Adoption FAQ

Do Your Research...Be Sure A GSD is Right for You BEFORE Applying for Adoption!

Read the MAGSR Statement in response to a 10/5/23 CNN Article

To help understand the 'pack' mentality which will make your dog a better family member, and you a better dog owner, it is strongly suggested that you read,  Nancy Baer and Steve Duno's, "LEADER OF THE PACK"

Frequently Asked Questions about our adoption policies
You MUST read this before submitting your application!

What exactly do you consider the mid-Atlantic area?

  • MD: most of Maryland; if you live east of the Chesapeake Bay or west of Frederick, email us first before sending in your application.
  • DE, PA, VA: If you live in DE, PA, or VA, please email us first before sending in your application and provide your county and zipcode.

If we do not have a volunteer within a reasonable driving distance to you in these areas, we'll let you know that we are unable to process your application.  So if you aren't sure if you're in our area, please send us an e-mail at email us here before submitting an application.

Top Ten Reasons your application may be declined
If you answer 'yes' to any of these statements your application may be declined.  
(If you answer 'no', but we find out the answer was 'yes', you will be declined.  We do check all references and Vetting information)  

  1. Your MAGSR dog is going to be used for guarding purposes or as a working dog  to watch over your farm, orchards, livestock or as a hunting dog  (or any purpose other than a family pet).
  2. Your current or previous pet(s) is/was not seen yearly by a veterinarian.
  3. Your current or previous pet(s) is/was not up to date on vaccinations unless there is a medical reason or your pet has titer tests that can be confirmed by your vet.
  4. Your current or previous pet(s) is/was not on  Heartworm preventatives unless there is a medical reason that can be confirmed by your vet. 
  5. Your current or previous pet(s)  is/was not on flea/tick preventatives.  
  6. Your dog will stay in the garage, utility room, shed or any type of outbuilding.  (Your dog must live with the family in the same rooms where the family enjoys their time together!)
  7. Your dog will have unattended (you will not be in the yard with the dog) unlimited access to the outside with a tie out, trolley line, outdoor kennel, shaded deck, dog house, fenced in secure yard, dog door, etc. 
  8. You feel you can do your own training and will not take your dog to a certified trainer.
  9. You have unaltered dog(s) in your home, unless there is a medical reason for this that can be confirmed by your vet. (This policy has been modified and this addendum is required prior to meeting any MAGSR dogs) The Application Team will review this situation on a case by case basis.
  10. Your dog will stay in a crate for 9 or more hours without being let out for potty breaks.

What is your adoption fee?

  • Our non-refundable adoption fee is $350.  (Cash or credit card only)
    Beginning January 1, 2018, the MAGSR adoption fee will be $350 for all dogs adopted under 7 years of age.  The adoption fee for senior dogs, 7 years and older, will not change at this time and will remain at $200. This fee replaces a portion of the funds that we have already spent on the dog you adopt.  MAGSR dogs are vaccinated and spayed/neutered (unless they are too young or adopted prior to the surgery).  We pay for a fecal exam, a heartworm test (and treatment, if applicable),  and we keep them on monthly heartworm preventative and flea/tick preventative, while in our care.  We also pay for their boarding and supplies while they are with us.  The adoption fee helps defray some of our expenses, so that we can save more dogs.

I live in Tennessee (or Colorado, Maine, etc) and can't find a good German Shepherd in my area - can I adopt from you?

  • We sure wish we had the volunteer base and resources to drastically expand our adoption area, but we just don't.  Part of our approval process is a home visit, so we need to have a volunteer within a reasonable distance from you (or one who has visited you) in order to complete that part of the process.  There are plenty of wonderful, homeless dogs in rescues and humane societies across the country looking for loving homes though, so you shouldn't have to travel too far to adopt one. 

    If you are outside our adoption area, please visit our GSD Rescues USA page for rescues across the country.  You can also visit PetFinder or 1-800-Save-A-Pet and find German Shepherds in your area who are living in your local shelters and humane societies.

How do I know if you got my application?

  • You should hear from us within 48 hours once we receive your application. If you have not heard from us by then please email us here to inquire about the status of your application.

What happens once I submit my application?

  • Once we receive your application, we will review it, perform the reference checks and conduct a home visit.  For the home visit, all members of the family and anyone living in your home must be present.  Please explain to your references that we will need to speak with them before moving forward in the process, and to return our calls as soon as possible.

What if I am NOT approved for fostering and/or adopting?

  • MAGSR reserves the right to decline or not accept any application, based on the information we receive or are given during the approval process, and up to signing the adoption contract, with no explanation to the applicant. Information received during the approval process is considered confidential. The right to decline an adoption is at the sole discretion of MAGSR and/or MAGSR's representatives.  MAGSR is here to serve the best interests of our dogs and our approval process is set up to do just that. If your application is denied you may appeal to the Board of Director's of MAGSR at The Board will review your application but reserves the right to uphold the declination without providing specific detail.

Will you share my home visit report with another rescue if I ask you to?

  • To further MAGSR's mission in rehabilitating and providing a second chance to German shepherds and shepherd mixes, we will gladly share a home visit report with other rescues having a main contact mailing address outside of Maryland as confirmed on the requesting rescues website and then the request will be considered on an individual basis at MAGSR's discretion. Prior to sending the report we must receive from the applicant written permission to share their home visit report with the rescue requesting. They can send their permission via email or USPS. Sending by USPS will delay the request. Home visit reports are considered confidential and will not be shared with the applicant. Reference call reports including vetting calls will not be shared with other rescues or applicants.

I just want a dog....why the rigorous approval process?

  • When we accept a dog into our rescue, we make a commitment to him or her, to care for them, get them healthy again and find them a wonderful, loving home.  We want to make sure that our applicants understand the lifetime commitment they are making and that they can provide our dogs a great new life.

