Adoption Process


Where is ATRA?

ATRA operates in and accepts applications to adopt for the following states/province:

Arkansas     Colorado     Illinois     Indiana     Iowa    Kansas     Kentucky     Michigan     Minnesota     Missouri      Nebraska     Ohio     Wisconsin   Ontario   Canada

If you do not live in an ATRA state, click on National Contacts List to find a list of contacts outside of our area.

ATRA also assists National Airedale Rescue with Wyoming by taking applications for Wyoming and forwarding them to National.

What is the process to adopt?

The first step is read the Placement Contract below and review the Adoption Application to decide whether adopting an Airedale is right for you.  

If you decide to continue, complete and submit the Adoption Application.  The fastest way to is use  our on-line Adoption Application. If you prefer submitting a paper copy, contact the coordinator for your state or province.

Next, we conduct a telephone interview with you and check your vet and grooming or other references.  When that is complete, we schedule a home visit with an ATRA volunteer. 

The application, a telephone interview, reference checks and home visit are part of the approval process. When the steps are completed you will be notified of the status of your application.  If you are approved, it is time for you and the right dog find each other.  Once a match is made, you will be given a placement contract to sign and we  will start planning the transport to get the Airedale to you.  Then you will get to meet an Airedale who needs a loving home.

Continue reading for a more in-depth discussion of the adoption process.

Why consider adopting a rescue?

Wonderful Airedale Terriers are in need of rescue and a fresh start all over the country.  They sit in shelters, are advertised "free to a good home" and forage by the side of the road.  The reasons they were unwanted are myriad.   We can tell you from experience, it was NOT the dog's fault.  These dogs are waiting for a second chance with a wonderful family who will love them and understand them.

Why do I need a home visit?

ATRA wants to see where and how an Airedale will fit into your life.  Where will he sleep?  Where will she eat?  What kind a yard will she play in?  How will the members of your household, including humans and other pets, interact with the dog.  Home visits are a mandatory part of the process to help ensure a lasting placement.

How long does the process take?

Sometimes, an adoption can take place in days, from filing out the application, to the telephone interview and reference checks, to the home visit and finally to the placement of a dog.  More typically, adoptions take one or two weeks and longer to get through the approval process.  The adoption process may take a little longer.

Why the delay?

ATRA needs to take the time to get to know the dog AND you to help us find that “match made in heaven”.

This process may seem a bit lengthy but bear in mind we seek forever homes for our rescued dogs.  Our volunteers work carefully on behalf of each dog. ATRA has placed well over 2,000 Airedales since we started by using the same care with each placement. We are available to troubleshoot after the placement, and always take our dogs back into Rescue if the placement doesn't work out.  Hopefully, with care beforehand, few placements fail.

Can I get a puppy?

Although ATRA occasionally takes in dogs under 12 months old, we generally work with dogs that are around a year old and, more typically, with dogs who are between 2 and 4 years old.

It is ATRA’s policy not to recommend breeders.  We suggest that you visit the Airedale Terrier Club of America Web site at and follow the “Choosing a Breeder” link to find a list of approved and reputable breeders.

ATRA is steadfastly opposed to the proliferation of puppy mills and strongly urges you not to purchase a puppy from a mill or a pet store. 

My dogs sleep in the barn

If that is where your rescue Airedale would sleep, we would have to say that adopting a dog from us is not for you.  Airedales are people dogs.  They love their families, and they thrive on interaction with them.  ATRA requires adopting families to provide inside accommodations for their dogs, and will not adopt a dog to anyone who intends to tie them out or make them sleep outside.

Can I get a specific dog?

Perhaps.  We routinely receive several applications for specific dogs appearing on our Web site and there’s every chance that you are not the first to see the “perfect pooch.”  There may already be a waiting list.  But even if you are the first to ask about a specific Airedale, we reserve the right to ensure that this is the right dog for you.  We have been fostering this dog and finding out everything we can about him.  We know more about him than you do and we want to make sure that his next family is his forever one. We receive wonderful dogs all the time.  If the first dog you spot has already been spoken for, another one will come along and steal your heart when you’re not looking. 

Why should I consider a senior?

