NZCR Adoption, Foster & Rescue FAQ

Fostering for NZCR

Do you need fosters in other parts of New Zealand or only Canterbury?
Sorry, at present, we only require fosters local to us and we are based in Christchurch, New Zealand, although we take dogs from all over New Zealand, they are flown to our base here.

Why do we only need fosters in Canterbury? 

For a number of reasons:

1. Our base is in Canterbury, all of our core team such as our Trustees, our trusted behavioral consultant, animal physio and veterinarian are located here. We are a close-knit team of experts on the breed in one location.

2. We need to be able to meet our fosters in person - check in on them regularly and their foster dogs and attend any health appointments for the foster dog, alongside the foster, if needed. It is far easier to be able to meet and communicate in person if required when fosters are located within our city or general area.

3. With each foster dog, we provide the crates, bedding, pens, food etc. This is more costly (in shipping) and far less practical if we are freighting items to fosters in other locations.

4. Our veterinarian is located in Canterbury and does not charge for her consult time. We pay for the operations and medications but her time is donated free of charge. We do not get such a wonderful discount with any other vet (and we have consulted vets in the North Island prior). It is much cheaper to fly a dog to Christchurch for surgery (even taking into account flight costs!) and almost double the price to have it completed up North.

5. Costs wise - it works out cheaper. We are a small rescue with limited funds so cost is always a factor. We are very fortunate to have many relationships with businesses here in Christchurch who keep our costs as low as possible. We do not have the same contacts up North.

6. We have trialed out a North Island foster programme prior. The results were not great and it simply added more stress to our team down here, trying to manage others in other locations.

Sorry, we understand there are many who wish to help us in the North Island. However, you can assist in other ways - please see the "how you can help us" page in the tabs above.

What do you provide for fosters?

We  are able to provide our foster carers with dog food, dog treats,  medications required, crates, dog pens, beds and bedding, leashes,  bowls, harnesses and anything else required. Please note  down anything  you need in order to foster, on your foster application  form. Please  note: these items (aside from beds and bedding) do not go with the dogs  once they are adopted. These items are to be returned to NZCR for use  on the next dog(s) that enter care. Items such as: Beds,  bedding, vet  books and council tags, alongside any toys or other items gifted to the  dog by fosters or the Trustees are the only items to be passed on to  Adopters.

What about if I want to adopt a dog I foster? 

We  do not offer foster to adopt arrangements. If you are looking to add a  dog to your family permanently please submit an adoption application. We  offer one month trials on all adoptions to ensure that the dogs are a  perfect fit for the family. Foster forms are for those looking to foster from the outset and that have the  intention to adopt out their foster dog. However, if you do fall in  love with your foster baby and they are not already going through the  adoption process with a family, we do adopt to foster carers.  In  this instance the adoption fee is still required by the Trust, to be  used for the next dog coming in to care. Full details in the foster  application.

*** For information on the foster process and for an application - please see the above tab.

Adoption - General Queries

Can we come and see or meet the dogs available and see which one we want to adopt, before we fill out the adoption paperwork?

The form is the first step, in short, we do not do anything without confirming the Adopters circumstances match the dog. Please see the adoption page for our adoption process to understand how it works. We require the adoption application prior to any meet and greets.  There are no exceptions to this. As we do not have a center, our dogs are housed with different foster carers throughout the country. As a result, we only disrupt the foster carers schedules and organize a meet and greet with dogs and prospective adopters once we have received a completed application and photos of the property, so we can be sure the Adopter is a match. 

Profiles for individual dogs are found under “dogs in care” if you see a dog you are interested in, please submit an application and indicate who is your preference, where noted on the adoption form. If the dogs available currently are not in your area, or suitable for your lifestyle, we are happy to retain your application in the database. Some dogs received in by the Rescue are not listed on the website or social media, at the preference of the former owner. We adopt these dogs out by consulting the database.

I would like to adopt a Chihuahua as a gift for my grand parent / parent / child or spouse - How can I do this?
Sorry, we do not adopt Chihuahuas out as “gifts" or "surprises". All of our rescue dogs have already been surrendered once and need someone who is committed to them from the outset. If you know someone who is looking for a dog or would suit one of our Chihuahuas, invite them to submit an adoption form. Our applications forms need to be filled out by the person who will be the “main care-taker” of the Chihuahua as that is who we are assessing in terms of their suitability. 

