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Here at Bellwether, we believe in finding the right home for each and every pet in our care. We strive to help you find the right pet for your home as well. Adopting a new family member is a long term commitment and, like any relationship, takes time. Bellwether Harbor does not do same day adoptions.

Adoption process

The first step towards adopting a dog or cat from Bellwether Harbor is to fill out an application. This may be done on-line or in shelter. This application can be on a specific animal or can be a general application. Even if we do not have the right pet for you right now, approved applications are kept on file for 6 months. Filling out an application does not obligate you to adopt from us, nor does it guarantee that you will be approved to adopt the animal that you are interested in. Please note that we will not place an animal on hold without an approved application.

We welcome visitors during open hours. However, if you are coming from a long distance, we do suggest filling out an application before making the trip.

Also, while we regularly adopt out cats in pairs, we do not generally recommend adopting two dogs at the same time. There are occasional exceptions to this rule, such as dogs that have been surrendered together after years in the same family. However, we do not adopt littermate puppies out together. It is important to bond with and train your new dog on a one on one basis.

Once your application is received, please note that it may take a few days to call you back. Our Adoption Coordinator will be taking this time to contact your current or past veterinarian. We are looking for information on your current or past pet’s health care. If you currently own a cat or dog, we require that they are spayed or neutered and up to date on vaccines and general health care. We understand that sometimes there are special circumstances where your veterinarian will advise against some procedures. This will be taken into consideration. Many veterinary offices will not release this information without you calling to allow it. Please call your veterinarian to release your records to us.  

If you have not previously owned a pet, our Adoption Coordinator will discuss future medical needs for your potential pet. We recommend calling veterinarians in your area to research their prices and policies. Please see ****questions to ask when looking for a new vet*****

If you currently rent or live in an association, we will call your landlord to inquiry about their pet policy. Some places have restrictions on pets. This may be pets in general or may be specific sizes or breeds. Many cities, townships and even some insurance companies have banned some breeds of dogs. Please make yourself aware of these bans and regulations. We will not adopt any pet to an area or home where their ownership is prohibited.

Once our Adoption Coordinator has placed these calls, you will be contacted by phone. Generally, a short phone interview is done at this time. This is merely to get to know you. We will be asking questions about your activity level and what you’re looking for in a companion. This is also a great opportunity for you to ask specific questions about the dog or cat that you are interested in. If you have placed a general application, we can tell you about all of the wonderful dogs and cats that we have available and suggest ones that may fit what you are looking for in a new family member. We make every effort to know as much as possible about each and every dog and cat in our care and are here to help make the best possible match.

Depending on the results of your application and follow up interview, you will next be asked to schedule an appointment to come to the shelter. Most pre-adoption visits are done on a scheduled basis to assure that our staff will have plenty of time to spend with you. We do not do same day adoptions.  

Bellwether requires that every person living in the household, full or part time, visit the animal at least once. Depending on the family and the pet, multiple visits may be required. This is especially true with dog adoptions. These visits not only allow you to bond with the potential new family member, they will also allow us to show you the training that we have been doing with your potential new pet. We want to be sure that both you and the animal are comfortable together and that you have the knowledge that you need before taking the animal home. These visits are also used to help you prepare for your pet’s arrival into your home, making the transition as smooth as possible.

If you are adopting a dog, any full and part time dogs living in the home will be required to meet the dog that you have been approved to adopt. It may take more than one ‘meet and greet’ between the dogs before they feel comfortable with each other. This is done by appointment only either at the shelter or, in special circumstances, at your home. We do not require that cats come into the shelter to meet the dog. In this case, we will test the dog with Bellwether cats with personalities similar to your owned pet to ensure compatibility.

We do not require that a ‘meet and greet’ occurs with cats. Cats will be tested with other Bellwether animals with similar personalities to your owned animal. However, if the family is interested, this could be arranged as a scheduled visit.

When all requirements are met and your application has been approved, an adoption day will be scheduled. We do micro chip all dogs and cats adopted from our rescue.

Please understand that Bellwether Harbor makes no representation, warranty or guarantee as to the health, temperament or mental disposition of any animal as most animals come to the shelter with minimal, if any, documentation of background history.

Adoption Day

On the day of adoption for a dog, you will be required to have a leash, collar and an engraved or printed name tag. The tag should include name, address and phone number. We do have all of these items available for purchase at the shelter. We have Lupine products available in our shelter store and they are backed with a lifetime guarantee. If you would like to view these products visit their website: If and would be happy to help you find the correct size. The dog is required to be wearing the tagged collar and on a leash as it leaves the shelter.

On the day of adoption for a cat, you will be required to have a carrier to safely transport the cat from the shelter to your home. If you do not have one, we do sell sturdy cardboard carriers.

The adoption fees are required on the day of adoption.  All adoption fees and donations are non-refundable.

To complete the adoption process, you will be required to sign a legal and binding contract. You will be given a copy of that contract and an adoption packet containing medical records, available background information, training notes and other useful information.

Bellwether Harbor complies with all regulations pertaining to the procedures of animal adoption as enacted by the Michigan Department of Agriculture Animal Industry Division, Act No. 287, Public Acts of 1969, as amended in No. 287.331, Section 1(a).

Requirements Following Adoption  

By contract, you are required to make an appointment with your veterinarian within 30 days of the adoption. Remember to bring all medical records from your adoption packet with you to this visit. The veterinarian will use this information to schedule future vaccines and other health care needs for your pet. Bellwether Harbor does not send out reminders for future needed vaccines.

We expect that you will give your pet proper and humane care, veterinary care, food, water, shelter, exercise, training, love and all other necessities.  Please remember to continue your dog’s obedience training at home. Staying familiar the command words plays an important part in keeping your pet safe. Regular exercise and training also serves to strengthen the bond between you and your pet.

We want you to know that our relationship with you does not end with the completion of the adoption process. If any problems arise after you get home, we are happy to offer our time and assistance and encourage you to call us for counseling or advice. Please note that this is available at no cost to you. Some problems can be fixed easily if they are addressed right away. Those that are allowed to continue for long periods of time may be more difficult to correct. Please do not hesitate to call or email, we are here to help ensure a secure and successful bond between your family and the dog or cat that you adopted from Bellwether Harbor. We also love positive updates and pictures. Our shelter is on facebook and this is a great way to share those updates and photographs!

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