Our facilities are not staffed during business hours as they are volunteer run to facilitate meets. If you apply for a dog at either facility our scheduling team will send you an address and set up an appointment time for a meet.  If you apply for a dog that is in a foster home the scheduling and adoption will be facilitated by that volunteer. They may ask that you come to their home, meet at your home or meet at a park or some neutral location. You can discuss and come up with the best plan for all when they reach out! 

Please arrive on time to your appointment, we often have multiple people scheduled rather closely as our volunteers only have a designated window of time available each day for meets, so it’s imperative that you be on time so you can have ample time for your meet. Generally, dogs are ready to go home at the time of your meet, so plan accordingly – you may be taking a dog home the same day. We will give you records (which are also available online on your animals first adoption portal), a take home leash similar to the slip leashes you’re given at a vets office, a little food to transition over to whatever you’re choosing to feed your new pup and any other little things your dog may have (meds, special toys they like etc.) If you cannot take your dog home the same day you adopt, you may discuss options with the volunteer you’re meeting with to arrange a later date – we want to ensure a successful introduction to your new home so we do understand bringing a dog home the same day you adopt isn’t always ideal. You can discuss other options at time of adoption, but we do hope our pups will get to go home with you asap as they’re more than ready to begin living their new life with a family full of love!

We hope so! Some dogs have special needs that might make them a wonderful fit for one family and not such a good placement for another. Our volunteers and fosters know these dogs best so we count on them to make the best choice for a happy adoption for both the dogs and for our adopters. When you’re contacted to schedule a meet with a potential match its best to schedule asap when contacted. Some of our dogs move very quickly to their new home, so if you want that to be you, its best to be ready to adopt and set up at home for a new dog when you begin seriously looking and be prompt when scheduling your meet!  That way, if it is a good fit, you have the best opportunity to ensure you’re possibility for adopting the dog you’re hoping for! 

The core expenses covered through adoption fees are approximately:
  • Spay and neuter ($120-300)
  • Age appropriate core vaccinations and boosters up to date of adoption – (bordetella, distemper/parvovirus, rabies) ($25 each vaccination for a total of approximately $75)
  • Full spectrum parasitic illness test and treatment for tick borne illnesses including ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, Lyme’s disease and mosquito borne heartworm ($45-60 per test and $60-500 for treatment)
  • Preventatives such as dewormer, flea and tick prevention and heartworm prevention ($25-80 per month of stay)
  • Microchip implantation ($35)
  • Transportation to Colorado ($50-100 per dog)
  • Food, toys, bedding and basics during an average stay in our care ($20-60 per month of stay depending on size)

Totaling over $400 for the least expensive fully vetted dog and over $1200 for the most expensive, if they are to stay only one month in our facility.

We also provide many other vetting needs on many dogs. This could include life saving surgeries and quality of life surgeries and procedures. Please note that when you adopt you are taking on the responsibility of pet ownership understanding we don’t have a perfect assessment of each and every dog. You are rescuing a pet that we may or may not know a history of, and you are adopting them “as is”. We can help in any way we can if something was to arise soon after adoption, but we do run solely on adoption fees and small donations, so we simply cannot afford to take on financial responsibility for every dog post adoption. Consider us part of your team after adoption but please realize this dog is your financial responsibility after adoption. You are welcome to contact us in the event of a medical need soon after adoption PRIOR to you taking them to the vet and we may be able to help lower your cost or give treatment advice by creating a plan together to move forward. Communication is important prior to treatment – we cannot help make a plan after the fact, but we can help to be proactive if you contact us and let us know what’s going on.

We price dogs according to “adoptability” so, highly adoptable dogs such as full bred, hypoallergenic, and younger dogs have a higher fee to help offset the cost of the less adoptable dogs, such as medically needy, senior, etc. Some dogs we take in cost thousands of dollars to save and will only bring in an adoption fee of $150 for example. When you adopt a young, hypoallergenic, full bred poodle for example you are helping offset the cost of a senior mastiff with tumor removals and entropion, or a lab with an acl repair, or a bulldog needing a palate surgery to breathe appropriately. Adoption fees help not only the dog you adopt, but they also help other dogs in need – when you adopt a dog you may also be a part of many dogs path to health, not just the one you adopt! 

