Rant: Do Not Adopt Messages

Screw you and your “DNA” (Do Not Adopt) forwards to rescue e-mail lists and websites.  I swear to science, I’m going to beat some stupid down if it’s the last thing I do.  Listen up:

There are millions of pets being unnecessarily killed in shelters every year.  That’s why I’m on your e-mail lists – to help them.  Do not waste my time forwarding other junk.  DNA posts are junk.

Anyone who places a pet has the obligation to screen the buyer.  No exceptions.  I do this.  I check for animal cruelty convictions, contact references and build a relationship with the buyer in advance.  I understand shelter staff don’t have the opportunity to build relationships but they can and should certainly screen buyers in whatever reasonable ways they deem appropriate to protect the pet.

As I’m sure we are all tragically aware, it is easy as pie for someone of ill intent to get a pet.  They need not bother with rescue groups or screening processes.

The DNA forwards are often circulated around e-mail lists and websites by people who have no first hand knowledge of the person(s) being maligned in the message.  For all any of us knows, the original message was written by a pedophile in prison posing as an animal rescuer.

I have no idea how many people actually read these things and write down the person’s name on some master list of People I Heard on the Internet are Not Good Pet Owners but I hope it’s very few.  I would like a list of those people who do for my People Who Have No Common Sense list.

I do appreciate that people forwarding these e-mails probably are well intentioned – thinking they are potentially saving a pet from a bad situation.  But honestly, you’re not.  What you are doing is maligning someone you don’t know and possibly making it difficult for them to adopt from a rescue.  In which case they are likely to turn to other sources, many of which the forwarders of these e-mails probably loathe.  And the victims of these DNA forwards will then have a bad taste in their mouths about rescues.  And they’ll tell two friends.  And they’ll tell two friends.  And so on.

If you have personal experience and first hand knowledge of someone you feel is likely to approach a rescue with the intent of obtaining a pet to abuse, by all means speak up – but in an appropriate and targeted manner.  Sending the person’s name in a DNA message to every rescue e-mail list you’re on is not an appropriate and targeted manner.  I’m thinking something more along the lines of:

Dear South Carolina Teacup Poofters Rescue,

I too am in SC and recently adopted a Teacup Poofter to Mr. X.  I now have the dog back and I feel it’s possible Mr. X may approach your group for a dog.   I would like to offer to provide the details of my experience with Mr. X should he apply to adopt a dog from you.

Is that too much trouble?  Is it just easier to forward every DNA message you receive to every pet list you’re on without even knowing if one word of the post is accurate?  Too bad.  If you feel an obligation to help pets and those placing them, do it responsibly or just shut it.

So to recap:

  • I can and do screen buyers for myself.  If I need your input on a buyer, I’ll give you a ringy-ding.
  • Posting DNA messages to e-mail lists and websites is probably libel (IDK, I’m not a lawyer).  It’s at least a crappy thing to do.  Before you do it, be sure your brain is set to the ON position.
  • You will never prevent anyone who wants a pet to abuse from obtaining a pet by forwarding DNA messages.  Remember, evil people can get kids to abuse if they try hard enough – getting a pet is no problem.
  • Speak up if you yourself have direct personal first hand I-actually-know-this-guy-in-real-life knowledge of someone who abuses pets.  Target your offer to share information with those most likely to come in contact with the abuser.  Share the information upon the request of someone who is considering placing a pet with this person.
  • Try not to forget that most pet owners are good people who want to do right by their pets.  They may make different choices than you or I, but they have good hearts.  And sometimes people make mistakes, just like you and I, and need an educational hand up, not an anonymous internet smackdown.  More understanding, less judgment.

22 thoughts on “Rant: Do Not Adopt Messages

  1. I have a different take on this.
    The poster (and anyone who forwards the message) takes their own chances on the libel issue. But if you are considering placing a dog or cat with someone for which you have received a “do not adopt” message, that message should have an original header showing the author. If it doesn’t, and there’s no other way to verify the information, disregard it. If it does, and it is someone connected with a shelter or rescue, contact that person and find out whether they sent the message and get the skinny. Why? Because the would-be adopter isn’t going to volunteer negative information. The rescue I work with recently had an incident where a former volunteer who had adopted her foster decided to list him on Craigslist rather than return him to the rescue. A current volunteer who routinely scans CL in the same area saw the listing, called and discovered that the dog came from our organization, and volunteered to take him, so we got him back safely. She had three different “explanations” for her actions. After that, yes, our board distributed a DNA notice. We’re more concerned about the dogs than her tender feelings, and the facts speak for themselves. It’s not as if rescues and shelters have the time and personnel to personally contact every other shelter and rescue in the country, and breed rescues are often national or regional in scope.

