How to adopt

Who we are

  • GRR is an all-volunteer, 501(c)3 non-profit organization, active in Central Texas
  • Founded in 1998
  • Our Mission is to:
    • Shelter, rehabilitate and place dogs in loving forever homes
    • Educate the public about responsible dog ownership, particularly with Golden Retrievers
  • We exist because of GRR’s generous donors, supporters and volunteers

Area we serve

  • We only place dogs in homes to people living in Austin/San Antonio and the surrounding Central Texas areas

If you live outside the Central Texas (Austin and San Antonio) area, before applying, please email us at to determine if we have volunteer resources near you to do your home visit. If you live in the Houston area, you should contact Golden Retriever Rescue of Houston and Golden Beginnings of Texas, Inc.. If you live in the Dallas area, you should contact Golden Retriever Rescue of North Texas or Golden Retriever Rescue Alliance, Inc. in Fort Worth.

Foster and adoption eligibility

  • We have successfully placed 3000+ dogs into wonderful homes. There are some simple, but important requirements to be eligible to adopt from Gold Ribbon Rescue. Please read through these pages thoroughly prior to filling out our adoption application.

  • We are looking for safe, happy, healthy, loving, committed homes. We are looking for individuals and families who wish to make the dog a member of the family. The dog must be allowed to sleep inside and spend most of its time inside with the family. We are looking for homes with lots of love to give and time to spend with the dog. Please understand bringing a rescued dog into your home should be a commitment you are making about the dog’s needs being met and not about your own personal needs being met.

  • We are looking for individuals and families who are committed to providing excellent care for the dog, including appropriate vet care, monthly flea/tick preventative treatment (when needed) and monthly heartworm preventative.

  • We require that you have a private fenced yard (with a large enough grassy area for dog to run around and play fetch) with a minimum 4' fence attached to your home. Dogs need sufficient room to exercise and play. (Rare exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis and only for senior/golden oldie dogs deemed appropriate for the situation).

  • We work hard to make good matches for the dogs and our families. We ask that you are realistic about the right dog for your lifestyle and that you trust in our experience in making these matches.

  • Finally, we ask that you understand that while some of our dogs come from loving homes, all have been unexpectedly uprooted, and many come with needs for training, confidence-building and/or medical care needs that should be delivered with loving patience and ample time to bring out the best in your new companion.

  • Please let us know if you prefer to foster or adopt a dog. As a foster, you have the joy of serving as the loving, caring bridge to help a dog heal and prepare the dog for his or her forever family. Currently, our fosters do not have the option to adopt the dog. If approved to adopt, your matchmaker will discuss the best options for you.

Foster Pending Adoption (FPA):

  • If a family is approved to adopt, they may be asked if they are open to be considered for the FPA process. FPA means that an approved family who desires to adopt a dog from GRR will take the new dog in as a foster with the intent to adopt, as long as the dog ends up being the right fit. FPA families are assigned to a matchmaker and they work closely together to determine the dog that is deemed as the best fit for the dog and the family, just the same as if the approved family only desired to do a straight adoption.

  • The FPA family will be the foster on record and is expected to abide by all of the same requirements of GRR approved foster families. The only difference is the FPA family may adopt their dog when the dog is medically cleared. GRR pays for all reasonable, required and approved medical and/or training expenses while the dog is a foster. If it's deemed that the dog is not the best fit, then GRR will move the dog as soon as possible or the dog may stay in the FPA’s care until matched to an appropriate adoptive family and adopted.

Potential foster and adoptive families must agree to the following:

  • The family has not adopted, fostered or otherwise acquired a new dog within the past six months and does not plan to do so within the next six months.

  • The family does not have any children under the age of 8 years old and agrees to take appropriate measures to never allow children to be unsupervised with the adopted dog. This may also apply to families that have children under the age of 8 years old that regularly visit them, depending on the situation. Because most of our dogs come to us with unproven histories or issues with children, this policy is for the safety of both the child and the dog.

