No Kill Conference Wrap-Up: #1

My first post about the No Kill Conference is not going to cover any of the brilliant workshops I attended but rather some of my personal experiences.  While a conference is appropriately designed to educate the masses, I’ve always been a one-on-one or very small group oriented person.  So I really appreciate the individuals who approached me to talk (I’m shy) – some just for a minute, others a little longer – and wanted to share some valuable insights I gained through these exchanges.

For starters, I’ll refer you to David Greene’s post on Pet Connection since he puts it much better than I could.  Basically, in the context of stepping up and taking action, David stated that someone in Memphis needs to (metaphorically) fire on Fort Sumter.  This resonated with me and if you read the post, I hope it will with you too.  We have a lot of Fort Sumters in the animal sheltering world.  We need a lot of Someones.

I also spent some time chatting with Christie Keith and Jamie Horton after the end of the conference on Sunday afternoon.  We talked about how so many well-intentioned pet advocates have all their eggs in the Spay-Neuter Basket.  Their belief being that, if they post enough Facebook status messages reminding people to neuter their pets, and if they get out their Spay-Neuter Soapbox at every mention of pets in polite conversation with strangers, and if they wear their “Don’t breed or buy while shelter pets die” t-shirts enough times – we will become a no kill nation.  The reality is that it would be a miracle if we could become a no kill nation based upon a single action (encouraging more owners to neuter their pets) and, as Christie put it, “We’ve already had our spay-neuter miracle”.

Christie is referring to the fact that several decades ago, spay-neuter was far more barbaric and far less commonplace than it is today.  But with veterinary advances and public education, we have dramatically increased the number of owners who neuter their pets and decreased the number of pets killed in shelters – from about 24 million pets a year in the 1970s to roughly 4 million in recent decades.  That was our “spay-neuter miracle” but there is no more miracle to be squeezed from that stone.  There will probably always be a need for targeted neuter campaigns in isolated areas but by and large, we are doing an excellent job marketing the benefits of neutering to pet owners and pet owners are responding fabulously.

We continue to linger around that 4 million mark in shelter killings and it’s not because we need to encourage more pet owners to neuter their pets.  It’s because we need to stop killing pets in shelters and get them into homes.  What kind of homes?  ALMOST ANY HOMES.  This is something I feel very strongly about so I’ll try to keep the all caps to a minimum.  The fact is, we have people coming to shelters and rescue groups saying, “I want a pet” and being either discouraged by intrusive screening processes (such as home checks and background checks) or being turned down outright.  The shelters and rescues are doing this “for the protection of the pets” which is a noble and understandable idea.  But it’s totally wrong in my view and here’s why:  We are killing about 4 million pets in shelters in this country every year.

If someone wants a pet, I say place a pet with them.  That is a generalization of course.  It is not meant to include the tiny fraction of people who would approach a shelter or rescue about adoption with an animal cruelty conviction on their record.  I am very much in favor of reasonably screening adopters to catch anyone like that.  Similarly, within that tiny group, there might be someone who, for example, appears to be severely mentally ill and has no caretaker to assist them.  Again, I’m in favor of common sense screening to avoid placing pets with people who demonstrate a clear inability to care for a pet.

But this is where it gets even more complicated:  What exactly defines the “ability to care for a pet”?  To many people, it means “someone who will care for the pet just like I care for my pet”.  This is wrong thinking.  And in my view, we will never achieve a no kill nation if our shelters and rescues don’t open their minds to the idea that we can and should place pets with people who care for them in ways we dislike.  If a pet can be loved – and specifically I mean have daily human companionship/affection, be fed and watered adequately, and have sufficient protection from the elements – that is good by me.  I’m not saying I like the idea of a dog being tied to a stake all day, being fed generic “dog food” from the grocery store and hanging out in his dirty barrel (dog house) while he waits for the owner to get home from work.  Nope, I don’t like it.  But you know what I like an awful lot – that dog is alive.  Alive trumps dead, any day of the week.  And to reiterate, I’m talking about pets who are loved by their owners, as I defined previously.

Placing a shelter or rescue pet with someone who wants one, regardless of whether the adopter will provide a life similar to the one your pets enjoy, is a good thing:

  1. You have established a relationship with the adopter.  You know their name and where they live.  You will be calling them for follow-up calls to ask how things are going with the new pet.  You will have their ear and they will look to you for advice.  They like you because you gave them a pet they wanted.  They will not only listen to what you have to say but they will probably refer their friends and family to you when they want pets.
  2. You have placed a pet in a loving home.  Yay everybody!
  3. You have freed up a space that can immediately be filled by another pet who would otherwise be killed in your local pound.

By “protecting” the pets in your care and discouraging/refusing adopters who don’t meet your arbitrary criteria for goodness, you have done a bad thing:

  1. You have alienated an adopter.  This person will get a pet from another source.  That pet will be living the life you felt was sub-standard but you have no relationship with the person.  You don’t know their phone number and even if you did, they are not likely to be interested in anything you have to offer since you judged them unworthy of having a pet.  In future, that person will not turn to you when he sees a dog hit by a car on the side of the road and he will tell his friends and family to avoid you altogether.
  2. You have not placed a pet in a loving home.  Loserville.
  3. You must continue to keep the pet they wanted in your facility, while other pets are being killed in your local pound.  In the case of a kill shelter, you will be killing the dog the adopter wanted in order to free up space for a new intake.  No additional pet will be saved.

Let me give you a recent example from social media.  One of my virtual friends mentioned on Facebook that her neighbor had asked her to look after her dogs while she was away.  The neighbor had explained that the dogs were low-maintenance but when the water in the buckets turned green, they needed to be changed.  My friend cringed, I cringed, probably many of you did too when you read that.  But you know what?  That person loves her dogs.  I can tell because she cares enough about them to secure care for them while she’s away from home.  And she gives instructions to the caregiver in order that her personal standards of care are maintained for her dogs in her absence.

Now I’m not saying it’s fantastic that there are dogs drinking algae water all summer long.  But they are loved and they are alive.  I have no idea where this person obtained her pets but if it was from a shelter or rescue then I say kudos to that group.  You did a good thing.

Advocates are dancing naked on tabletops with bullhorns (possible slight exaggeration) in order to get the word out about pets in urgent need of homes and yet, some of these same advocates are discouraging or turning away adopters who come to them seeking a pet.  While 4 million pets are being killed in US shelters year after year.  I see a way we could start saving more pets immediately and at no additional cost – put a Revolving Door of Life on the front of your facility.  Keep it moving with a continual flow of pets going home with happy adopters and new pets coming in to take their place for their opportunity to get a loving home.

136 thoughts on “No Kill Conference Wrap-Up: #1

  1. With all due respect…we are a purebred (German) working dog rescue. We could not work this way, we also get most of our dogs from abusive situations, one right now is hopefully going to be released from the court soon. I am going to have to think about this post to respond….

    1. Mary, You have brought up a good point that I should have perhaps made clear in my post. I am talking about dogs who are ready to be rehomed. I realize there may be an occasional dog whose medical or behavioral needs might temporarily exceed an adopter’s ability to provide. But most dogs, in a general sense, can and should be placed into homes with adopters to my way of thinking.

  2. So in your opinions, groups like Dogs Deserve Better, who are dedicated to getting dogs off chains, are wasting their time and efforts and resources?

    A family comes to me to adopt a cat and their last 5 cats were killed by coyotes (true story), but while the cat is in their care he is loved, fed, watered, provided access to indoors. In your book, good enough home, but why would I sentence this cat to a death sentence (become coyote bait). The foster family always wants to know about the family that adopted their foster cat. If I told them I sent their foster to a home where the last 5 cats were killed by a coyote, I guarantee that foster family would quit on the spot. I know I would!!

    1. Dogs Deserve Better, from what I understand, is neither a shelter nor a rescue group. They help people to improve the quality of life for their dogs. So my comments are not applicable to them.

      It is unknown if or when the cat you place with the family you mention will end up being killed by a coyote. What is known is two things:

      1. This family will get a cat. 2. Other cats are definitely being killed (no ifs) TODAY (no unknown whens) in your area pound.

      So yes, I would love to see a caring group such as yours place a cat with this family and provide follow-up support and counseling about how to reduce the chances of their current pet being grabbed by a coyote. I would love for you to be their friend and their compassionate educator. I would also love for you to give the cat they want a life in a loving home and then have you go out and pull another cat off the kill table at your local pound.

      1. nope, wrong. they just bought property to build a rehab center for chained dogs. So they are well on their way to being both a shelter and a rescue.

        Our local shelter would rather kill their cats in their charge than release them to our rescue (yah, I know!). So us placing a cat does nothing to lower the kill rate at our local shelter.

        Also, you wrote that good enough homes “have daily human companionship/affection, be fed and watered adequately, and have sufficient protection from the elements.” Huh. Michael Vicks dogs had that. Should I have adopted to him? No one knew about the fighting. But he would have been good enough…until we learned of the fighting.

      2. KerryAnn,

        I’m really not attacking you. No one here is. Please consider this a discussion, an exchange of ideas. It sounds as if I’m right on Dogs Deserve Better at present but they may change the nature of their group at some point in the future, if I’m understanding you correctly.

        Your local pound refuses to release death row cats to your group? Why? You are helping cats in need with your group, right?

