Off-site adoptions are a popular thing that many humane organizations do all over our country. These are typically one-day events in partnership with local businesses, church groups, or other organizations in an effort to spark adoptions.

Why are off-site adoptions done? Some organizations don’t operate an adoption shelter, so these adoption events are the best way to feature their adoptable animals. Other groups who operate in smaller communities use these events to showcase their animals in areas with more potential adopters to see them.

Agencies like the SPCA Albrecht Center utilize these off-site adoptions for a variety of reasons. We hear from some potential adopters that they just can’t visit shelters, because the experience of seeing so many animals needing a home is too much for them to face. Additionally, some animals are a little shy at the shelter and have a hard time standing out when people come to the adoption center to look.

We have most of our off site adoptions at places like PetSmart, Tractor Supply, or Boots, Bridles, and Britches, where an adopter can buy food, collars, bowls, and everything else they need for their new pet right on site. The convenience is important to many new adopters.

While these off-site adoption centers are important, there are some potential negative things to watch out for too. First, as a society, many of us are impulse shoppers. That is fine when you might buy a pair of shoes you don’t really need, but not when you are out shopping and bring home a puppy you weren’t planning on adopting.

Another challenge for off site adoptions is that they make it harder to research all of the things needed in an adoption review. Are your other pets up to date on their shots? Do you have permission from your landlord to adopt? Will your other pets get along with this new addition? These items are more difficult to figure out over the weekend, away from the shelter.

What steps should you take if you have your heart set on adoption, but don’t want to visit a shelter?

Do your homework ahead of time. Know what kind of pet you are looking for that will fit with your family, other pets, and your lifestyle ahead of time. Do you want a couch potato or something to jog with? Do you work really long hours? If so, that 8-week-old puppy might not fit your lifestyle.

Research the adoption rules, fees, procedures, etc. of groups who adopt animals. Each organization’s procedures, fees and rules are different. Call or email them ahead of time, if you are not sure of what to expect or what is needed from you.

If you have other pets, make sure that they are up to date on their shots. Bring proof of rabies vaccinations with you to show to the humane organization you wish to adopt from.

If you are a renter, bring a note from your landlord stating that you are able to take in another pet.

Be honest. If the agency requires a fence; don’t tell them you do and hope they don’t check. It happens more than you can imagine. We will check. Don’t give your mom’s address who has a fence, when you actually live three miles away in a house without a fence. Yes, people have tried that trick, too. Don’t tell the group that your landlord says you can adopt that 80-pound dog if that isn’t true. Honesty in the application process is extremely important for a potential adopter, as well as for the humane group, in telling you about the animal you are trying to adopt. If you want to adopt a dog, bring your dog and your family with you to make sure everyone is going to get along.

Remember, adopting a pet is a decision that means a 10 to 15 year commitment in many cases. Do your homework ahead of time, be honest with the organization you are working with and fight the urge to make an impulsive decision. In the long run, you’ll find a pet that is the perfect fit for you and your family.

Gary Willoughby is the president and CEO for the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare.