Hi Natalie, I think this is totally unnecessary to adopt a pet. I would strongly recommend that the volunteers in your rescue read HSUS' Adopters Welcome. The situation you described is very typical of old school mentality. If the organization's mission is truly to save dogs at risk in shelters, I would guess that it is not living up to its potential by being so un-trusting and judgmental. This was exactly ME about 15 years ago! When I first got involved in rescue I was told by many of my peers and mentors that you can't trust anyone, you need to make sure that they are absolutely perfect so that the animal isn't put back into whatever horrible situation they came from, and that if people weren't willing to jump through hoops then they didn't deserve the pet in the first place. The sad thing in my case is that I totally bought into this theory and practiced it for years! It's extremely embarrassing to admit that now, but hey we live and learn! Needless to say, back in the old days I didn't save as many animals from shelters as I had hoped.
Once I had a bit of a philosophy adjustment and realized that most people were good and that I'd be better off trying to help the person be a good pet owner rather than punishing them for whatever wrong doings I thought they had committed.... I ended up tripling my adoptions which meant I truly was making a difference in the open admission shelters around me that faced euthanasia decisions daily.
I realize that fear is the number one barrier in making change, but I promise you that if your volunteers did a trial period of just having a conversation with the adopter instead of worrying about background checks, then followed up with calls or emails to make sure everything was going well - I bet they would see that it not only saves time but allows you to help more animals that need to be transferred from shelters. You can learn so much more from a conversation than from long forms, background checks, etc. Keep in mind that dogs and cats aren't nearly as judgmental as we are... I try to be more like them every day! I hope this doesn't come across preachy, it really is my story and since I've made the switch to open adoptions I feel like I've been liberated. Cameron