        I suspect you were being sarcastic about Michael Vick. But I’m not sure so I’ll address the issue. I don’t see how Michael Vick would qualify as someone who provides daily companionship/affection to his pets. But if anyone were to give you a suspicious feeling (not most people obviously but a rare individual), why not offer free home delivery of the pet or a free “new home orientation” session type thing where you can visit the home, see the environment, observe the family interaction, help the pet get introduced to every human and four-legged member of the family, etc? I’m trying to think of ways you can approve more adopters, get more pets into homes and save more lives. Are you interested in those sorts of ideas?

        Michael Vick is NOT the average adoption applicant to a shelter or rescue group so please don’t try to mislead anyone into thinking that he is. He’s in that deviant, tiny minority of people who should not have pets. And it’s highly unlikely in my opinion that many shelters or rescue groups will encounter a Michael Vick type.

      3. DDB bought Vick’s property which I can’t help but find ineffably creepy

      4. Dogs Deserve Better does currently have a rescue, foster, adoption program. They also improve the lives of chained dogs, but they also rescue chained dogs, rehab them in foster care, and then re-adopt them out. “Who We Are: Dogs Deserve Better is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization dedicated to freeing chained and penned dogs and brining them into the home and family. Every dog on our page has been rescued from a chained or penned life and are in need of a loving home where they will be an inside dog and never be chained or penned again. All of our dogs are vaccinated, spayed/neutered and on heart worm preventative.”

        I absolutely agree with case by case basis for home visits. I don’t see the reasoning behind home visits for every dog a group places. I don’t believe there is any evidence that it cuts down on poor placements.

        Everyone has a “good enough” base. Just different.

        Yes, local shelter is typical in that they would rather kill than save. They have no elements of the no-kill matrix in place. Yes, trying to get that changed.

      5. What is the reason they give for denying you cats on death row? I’m sure you could challenge it in one form or another.

      6. Good points here, YesBiscuit. Totally agree. It’s hard sometimes and we have to use common sense.

        I sent a foster cat to a home where one of their two cats had gotten out the front door and never came home. I was hesitant to let my foster cat go to this family, but I allowed it. The family seemed a little chaotic, but loving. I knew they wanted a cat. They WOULD get a cat somewhere. They would love this cat. And the family had three kids who would also love the cat. I knew it would be selfish for me to hold onto the foster cat for several more months in the hope of finding a better fit while meanwhile hundreds of cats are being killed in our are pounds and need to get into foster homes.

    2. KerryAnn, do you kill the cat rather than send it to the adopters looking for cat #6? Do you suggest to these adopters that they head to the pound to save a cat on death row?
      Must you tell a foster family that the adopter previously lost five cats to coyotes? Is this sort of disclosure required??? Aren’t you just promoting judgmental negativism? Can you tell the adopters that you’d rather not have their new cat killed by a coyote? Can you offer constructive, positive, loving help to keep that from happening?
      p.s. most of my dogs live on chains. Many of them would have been dead because nobody else wanted them. They are happy and not suffering. Dogs Deserve Better can spend their time and resources however they like, as can you. As can I.

      1. We don’t kill cats, thank you very much. We are no-kill. Yes, I do send them to kill shelters to at least give a cat a chance at life. But we treat the cats in foster care as if they are our own, um, because they are. No, that kind of disclosure isn’t required to the foster, however, they deserve to know who their charges go to, they are the lifeblood of a rescue organization. I wouldn’t knowingly lie to a foster family. It’s kinda scary that you think that would be okay, And besides, they often are the ones interviewing the adopters. But hey, you run your organization the way you want. I know it wouldn’t fly with our fosters. Not in a million years.

    3. I know there are people who disagree, but most vets will agree that indoor cats live longer than cats allowed to roam. I would not adopt a cat to a family whose last 5 cats have been killed by coyotes. In fact, I would make it a term of my cat adoption contract that cats will exclusively live indoors.

      You would not adopt a dog to a family which would let a dog roam the streets. Preconceived notions that “cats need to roam” are exactly that, preconceptions. Many cats live long, happy lives indoors. Toys, attention, a second cat, all can provide stimulation.

      1. Things are not always as they may seem. I once had a cat who wanted to be allowed outdoors. I wanted him to stay indoors. He would lay in wait for the door to be opened for the dogs, for the humans, for any reason at all and ZOOM – out he went. Eventually, I gave up fighting it. He was a dearly loved pet who lived a long and happy (once I stopped trying to make him unhappy) life. I’m sorry to think you would not adopt a cat to me but I hope someone out there would. I loved that cat more than I can express with a keyboard and I haven’t had another one since. But I’d like to one day and I’d also like to save a cat’s life.

      2. A lot of animals live longer in cages at zoos that in no way means they are happy. Just cause they live longer doesn’t make it right, animals belong in the wild not zoos.

      3. I agree there’s too many people who still think all cats “need” to go outside. A great area for educating people, not for passing judgement and turning our backs on potential adopters.

        Again, when we’re talking about the alternative of DEATH, the risks of being allowed outside occasionally need more perspective.

    4. Growing up I have had multiple cats. I loved them with all my heart. I lived near the woods and tried to keep them inside as much as possible. But they got out. since I was little I have had nine cats. four of them went out and never came back. It could have been a car, it could have been fishercats, it could have been someone taking my cats in and keeping them. But most of those cats I had anywhere from 4 to 5 years. My family spent thousands of dollars on them giving them the best vet care, food and toys. so because of the four cats that didn’t come back I would not ba allowed another? That’s just stupid. I love my cats with everything. How dare you say someone isn’t fit because of something they couldn’t control. yes they could have kept them in. but pets do get out, and things do happen.

  3. This is the best thing I have read all day! Honestly I work at the Humane Society in my town. I totally agree, there have been many times here lately that I have just wanted to scream to our adoption staff and a couple of our managers, is it better for us to have to euthanize this dog than it to go and live in a household that is not perfect by your standards?! I mean honestly, I work here because I try to make a difference, I work on finding rescues for dogs on my time off the clock, just to be bluntly honest I want to quit right now but I would feel guilty leaving all these animals here with these people and if you don’t work here you won’t be able to see what animals they are holding in the back that aren’t on the website. They (the people here) would rather hold the dogs in the shelter than let them go home with nice people who maybe don’t make as much money as they think they should to own a dog. At first I was on the band wagon with them until I took a look around everyday in the euthanasia room and thought that all of these animals could have homes, if they would get off their high horse and LET them get adopted!! I think about it and if I didn’t work here, and they didn’t know who I was and I came in and tried to adopt….they would deny me too. It kinda hurts to think that! But it;’s true. I have 3 dogs and they are all loved and stay inside and are my family, I don’t have a fenced in yard, that would eliminate me right there!

    1. Thank you for your comments humanesc. Life always trumps death. If dogs and cats could talk, I’m pretty certain I know how they would answer this question: “Do you want to go live in a loving home where you might get run over by a car someday or would you prefer to be killed by us right now?”

      1. Exactly. My dogs stay inside and get leash walked 3 times a day. I tried to take home a hound puppy that they were going to euthanize and was told no because I don’t have a fenced in yard. Go figure, I have fat happy dogs, they are as spoiled and as happy as my children, they have their own bunk bed in my extra bedroom just for them. I thought the idea was for an animal to be part of the family, mine are that is why a fence isn’t all that neccesary for mine, I don’t want them to have to stay outside. Go figure… Thanks for fighting the good fight!

  4. THANK YOU thank you thank you. (I’ll try to keep my all caps to a minimum also…)
    Yes. So many in rescue think that a dog would be better off dead than with a less-perfect-than-them person. If they own the dog, that is their decision and their choice. But if they want what is best for the DOG…living tops death nearly every time.
    Also, if I may be so bold as to ask, who among us is so perfect that we didn’t screw up at least a few times?
    Compassion must be delivered to HUMANS as well as pets!
    Mary Murray, I’m sorry you don’t think you could work this way…I’m glad you read Shirley’s post, and I hope you do spend some time thinking about it and respond again.
    Each of us can do better. No matter where we are at on our personal compassion and growth scale, there is a way to do more/better, and a way to screw up worse.
    There are those who say I don’t take good enough care of my dogs. There are those who say they want to come back as one of my dogs. But these are just words and silly comparisons. Each and every animal (human or otherwise) has worth and value and lessons to teach and lessons to learn. Can we PLEASE spend more time helping and less time judging?!

    1. I’ll raise my hand and say that I’ve screwed up in past. I’m a better pet owner now than I used to be. I hope I’ll always be able to say that.

      1. Because if the dog or cat is alive, we can always be educated to do better as pet parents/owners. But if the shelter kills that animal because we aren’t good enough, then there is never going to be an opportunity to improve their lives and educate the owners.

        when I was growing up we had an outdoor dog with a flea collar who ate cheap feed store food. Heck, we even chained her up on occasion (GASP!). We still treated her like family, but a family member who rolls in dead deer and stinks to high heaven. By the time she passed away in her teens she was living inside, eating premium food, but never again was allowed to roll in a carcass (I am sure she missed it, but I hope the trade off was worth it). My parents dogs today are more spoiled than I was when I was little, but they are probably more deserving of it than I was.

        The point is, if a rescue group with current standards had interviewed my parents there is no way they would have adopted Ninji to us. Time and education took us from being “owners” to “guardians”. We weren’t turned away by the shelter, hell, they offered us a 2 for 1 deal on puppies, which my mom declined, and we continued to cherish our mutts for life. If they had made us feel like bad people and had turned us away we would have picked up a puppy from some guy in a truck with a sign and would have possibly never gone back to a shelter. And I can directly credit my passion for mutts and for shelter dogs for my love of Ninji.

