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Updated: Jan 8, 2021

A unique aspect of adopting an animal though ALIVE is our home visit process. We work tirelessly to make sure our animals are placed with the right forever family and require an in-home visit with all potential adopters before they can make it official.

Learn more about home visits through the eyes of one of our home visit coordinators, Jessica …

"I began volunteering for ALIVE in January 2016. Una was my first walk at the Little Barn (shout out to Una!) and Hallie’s babies were my first litter of poopy puppies. Locke (now Jagger)’s owner works at the veterinary clinic I bring my dog to, so I still get updates on how he’s doing!

I became a home visit coordinator after seeing a call out on the volunteer Facebook page. I’ve got a car and had heard that the home visit stage of the application process can be challenging but is often the most fun—you get to meet the (potential) forever families and see the animals in their (potential) forever homes!—so I decided to start the training.

It is so rewarding to watch applicants interact, many for the very first time, with their potential pets. Oftentimes at this stage, the applicants have ticked off every box and the matchmaking is almost complete, so all that’s left is to watch families fall in love. The applicants are usually waiting at the window for us to arrive and it’s beyond heart-warming to see the animals meet their new fur (and human) siblings, sniff around their potential yard or show off their training skills for their potential adopters.

I’ve had the pleasure of doing many fun home visits (Buttercup! Getty! SAMMICH!) but my favorite home visit, hands down, was with mama Lacey. Lacey came to ALIVE through our partnership with SARA Sanctuary and arrived in Chicago with eight female puppies in tow. Girlfriend needed a break from all that crazy and I was able to foster her for a few weeks while she decompressed and got some much-needed solo snuggle time.

As luck would have it, an applicant who lives one street over from me got to the home visit stage, so all I had to do was leash her up, walk her down the block and introduce her to her potential family. The applicants had a stuffed toy all ready to go as a gift for her (which she graciously exploded within 60 seconds of receiving it, sending its insides all over their living room) and I knew she’d found the right place.

We were sad to see her go (I may have cried bringing her to the Little Barn on adoption night) but it doesn’t hurt to know she’s a stone’s throw away in a safe, loving home that I helped green light!

It’s rare that you’re able to do one final “gut check” on a situation before making it official, and I’ve learned that this step in the process is incredibly valuable for everyone in involved, maybe mostly so for potential adopters. They get to have a risk-free visit with the animal they’re interested in AND a representative from ALIVE who can walk them through the process and answer any final questions they have. It’s a really nice way for everyone to make sure they’re ready to move forward and make the years-long commitment to a certain animal.

From the volunteer end, being a home visit coordinator is by far one of the most fun jobs at ALIVE. You get to transport animals all over the Chicagoland area, check out some fabulous homes and feel a truly unique connection with potential adopters. I can’t even say how many times I’ve gotten teary seeing an alumn whose home visit I was able to do post an update on the alumn Facebook page – it never gets old knowing that you had a hand in making that connection happen."


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