Adoption Requirements

If you are new to English Setters, please click here to review our page “Is an ES Right For You?” before submitting an application. 

Our adoption fee is $350.00 for a dog under 1 year old, $300.00 for a dog 1-9 years old, and $250.00 for Seniors over 9 years old. All our dogs receive a complete vet exam, are spayed or neutered, brought up-to-date on vaccinations, tested and treated (if needed) for heartworms and other parasites, given heartworm prevention, and micro-chipped.

Adopters must be 25 years old or older.

Any pets currently in the adoptive home must be spayed or neutered and up-to-date on vaccinations and regular health checks. The only exception for an unaltered pet is when there are medical reasons verified by a vet or if a dog is actively participating in competitions that do not allow altered dogs to compete. See our “Spay and Neuter Policy” below for a more detailed explanation.

Application Process

  • After we receive a completed application we check references, conduct a phone interview and conduct a home visit before approving an applicant.
  • A vet reference must be provided for all current pets and any pets owned in the last ten years. Two personal references that are not family/related are required.
  • If renting, please provide your landlord’s contact information or a verification letter from your landlord regarding acceptance of pets.

Puppy Adoption Policy

  • It is difficult to accurately predict ultimate energy level, prey drive and personality intensity of a young Setter puppy, therefore we feel it is in the best interest of puppies and the adoptive families to consider only applications from homes with previous Setter experience for puppies less than 1 year of age.
  • Setter puppies need to run free on a daily basis for the best physical and emotional development. For this reason, only homes with puppy-secure physical fences will be considered for Setter puppies less than one year old. Applications from homes with invisible fences and no fencing will not be considered for dogs less than one year old. We know this may be frustrating for Setter experienced homes that are responsibly using invisible fencing, but we hope that you understand that the sole focus of this policy is on the puppy and what is best for him/her and not a judgment of your individual choice of fencing and how you care for your dogs.
  • Adopters must be able to come to the foster location to pick up their adopted puppy if younger than four months old. A four month old Setter puppy may still be small enough to travel home with you in the cabin of the airplane.
  • SWESR spays and neuters puppies as young as six months old. If you are adopting a puppy that is younger than six months of age, you will be responsible for getting the puppy spay/neutered when they are six months of age at your own Vet/cost. Extensions are available with a written request.

Transporting Your Adopted Setter

  • We encourage adopters to drive to pick up their adopted Setter from their foster home whenever this is possible.  If an adopter is unable to drive to the foster location to pick up the dog being adopted, transports within the Southwest USA may be arranged at no cost on some routes through our network of volunteer drivers. Our volunteer network in many areas of TX, OK, NM, and CO are established. We have limited transport routes established for AZ, UT, NV, and CA. Patience is appreciated while volunteer transport drivers are found to help transport an adopted dog to a new Southwest destination.  
  • We are not able to adopt dogs to Alaska, Hawaii, and areas of Canada and Mexico that are not easily accessed from the U.S. We are committed to being available to assist our dogs throughout their entire lifetime and being able to get volunteers to dogs if needed precludes most adoptions beyond the contiguous US. We hope you understand and we are happy to discuss geographic logistics on a case-by-case basis.

Heartworm Disease and Preventative

  • Heartworm preventative is now recommended by Veterinarians in almost all areas of the US, and most are recommending year-round use. The severity of heartworm incidence is shown in this map.
  • If your Vet recommends heartworm testing and consistent use of heartworm preventative medication, we will verify to ensure your Vet records show heartworm testing completed and preventative purchased. For dogs currently in an applicant’s home, you should have a history of providing this care for at least the past year. If there are no dogs currently in the home, we will check prior vet references and verify heartworm testing and use of preventative for dogs previously in the home. The purchase of heartworm preventative requires a prescription and prior purchases, if applicable, will be verified during the vet reference portion of our application process. If the applicant’s vet clinic recommends heartworm preventative but it is purchased elsewhere, we ask applicants to provide proof of the prior purchases.
  • You can learn all the facts about heartworm disease at this FDA website.

Chagas Disease

Chagas disease is a parasitic infection that infects more than 4 million dogs in the U.S., with approximately 650,000 in Texas where the research and treatment has been centered for many years. Researchers in Texas tell us that as many as 20 percent of shelter dogs test positive for Chagas, and the percentage is likely even higher for dogs from hunting ranches.