        A dead animal can never have his or her life improved. Dogs Deserve Better succeeds because they try to work with owners through education, building fences and dog runs to get dogs off chains, and by not telling people that a dog is better off dead than with them.

  5. Our dogs are bred to hunt fur and big game such as boar, bait bear, fox, ect. Even those ready to go to a home need careful placement. We are very particular as our liability insurance we carry is very expensive and requires us to provide services to fosters in the way of training….careful placement, ect. We have taken many, many dogs that have been placed by shelter staff after they have killed another animal in the new home…which btw is the 4th test in the German testing system.

    I want to pull my hair out when we come forward for a German Tattooed DD, and the shelter “wants” to place them instead of giving them to us so we can place them properly. They are sharp, kill the toy breed dog or cat in the home…then are euthanized. And no….you cannot be without a fence….to protect the dog AND the public.

    1. You are talking about having people knowledgeable about a specific breed make their best efforts to successfully match the individual dog to the adopter. That makes sense. That’s the great thing about breed rescues.

    2. Mary, WHY does the shelter want to place the dog instead of giving him/her to you? Is it to make the $100 adoption fee? Or is the adoption fee $500?! What is YOUR adoption fee?
      And, well, yes, you CAN be without a fence. It can be done. It’s more difficult, and it takes a person who understands the various dangers/risks. And I’m not saying you have to adopt these dogs to somebody without a fence. I’m just saying if you’re screening so carefully…then, um, can you maybe cut the adopter a little bit of slack and see if maybe they might be that rare individual that COULD handle a problem dog without a fence?
      But to flat-out say “No fence = no adoption” is exactly why there are 4 million dogs killed in shelters in our country.
      Will the shelter let you have one of these dogs after they’ve killed somebody’s cat or little dog?! (Or do they just kill em quick so that nobody notices they screwed up?) Or does the adopter take the dog to be killed by somebody else rather than admit that they adopted the wrong dog. If they took it to a vet, then it won’t show up on shelter statistics, right?

      1. Our dogs are not problem dogs they are breed specific and not for first time dog owners….Why “some” shelters would rather place Our dogs??/ Ego, mostly, they are the dog “experts” you know and generalize all canines into one category

        …we pay adoption fees or pull fees as money is not an issue for us…we are a licensed Shelter Home in 4 states, we abide by the same criteria…our foster homes are licensed in states that require it under our umbrella. We are governed by Board of Directors, and membership….And our Liability Insurance requires a lot from us. Without it we would have to fold…it is required for all events and operations.

        Most times owners call us out of desperation and refuse to take the animal back to the shelter…many vets call us directly. We are the only licensed 501c3 Animal care facility in the Nation for our breed so we receive a lot of calls. It is important to recognize new breeds need breed specific handling, and working with purebred groups for these breed specific dogs should be the focus instead of sending them out the door. Remember CAPA? Many shelters will kill our dogs as an unqualified person has done the assessment testing…but then there are many shelters that do call upon us. We in-turn market their adoptable pets for them on one of our websites, help them fund raise…`and give donations if they are a 501c3.

        We have a private K-State Vet on staff, as required by our state licensing…and do provide the best medical care possible. We receive donations from drug
        companies, and food companies…dog supply companies.

        Our adoption fees vary…we have dogs that have cost us 3000.00+ for compound fractures, surgeries, and if they are special needs we many times take nothing. Due to the nature of the dog being seen as a tool, most come in horrific condition and they do cost to vet properly and train before being offered for adoption.

        Our average adoption fee for a healthy balanced dog is 250.00. They go to obedience with one of the top trainers in Kansas City (if they come from extreme conditions and out of our realm), we work with them also…they go out crate trained,
        loose leash walk trained…house manners and basic obedience.
        My book will be published in the next two months on our breed…watch for it…

    3. This part of your post intrigued me, but I don’t really understand what you are saying. Could you elaborate, please?
      “which btw is the 4th test in the German testing system.”

  6. I have an issue with this:

    “I’m not saying I like the idea of a dog being tied to a stake all day, being fed generic “dog food” from the grocery store and hanging out in his dirty barrel (dog house) while he waits for the owner to get home from work. Nope, I don’t like it. But you know what I like an awful lot – that dog is alive. Alive trumps dead, any day of the week. And to reiterate, I’m talking about pets who are loved by their owners, as I defined previously.

    Placing a shelter or rescue pet with someone who wants one, regardless of whether the adopter will provide a life similar to the one your pets enjoy, is a good thing”

    Slippery slope…the pervasive idea that “alive is always better than dead” is just wrong. I would NEVER place a dog in the situation you described. I would hold him while the needle went in before I’d send him to the place you just described. In fact, one of my own dogs CAME from a place like you described, and I’d never send him back! Go ahead, scream and yell, folks. Kick me off this blog. When people chaining up dogs to barrels are considered “better than dead” that’s just going too far…

    1. Liz,

      You will not be kicked off the blog for expressing your opinion in the way you did. I’ve never banned anyone solely for disagreeing with me and I won’t be starting to do that today. Thank you for speaking up and voicing your view. I’m sad to hear that you would personally assist in killing a dog who was wanted by a loving owner. May I point out something to you? If you were responsible for the life/death decision making regarding your rescue dog you mention, he would be dead and you never would have had the opportunity to know him.

    2. Liz, I agree with you. Chained to a barrel doesn’t equal loved pet to me. I would never, ever send out one of my fosters to a home like that.

      Also, I’m sorry, but making a dog drink water with algae in it is neglect, plain and simple. It can make dogs sick. To me, any person who would do that is NOT responsible, and frankly, I feel sorry for her dogs.

      I completely agree that some rescues go way overboard with policies and procedures, but it is also irresponsible to go the other way and have none. I’m sorry, but giving a family who has had five cats killed and wants another one…no way. If they didn’t learn after four had died that they needed to do something to protect the fifth, I have doubts that they could be educated enough to keep the sixth cat safe.

      1. The home that keeps their dog chained to a barrel will have a dog chained to a barrel.

        The home with the green water will also have dogs.

        The coyote victim home will have a cat.

        But none of these pets will come from you, which gives you a peace of mind I imagine.

        Yet, if you are with a rescue group or shelter, you will not free up any space in order to save another life. You will not establish a relationship with these owners in order to help them. I hope someone will. Because after being turned down by you, they will probably not go to another rescue or shelter. They will probably go to a flea market or some other source where they won’t be judged harshly although they may well not receive the valuable support like they would with a good shelter or rescue. You have not kept pets from going into those homes but you have kept pets on the kill list in your local pound by not freeing up a space to save another. And you’ve reduced your pool of future potential adopters/fosters by alienating these people, along with perhaps their friends and family.

      2. I guess the issue is, for me, that the people that I run into who fall into these sort of categories aren’t likely to change, even with support and education. Typically, to these people a dog is JUST a dog, and a cat is JUST a cat. I don’t have blanket policies for homes, they don’t have to be spotless, don’t have to have a fence, and I don’t automatically exclude people who have given up a pet or whose pet had some sort of accident, but they do have to show that they care and that they are capable of at least minimum standards of care.

        IMO, rescue is there to give the animals in its care the best home for them, that will keep them safe and healthy for the long-term. I guess IMO it isn’t better to save the dog or cat and then send him/her to a home so they live one or two more years, but they suffer during that time or have a horrible end to their life. That isn’t really the goal of rescue in my mind.

        Premature death is premature death any way you slice it, and I’m not sure that humanely euthanizing an animal in a shelter is really any worse than giving it over to grossly underqualified owners like the cat example. I don’t think that rescues should give animals over to just anyone because they will get one anyway. That just isn’t logical in my book.

      3. People aren’t likely to change, even with support and education? How likely do you think they are to change *without* support and education? And keep in mind that they WILL get a pet. And that pet will be living the life you deemed sub-standard without any potential for improvement via education from a caring shelter or rescue.

      4. You can’t judge every person that chains there dog the same. Yes I do know people that have a chained dog in their yard, she is on a chain with food water, shade, a nice dog house. When they get home from work at 5 she goes in with them. It’s not the perfect situation, I wouldn’t chain mine, but you can’t live everyones life and their are too many animals in shelters in cages, like the one I am in right now waiting for a home to overlook someone for some of the reasons some people do.

      5. Brandi and Liz, you obviously don’t personally know many people who still believe in outdoor-only dogs. It’s popular among the rescue community nowadays to judge these people incredibly harshly. I don’t, even though I don’t think I’d ever have an outdoor-only dog myself. I work at a rural vet, and probably 50% of our clients have outdoor-only dogs who are very much loved and cared for. Some are chained, some are penned, some are farm dogs that are loose all day. There are risks, it’s not perfect, but I don’t understand why it’s this one single thing (per se) that would make me reject them from adopting a dog that I fostered.

      6. In response to what cyborgguy said, I dont necessarily have a problem with an outdoor-only dog (though it is kind of sad) as long as they have food/water/shade/etc. I do; however, have a problem with a dog penned or chained in any sort of way, so itd be great if they had a fence or knew that the dog wouldnt run away somehow (though IDK if people would do that without an electric fence and I find that very sad too). Dogs like to run, especially in packs, and chainning them up all the time is just sad. Also, social isolation (from humans and from other dogs) can causes them to feel lonely and aggressive when they do interact with humans and then that can cause problems (biting, etc) and then that dog will end up being put down anyway. So while I wont really judge someone for putting their dog outside, I dont believe in chaining/penning/whatever 24/7. Just my .02.