How long will I have to wait to for my application to be processed?

  • The average time it takes to process an application is about 2 weeks.  It may take longer if your application is missing information or if we can't get in touch with your references.  Please make sure you've answered all the questions on the application prior to submitting it. MAGSR processes applications as quickly as possible, but due to our all volunteer staff, the processing time can take up to 3 weeks or more.

My application was approved - can you just bring the dog to my house?

  • Sorry, but we can't deliver the dogs to adopters.  Once you're approved, we'll need you and your whole family (resident dogs included) to come and meet some dogs.  We'll set up an appointment for you to come to the kennel or to meet dog in foster care.  Please remember that you also don't have to adopt the first dog you meet.  It's a good idea for you and your family to meet a couple of our great dogs and really let him or her choose you.

Where is your facility?  What are your hours?  Maybe I'll drop by.

  • We don't have our own kennel - it is a private one so you can't just stop by.  We only set up appointments to meet any of our dogs once you're approved.  So please hold on to the e-mail address you were given for the contact person handling adoptions.

I HAVE to adopt that new dog you just posted!  He's gorgeous!  Where is he fostered so I can go meet him?

  • Sorry....we only set up appointments to meet the dogs once you have been approved.  We do not hold dogs for applicants.  If you are interested in one particular dog, he or she may already be adopted by the time your application is approved.  It's best to keep an open mind and meet several dogs.  Many times the dog picks you.....not vice versa.  It's also a reason to get approved with MAGSR even if you don't yet think we have your ideal dog up for adoption...we may have him and just not have him/her posted yet.  We get dogs in every single week!

Can you please hold "that" dog until I am approved or until I make up my mind?

  • Our goal is to place each dog in a home where the dog and new family will complement each other.
  • Dogs are placed with the home that best meets the dog's needs, NOT on a "first come, first served" basis.  While we do our best to ensure a fair chance at your dog of choice, ultimately, we are looking out for the best interests of our dogs which necessitates that we do not hold dogs for any reason.  This has cost dogs their chance at a home in the past therefore we will no longer do it.  We promise however, to help you find the best dog for your home!

I've been approved and I have an appointment set up to meet some dogs, what should I bring?

  •  Your whole family and any other persons that reside in your home (dogs included).  Please also remember to bring a leash and collar (most full-grown GSDs fit in the 16-22"  size).  Puppies, of course, will need a smaller collar.  You should also bring an old blanket to put on your seats for the ride home in case your new dog gets car-sick.

Why does MAGSR require training as part of the adoption contract?

  • We cannot stress enough how important training is with your new dog - any dog, but especially rescue dogs and especially working dogs like GSDs! Not only does it teach your dog life saving commands and important good manners, but it also allows your dog to better bond with you. Dogs who develop strong obedience with their owners, not just at home - but in outside situations (thus our insistence that you go to third-party training), develop a greater level of trust with their owners. Dogs who trust their owners to take care of them don't feel the need to take the leadership role on themselves. Dogs who don't feel the need to be in charge are far less likely to become aggressive or fearful. They have far fewer behavior problems in general. Rescue dogs long for stability and comfort; they need families who can give them that unconditionally. This sometimes means setting strict limits for your new dog. This should not be taken as punishment for adopting a rescue dog; it should be seen as the beginning of what will be the strongest bond you've ever had with a dog. Dogs who are the most obedient are also the happiest dogs as well. That is NO coincidence. GSDs in particular, maybe more than most other breeds, thrive on desire to please and need to learn a job. Obedience fulfills both of these needs for the GSD!
  • Training with your new dog will greatly increase the bonding process, builds confidence, and it is always best to be working with a qualified trainer when adopting from a shelter or rescue. Re-homed dogs go through many changes and adjustments, while you may feel you do not need a professional trainer to work with you in helping our dog to adjust it has been our experience that having a trainer on hand to assist with any problems that may arise, and guiding you through the adjustment period, will help ensure that our dog, your new family member, will become and remain a welcome part of the family.
  • Also many people want to handle training on their own in their homes, or have a trainer come to them. Training in this manner will not teach your dog to ignore the many distraction that come with being out and about, nor will it continue the socialization behaviors your new dog was learning while in our care. Learning to ignore distractions, and being kept social is a big part of having a safe and well adjusted dog.
  • PLEASE - take the obedience classes seriously and go to a reputable trainer - not just a cheap class that fulfills the contractual agreement with MAGSR. It's in the best interest of your family and your dog. Training is time consuming, can be expensive, and certainly takes dedication, but the payoff is well worth it...and your dog will love you all the more for it!

Please scroll down and fill out the application fields below or you can use the link below - however, it does take more time to process mailed in applications.

If you would prefer to mail in your application, please just print the Online Application page (link at bottom of page) , fill out the fields as required and then mail back to us at: MAGSR P.O. Box 353, Mt. Airy, MD 21771.  Please keep in mind that doing it this way will severely lengthen the amount of time needed to process your application.  It is MUCH faster and easier to apply online.

What can cause a delay in your application process?

  • Contact email address is not included on your application
  • References do not return our calls
  • Too many family members used as personal references – we can only accept one family member as a personal reference and they do NOT live with you.
  • One of your personal references is your veterinarian or co-adopter.  We cannot use your veterinarian or co-adopter as a personal reference
  • Wrong phone numbers given on application
  • You did not list your last two vets
  • Incomplete application- missing information
  • Missing Landlord consent

MAGSR dogs will be shown by appointments only to APPROVED applicants.   Please review carefully the areas we can cover before sending in your application.

After you have completely read and understood all of the above information, please
click here for the online adoption application Adoption Application