  • Most U.S. Veterinarians are not familiar with identifying dogs at risk or aware that there is a treatment/cure available.
  • SWESR has been testing and successfully treating Chagas positive dogs for years. In recent years we are seeing more Chagas positive dogs than Heartworm positive dogs. And we are finding Chagas positive dogs in states not previously thought to be at significant risk, including Colorado and California.
  • There is a likelihood that a SWESR dog you are interested in may have been diagnosed with Chagas and is undergoing treatment. SWESR is proactively testing incoming dogs that have no symptoms and no effects from the parasite that can’t be reversed with treatment and because we are treating all Chagas positive dogs they can go on to live a healthy and normal life, just like a dog treated for Heartworm disease in the early stages. In states where the Kissing Bug, which carries the Chagas parasite, exists, your risk is less adopting a SWESR Chagas positive dog undergoing treatment than adopting from a shelter or rescue that is not testing for this parasite. If you adopt a SWESR dog that is undergoing treatment for Chagas, we will provide the medications and pay for the required tests during treatment and at the end of treatment to confirm the parasite has been eliminated.
  • One day testing for Chagas will be as common as testing for Heartworms. But for now, the information found googling Chagas in dogs is likely outdated and/or incorrect. Here is the link to SWESR’s Chagas information page with accurate information for you and your Veterinarian:

Spay and Neuter Policy

  • There are several reasons why we require pets in an adoptive home to be spayed or neutered. A tragic and out of control pet overpopulation problem exists in the USA. Spaying and neutering is the only way that the horrors of millions of dogs of all ages and breeds killed in shelters or suffering as strays will end. By many estimates as much as 25% of the animals killed in shelters are purebreds.  
  • There are medical reasons for spaying and neutering; including prevention of mammary tumors, uterine infections and testicular cancer. 
  • Unaltered dogs in the home can present additional challenges to the acclimation of your adoptive dog.

Field English Setters and Young Children

  • Most of the time, children and dogs share an incredibly special and beneficial relationship. But the happiness a dog can bring to a family with children can change in the blink of an eye when there is an incident that causes harm to a child. Warning growls and dog bites to young children are fairly common with field English Setters. It is understandable in rescue dogs where the dog’s background is often an unknown and the Setter likely lived outside prior to rescue, was not properly acclimated with people and has never lived in a home with young children.
  • Rehoming is stressful for most dogs. Handling and cuddling may not be something a rescue dog is comfortable with, especially from young children that they may perceive as lower than themselves in the pack structure.
  • But it’s not just rescue Setters where we see growls and bites to young children, it could be an adult English Setter that has been in a loving home since they were a puppy. We are regularly contacted by distraught parents that saw no behavioral issues prior to having children and now they fear for the safety of their child.  Our breed is often soft and sensitive by nature. While we rarely see true aggression, we do see fear, startle or correction bites and most often to younger children. Almost always the bite is to the face of the child because the child’s face is at the same level as the dog’s face during the interaction.
  • Very few parents will allow a Setter to stay in their home when a dog is growling at, nipping or biting their children. If the bite is severe enough and MDs and/or Animal Control are involved, the outcome for the Setter could be deadly and the family is left traumatized. No one, the family or the rescue, wants this to happen. This is why we do not assume our dogs will be good in a home with children if they have not previously lived with children.

Rescue English Setters and Fencing

  • Many of our dogs have been assessed by our team as requiring a home with a Setter-secure fenced yard. This is especially true for our young English Setters. A big part of dog ownership is making sure your Setter gets the right amount of exercise. Daily walks and runs are a great activity for Setters, but often this does not replace the need for a Setter to stretch out and “run off the crazy” multiple times a day in a securely fenced yard. Our prey-driven breed is often naturally prone to self-exercising and a secure Setter-interesting fenced yard can stimulate and satisfy a Setter so they are more calm and well behaved inside the home.
  • Dog parks may work for supplemental exercise, but you are not able to control the actions of other people and dogs and accidents do happen in dog parks, sometimes with devastating results.
  • Please understand that we have the needs of our dogs in mind first and foremost when we specify the fencing requirements for an individual dog.


  • SWESR would never use or advocate the use of an e-collar on any shy, timid, or fearful dog and many of the dogs we rescue have these characteristics. If possible, our dogs may be evaluated for suitability regarding the use of an e-collar. The dog’s background is taken into consideration, if known, and the situation under consideration is evaluated.
  • If a dog can tolerate an e-collar, and the training is done humanely by a knowledgeable person, whether for hunting or the safety of the dog, the use of e-collars is acceptable. In most cases our fosters do not have the knowledge to evaluate a dog for suitability and we do not advocate fosters using e-collars unless they have the knowledge to do so. 
  • We ask that our adopters be understanding and not get frustrated with us on this topic, we are only doing what we feel is in the best interests of the dogs we are rescuing.