    3. I agree with Liz. The bottom line is that none of us knows what it’s like to be a dog or cat. We must rely on our empathy to make decisions for these animals who are completely at our mercy. I know if given the choice between dying and spending my life chained and alone, I would choose death. I understand others might choose differently.

      Regarding screening, most publicly funded shelters want applicants to show that they can provide for a pet’s basic needs but are not picky beyond that–they can’t afford to be. Rescues on the other hand–and especially breed-specific rescues–are more selective because they can be. Typcially at this point the pet is already safe in a caring foster home and no longer in danger of being euthanized. The rescuer(s) work to find a good match for both the pet and the individual or family, thereby increasing the likelihood of the pet being in his forever home.

      1. Erin – To clarify, I said a dog who was LOVED which INCLUDED DAILY HUMAN COMPANIONSHIP AND AFFECTION. Your description of a dog “spending life chained and alone” is not something that appears in this post or discussion.

      2. I paraphrased. Here’s your quote:

        “I’m not saying I like the idea of a dog being tied to a stake all day, being fed generic “dog food” from the grocery store and hanging out in his dirty barrel (dog house) while he waits for the owner to get home from work. Nope, I don’t like it. But you know what I like an awful lot – that dog is alive. Alive trumps dead, any day of the week. And to reiterate, I’m talking about pets who are loved by their owners, as I defined previously.”

        People who chain their dogs don’t bring them inside for family time when they get home from work, I’m sorry to break the news. We all see chained dogs, and it is so heartbreaking precisely because they get little to no interaction with people or other animals. Have you ever seen a chained dog who appeared happy to you?

        And how do you define “love?” It’s a subjective term, but I think most of us can agree it involves daily interaction and at least a small amount of physical contact.

      3. I agree – daily interaction and affection is key. That’s why I stated it exactly as I did in the post (although you did not quote that portion). Have I seen a chained dog who appeared happy? Yes, absolutely. People who chain their dogs during the day don’t bring them inside at night? I’ve seen it. Furthermore, I have seen well loved yard dogs who never come inside the house. They are common in my area of the country and can often be seen at mobile shot clinics. Do you suppose the owners find a rope to slip around their necks, pack them up into the truck and take them to the shot clinics because they don’t love their dogs?

        Again, I’m not saying it’s the life I would prefer for any dog but so long as the dog is alive and loved, there is hope for improvement. If we kill him because we love him too much to let him go to that home, our hopes for improvement are gone and so is that dog’s life.

      4. OK, I have to say (and thanks for those who understood my earlier post) —

        There are a million shades of gray between the “we won’t let anyone adopt” and “we don’t care who we give this animal to, as long as he doesn’t get killed (by a pound).”

        I hope most of us are in the middle — it’s not so comfy here.

        You have to be flexible and creative. You have to spend time actually LISTENING to people, but not using black and white rules that serve no one. It is not easy.

        I agreed with Erin and Brandi — but Shirley, you responded:

        You wrote:

        “The home that keeps their dog chained to a barrel will have a dog chained to a barrel.

        The home with the green water will also have dogs.

        The coyote victim home will have a cat.

        But none of these pets will come from you, which gives you a peace of mind I imagine.”

        Yes, it would give me peace of mind, and it would probably prevent a lot of suffering, too. Going by the “any home is good enough” paradigm, we’d place animals with people who have and will again done/do things we would never want our innocent charges to endure. The animals are still owned and treated like property, for the most part. If I have an animal in my care, I would never release him/her to someone who had a history of, or an admitted intention to chain up, beat, let roam on a busy road, get shot by farmers, eat poison, blah blah blah … in other words, I would not allow someone to adopt my foster or shelter animal if it looked like they were going to “inadvertently” kill it within 3 years! The animal will still probably die in these cases, only it will take a lot longer! And I am NOT someone who is a stickler for adopters — quite the contrary — I am lenient — no fence? Let’s talk. Outdoor cat? Let’s talk. Coyote got your last cat? Let’s talk. But chaining up a dog daily? No way!

      5. Absolutely Erin…we have time and money…they are safe, and we would never in a million years put them into any situation less than what we can provide…which is an orvis dog bed by the fire and spa day the third wed of each month at the Brookside Barkery and Bath. Daily runs at the dog club (when weather is much cooler), or walks with our volunteers in the neighborhood. We are a rare breed rescue, and we are so very grateful for that….like I said we are oranges…

  7. I would like to add: Precious few things are life are guaranteed. If you place a pet in a home with a loving owner who cares for his pets in a way you dislike, lots of things could happen.

    The pet could get hit by a car.

    The pet could break his leg in 5 years and the owner might be unable to pay for repair.

    The owner might die and the pet might be taken in by a wealthy relative who serves him filet mignon on a bed of roasted vegetables every night.

    The pet might live out his normal lifespan in an uneventful manner with a loving owner and pass peacefully in his sleep in his old age.

    Any of these things could happen if you place a pet with an owner who cares for his pets in a way you approve of, too.

    But none of these things can happen to a dead pet.

    1. Man, a lot of you people would NEVER send me a dog! S’okay. I’ve got 15 foster dogs on the property right now, am boarding three others, and just got a call to board two more for three months. I don’t need your dogs! But your dogs need homes. (Mine do too, and some will get adopted eventually, although many of them are geriatric and not likely to find another home before they die.)
      I volunteered for a rescue. She had a cute young dog. Scruffy mutt, very adoptable. I was tempted, but, well, I’ve got way too many and almost anybody would have love that little guy. She got top dollar for him, and he got hit by a car within a week. Dead. Broke my heart. Scalded her too. She stopped adopting out…started hoarding. That broke my heart too.
      I adopted a dog out to a guy that drove the dog *home* to Idaho (from Alaska) I got a call from a railroad employee a few months later saying a dog wearing my boomerang ID tag was hit by a train in Sand Point. He mailed the collar and ID tag back to me. Said the dog had been sleeping on the tracks.
      Well, the dog I adopted out was a titch skittish…no way had she been *sleeping* on the railroad tracks!
      I called to notify the adopter. He said he’d let her out early to potty, and found the gate open later that morning and the dog gone.
      Did a neighbor with a grudge kill the dog and put it on the tracks to hide their deed? Did she get hit by a car and the guilty party moved the body to tracks? Did she get into antifreeze and die, and somebody put her on the tracks so they wouldn’t have to answer questions? Who knows!?
      Was I wrong to adopt that dog to that guy? No. He wanted her, she had more love and attention and excitement traveling across the country with him than staying here with me. And sending her away opened up another space here for somebody else.
      I could have 250 dogs if I wanted. But I couldn’t care for or feed 250 dogs, and if I didn’t have sponsorship from my vet I couldn’t care for the 24 dogs that are currently here on my property. It helps that a couple of them are paying customers, and they help cover the feed bills for the rest of the pack.
      The people that are wanting to give me dogs are giving away intact animals to the people you don’t like and that you don’t trust and THOSE dogs are having puppies!
      I can only do so much. And I am sure the same is true for each of you. But PLEASE…lets reach out with love and compassion and HELP each other instead of passing judgement and declaring homes unfit. Animals are dying every day. Maybe not the ones you’re in charge of, and thank you for that! But if each of us could reach out to one or two more people on the edge of our allowable limits, maybe they could adopt one more, or foster another, or send a friend to foster or adopt.
      But not if we’ve turned them off by calling them a bad person. We can’t help the animals unless we are willing to help the people who are responsible for the animals.
      If Animal Control would stop trying to steal animals (either to create fines or as punishment) they could afford to SHELTER animals better! But that’s another soapbox.
      Thank you all for listening, and for your honest and caring comments.
      lynn orbison
      Daisy Acres Critter Services
      Two Rivers, Alaska

  8. Thank You Shirley…just read what you wrote about breed specific rescues. I do agree most dogs could go out of the shelter into homes, and as a good practice…the dogs that are fence jumpers, make great apt/condo dogs as they are always on leash or at the dog park…which is fenced.

    Each dog has it’s own criteria, and needs. (years ago) Our Lab was always off leash in the front yard…he never left his boundaries….calling a GWP/DD off prey required a tremendous amount of training..prey can be someone’s family pet.

    I had a young man call me today….he is a student, and I thought but as we talked, he has worked 3 jobs this summer to save enough money to not work during his college school year. He is active in running, fishing, and hiking…so he may be a good candidate for one particular dog I have…the dog came in with a tremendous amount of training, we have just sharpened it up a bit. Not one person runs a 501c3…there is a governing board, and a working board…and membership to answer to, and then you have to watch not getting sued. Actually there were a couple of dogs a NE shelter would not give us, due to “their” liability…

  9. Thanks for the kind shout-out, Shirley! For those who were not in Washington over the weekend, I’d like to repeat something that Seth Godin stressed in his talk on Saturday: wasting time and energy quibbling over details (such as what comprises a ‘good’ owner) is precisely the kind of exercise which is sure to doom a movement that needs to keep its eyes on the larger context.

    It’s about saving dogs and cats. When we’re at the point where that’s being sufficiently addressed, and no longer needs to be Mission #1, we can debate until the cows come home about the minutiae. I’m not saying the minutiae doesn’t have value, just that right now it’s a distraction and misses the larger point. In short, Shirley’s right. Being overly protective will inevitably cost thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) more lives than taking chances on owners who might fall short of excessively strict adoption guidelines.

