Career Change Dogs


Finding homes for select career change dogs.

Interested in adopting one of our dogs who hasn't gone on to become a Service Dog for one of our heroes? You've come to the right place! We are committed to finding the perfect forever homes for our adoptable career change dogs. Our selection and matching process is based on suitability rather than on a first-come, first-served basis. Dogs are matched in consideration of the needs of both the dog and the potential adopting home.

Most of the dogs are between 6 months and 2 years old, and can be any of our breeds: Labrador Retrievers, English Mastiffs, or any breed we utilize. The regular adoption fee for these dogs is $1000.

The reasons the dogs are dropped from our programs are generally two-fold:

  • Medical reasons: anything from allergies to cataracts to varying severities of dysplasia (hip and elbow).

  • Behavioral reasons: high activity level, incompatibility with cats or other dogs, assertiveness requiring strong handler leadership. Some of these dogs may not be suitable for homes with young children or other pets.

Obedience and agility competitors, search and rescue trainers, tracking enthusiasts and others in dog-related fields are encouraged to apply!

Please note: None of these dogs may be used or represented as a Service Dog.

So take a look at our adoption criteria to see if you might be a good match for one of our dogs, and we look forward to welcoming you to the Mutts with a Mission family!


  • Adoption is only open to those living in Virginia.

  • Adopters are required to pay a $1000 adoption fee at the time of adoption.

  • Interested adopters and their families must be willing to travel, at their own expense, to our facility in Portsmouth, VA within a week of being notified that a potentially suitable dog is available. In particular, children under the age of 10 need to accompany their parents, to ensure the dog will be a good family match.

  • It is strongly recommended that any dog already in the household also come to the facility to meet the new dog on neutral ground and to improve the likelihood of a smooth transition.

  • Adopters must be willing to do the following:

    • Purchase an extra large size crate for use in the transition to the new home.

    • Work with the medical or behavioral needs of the available dog.

    • Attend dog training classes appropriate to the temperament of the new dog. Career change dogs often need further training or behavior modification.

    • Have either a fully fenced area or kennel run at least five feet in height. A home check will be performed prior to any dog going home. A home check will not be performed until and unless a suitable dog is available.


If you meet the adoption criteria, the steps in the application are easy.

  1. Complete the online application (link below).

  2. If we have questions or need further information from you we will contact you by email. Applicants not selected for adoption consideration will be notified by email.

  3. We will contact you by phone if and when we have a dog that may be suitable for you. At that time, you'll receive a detailed description of the dog, including the reason it was career changed from the program, what it was like in the puppy raising home, what its current needs are, etc.

  4. If you're interested in meeting the dog, a home visit is performed to confirm that your home meets our requirements. The home visit can typically be conducted within a few days.

  5. We will arrange an appointment for you to come to our facility and meet the dog. We ask that you bring your family and any dog already in the household. It typically takes about two hours to show a dog. If all parties agree that it looks like a good match, the paperwork is done, adoption fee paid, and the dog can go home at that time.