    Have you found (or been informed) that these warnings are frequently malicious and false? Just curious.

    1. Without knowing the circumstances of the example you mentioned, it’s hard to comment but I can comment on a very similar sitch I had myself. That is, someone I had sold a dog to and signed a contract with stating he would give me first right of refusal to take the dog back if ever he didn’t want to keep her anymore – that person took action to place the dog on his own. When I heard and told him that I wanted the dog back, he complied and returned her to me. His explanation for not returning her to me at the outset was that he didn’t want to bother me. Whether that was true or not, I don’t know and honestly don’t care because once confronted, he gave the dog back as agreed. It’s true that he may have had some nefarious reason for trying to place the dog on his own – perhaps he wanted to sell her for more than he paid and make a profit or something like that. But I don’t know that and while *I* might not feel comfortable placing another dog with him in future, I’m hardly prepared to take action to block him from ever getting another dog. It’s possible he was telling the truth and simply didn’t realize that I put the right of first refusal in the contract because I meant it and not just to sound nice or professional or what have you. I find many people are overwhelmed by pet contracts and honestly don’t think of referring to them when a situation arises down the road. He didn’t abuse the dog or anything like that so who am I to try to make it impossible for him to get another dog? I trust wherever he got his next dog from, he was screened to the satisfaction of the seller. To me, a DNA recommendation has to be made carefully – someone who hurt a dog or expressed a credible threat to hurt a dog, someone who lies about the dog for profit or other personal gain – things like that. Someone who simply doesn’t comply with a contract but when confronted, does comply – I’m not concerned enough to try and prevent that person ever getting another dog. I’d rather educate the person to try and avoid a repeat of the sitch with another seller in future.

      1. It has been our experience that DNA lists are sometimes used as tools to ruin the reputations of standup rescues. We were just a FOSTER in a particular rescue, and because we questioned the transporters methods, (i.e. squeezing 7 5+lb pound puppies into a crate sized for a cat) we have been targeted with lies and threats by this transporter. The DNA lists always puts a “disclaimer” tab way off to the right to cover their asses, but never where it can be seen by the ppl doing the searching. As a result now, our names are dragged through the mud, effecting any chance of redemption. I think the idea is was a good one, but unless the person being listed is given the chance to rebuke it, or prove the lister to the contrary, they are nothing but public forums where ANYONE can say ANYTHING about SOMEONE….

    2. HELL YES as I am the target of them now!!! I am being torn apart by the damn robot hyenas who just keep forwarding dnarts about me with NO PROOF,NO EVIDENCE and with out my side of the story being told or any one asking me questions about any of it!! a person who doesn’t like me ba=ecause of our diff views on no kill caused 2 deathrow kitties to be killed because she shared a one sided dnar about me on the thread and there was NO oNE else but me who stepped up for the kitties so they were euthed instead of saved!!

  2. Another take on DNA messages…

    If you have proof of animal abuse by a person, why are you not calling the police? It’s more useful to have the person investigated and possibly charged, than to sit in front of your computer sending messages which will probably be disregarded.

  3. I’d just like to comment on the DNA. I don’t agree with mass emails being sent around about people that most other rescuers don’t know. If as a rescue, you have a thorough screening process and check vet, personal references etc. you should be able to “weed” out anyone that is not to your standard. If you adopt out to someone with ill intentions, it’s just as much your fault.
    I just severed ties with a rescue that I volunteered for, for 3 years. The woman that runs the rescue has become very mentally unstable. After all the drama, BS and craziness that we had to deal with while fostering a dog for 4 months, we severed ties with the rescue when the dog was adopted. This woman was mean, vindictive, spiteful and would verbally attack you if you had a different opinion than hers. I caught her several times editing people’s emails (potential adopters) to make the people look bad. She also would launch smear campaigns against other rescuers, and then would realize that she had the person she was smearing, mixed up with someone else. She is now going around and slandering me and defaming my character, and telling downright lies. I am now seriously considering walking away from the rescue community, which is a shame. I have been an animal lover my entire life, and my kids are my 4 legged kids. I would do anything and go to the ends of the earth to give any animal in my care the absolute best. Because of this one crazy person who thinks she has to control everyone, I have a very sour taste in my mouth. Several other volunteers have also left the rescue.