  10. I have a question about “contracts” – who, exactly, is spending the time and effort to ensure the contract is enforced? I might sign a contract with a rescue group that says I have a fenced yard, that I won’t allow a cat outside, whatever. They might even do a home check.

    And then I can move. Or change my mind. Or whatever. So why place limits on something that you cannot enforce over the life of the animal you are trying to place?

    So, for those who have contracts as a part of their adoption procedure – what do you do to follow-up, say, in one year? In five years? And if you aren’t following up, then why have such restrictive clauses in the first place?

    1. I asked a similar question to a conference attendee this weekend. She explained that adopters don’t know that the especially restrictive clauses in the contract are unlikely to ever hold up in court. I explained that these kinds of restrictions drive me away as an adopter. She shrugged.

      1. When I adopted Flair Animal Protective Services wanted me to keep a collar on her. We did but she kept getting her jaw stuck under the collar even when done up really tight. I didn’t like the idea of her getting stuck with us away so I only use a collar on her if she’s on a leash on the patio. We give her the best care besides not keeping a collar on her. We will even have her micro chipped soon. If they show up for a visit we’ll slip her collar on for them.

    2. Contracts scare the ever living carp out of me! I’ve seen so many instances where rescues have seized adopted pets based only on hearsay and false allegations from LOVING homes, where they were well cared for!!! I personally would live in fear that my pet could be taken at any day, any hour based on the whims of people who have seen the worst of what can happen to pets. No siree I have and always will legally own my pets.

      I’ve also had such bad experiences with rescues I will do my best to NOT deal with them. And when I do I tread lightly. I’d rather deal with local government shelters as I have had much better experiences and I can spend time volunteering and getting to know them as well as allowing them to get to know me. I once e-mailed a rescue asking to volunteer and they NEVER e-mailed me back. Guess they never need volunteers for anything, oh well…

  11. I wrote a long oration and then it dawned on me…we are talking apples and oranges. We are talking over crowded shelters and rescues that need to place animals quickly. We are not in that category…we are the lucky ones.

    I want to see shelters do referrals to purebred rescue organizations that have the resources to make a space within their networks…I want to see CAPA passed and enforced….I want to see cooperation. As far as what we do with our dogs is our business…we are oranges.

    1. Is it really that different, though? Almost every breed/cause specific rescue I know is full of dogs/cats and not taking any owner surrenders. Meanwhile, the animals are sitting in foster care for literally years while dogs of your breed are being surrendered to shelters and then killed.

      1. we do a pretty good job getting most all of them, networking and those passionate for their rare breed helps…so your remark doesn’t apply to us.

  12. I don’t feel sorry for the green water dogs. Their owner loves them. And, with some compassionate education delivered in a gentle manner, their owner might change her water buckets more frequently.

    I feel sorry for the dogs being needlessly killed in pounds all over the country. If only they could be so lucky as to have the chance to live in a home with a loving owner – with ANY COLOR WATER in their buckets.

    In life, there is always opportunity and hope for making things better. In death, there is nothing.

    1. I agree. That sounds like an easy one to me, just tell her how sick the dogs could get and what the vet bill will be. If she is a loving owner, that should do it. That is just a case of ignorance, there is not necessarily meanness, or disregard for the animal in that situation. Meanness and disregard are what we need to be alert for. The cat situation described is a bit more borderline, sounds like there may be some disregard going on there. Even so, I’d talk with them, see what they had learned from the past (maybe to bring the cat in at night, at least?) and see if a feral cat in need of re-location might be more suitable for them. Maybe they want rodent control more than a pet, and ferals do tend to be more savvy about the wildlife than pet cats are. I wouldn’t just write them off when so many cats are in need.

  13. It’s always a balancing act between saving as many dogs/pets as possible and finding them suitable homes. Not necessarily perfect homes, but suitable homes. Working in breed rescue with an extremely popular breed — German Shepherd Dogs — and also one that covers the whole spectrum from family pets to tough working dogs, we want to make sure we’re not putting the dogs OR adopters in an unfavorable position, so we screen carefully. Our breed tends to mature into large, powerful, serious control freaks who don’t mind backing things up with their teeth if the humans lack leadership. We don’t want the dogs to take over the household and end up biting the family and the neighbors, or the result is a traumatized family and a dog just as dead as if we’d never taken it in.

    That said, there are many workable situations for our dogs — fence, no fence, apartment, ranch, etc, depending on the dog’s temperament and the adopter’s knowledge. We try to think outside the box and will always try to find a suitable dog for any situation. We have a rating level system for dogs that’s working really well, the prospective adopters can read it and see that living with a higher level dog isn’t worth their ego trip if they fancy themselves more experienced than they are.The other reason we won’t just send a dog home with anyone who wants it is because if the dog is in the wrong home, it will come back to us, generally with more problems than it left with, and we have to have a spot for it. We only have so many foster homes.

    We also carry liability insurance and have a legal contract. Our contracts are written to cover us, basically. Once you own the dog, you own the dog, and the full liability is yours. We don’t go steal dogs back out of the yard in the middle of the night, even though we will take them back at any time if things don’t work out.

    In an ideal world, we’d have enough experienced foster homes to take in and rehab every German Shepherd that comes through the local shelters’ doors, but that’s just not the reality of it. We have to have a foster home willing to take in a particular dog along with whatever issues it comes with, and that just hasn’t happened yet. The shelters around here rarely adopt out GSDs, since most GSDs won’t pass their temp tests, so they have to come into rescue. We have to place them responsibly or we’re out of business.

    1. By all means, please continue to be responsible and continue to think outside the box and try to find a dog that’s a fit for the adopter’s situation. This is great to hear.

  14. I found this very interesting as I volunteer for American Lab Rescue based in CT. Both myself and a good friend of mine do home visits for potential adopters. We have had debates in the past as to what a “good home” is since we both spoil our dogs rotten (I’m home every day with mine, take them for walks several times a day on our property where they get to swim in a pond and chase balls, I cook meals for my girl with allergies, and they sleep on the bed with us if they want). Of course I would prefer that every home I evaluate would give their dogs the same life I give mine, but I also realize that not everyone will and it is better that we place a dog so we can pull another from a high kill shelter than to wait for that “perfect” family while hundreds more die. Our organization realizes that. As an example, we had an adopter who we found was a hoarder when the home visit was done. She had lost both of her parents several years ago and her house became stacked to the ceiling with stuff. We knew that it wasn’t a safe situation for a dog to be in, but we worked with her. We gave her time to get her house in order and seek counseling and we ended up adopting to her and saving another life off of death row. I agree with Shirley that by reaching out and working with someone it establishes a relationship that they can feel comfortable in asking for help. And a contract is as good as the paper it’s on. Unless an organization follows each and every family for the life of the animal, they can’t guarantee that the animal will be safe from all harm forever.

    1. Brenda,

      Thanks so much for sharing that story. That cheers me up A LOT. Not only did that person get help with their hoarding, they also ended up getting the pet they wanted. Win-Win-Win! (Yes, I threw an extra Win in there because this is such a happy tale.)

      Please send me the link to your group’s website if you have one. I want to add American Lab Rescue to the Find a Friend category on the sidebar.

      1. Thanks Shirley! Here are the links to our website and FB page:

        It’s very rare that ALR rejects an application. We are in the business of saving lives and being super picky just won’t work. We try to match a family with a dog that will work best with their situation. It might not be the dog they initially requested, but the end result will be a dog placed with a family instead of being killed in a back room of a shelter.

      2. I would like to have every sentence of this comment engraved on a plaque and hang it on the wall of every rescue and shelter in America.

    2. I thank you, too, for sharing that, Brenda. The story of the hoarder brought a tear to my eye. In a way, you saved two lives by the way you handled that situation. I just really couldn’t be more impressed!

    3. Yes! Thank you for sharing this story. I think animal rescue is so very much related to human problems, and often the humans need help too. Domestic violence, substance abuse, poverty, mental illness, depression, physical handicaps, divorce, so often people are put in a bad situation and cannot care for their animals. Or they would like to have a pet but need just a little improvement in their situation.

      My local dog shelter just received a shih-tzu from an elderly man on oxygen tanks because he could not care for her any longer. My worry is, if he is BY HIMSELF and unable to care for his dog, who is going to take care of him?? It makes me utterly sad. If he had a caring family, in my opinion they would make it a priority to keep him and his dog together even if it meant more people and animals in a small house.

  15. we are up there with the GSD rescue…ours too are that wonderful German stock. But also can be lethal in the wrong hands….which is why we too must place responsibly. We do match the dog to the home, and our dogs are evaluated to a profile of the potential adopters that are approved. We guide them to make good choices, and place dogs that would flourish in that particular environment.

  16. Yes Yes yes to Yesbiscuit’s views!! Thanks so much for making this point. And no, it’s NOT that anything not adoption is a waste of time. One thing that I got from Seth’s talk is that every one of us has a gift, a genius, and we should get on with doing our giving, and spend less of our time berating another person for not having the identical gift, if they’re giving of their own gift. So, yes, spay/neuter is good, yes, fighting chaining is good, AND yes, getting animals out alive in short amounts of time is good and we can and must find ways to fully respect and honor one another without being “all the same.”

    Also, thanks Yesbiscuit for commenting about shyness because I think I am the shyest person around and blogging frankly darn near horrifies me but I’m blogging because the animals need someone to blog, and I know how. And I hope I can some day to that even a fraction as effectively as you and my other heroes!