I'm looking for a small dog as a gift for my child, can you assist?
We definitely do not recommend parents purchase dogs as gifts for children. Chihuahuas live 15-20 years and although a child may enjoy a puppy when they are young, as the child grows and friends, work, university and travel become more important – the dog inevitably becomes less of a priority.

There are also regular expenses to consider that your child will need to be aware of and responsible for. Vaccinations, regular dental work, quality (non-supermarket) food, worming and flea treatments, de-sexing, micro-chipping etc. all comes at a cost. In addition to this cost it is the things that you don't consider or plan for (such as when they suffer an illness or accident) that can also mean an instant $1000 vet bill. Please consider carefully before adding any pet to your household the needs of that animal, expenses and life expectancy. 

I am looking for a disability support dog or a therapy dog. Do you provide these?

Sorry, no. As a rescue we do not train or provide support dogs. There are specialist agencies to assist with this. Our dogs are companion dogs and many have their own quirks that would render them unsuitable as therapy or assistance dogs. 

Do you ever get puppies into rescue? I am looking for a specific age / gender.

We can’t be sure what ages, colors or genders will come into our rescue and when. If you have specific wants or needs in terms of a dog (including age), please note this in your application.  Be as specific about what you want in a companion as possible. We need to know as much information as possible to be able to find a great match for you.

If I submit an adoption application and I am unsuccessful but placed on the database, or I ask to be placed on the database and see a dog I’m interested in, what do I do then?

Email us and let us know what dog you’re interested in - no need to submit another form and photos if your circumstances are the same. If anything has changed please email us to let us know (ie. working hours, family members in the household, medical conditions etc).

Do you adopt out un-neutered dogs or bitches?

No. We believe that breeding should be left to the experts, the DogsNZ accredited breeders. We do not support private individuals purchasing dogs to mate. If you are not an accredited breeder or showing your pedigree dog, we advocate desexing- spay and neuter.

Do you adopt to full time workers?

When we assess applicants, we look for the best home possible for that dog, some may be suitable for full time workers, some may require those home a lot more often. We do not decline prospective adopters due to full time hours. But we may need to place you on the database if we do not have any dogs that would be suitable for your schedule.

Some of our dogs have quirks that would mean daytime companionship is a must. It is not that we do not accept full time workers in general, but truthfully, a dog needs to be fairly independent to have an owner away for 6-8 hours each weekday and being a rescue, we do tend to get many dogs that have quirks. See the adopter requirements on the dog profiles, found under “dogs in our care” to determine whether/not a dog needs a part-time worker or someone who is retired. 

Although it may be hard - It’s also important to consider whether or not you could really provide all that a dog needs, if working full time or extended hours. It can be tough on the dog waiting all of that time for their buddy to come home!

Do you have a cut off age for applicants?

No. As long as applicants are physically and mentally capable to care for a dog, we’re happy to consider them. This does require honesty on behalf of the Adopter, however. If we attend a meet and greet and have concerns, this will be discussed with you at the time. We do appreciate when Adopters have considered what should happen to the dog if they entered care or pass away and communicate this. 

Do I need to have a fenced property to adopt from you?

If you live in a suburb within a City, yes. We expect that there is no danger of the dogs we adopt out  roaming or getting hurt on roads. Child gates may also need to be utilized to ensure dogs can't dash out front doors and onto the road. We understand some rural properties may not be 100% fenced. But a portion of the property and any areas the dog can get to need to be fenced in. But in short, yes, it is our preference.

Do you adopt to people who live in caravans?

As a rescue, our aim is to have dogs find their forever homes. Caravans are not as ideal as they are less stable. We would adopt to someone who owned the caravan and the land it was situated on (providing also it was fenced and hazard-free). We may ask for documents confirming the same. Sorry, we would not adopt to someone who didn't own the vehicle or lived in a caravan park. There is too much uncertainty and therefore risk the dog may need to come back into Rescue if the owner couldn't remain at their current spot and needed to move to a dog-free location.

How strict are the adopter requirements? (For example: the profile says no cats but I have a dog savvy cat!)