  • The family does have a minimum of a 4’ secure fence attached to their dwelling with a private grassy area to allow enough space for the dog to run and play fetch. GRR reserves the right to deny any applicant who:
    • does not have a private attached fence or
    • an appropriate yard for a medium or large size dog
    • does have a type of fence that may be unacceptable for the dog

    On rare occasions, exceptions can be made if we have a dog GRR deems appropriate for the situation.

  • The family agrees to keep the dog on leash anytime he or she is outside an enclosed fenced-in area.

  • The family does not have any unaltered dogs in the home unless for a medical reason verified by a licensed veterinarian.

  • The family will keep the adopted dog inside the home anytime the family is sleeping or away from home. Places such as, but not limited to, screened-in porches and garages (even if air conditioned) are unacceptable.

  • Dog houses and kennels on the property may be deemed unacceptable and will require further explanation.

  • The family agrees to keep the dog as an indoor house pet and will not allow the dog to have access to the outside of the home or garage when an adult is not at home. This includes closing access to a dog door to prevent the dog from being able to go outside the home when the adults are gone.

  • The family does not use aversive training methods such as shock collars, choke chains, prong collars or excessive use of force. GRR supports the use of science-based positive reinforcement training. Dog training is an unregulated industry and there are many practices that can be harmful to your relationship with your new companion. If you need recommendations for trainers in your area, we are happy to help.

  • When being transported, the family agrees that the dog will always ride inside an enclosed vehicle and never in an open truck bed, whether contained in a crate, loose or tethered.

  • The dog’s primary home will not be a nursing home or group home.

  • The dog will not be placed in the home as service dog for physical, mobility or psychological needs.

  • We will do a reference check with your current and/or most recent veterinarian to verify your pets’ medical history. Resident dogs (or recently passed) in the home are required to be altered, up to date on all core vaccines, have received annual health exams and heartworm tests, and have received year-round heartworm preventatives. Cats should be altered and up to date on their rabies vaccination, or as recommended by the veterinarian. When applicable, we will request at least a three-year vetting history. We also acknowledge there might be exceptions due to the frailty of senior pets or for certain medical conditions and treatment plans.

  • All adult adopters or fosters and those responsible for the dog’s care must be over 21 years of age.

  • GRR’s adoption territory includes: Austin and San Antonio metropolitan areas and several surrounding communities. If the applicant lives outside the area where we have a trained volunteer to do an in-person visit at the home, please understand we will not be able to complete your application. Before applying, please email to ask if there is a Home Visit Volunteer in your area. Otherwise the $25 application fee is not refundable.

Criteria that Will Make the Matching Process More Difficult and Longer:

  • Fences not attached to the home, electric driveway gates and cattle guards.

  • Leaving a dog 6-8+ hours a day. Most of us work which means we must leave our dog. If you do plan to leave him/her 6-8 hours or more, how will you meet the dog’s needs for physical and mental activity as well as potty breaks?

  • Crating can be a useful tool but crating a dog 6-8 hours while you are gone during the day and again 8 hours at night is too much as Goldens are active dogs. We’ll happily discuss other options with you.

  • Need to climb multiple steps multiple times a day. Some homes require climbing steps to an upstairs bedroom, to the front door or off the outside deck to the yard. If this is your situation, a senior dog or one with hip issues may not work best for you.

  • Untrained/under socialized resident dogs may likely present a challenge for us to match a new dog to your family. It should be expected that a new rescue dog will require socializing and training and will most likely pick up on any undesirable behavior of another dog they spend a significant amount of time with. If it is determined during the home visit that the resident dog may need more training, we may ask you to do some work with your dog before we place a new dog in the home.

  • Cats, chickens, rabbits, birds, etc in the home – some dogs will not have had any exposure to cats, chickens, rabbits and other small animals. We will not place a dog with known issues/high prey drive in a home with these types of animals. What will be your plan for integrating a dog into your environment?

Terms and conditions

The primary terms and conditions which will be included in the adoption contract, if you complete the process, are listed here.