  17. I didnt really have the time at the moment to read all of the comments so Im sure Im re-stating stuff but I got a general idea of what people are saying.

    If youre looking at the broad picture, then yes, alive trumps dead, BUT, personally, Id much rather be dead than have to suffer years of abuse. Since we are not talking about pure abuse, I will move on. If we are just referring to “a dog living on a chain for their life”, then yeah, I would have a problem adopting to someone like that. That is why I like organizations like Dogs Deserve Better because they educate people on why they shouldnt do things like that and how it makes the dog mentally. If a dog is going to become aggressive from being on a chain all the time, and most likely develop problems where the chain embedds into their skin, then if they get loose or whatever, and had not been socialized, most likely the dog will be put-down anyway. So is it REALLY that good for a dog to feel unloved, alone in the backyard for a few years before “snapping” and then getting euthanized anyway? To me, thats a form of abuse. A small form, but a form. To me thats sort of like comparing spanking your child to beating them in the head with a sledgehammer. They are both abuse in my eyes, and just not the right thing to do, but they are on different levels of how bad they are. Even if DDB trys to help someone and tell them what they should do and it doesnt work, at least they tried. I would much rather there be a DDB for a small percentage of people who it would help than to say we shouldnt have one at all because there are going to be people who will do what they want to (same with local SPCAs who write citations for abuse and what not as well).

    I do think that sometimes shelters go crazy with all the criteria; MAS comes to mind, especially with their high kill-rate, but I think there is a balance as well. I cant purely say “well, he/she will be loved somewhat, have water, shade and food, thats good enough for me”. I would just keep trying until I found the dog a good home. If I were a rescue, I would have time. I know its “well, thats one more dog in the shelter” sort of a thing, but 1. if it didnt work out because the people didnt care about the dog enough, theres always a chance of the dog re-entering the shelter and then being put-down anyway and 2. if the same people who were turned down go out and get another dog, then thats one less entering the shelter system right there.

    Anyway, that’s how I look at it. Disagree if you want but I just think there’s more to it than just feeding them and giving them water, just like the coyote situation and the green algae water (if this was the ASPCA, that would be abuse, so its not that crazy of a thing to find disgusting).

  18. Oh and I just wanted to add one more comment regarding what I did read about the cat/outdoor cat thing and have a sort of similar story. My 10 year old started developing cataracts about a year ago, so we have to watch her around stuff like the pool and what not. She was always an inside dog (we live in AZ so we felt too guilty leaving her outside all the time, especially during the summer) but obviously we had to take her outside to “do her business”. One night, when we were first starting to realize everything about her eyesight, she fell in the pool. We were already outside and she got out okay but it worried me. We went to the vet, vet confirmed cataracts and told us to just watch her at night. Okay, done. Then they started to get progressively worse over the year to where even if we are outside during the day we have to watch her. There will be times when my Mom will be in the pool and she will fall in and my Mom will be there to help her get out if needed (though shes fine on her own). Other than the eyesight, the vets never said anything about any other medical condition, and she told us that as long as we are watching her all the time now, then shes okay. Our lawn for her to “do her business in” is on the opposite side of the yard where the pool is (our backyard is pretty big) so I let her out, watch over her and then bring her inside so I dont have to worry about her getting too close to the other side of the pool. Other than those times, I never really worry about her being in these types of situations. We dont just let her out for hours on end. Now my point to this story is that if a potential adopter came to me and said we will feed her, give her water, and we have a fence so she wont have to be chained but she will pretty much be on her own, then Im not so sure about adopting her to them. If you saw my little dog’s eye bulge out and how fast her heart races when she falls in, you know the terror she faces when those times come. If shes outside on her own all the time, she may face that quite frequently. I just dont think I could adopt her to someone, if she was a rescue dog, to someone who wouldnt watch over her and take care of her, because one of these days she may not be able to find her way out and drown. In that case, being alive, when youre on your own, is not better than dead. Sorry for the long post but I just felt like I needed to add in an example as to why I feel this way.

  19. Anytime you see a blog post with a lot of responses, it’s fun to try to see if you can guess exactly what the fuss is about before scanning them. It was pretty obvious in this case.

    I see a lot of neglected, untrained dogs at the shelter where I volunteer. We put in a lot of time teaching them how to walk on a leash, socializing them, taking them to training classes, addressing their health needs, etc. etc. etc.

    I understand Shirley’s point. You’ve got to trust the public at some point. You can’t define a good home strictly by how you would care for the dog.

    But I will be damned if I will knowingly see any of our dogs go to live on a chain. No way. My shelter is open intake with an 8% PTD rate so we have the luxury of being a bit more selective. And perhaps the “adopter” will just go get another dog someplace else. But the “education” that keeps being mentioned here starts with letting the public know that we don’t feel that every situation is OK.

    1. totally agree Joel…thank you! I posted this on my facebook wall with 2100 followers, getting quite a few responses. One post was that this blogger used to breed flatcoats, and the contracts on this rare breed is very in-depth. Is this True Shirley?

      1. Mary,

        It is true that many Flatcoat breeders put all sorts of wacky things in their contracts. I have sold several puppies to people who told me they were relieved to find a FC breeder with a common sense contract that allowed for fair protection of the dog and the buyer.

  20. I think I have re-iterated, re-phrased and re-everything’d my thoughts here as much as anyone can probably bear so I’ll wrap with this:

    I’m a reasonable person who loves pets and wants to see more of them saved. When I talk about reducing restrictions and increasing adoptions, I’m speaking from that viewpoint. Please do not get all frothy at the idea that I’m suggesting that unless your group places a 9 month old Border Collie with the first adopter who walks through your door, even if she is 88 years old and dragging an oxygen tank, you are the devil. I’m not. Of course reasonable screening includes an effort to match the adopter with a pet she’s likely to be successful with. We’re all reasonable people here so please don’t go to extremes.

    What I’m saying is, regardless of what the adopter indicates on the form or says to you in person (again, I’m excluding extremes here), why can’t we look at that as an opening to a conversation that could get a pet into a home and save another pet’s life? Why should we have certain words or phrases that trigger a NO WAY response?

    Several people have referred to “life on a chain” even though that is not a scenario I mentioned. (“Life” means 24/7/365.) I hope that isn’t how you react to applicants who mention chaining. There are people who chain responsibly – because they love their pets and believe they are doing the best they can for them. Not every dog you see on a chain spends his life there. Some are taken off daily for walks and/or nightly to come into the laundry room, etc. Some are taken off more frequently – or permanently even – because a compassionate shelter or rescue worker educated the owner in a kind manner over time.

    It starts with a trust in the public and a desire to save more lives. If you set strict limits on your faith in adopters, you are setting limits on how many lives you will save.

    Here in the south, we have lots of what people call “yard dogs”. While there is a minority who neglects and abuses them, most people love their yard dogs. It’s not how I would keep my dogs and frankly, it’s not how I prefer to see dogs kept. But it works and I am happy those dogs are alive and loved. It’s true that something bad may happen to them. But it might not. Either way, I could not advocate for the killing of these dogs as being preferable.

    1. Shirley, I don’t disagree with the sentiment of your post. But to be fair, you did say “a dog being tied to a stake all day”, which sounds like 24/7 to a lot of people. It was probably just a bad way to phrase the example, and while it may have taken the focus off of the overall idea of the post, it’s also generated more discussion.

      “Why should we have certain words or phrases that trigger a NO WAY response?…We’re all reasonable people here so please don’t go to extremes.”

      To be frank, we have words and phrases that trigger a NO WAY response because when we volunteer at shelters we see a lot of extremes. We might all be reasonable people reading this blog (although that’s a wild assumption), but the more time you spend volunteering at a shelter the more often you will see the extremes.

      – A dog dropped at the shelter with one eye hanging out of the socket and the other pulled in
      – A dog gets adopted by a well-meaning but unknowledgable elderly couple. This dog is then tied the dog to the back of their car which is then driven at 3 mph to give the dog some “exercise”
      – A dog is dropped at the shelter with an collar so impacted from not being loosened while the dog grew to the extent that the dog’s entire neck is stiched
      – A man shows up at the shelter with his pit bull, loudly announcing that he wants a female so he can breed

      Extremes? No, that all has happened at my shelter in the past two weeks.

      1. If you truly want to be fair Joel, you will include the phrase “while he waits for the owner to get home from work” in your quote. I included that phrase specifically b/c I didn’t want anyone to go off half-cocked on the “life on a chain” deal. I obviously failed.

        You raise a good point that shelters see dogs in extreme need on a regular basis. But I don’t interpret that to mean that because shelters often see abused and neglected dogs, we should cut off conversations with potential adopters who don’t treat their dogs according to our personal standards. It is partly BECAUSE shelters see so many pets in extreme need that the staff is particularly qualified to intelligently and compassionately talk to potential adopters about the types of issues raised here. What good is it doing anyone if workers see these cases and then alienate the people who might (intentionally or unintentionally) commit these same acts in future?

    2. Shirley, I did see that addendum, but it’s at the end of the sentence a couple of lines down and I know how people are going to get fired up as soon as they see the bit about the stake.

      Anyway, like I said I agree with the sentiment of your post. My only point is that it is not until you start spending time at a shelter that you’ll realize how common these “extremes” are.