The reason we have Adopter Requirements is to ensure that we find the most suitable home for the dog listed. We do not feel it is fair to put a dog in a situation where they will have to adjust to a new family and surroundings without certainty there is a high chance of the adoption working out. In terms of the above example, we feel that placing a dog that has a history of not being cat friendly in a home with cats is setting them up to fail. We feel this only puts the dog under the stress of having to adjust to new people and surroundings unnecessarily. Furthermore, when a dog leaves foster care, usually their place is quickly filled so if it doesn't work out, we may have issues locating another foster carer in order to have the dog returned into the care of the Trust. 

As such, the adopter criteria is strict. Please check that you are a match for the prospective dog before you apply. Many people do like to think they are the exception and believe they could offer the dog a good home. However, we do consider the requirements fully before adding them as it does limit the potential homes available.

Do you adopt to families with children?

This question largely depends on what dog a prospective adopter is interested in. We consider the needs of that dog specifically when searching for the bestr fit for their family and what ages we think the dog would be fine around. Generally, our preference is that children in the home are over 5 years (so they can understand not to overwhelm dog etc). As noted above – we have rescue dogs that may have personality quirks and not all will be suitable for a noisy family environment and/or children. 

Can I foster a dog to see if it fits in with my family?

Foster forms are to be utilized for those who strictly wish to foster not adopt. We do not offer a foster to adopt programme. We do however, offer a one month trial on all adoptions to see if a prospective dog fits into our life and family. If you want to add a dog to your family permanently, please see the adoption process page for information and an application.

Can you call me to discuss a particular dog with me over the phone? I'm looking to adopt.

We do not contact prospective applicants via phone to discuss individual dogs without the adoption forms and supporting information.  As you can appreciate, we receive a large volume of queries daily and all of the information we require from you in order to consider you as an applicant is noted on the form. As volunteers who work full time outside of the Rescue, it is a more efficient way of us confirming whether you and your family are a match for any particular dog. If we require more information from you after the forms are filled in, we will make contact to confirm. Accordingly, if you are interested in any of our dogs, please submit your application and if you are a match for the dog, we will be in touch  to progress this. 

Does it cost to adopt a dog from NZCR?

Yes. The fee is payable in full to the trust account prior to the day of adoption. Fees for dogs are noted on the dog's profile on this website as the dogs have different fees assigned. All fees are to be paid to our Westpac Account - New Zealand Chihuahua Rescue Trust 03-0823-0074502-000  We do not accept cash on collection of the dog. We will not be able to complete the changeover if the fee remains outstanding.

See below (bottom of the page) for our "expenses table" which shows what we spend incoming funds on.

What determines the adoption fee as I notice they aren't all the same price? 

Our adoption fees for each dog are listed on their profile under "dogs in our care". Older dogs or those who have ongoing health issues may be assigned a lesser fee to reflect the fact there will be ongoing regular costs associated with them.   We don’t charge what we spend - we often lose money on dogs but our goal is not to make money, it’s to forever home the dog. We cannot home them without spending money ensuring they are medically sound.

See below (bottom of the page) for our "expenses table" which shows what we spend incoming funds on.

Why do you charge an adoption fee?

The adoption fee assists us with: transport costs for dogs being surrendered from all over NZ, de-sexing, micro-chipping and registering the dog on the New Zealand Companion Animal Register ("NZCAR"), vaccinations, flea and worming, Council registration, disposables (such as bedding and crates) and any extra necessary medical care required. For example, we also complete dental work on dogs that require it and orthopedic surgeries fairly regularly. All of these treatments cost and we need to ensure that we recoup even a small percentage of these costs.

We never "make" money from adoptions and all of our team are Volunteers. As such, the full adoption fee goes towards the dogs in the care of the Rescue. We pride ourselves on being able to confirm that when a dog leaves our Rescue, they have had all of the medical treatment they require and obviously, this costs money to complete.

We also do not advocate that anyone offer a “free dog” for adoption or  re-homing. Firstly, those looking for bait dogs will not pay for a dog that is just going to end up injured and/or dead and often utilize these listings. Secondly, dog ownership costs money. Dogs are a commitment and shouldn’t be purchased on whim! An adoption fee prevents  opportunists and people making spontaneous decisions to adopt a free dog  without really having the long-lasting financial means to be a dog  owner. 

See below (bottom of the page) for our "expenses table" which shows what we spend incoming funds on.

Why do you charge what you charge? Do you think it's a little high?