Please Note: Due to the reduced number of dogs, there can be a lengthy wait but not always. We match the dog to the family depending on his or her needs. Please read our qualifications to foster or adopt carefully -- if qualified, we welcome you to apply now! Deserving dogs need the love, care and commitment you have to give!

We are always in need of families who want to open their hearts to adopting dogs with special needs. Special needs include but are not limited to: giving medication, socialization, heartworm treatment, confidence building, training and surgery rehabilitation.

Our Foster and Adoption Approval Process

In the past decade, Golden Retriever breed–specific rescues and educational outreach have helped to dramatically reduce the number of homeless Goldens. Facebook and other social media platforms have made it easier for owners to rehome their Goldens -- although not always to the best homes. For you, these changes likely mean a wait to find the perfect Golden.

Gold Ribbon Rescue receives dogs weekly. Some are Golden Retrievers, and some are Golden mixes. The more specific your requirements, the more patience will be required to find the right dog for you. If you are seeking a purebred Golden, you should expect a lengthy wait. While we get puppies, we seldom get purebred puppy litters. Young, perfectly trained Goldens are even more rare. Many of the dogs we see brought into the rescue have special needs and even these have many applicants. We value all of our previous adopters, donors and interested families. However, we can only prioritize based on who is the best fit for the dog.

If you absolutely can’t wait for that Golden in your life, we suggest contacting a reputable, responsible breeder. If you want to bring a rescue Golden into your home, the rewards of adopting an adult dog, a senior dog or a special needs dog are beyond measure. Let us help you find your perfect match: read through our process and complete your adoption application. And remember…patience has its rewards!

  • First time adopters must first complete our application process and be approved to adopt.

  • Previous adopters must also complete an application, so we have your updated information. If it has been less than 5 years since adopting, you likely won’t need another Home Visit unless there are changes to your home (address) and its inhabitants -- two and four-legged.

  • If it’s been more than 5 years, you’ll need a new telephone interview and home visit. The Adoption Director has the discretion to require a new phone interview and/or home visit at any time deemed necessary.

The application provides us with important information that helps us find your new companion!

The foster and adoption process consists of these steps:

Step 1: Complete the on-line application and pay the non-refundable application fee (please be sure you are not out of area before applying). The application link is located at the bottom of this page. This application provides us with invaluable information about the dog you’re looking to bring into your life.

Step 2: Telephone Interview. A volunteer will contact you to schedule a telephone interview which will take approximately 45-60 minutes. This interview provides us with more information on the right dog for your lifestyle. All applicants should participate in this interview.

Step 3: Personal Home Visit. A volunteer will contact you to schedule time for a personal home visit. The home visit will take approximately 60 minutes and the volunteer will bring his/her Golden or GRR dog to the visit. The home visit gives you a chance to ask many questions and learn more about the Golden Retriever breed. All residents of the home must be present during this visit. All resident dogs must be present as well. In some cases, we may require non-resident persons who will have regular and/or extensive interaction with the dog to be present at the home visit.

Step 4: Matchmaking. The search for your Golden begins. A matchmaker will contact you to better understand what you are looking for in a Golden. While we likely won’t have the right dog for you immediately, we will be looking and contact you when we find him/her. We match the dog to the family we believe is the best fit. We do not match a family to a dog. Our goal is to find the forever home for the dog based on his or her needs.

If you applied to foster the dog, the Foster Home Coordinator will contact you and make arrangements for you to foster a dog.

Even after the adoption is final, Gold Ribbon Rescue will continue to be a resource whenever you need us. We hope that you will keep in touch – as you are now a member of one big happy Golden family!

Thank you for considering rescue – the compassionate alternative.