      1. This is a good example of how sometimes things get taken out of contect or with only half the facts. Some people can’t afford a fence, or to fence their entire property. So they tie the dog to a tree, dog house, ect. while it is outside. They come home take care of it, do house work, play fetch ect. It’s a family member but when outside it’s restrained by a leash. Some people figure that is better than locking them in a crate all day. Maybe it is, at least they get fresh air and can move around.

        As for the green water, that too could be a victim of half truths. What is green? a little dirty or a major bloom? Alge is not mold. I think my cat’s plastic bowl with half day old water in it is gross but I am not a cat and its not going to hurt them. Same with Flair licking the puddles in the tub, it’s gross but apparently not to her. Growing up our dog’s water came from an ice cream bucket by the tap. It was mostly in the shade, filled by rain or the hose. It never really got scrubbed out and she was fine. She would drink from Mom’s fish barrel too. That actually had alge growing in it, more than any bucket in the yard ever had. Animals know what is good for them. I have seen dogs out for walks drink from muddy puddles and nasty green ponds. If there is alge growing then it’s obviously not poisoned and the alge adds oxygen and cleans out inpurities. Alge is a normal part of an aquatic ecosystem, it’s natural.

      2. @Trouble: Animals do *not* know what is good for them. Cats will drink water laced with anti-freeze, which will kill them. Dogs will eat just about anything, including foods that are toxic to them.

  21. Shirley, you know I respect you…we can agree to disagree. I will leave it at that. Our dogs fall into the flatcoat rarity, we want only the best for them. Many have come from what we view as very substandard circumstances, or starved to the point they can no longer digest food, due to their lack of economic viability.They were gunshy.

    We do have the luxury to be selective as Joel put it. Our adopters are as passionate as we are, and we always find a way to help our breed…..always.

    1. My dogs are Flatcoats but they are first and foremost dogs. I want them treated as well as any dog. I can’t recall that we really disagree Mary. I’m not one for splitting hairs generally. In the big picture, I think we agree.

  22. I have seen soooooo much neglect, so many dogs coming into our rehab home where i hold it together for them, then go outside and completely lose it. I have seen the worst of the worst….puppies with advanced parvo at a hoarder’s home/byb in MO…those little glassy eyes looking up at me and the smell….God the smell is something I can never forget…we spent $16,000.00 in 6 months on those 28 puppies….and they all survived but one.

    We are selective….we are family….dogs, adopters, board members. We are close knit, and passionate about our breed.

    One thing I have learned…is you “can’t fix stupid”

    1. If we “can’t fix stupid”, should we simply throw up our hands and allow it to continue because “at least it’s not going to be one of OUR dogs”? Or do we as protectors of the pets in our care have a greater obligation to reach out, have difficult conversations, and try to ensure that, no matter where the “unfixable” owner gets his dog from, that dog has a right to be loved?

      1. Everyone learns differently just because someone doesn’t learn with your teaching method doesn’t make them stupid maybe you should try a different approach. Making them feel stupid never helps get your point across.

      2. I was speaking of the mill raids and byb raids we have dealt with. The people that know our breed and adopt have resources and secure monetarily…..

  23. Our organization does this all the time, and has for 12 years. We have helped those that cannot afford spay/neuter, give them food. We do a lot. If everyone did just a little it would go a long way. Will they have one of our dogs…absolutely not. Our ability to educate the public comes in the form of events, educational info we hand out and we talk to everyone. We have a lot of uncomfortable conversations with people. Some of my volunteers are horrified at what comes out of their mouth…LOL

    I address them with respect, and understand the SES of which they belong.

  24. I can tell this is a very controversial subject and very important to everyone (including the pets). Pet ownership has a big “gray area” and it is unrealistic for us to believe that this is “right” and this is “wrong”. A very smart man (and dog behavioral specialist) once told me this about pet owners “Everyone has a line and where they draw is up to them. Some very wealthy people won’t pay $3,000 for a surgery but some people strapped for cash will pawn everything to pay for their pets shots. I can’t tell them what to do, I can only give them the facts.”
    I think the bottom line is, Rescue groups should only give the facts and be less judgmental of possible pet owners. We can teach what “is” being a responsible pet owner but until they have proven they are irresponsible, they shouldn’t be judge.

  25. Shirley, I think that your attitude might change if you actually got involved in rescue or fostering. Shelters have different standards, but as a foster parent, I would not want to see any of my cats go to a home that would not provide them with adequate care. I don’t have to like the family, but I do have to be sure that they will look after the cat well. I could not live with myself knowing that I had let a cat go to a bad home. In rescue, we are always aware of the lists of cats and dogs needing to get out of shelters, but we are also aware that all homes are not equal. Some potential adopters can be educated; with others, it is too big a job, especially when there are good families behind them in the line. If you consider it “loserville” to refuse such adopters, I’d suggest that you use your advocacy skills to help teach these people. Many rescues lack the time and volunteer power to do this kind of work.

    Secondly, being alive does not always trump being dead. Some shelters sell their animals to labs for use in experiments. Do you think those animals are glad to be alive?

    1. gwg – I’ve been involved in rescue. I’m using my skills to try and teach people. That’s what I am doing right now.

      As far as lab animals, please cut me some slack here. I’m talking about Joe Average Adopter – not Mr. Vivisectionist.

      1. I am surprised that you hold these views about suitable homes for animals if you have been involved in rescue.

        Mr Vivisectionist might not necessarily be advertising himself as such – the adopter screening process attempts to separate out the Joe Averages from those who wish to acquire animals for nefarious purposes (related petition:

    2. @gwg, all the more reason to get pets out of shelters! Some shelters do sell animals to research–but not many families do.
      And about that alive vs. dead thing–where there’s life, there’s hope.

      The story below is not all that unusual for a rescue dog–take a look.
      Incidently, the dog got dozens of offers of rescue and adoption once her story made the rounds on the internet. She was placed right away.

      Why Dead Isn’t Better

      “This girl needs help ASAP!!! She was taken from an animal shelter as a puppy by a research lab to be sold to a college for dissection. The student that she was assigned to grabbed her right before Hurricaine Katrina hit and she ended back up in the shelter. A rescue took her, adopted her out to a family that kept her for 1 year and decided they did not want her anymore. She was adopted out again to a couple in Chapmansboro TN, and they too decided they did not want her anymore and got two other dogs and threw her out. She was found wandering a neigborhood in Clarksville TN today and the girl who found her brought her in to be scanned for a microchip and dipped for ticks since she was COVERED in them. She was microchipped and when we called her owner, we found out that she had been “missing” for a year and they did not want her back! So now she has until this monday to find a home or she will be taken to the local animal shelter in Clarksville, TN. All of our foster homes are full right now so our hands are tied. Please, if you are interested in giving her a loving forever home please contact us soon!”

  26. No one has talked about renters yet. I want to hear Shirley’s and other people’s opinions about adopting a pet to a loving family who is NOT allowed to keep pets.

    1. I would suggest keeping on hand a list of housing in your area that does allow pets so that you can provide it to people who want to adopt but are prevented from doing so by a landlord’s restrictions.

  27. Moving is expensive, and often times not possible. Moving to a new place often requires at minimum double the rent because many places want first months rent, and a deposit equal to the monthly rent up front. Additionally, many places charge a non-refundable pet deposit of several hundred dollars, or increase the rent if the renter has pets.
    A person who is currently making ends meet and paying all the bills often times does not have the resources to move to a new place.
    Also, places that allow pets often cost more in rent than comparably sized non pet places. If they cost the same, they are often in lower quality neighborhoods.
    There are people living in areas that allow pets, who have pets illegally because they can’t afford the pet deposit.
    So, should these people be allowed to adopt a pet? Knowing that there is a possibility they will get rid of it if the landlord finds out they own one (or be evicted)? The possibility will vary depending on the place and if there’s a manager on site.
    It might never happen, or it might occur soon after the pet is brought home.

    1. For the record your are making a generalization about renting. Landlords cannot just evict you because you have a pet. Evicting a person takes a lot of time and effort Yes, they can say you can’t have pets you must get them out but they cannot come in and seize them or kick you out. If there is a situation with pets and no “reasonable” attempt is made to correct then maybe yes, something CAN happen. But it just doesn’t happen quickly.
      If…..and I mean *if if if* rescue groups or just the general animal loving public would embrace these situations and try to gain control on the front end maybe situations could be avoided. I personally feel it’s best supportive than condemning.

    2. If the rescue is responsible, they offer a lifetime take-back policy. So, if the landlord complains, the pet comes back to the rescue….no harm, no foul. Honesty and the love of the pet is at the forefront of everybody’s actions.
      Except if they lied on their application, or you (the rescue representative) made them feel inferior, substandard, or even slimy…then they give the pet to their boyfriend/mother/cousin, or sell it on the internet?!

      1. responsible rescues have a form for the Landlord to fill out that goes with the notarized contract containing all info, deposits, ect.

    3. I think the idea of having a pet against the landlords wishes very disrespectful. If someone smoked in my car when I told them not to I would loose it. I am allergic and smoking decreases resale value. The same can be said for animals and rental properties. The landlords own the place you are just borrowing it, their say matters. Yes it can take months to evict you but that’s besides the point. I have a cat and she doesn’t live with me. Why? My landlord will not allow pets. I respect that so Flair lives with my boyfriend. She and Trouble are BFFs. I got Flair knowing she would not live with me. I respected my landlord and got my kitty and a friend for Trouble. For us it works.