Firstly, see above for information on what determines an adoption fee and why we charge an adoption fee. Secondly, see the  "expenses table" which shows what we spend incoming funds on.

1. We are 100% volunteer operated, meaning nobody makes ANY money off our rescue dogs. We are paid only in love and doggy cuddles! The total adoption fee (as with donations) goes towards the essential needs of our rescue dogs. The only reason we charge adoption fees is so that we have money for the next dog that needs assistance.

It should be noted that not all charities are registered and it is not a legal requirement to do so. However, we have gone above and beyond to ensure that we are, as we believe that the public deserves such transparency. Our incoming and outgoings are uploaded annually to the charities register. It is here that you will see we do not "make" money from adoptions. In fact, we actually lose money to expenses in most cases and only recoup a small portion of those costs back for use on the next dog.

2. As breed specific rescue we face a couple of unique and expensive challenges relating to the Chihuahua breed (and toy breed) dogs. Many of the dogs surrendered to us require costly orthopedic surgery (ie. single or double patella luxation) and a full dental with extractions. This means we may have a higher fee then some all breed rescues just to recoup a portion of the costs we spend on each dog that comes into our care. We need to be able to spend money on dogs to make them adoptable and we constantly have new dogs coming in who require money to be spent on them too.

3. We may charge slightly more than some all breed Rescues or the SPCA. However, as a small organization, we do not recieve the benefit of subsidized care and the large donations that other more well known Rescues and organizations benefit from. This means we charge a higher rate for adoption as we need to recoup more funds for the expenses we have met in relation to each dog, because we pay more also!

4.  Adoption from us works out to be better value for money overall. Our dogs do not cost as much as puppies or even older dogs from private sellers or breeders, even though they have had all of their veterinary work completed. Accordingly, we do not feel that our adoption fees are unreasonable. For your money, you are given a Chihuahua that comes completely legally compliant and healthy. 

Our dogs come fully and thoroughly health checked, de-sexed, vaccinated, micro-chipped, registered with the NZ Companion Animal Register, registered with their local Council, flea and wormed treated and having had any further issues unique to the specific dog, addressed. If required, we also complete bloods, dentals and orthopedic surgery, yet we do not charge the full expense of these surgeries. . For example, you can pay $1,500 - $2,000 on TradeMe for an 8 week old Chihuahua (or Chihuahua cross puppy) without a fraction of that work having been completed.

5. When you adopt from us you get the peace of mind that you have adopted a healthy and legally compliant dog. This is peace of mind you cannot get from private sellers (ie. strangers). Many listings state the puppy has been "vet checked". If the puppy is less than one year, this is useless. Most issues do not present themselves and can be easily overlooked by vets initially. If we cannot medically clear a dog, they cannot be adopted and remain in foster care while we address their medical issues.

6. Some of our dogs are also pedigree ("papered") and would be over $1,000 due to this fact alone. However, we do not charge extra for pedigree dogs, aside from a $30.00 disbursement fee to transfer the dog into the Adopters name with DogsNZ. This is the actual cost of doing so and charged by DogsNZ, we do not recieve that money, it goes to DogsNZ.

For more information on how much it actually costs us to take in these dogs and ensure they are medically (and mentally) fit for adoption - see the table of expenses located at the bottom of this page.

Do you allow adopters to pay-off fees? 

No. Adopters need to consider their financial circumstances prior to applying. Any dog will require a constant stable source of funds in terms of vaccinations, ongoing Council registration and veterinary care at some point in their lives, etc. We need to be sure that the Adopter can provide for the dog in any and all ways, including financially. 

Adoptions Outside of Christchurch

Why do some of the profiles say “must be adopted in Canterbury”?

As we get to know the dogs in our care we set their “adopter requirements”. Some of our dogs are fit to be flown or transported without suffering undue anxiety. Some of the dogs we get into rescue have very traumatic pasts and will require “hands on” integration. They may need more support and assistance. 

These dogs will have come to know and trust their fosters and it is therefore their fosters that assist with integrating them into their forever home. Their aim is to make the process more comfortable for the dog. If this is to be the case and we feel a dog will need that extra support we will stipulate a dog must be adopted within the area of the foster carer. Usually Canterbury as this is where the majority of our long time, experienced fosters (who take on our special cases!) reside. We have even had some fosters go “over and above” and allow a personal dog to stay at the home of an Adopter to assist in settling in a rescue dog. We will do all we can to provide support and ensure an adoption is as stress free for the dog and successful.