  4. I’m being threatened with a DNA because I had to return a dog that I had rescued. The dog needed MAJOR time in foster care prior to being offered to an adopter paying a $500 fee. Even after driving for 2 hours to return the dog, they didn’t even thank me for returning her (of course no one from the rescue was willing to come for her).

    I’ve been a dog owner for over 16 years and never had any issue with my dog. Now, after a failed adoption, the rescue is placing blame on me rather than looking at their own organization. I’m still looking for a dog, either through a rescue or breeder.

    What’s worse is that the adoptor might never know that they are on this list and does not even have the ability to reply. Is there a liable issue here? I’m not an attorney, but knowing that an organization can effectively and secretly ban someone from adopting a dog for unknown reasons doesn’t exactly sound legitimate.

    1. A group can effectively ban you from adopting again from them but as far as whether another group will pay heed to their warning, that is questionable. I would add that any group who would not adopt to someone solely because they saw the person’s name on a DNA list from someone else is a pretty lousy group IMO. Everyone who adopts out pets should screen – reasonably – applicants for themselves.

      1. ive been trying to adopt for almost a yr and YES I am being refused and slandered every where I try because they are doing just that!! not adopting when they reacognized my name based on emails and pms they had gotten about me

  5. Ya, agreed, DNA e-mails can be a huge waste of time/space. Especially when they scream, “Last dog got hit by car in 2002! Fence is only 5 ft. high!” about someone who lives 500 miles away. Occasionally, they’re useful, though. Got one recently about a man trying to adopt pit puppies who directed rescuers to an empty foreclosed house for the “home visit.” Sensible advice offered was, “go in pairs and check to make sure electricity not being stolen from neighbors via extension cord,” heh. I’ve also read some character assassination attempts that probably should have landed the writer in court. Confess I almost always hit “delete” unless I know the sender.

    1. Jeanne, I have to agree on the character assassination. There are wonderful homes out there that have been placed on the DNA just because they have made a rescue organization angry. I have seen fosters that were placed on a DNA after having a run in with the rescue founder or leader.

      1. where then are the ppl like u who might give me a chance? I can’t seem to find them any whee to help me!

  6. I would agree that a DNA distributed by indviduals based on that person’s individual experience is not being fair to the potential adopter. However, when I can research online and see that a person has been convicted on charges of animal cruelty, I will not work with that person or the organization that allows them to be associated with them.

    1. And by doing your own research, you are performing due diligence in screening adopters. Which is what everyone should be doing instead of using these stupid DNA lists.

  7. I wonder if there is any way to get off the DNA list. I think I am on it. I adopted a Golden about 10 yrs ago in one state. She had severe thyroid problem. I moved across country due to the illness of my husband. I could not afford the expense of my husband and the Golden who had so many infections and issues. I had a folder full of vet receipts. The vet said we could not cure her only deal with her issues as they showed themselves. We were strapped for money. My husband had a service dog and we just could not afford all the doctor bills for him and the Golden. I called the rescue we adopted her from and they told me to get in touch with the local rescue. I did and they came and got her. It broke my heart but I thought she would get the treatments she needed. The rescue was not friendly to me. I tried to explain the situation but they just silently took her off. I tried to contact them to find out how the GR was but not answers. Then the mail and emails started and phone calls with no one there. The emails were very assassinating. Concerned I called the rescue I adopted her from and they said that they offered to fly her back but the rescue that now had her refused and would not communicate with them. Our service dog passed on and when I tried to adopt again I was turned down without explanation. It is 10 yrs later and I am still turned down without explanation. I do have a dog. My vet helped me find him. I am just so hurt. I am 75 yrs old now and would like to adopt another rescue. I have trained dogs and even trained my husbands service dog. I have had dogs all my life. I love them so much. I thought I was doing the right thing. I guess not.

    1. It sounds from your story that you did the right thing Sue. The good news is that, while there are many DNA alerts circulating among some of the rescue groups online, there is no official list. As long as you remain honest and forthcoming, I don’t imagine you would have a problem adopting a pet from your local shelter. Shelters generally do not spend as much effort circulating internet gossip as some rescue groups do.