We take in some owner surrenders and shelter transfers locally within Colorado, but the majority of what we bring in comes from high kill, low spay and neutering areas out of state. Predominantly Oklahoma, Texas, California and sometimes New Mexico or Kansas as well. These states have significant overpopulation problems, lax restrictions on breeding and lacking animal care laws. There are not many strays here in Northern Colorado, there is a great need outside of our state. We feel we can make a difference by bringing in dogs in need from those highly canine populated areas and giving them a chance a better life here in Colorado. We see a lot of dogs being surrendered to us from breeders who are not able to sell all of their puppies and need a home for them, from the mothers or studs they no longer can use and are ready to retire. Some of our dogs  were well cared for and well socialized and some are fearful and have likely never even been inside a home. Patience is paramount to their success, regardless of where they came from. At Big Bones, we believe any dog deserves rescue and a good home no matter where they come from! 

The basics, like house manners and potty training should always be expected to need to be taught to any dog coming into a new home. Any dog needs to learn the lay of the land at your house and find out what boundaries you are going to set for them. This could include counter surfing, trash, chewing, pottying inside etc. The best way to ensure the least amount of mishap is to be prepared, home and patient for the first few days your dog is home. Be stringent on your routine, allow for lots of potty breaks and use the same language when going out for a break so they learn what that means. “let’s go outside, let’s go potty outside” and then repeat “go potty outside” when they begin to relieve themselves outdoors so they can begin to associate the two events with your words. Limiting the area in which your dog can roam helps, leave bedroom doors closed, and put up puppy gates in areas that are not common areas. If you can create a boundary to the area where your dog has access to the outdoors that’s great – if you have a dog door, even better! All of our shelter dogs and many foster dogs have access to dog doors so they likely know the drill. You can also look into bell training your dog to alert you to open the door for them if you don’t have a dog door. It’s quite simple and very effective.

Some of our dogs have never been on a leash prior to being in rescue, so we do not advise taking them out for walks. We would rather play it safe and encourage you to do leash walks and trust building in the back yard as patience is key, and trust is the most important thing you can develop with your new dog! We cannot emphasize enough the importance of being with your dog when they’re outside at first – even when the yard is fenced and seems safe. Dogs often find a weak spot in the fence and will run. Please don’t leave your new dog alone in the yard, and please practice leash walking with them in the back yard until they are confident to walk well on leash. If you are in an apartment, you will have to leash walk your dog right away. In this case, a martingale collar or a 3 point harness (google 3 point harness and look for one that has a loop around the neck, under the armpit and around the waist/stomach) these are the least likely for a dog to slip out of and very important to have if you have to leash walk a new dog. Another great tip is to buy an airtag or gps tile to attach to your dog’s collar. if they do get out, you can track them making retrieval so much easier, faster and safer!

Affection is something some of our dogs have not had in the past, or may be starved for at first when they get home. Small amounts of praise and pets with lots of patience and space to decompress will give your new dog the confidence that this place isn’t so bad, and that you’re okay. Let them have time to retreat to a kennel or dog bed and rest often. Everything they’re learning is new.

First of all, congratulations! When you adopt from Big Bones you are saving not one, but three lives! You’re opening a space in the shelter or foster home here in Colorado so we can open a space in boarding out of state, which also allows a space in a shelter. That’s the most amazing part of rescue that many people don’t know or see, so thank you!

When you adopt, you will be given “approval” to fill out a contract and make a payment on our adoption portal. Please take a minute to read through the contract. There is information in there you might have questions about later, and you can reference your contract later in your portal if you need to! Speaking of, your dogs’ medical records will also be in your portal within a few days of adoption once we complete the adoption on our end. Access to your portal never expires, so you should be able to find them online at any time!

We accept payment via debit/credit through our portal and we also can accept paypal, venmo, cash or check if the portal isn’t an option for you.

When you are adopting ask as many questions as you need and feel free to text the person you adopted from if you have questions after adoption. It is a lot of information and emotion when you’re adopting, so reach out if you forget something!

If you have further questions please visit the other pages of our website, check out your adoption information you’ve been emailed or given at time of adoption, look over your contract and contact us! 

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