Do you adopt dogs outside of Christchurch (where you are based)?

Yes - some dogs are fostered in other parts of the country, including the North Island. We have homed dogs in other parts of the country prior and as far as Auckland! 

See "available dogs" for information as to where individual dogs are located and if they are available to be homed in other parts of the country.

We are happy to fly certain dogs  (those who would be minimally stressed with the process) to the North Island and other parts of the country. However, understandably, if you are interested in a dog in the South Island, this process can be complicated and costly given we are based in Christchurch.  Sorry, we do NOT adopt outside of New Zealand.

As noted on the adoption page, the prospective adopter would need to travel to meet the dog they were interested in at the dog's foster home. This is to a make sure the dog and Adopter are a match prior to the dog flying to their location. 

We will also need to organize to complete a home-check in your location, with another rescue. 

Once the above has been approved. The flights for the dog and an airline approved crate would need to be purchased and sent to the dog's location, all of these costs are at the Adopters expense. 

We also need to keep the cost of return flights in our trust account, in the event the trial does not work out and dog has to be returned. We ask that the return flight “bond” is paid upfront so that the Charity does not have to spend its minimal funds getting a dog returned. If the one month trial period is successful, NZCR refund the cost of that additional flight to the adopter.

So what costs are likely involved?
Step 1: The adopter will need to make their own way to meet the dog and meet the costs associated with this. Assuming the meet and greet is successful, we will ask you to consider over a few days, whether you would like to take the dog on trial.

Step 2: If this is agreed, you will need to purchase a suitable crate or organize crate hire and the dog may be flown back with you as checked in baggage (see: or AirNZ charge $75.00.

If you wish to fly the dog up at another time, you will need to organize a crate / crate hire and we can have our Pet Exporters organize the flight (see: Flying a dog unaccompanied can be anywhere from $250.00 - $350.00 (excluding crate hire/purchase).

Step 3: Before the dog is released to go anywhere, we also require the adoption fee of the dog (as per the website) upfront and the price of a return flight for the dog (should the trial not work out) in the trust account. This is a form of "flight bond". We will liaise with our Pet Exporters as to this cost and send you an invoice to pay which confirms the total amount. This is so that we do not spend the Rescue's minimal funds flying dogs back into our care if their trial does not work out. As discussed above, the flight bond will be returned if the trial is successful. If the trial is unsuccessful, the flight bond will be claimed and only the adoption fee refunded.

Please note: We use "Move My Pet" pet exporters who also provide crate hire. Contact Karen on (027) 594 - 9376  or (see: )

What dogs are available where I am?

Please see the "dogs in care" page. We may also have other dogs that former owners do not wish for us to advertise. We recommend you submit your form to be placed on the database if there are no dogs on our website that you are a match for.

I don't see many dogs become available where I am?

We have a process for adoptions (please see the adoptions page). If you are interested in adopting from us but are not located in Canterbury, please feel free to submit an application. If approved, you will be added to our database for your area. In the event a dog becomes available in your  particular area  we contact foster and adoption applicants who have already submitted forms. As such, sometimes these dogs do not get advertised via the website or social media as they are homed with someone who has placed themselves on our database. 

Who pays for the flights if the dog is to be flown?

As above. 

Will I still have a home check?

Yes, we will liaise with other organizations in your area to have a home check performed.

Do you adopt to other countries?

No, sorry, New Zealand only.

Post Adoption

What do I need to buy for the dog prior to the trial beginning?

We will bring an Adopter pack with some goodies inside. We will also provide a mini ACANA bag of dog food and a voucher for your next bag of ACANA dog food. We will also bring any beds and bedding the dog has been using to provide a sense of familiarity. It is the Adopters responsibility to purchase general items such as: a crate, leash, harness, food and water bowls and the essentials of dog ownership.

What happens during the trial?

Just enjoy your time with your new dog! Make sure they are happy with you and you are happy with them! We will check in with you to make sure all is going well. Although it may be difficult, please be honest and let us know if there are any issues. We may be able to work with a trainer and address these and it is easier sooner rather than later! Feel free to message or email us as often as you like, it's never a hassle, we love hearing how you and the dogs are doing! 

