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Home checks!

How they work- how to prepare for one!


Before you can adopt a Balkan Underdogs cat or dog, a home check must take place to ensure the pet you have chosen is suited to your household and your circumstances. We dedicate a lot of time to ensuring that cats and dogs are placed in the right environment to ensure successful and happy adoptions.

How the home checker prepares for your home check

The home-checker will receive your application, and before we make any contact, we do the following:

  • View your applicate and relate them to the needs of the cat or dog you wish to adopt- this includes whether you have young children, dogs or cats, and your previous experience in owning a pet

  • Check your area on Google maps for "bolting hazards" such as rivers, railways and busy roads

  • For cats: we also check how busy the area is in general with schools, shops etc, in regards to roads.

We take notes on any of the points to discuss, particularly in regard to the pet you wish to adopt.

The home checker will then contact you to introduce themselves, explain how the home check works and ask what format you prefer (Facebook video message, Facetime, and Whatsapp video are some options). A home check normally takes around an hour. Please ensure that you are familiar with the app you wish to use and it is updated and working before the home check.

Your home checker will often ask for a video walk-through of your property to allow them to take notes.


Why do we do this?

We check for things like doors, porches, windows, chimneys (for cats) and other hazards to discuss. Frightened cats or dogs can bolt anywhere when they are scared, and usually away from the area they are fearful of (i.e., a new home) thinking that it may be safer. This is why hazards must be acknowledged and discussed.


How can you prepare for the home check and what will happen?

Try to be as flexible as possible. Your home checker is one of our BU volunteers and often has a full-time job. If you can be flexible and sacrifice some of your evening or weekend time for a home check, it also lets us know you are keen to get the ball rolling!

Once a date is arranged, try to have as many members of the household present. Human and animal! We like to see how everyone interacts with the animals, and how the animals interact with each other. We pick up a lot from this. We will also ask to see where animals sleep and eat and will ask to see the garden area in detail if there is one, including the garden boundaries.

Don’t worry about your home being spic and span, but do remember that there may be certain hazards that the home checker may pick up on. For instance, in households with children, small toys like lego etc may be tempting for a dog to chew and swallow.


We will ask to see where the cat or dog will be kept on arrival and if it is safe for a flight-risk animal. Have a notepad and pen handy as there will be a lot of useful information given to you by the home checker. It is tempting to think 'Oh I know what I'm doing and I'll do it my way' but please listen to the advice given to you by your home checker. We sadly see failed adoptions because adopters choose to do things differently. Our methods are evidence-based and they will give you the best chance of a happy and settled addition to the household. Sometimes circumstances do change though and things don't work out. That's where rescue backup comes in and this will also be discussed at the home check.

What we discuss at home check:

  • The travel process

  • How a cat and dog decompresses on arrival

  • Safe leads and harnesses (especially when the animal arrives)

  • Introductions to humans and other animals

  • Stimulation and phased exercise for dogs

  • Litter tray options and litter for cats

  • Food/Diet/potential for runny stress poo!

  • Vet registration

  • Insurance

  • Rescue back-up


Be ready to ask plenty of questions about your new dog or cat. Often the home checkers will know a bit about the animal, its rescue circumstances, its personality and its needs.

Last but not least, YouTube is a great source of information when adopting a new animal and we do have some videos on our channel. Our video library is also a great place to find extra advice. We strongly recommend that you take a quick look at Nick Benger's advice on adopting a foreign rescue.


If you are a dog owner and you're interested in adopting a cat into your home, you can get advice from our Trustee Tracy Gillingwater, who is our cat rescue expert here. Do check out the rest of our blog for more informative posts.


Good luck and thank you for considering opening your heart to one of our beautiful cats and dogs. There are also many guides on introductions available from Cats Protection, RSPCA, Dogs Trust, Vet practices etc. You will be given a concise Guide for New Adopters pdf which should be read through. There are versions specific to both dogs and cats. This will give you a wealth of advice and is a great source of information. As a dedicated cat home checker, I remain open to adopters asking for advice whenever they need it. Always feel free to ask any of us anything. Between us, we have a world of experience!



Sharon Muir is one of our Balkan Underdog Admin team members. She's a nurse, and mum of three BU cats




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