ATRA often takes in senior citizens.  These dogs have been loyal and loving pets that, for one reason or another, find themselves homeless at 8 or 9 years old or even more.  These senior citizens are usually wonderful dogs, grateful to those who give them the love and affection.  They are usually less active for those adopters with a quieter life style.

I have several other pets

If you have a number of other dogs, cats or other pets, it may affect your ability to adopt.  All dogs need human interaction, and Airedales need it more than most.  They thrive on the love and attention they get from their families, and they are adversely affected when they are deprived of such attention.  ATRA strives to place its dogs in situations where they will be assured of ongoing tender loving care, and where they will not have to compete for human affection.  If you already have a number of dogs, you may not be in the best position to provide a home to a rescue Airedale. 

Do I have to have a fence?

That depends on your particular circumstances, and on the characteristics of each dog.  Some rescue groups believe that a fenced yard is mandatory for keeping an Airedale safe.  A fenced yard is a huge convenience when owning a dog but is no guarantee of safety.  In the history of ATRA at least six Airedales have been hit by cars after gates have been left open or the dogs have climbed over or dug under the fence.  Airedales left too long alone in a fenced yard quickly become bored and get into trouble.  They also frequently become problem barkers and an annoyance to your neighbors.  A fence becomes more important when there are children in the home who will forget to keep doors closed allowing an Airedale to escape.

We are often asked if electronic fencing works for Airedales.  Our answer is yes and no.  Some adoptive homes have had success with it.  We know that to work, the equipment, including the collar batteries, must be kept in proper working order or it is useless.  The dog must be properly trained on the boundaries.  Keep in mind that the dog receives a shock for crossing the boundary coming home as well as leaving so once he leaves he may be hesitant to come back!  Also it doesn't keep other dogs from coming into your yard and enticing your dog to run loose.  Whether electronic fencing works for your Airedale depends on your dog’s temperament.  For some dogs a shock is no big deal if the stimulus (rabbit, cat) is great enough!

In summary – the most important point to remember about a fenced yard and electronic fences is that you should not use them to leave your dog out unattended for any length of time.
In our opinion, boundary training cannot be done with a rescue Airedale.  ATRA's adoption agreement does not provide for it.  We have re-homed more than 2,000 Airedales, and during that time we have seen too many of our dogs hit by cars when folks insisted they had just taken the dogs off leash for a short run and thought it was safe.  We just don't engage in the debate of boundary training with a rescue Airedale.

Some adult applicants live in neighborhoods where a fence is not possible.  Many of these folks have successfully owned Airedales before and kept them safe.  These are some of the best adoptive homes possible as they spend lots of time walking their dogs several times daily!  We understand their situation as long as they have a history of safe dog ownership and intend to keep their dog on leash.

Is there a fee to adopt?

ATRA does not have a set fee to adopt one of our rescue Airedales.  We ask adopters for a donation at the time they sign the Placement Contract.  The average cost to “rescue” an Airedale was over $1200 in 2022.  This includes the initial veterinary visit with vaccination, heartworm test, spay, neutering, and treatment for any medical condition.  In addition many dogs require boarding while we search for a foster home or the right adoptive home and some require “boot camp” for behavioral issues.  Every dog goes to his new home with a new collar, leash, and ID tag.  Because of this we suggest that you consider an adoption donation of $450 to $800.  ATRA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. 

Can I adopt from another region?

If you live in a state that ATRA does not cover, we can accept your application but will forward it to the rescue volunteer/organization for your state.  We need to work with your rescue volunteer/organization to process your application and coordinate a possible adoption.  If you live in an ATRA state and want to adopt a dog outside our region, remember it is ATRA’s first choice is to place our Airedales within our regional area so we can provide adequate follow up.  On occasion, one region may have more Airedales in their program than they can place, or a region may have a special-needs Airedale that requires a unique home.  In such cases, we will work with other groups. 

Adoption Application


Click on the "Adoption Pamphlet" below to get a pdf file of the discussion above on questions about the adoption process in a tri-fold format.

If you are interested in adopting and do not live in one of these states, we can accept your application but will forward it to the rescue volunteer/organization for your state.  We need to work with your rescue volunteer/organization to process your application and coordinate a possible adoption.  Please go to to contact a local rescue volunteer directly.