How does the trial end?

If unsuccessful - If you feel the dog is not a right fit for your family - please contact us ASAP and we will arrange to place the dog back into care.

If successful - Prior to the last day, we will contact you to discuss your feelings, once you are happy to confirm the trial as successful, we will send you a letter confirming the dog is officially adopted! We will also advise you the Council registration and microchip has been changed.

What about Council registration? 

All dogs come registered with the Christchurch City Council. Once adopted, the dog needs to be changed into your name with your local Council. A transfer in Christchurch district is simple and quick. We will inform the Christchurch City Council and copy your district into the email once the dog is confirmed as adopted (ie. after the trial period). This is when the legal ownership of the dog officially changes. If outside of Christchurch - you will need to contact your Council to see whether they require any signatures from you to effect the change at their end.

Are the dogs micro-chipped?
Yes! Each dog in the care of the Trust is micro-chipped and added to the New Zealand Companion Animal Register.  The Adopter will be added to the database as the owner and primary contact.  The Trust (or Managing Trustee of the Trust) will also remain as an alternate contact on the dog’s microchip. This is a fundamental term of adoption and Adopters  under any circumstances, remove the Trust’s details from the microchip.

Are the dogs vaccinated?

Yes! Dogs come vaccinated up to date or, if they have just been de-sexed we will let you know when they need to be taken to our Vet, following recovery, for these vaccinations (at our cost). Their vaccination details will be in the vet book provided to you.

How do I know when to next flea and worm or vaccinate the dog I have adopted ?

Dogs come vaccinated and their vet book will be provided to you, please consult this for their next vaccination date. In terms of flea and worm treatments, we will notify you in the letter confirming the adoption of the last flea and worming treatment.

How do I get the 30 day Pet-N-Sur trial or sign up for pet insurance? 

Please see the Pet N Sur link under "How you can help us". 

Can I change the dogs name? What do you recommend?

For the period of the one month trial, we ask you call them by their current name, so that if it is unsuccessful they are not confused. However, once they are confirmed as adopted that is up to you. We have had Adopters retain the dog's names and change names prior. 

In terms of our recommendations - it is our experience that some dogs do know their names and respond well to them. We also feel that particularly if are older, it is somewhat unfair to change the name as they will already be going through a lot of change in the re-homing process. Too much change is overwhelming and it can be quite comforting for them to realize you know their names. For older dogs or dogs that know their names we suggest it maybe fairer to retain their names.

In the case of puppies, young dogs, or those not attached to their names, once the trial is over, again, this is your choice. 

Do you offer ongoing support to Adopters? 

Absolutely, yes! Trust dogs and their Adopters are part of the NZCR family. If you need anything please get in contact with us. We also love to receive updates and photos!

We are affiliated with the Dominion Chihuahua Club and regularly attend their events, feel free to bring your Rescues along! Search "Dominion Chihuahua Club" under "Groups" on Facebook to learn more about events, support, social groups and more. We have a thriving little Chihuahua-community here in Canterbury in particular and would LOVE for you to become part of it!

Do you take the dogs back if we can no longer have them?

Absolutely! Obviously, our aim when re-homing dogs is that it is forever. However, sometimes things happen and circumstances change and this cannot happen. The Agreement each Adopter signs provides, if for any reason the dog cannot stay with you, the Trust is to be contacted and we will take the dog back into care. The dogs cannot be privately re-homed.

As a Rescue, we feel we owe a duty of care to each and every dog that has been and will ever come into our Rescue. This duty is for life. If for any reason any of our ex-Rescue dogs need assistance in future please do not hesitate to contact us. We are not here to pass judgement - we just want to ensure our dogs are safe and happy.

What if I want the dog to go to a family member, because I can no longer look after it?

Please contact us immediately to discuss. We will meet with you and your chosen family member to come up with a plan. Our goal is just to ensure the dog is looked after and safe and that we know who they are with.

Have you adopted from New Zealand Chihuahua Rescue?

Please join our closed Adopters Group on Facebook here:

What Does NZCR Spend Money On?

Please see below for our expenses table. This is an updated list of pricing as to what your donations or adoption fees go towards. These figures are up to date as at 31/07/2019 and provide the public with an idea as to how much it costs for each dog in care to be placed in Trust care and  medically cleared.