Meeting adoptable dogs

  • Families qualified to meet adoptable dogs
  • Completed adoption process and are approved and ready for a dog
  • Matched to appropriate dog by Gold Ribbon Rescue Matchmaker
  • Once Matchmaker and family discuss a particular dog, that dog is kept in reserve until the meet can take place
    • If meet is successful, dog is adopted
    • If meet is not successful, dog goes back up for adoption
    • If meet is not successful, Matchmaker will continue the search for a more appropriate dog for your family
  • ALL family members (including family dogs) are required to attend the meet

GRR DOES NOT guarantee the adoption of any specific dog requested or noted on the application.

All adoptions are given a 14-day trial period in which the dog may be returned for any reason. If this occurs, your adoption fee will be returned, or another dog provided depending on your wishes, provided the dog is returned in the same or better condition as when he/she was adopted and that there is no evidence of neglect or intentional misconduct. Note that the application fee is non-refundable.

If at any time after that, the adopter cannot or does not want to keep the dog, the dog must be returned to Gold Ribbon Rescue.

How Goldens find GRR

  • Surrendered by owner
  • Turned in by cooperating shelters
  • Strays found by Good Samaritans
  • GRR does not buy dogs, but we will pay reasonable shelter adoption fees
  • International rescue, when appropriate and available
  • GRR rarely gets puppies under 6 months of age

How GRR prepares dogs for adoption

  1. Examined by vet
    • Vaccinations brought up to date
    • Health issues identified and treated
    • Heartworm tested, treated if necessary, and placed on heartworm preventative
    • De-wormed
    • Placed on flea and tick preventative
    • Spayed or neutered if dog is old enough
  2. Foster care for a minimum of two weeks
  3. Temperament evaluated
  4. Activity level evaluated
  5. House training started
  6. Crate training if appropriate
  7. Basic obedience training started
  • Note on medical issues while in foster care:

  • Gold Ribbon Rescue strives to ensure that any of our foster dogs receive proper medical care. This includes, as needed, vaccinations, heartworm treatment, treatment for intestinal parasites, and any surgeries for known and existing conditions while the foster is in our care.

  • While we would like to be able to perform extensive medical tests on every dog, we have only the capacity to do so when a medical condition is obvious while the dog is in our foster care program. Medical testing such as heart, hip, eye, kidney and liver assessments on what appear to be healthy dogs is not within the financial capacity of any rescue group.

  • When we adopt our rescue dogs, we do our utmost to understand and share with our adopters any known medical conditions that one of our fosters has been treated for and which may present as a limitation post-adoption. For example: we may have a senior with obvious hip dysplasia, but total hip replacement surgery isn't reasonable due to the dog's age.

How GRR matches dogs to families

What you should consider:

  • Energy level
  • Match for your lifestyle
  • Male or female dog
  • Desired personality
  • Appropriate age for your family (GRR does not adopt dogs to families with children under the age of 8 years old)
  • The more specific your requirements, the longer you will wait to be matched to the right dog

What GRR Matchmaker considers:

  • Appropriate age being best for your family
  • Dog matches your lifestyle
  • Dog’s personality is appropriate for your family
  • Compatibility of GRR dog with your family pets

In the event an applicant requests a dog that we believe to be unsuitable for them, GRR reserves the right to offer the dog(s) we feel are most appropriate for the applicant and their individual needs.

Remember: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Ask Yourself:

  • Do I really care about the color of my new Golden?
  • Do I really care about the size of my new Golden?
  • Do I really care about the specific appearance of my new Golden?
  • If these things are important to you, then a rescue Golden may not be right for you.


Thinking About A Puppy?

Although GRR does not have a breeder referral service, we encourage you to read the “Thinking About a Puppy” section of our website. For your convenience, you will find information on finding a reputable breeder from the Golden Retriever Club of America's website.

If you meet all of the above requirements and have read and understand our adoption process, please submit an Application.

Adoption Application:

Please be very careful to answer each question. Should you skip an answer, you will need to press the back button on your browser to complete the question. You may keep typing at the end of a line to complete an answer, if needed.

Please initial these two statements:

I have read and comply with the Adoption Eligibility Requirements listed above. *
I have read and understand the Criteria that make the Matching Process more difficult and longer listed above. *

* = Required Field

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