  8. I tried this, because you can change your name, but not your face..
    when you have someone that is dumb enough to take a dog from their own parents yard and either trade him or outright sell him, mind you a dog that belongs to someone other than even her family, just going to her moms house to see his buds. I got taken off of facebook, screw them, and had the picture removed off of a page that I started just because I wanted my dog back. I didn’t have their name, address, or phone number on the picture, only their pictures and the dogs picture……. When you have 3 witnesses that seen my dog either in their home, truck, and even when her own daughter tells her dad and grandma “I don’t know why mommy stole denise’s dog”….isn’t that enough?
    It is not liable, especially when they fight to take the picture down when it isn’t even one on view, it was in MY PICTURES…….fb can screw themselves, it isn’t their dog it is MINE and I WANT HIM BACK……

  9. Having been in rescue for some years and knowing how things should work, I complained to a german shepherd rescue in the golden state of CA after the person I was trying to help find a dog became frustrated with their sketchy practices. The head diva retaliated by putting me on a rescue DNA list, which is outrageous but seems pretty typically b*tchy based on past experience. How dare I point out something wrong.

    So now I won’t be involved with organized rescues any more because of the demanding pettiness of some of the people like her- the big fish in a small pond syndrome. Frankly though, the dogs I find for people or rescue myself seem to be at least as “good” as the ones this so-called expert chooses, so no great loss.

  10. Wow. And I thought my situation was unique. I have been rescuing for over 10 years and have pulled countless dogs from kill shelters. For whatever reason, a few people that had never met me or stepped foot into my facility, where out there trashing my reputation. Because we were very public and had a facility, we were always subject to scrutiny. There’s poop in a cage, that dog is too thin, whatever someone felt like complaining about. IT’S A SHELTER! We pulled from horrible situations. Needless to say we had ups & downs with press, funding, etc., it’s the nature of the beast when you don’t hide. I have since been accused by an employee – of forgery, forgery to purchase medical supplies to CARE for pets in our care. I repeat, forgery to buy medical supplies. How did I suddenly become an animal neglector, abuser & killer? I’m on DNA lists all over the place, my reputation is constantly being drug through the mud. My rescue is closed, it got to the point we could not operate and had our water service interrupted. Yes – that was a tough situation, however, laundry was taken to the mat, water was delivered daily and even when the APL brought in a vet to try and gain legal grounds to have us shut down, they failed. Just one day before press releases to the public asking for fosters and other rescue groups to come in and aid with the animals to prevent the situation getting worse, our facility manager secretly “adopted” our animals to other groups, led by a group that was always a supporter of ours. Sure, I could have called the police, but I took the high road, the situation was tough and I opted to take the position of it was better, at that time, for the animals. All of my efforts and my reputation have and are being drug through the mud. Now, kill shelters would rather kill dogs based on misinformation and flat out lies and slanderous statements. 9 years I rescued, rehabilitated & rehomed dogs. We were the group called on when no one else would step up. Sad part is, many of the “rescues” that aided in this “saving the dogs from horrific conditions”, I worked with and helped many of them, know their dirty little secrets. But it’s about the animals. I will rebuild and successfully continue to rescue. When will those that support me stop being cowards and stand by me to put a stop to this DNA madness?

  11. I’m so glad to know there’s others who find the petulance of rescue groups’ DNA lists obscene! We adopted from a rescue who not only lied about extraordinary energy levels, but also lied about serious health issues (megaesophagus) and aggression. Our vet, the rescue head and our family agreed to re-home the pup — and our new adoptees were aware of the issues and were fully vetted up to rescue standards. The rescue promised to help find us a dog that would suit our family and we kept in touch. We spoke frequently and spoke about different dogs, but we were holding out for the “right” dog this time. The rescue head and I were so close that she requested my friendship on Facebook, and I accepted her request, thinking nothing of it. I come to find out our political and social beliefs are GROSSLY DIFFERENT, but I assumed it was no big deal since we had formed a friendship. Found out she deleted me since I was vocal in my beliefs and decided to refuse an adoption to me (since our adoption application was already approved, we had the same house, same finances, same vet, etc. — and she told me just two weeks prior that we were still able to adopt whenever we found one we were interested in)!!! Not only that, but banned me from their Facebook profile so I couldn’t leave a review or comment, ignored my texts/email replies, AND put me on the DNA list. I still have ALL text and email correspondence in which she agreed and approved the re-homing, how she was so pleased that we tried for three months with the dog, admitted she was not forthright about the dog’s pre-existing issues, and that she would still help us find the right match. We have a mutual friend and I asked if she had heard anything from the rescue, and was later alerted that the rescue head indeed was mad because of my personal beliefs — even though we passed their adoption application with flying colors.

    It seems like many rescues have “big dog” syndrome and can be quite unreasonable — people shouldn’t be DNA’d or libeled based on such trivial issues! Where’s the professionalism and integrity?!

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