  28. I don’t think no kill means abandoning common sense. The public shelters in my state are city/county operated (while also subject to state regulation) and open admission. They’re pretty much open adoption, too–meaning that anyone who shows up with the adoption fee and fills out a simple application can choose a pet.
    My local shelter still asks for a copy of the lease from renters and also asks for landlord contact info. They still want a vet listed as a reference. And still require spay/neuter before the pet can be picked up. They are an open admission city/county shelter licensed by the state and currently saving 90% of the adoptable dogs who come in. The cat shelter across the street hasn’t gotten close to that save rate yet but I hope they will. The dog shelter is such a popular place to volunteer that they get more vols than dogs coming through every year. Cat shelter doesn’t match that yet but hope they will–they have only been open for about a year.

  29. For every good reason you find to let someone adopt you will find 1 reason not to adopt. I’m sorry this isn’t a prefect world and need to realize what the goal is.
    Personally I feel we need to create a more “pet friendly community”. Of course establish the “social norms”. We need to teach the community what it is to be responsible owners.


    If they don’t fit into the little box that every makes out to be a responsible pet owner, then mold them to fit. Offer a mentoring program, pair them with someone who can help them along the path of being a pet owner. Don’t call it a 90 probation period, but what it is a mentoring program to start off of the right foot of being a pet owner. also let them be able to “borrow” a dog to take to the dog park. Whats the harm???? The dog gets to play, the potential owner gets to see if they like running around. Do you know how many singles would love a dog to just borrow so they could go to a park just to meet people. I know it sounds crazy but it’s the truth. Where all are adoption events at?
    Also There is a wonderful program in Memphis called BIrth Right. They offer a 12 week class session for moms that is every other week for 2 hours.They discuss baby stuff, pregnancey stuff, money saving advice, parenting stuff, how to deal with baby daddy, laws, cooking, etc…’s amazing! Trust me if you don’t learn something interesting you are not paying attention. Why can’t the community offer something like that at community centers. Did you know most people (even human doctors) don’t know that tylenol is dangerous for dogs and cats. If we just taught them, they would learn!! Call it like “how to get more wag from your dog” and “purr from your cat”. Don’t use what could be seem judgmental wording!

    as far as renters:
    I am a renter and I have been for the past 11 years, I now have 3 dogs and 1 cat, I walk right at 2 miles a day and I am outside for about another hour or so each day. I am aware of everything in my neighborhood, my neighbors are too.I personally feel if we didn’t have our dogs we wouldn’t as aware. I’ve been at my current residents for 3 years and I have seen the dog population triple in my area. We all hang out together, our dogs hang out and we think its great. We may be dog friendly but our leasing company isn’t. If they would fence in field where we let our dogs play, not bitch at us about our torn up blinds, offer more doggie poo areas, and maybe had dog treats in the office when we walked our pets, something to show that it’s ok to own a pet I really think that would help the image of pet owners. I don’t think how often property managers understand how much they push away potential renters just by not being pet friendly or pet accepting. We will have them if we are upfront or not and most are willing to pay more just to be honest. Why can’t we encourage them having the feral cat colonies? It’s pest control next to no cost and we have our fair share of feral cats in our renting community.
    and these are just silly ideas I came up with today. Imagine if we just stepped outside of the mold what we could really come up with and how many lives could be saved.

    1. A few thoughts Kim…

      I agree that it would be nice if landlords were pet-friendlier. I live in an area with a high percentage of renters, and finding pet-friendly housing is one of the biggest challenges for adopters. If landlords can fill their housing with non pet-owners they will, and I don’t blame them. Unless we somehow demonstrate that pet owners are actually better tenants.

      That being said, it sounds like your leasing company IS actually pet-friendly. Those ideas you have are nice, but you’re asking them to invest in fencing, to not have a problem that your dogs rip up the blinds, offer more of their property for dog poop (and sorry but too many dog owners do not clean up their poop to make this realistic), etc. Allowing pets is one things…making all of these investments is another. For full disclosure, I’m both a pet owner (2 dogs) and a landlord.

      And I hope I don’t understand you to mean that prospective adopters take dogs to a dog park? There are a lot of reasons to not allow that to happen. I do like a few of your other ideas though. Mentoring new owners is a good one, although finding “someone” is the hard part.

      1. Actually most would agree that our place isn’t pet friendly and if they made more steps to be pet friendly we would have all of our units full instead of only half the units full now. We would also be more upfront and honest about what goes on inside our units.
        What I am trying to say is that right now, having a pet is frowned upon in the “Renting” world. But managing properties could actually have more control and a better relationships if they just embraced the fact that….renters WILL have pets. If they just stated we are pet friendly to responsible pet owners.” We have a mini doggie park, poop places, whatever.” ORRRR we offer these kennels to your pet when we come by for maintenance or when you got out of town. SOMETHING! If a rescue group would sponsor an apartment complex and make sure the animals living in that community are well taken care of. There are so many other CREATIVE ways to adopt animals/save animals than just condemning renters and saying we aren’t fit. We are responsible people, we love our pets and we do make up a nice chunk of the population. And investing in fencing is honestly couple of thousand of dollars….what if they got a tax credit for that for making their community pet friendly which means they are saving shelter animals????
        Please enlighten me on the reason not to allow perspective adopters to go to a dog park? I don’t know how else to put it, but you need to test drive a car before you buy it. I’ll say it again, you can always find 1 reason not to do something.

      2. I’m down on dog parks in general. Perhaps it’s because I live in a populated area, but they are becoming increasingly filled with people who would prefer to sit there and read their paper while their dog does who knows what.

        Shelter dogs have varying levels of socialization, and it would be a huge mistake to just let them run around with a large number of dogs. At my shelter we occasionally can take two dogs on tanden walks, and the staff may try a play date for two dogs who we think might be a match. But a 1-on-1 is as far as we’re going to go. Thinking of letting a potential adopter of unknown dog expertise take a dog with whom he/she is not familiar to an environment like a dog park is unthinkable. Eventually somebody is going to get bitten, and if it’s the shelter dog doing the biting that dog will be put down. And it would be our fault for having put the dog into that environment. I volunteer at an open-intake municipal shelter; conceivably the city could get sued.

        I’m not a fan of dog parks at all. Good in theory, but there is too much riff-raff there. I’ve increasingly gone towards one-on-one play dates. If I go to a dog park it’s going to be at six in the morning so that only a couple of other loonies will be there.

    2. Yes, renting with pets is near to impossible. Dogs or cats. Even if you do find a place to rent with pets, there are so many restrictions. I understand the landlord’s desire to not have the house damaged or infested with fleas, but when they just talk to the renter they can have this resolved instead of saying “NO PETS!!” These days so many people are experiencing job loss or reduction in income that they are forced to rent instead of continuing to live in their home. In this situation the majority of the time the pets end up in the shelter. My landlord requested my cats be declawed and I stated NO WAY, my cats will have a floor to ceiling scratching post and we train them to use it instead of anywhere else to scratch or I will rent elsewhere (even though I really could not go anywhere else). The landlord understood and let us have our cats without declawing them. So, I agree there should be more discussion and support between renters, landlords, and animal rescue orgs.

      –Kim, I know it’s frustrating that the landlords do not like the blinds being damaged by pets. I wonder if they could offer the blinds they use in the apartments for purchase by pet owners? This way the renters can get the proper size replacement blinds and all the units will have the same kinds of blinds. I’m sure the landlord has a source to acquire them in bulk for cheap. The landlord could even add a couple dollars more to the purchase price for installation.

      1. I think you’re missing my point all together. It’s not about miniblinds. It’s just about not frowning upon renters for any reason. And that’s everyone, landlords, other renters, and rescue groups.

      1. OK people, can we wrap this up?

        If you have something NEW to contribute to the thread that hasn’t already been stated and you feel it will add value to the discussion, please feel welcome. Otherwise, let’s reel it in. I think we got off-track and went spiraling down from it.

        If you are new to the thread and trying to figure out what all is going on, please allow me to clarify my position:

        I am not suggesting any shelter or rescue group adopt dogs to Michael Vick, vivisectionists, or people who take their dogs exclusively to recreational bodies of water contaminated with cyanobacteria overgrowth for a drink. What I am suggesting is that you establish relationships with potential adopters, including those who might care for pets differently from the way you think is ideal, and offer them support and education while you carry on with the business of saving pets’ lives.

        The End. I hope.

  30. I agree with the sentiment around here about dogs and rentals. More hotels are now allowing people to bring their dogs within them inside the room (for those who want to travel but dont want to leave their pet behind) so I dont see why apartments cant, especially since, I would imagine, that any damage done is what the safety deposit is for. I guess they could argue about where they would go to the bathroom at then but what do people staying a hotel room do? They get by. So it sounds to me like perhaps they just dont want to budge? *shrugs* I dont know.

  31. “There will probably always be a need for targeted neuter campaigns in isolated areas but by and large, we are doing an excellent job marketing the benefits of neutering to pet owners and pet owners are responding fabulously.”

    Seriously, Shirley? This statement would be laughable if it weren’t so tragically out of touch with reality. Please, please just spend one month volunteering at your local municipal shelter (right now, this summer), and then come back and tell us how effective “we” are at marketing spay/neuter and how fabulously pet owners are responding. Please join Pets on Death Row and Urgent Part 2 on FB and look at the nightly euthanasia lists for the NYC shelter system — at least 10 to 15 dogs (mostly pits) and 20-50 cats and kittens killed EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even though that shelter system is a mess, it does not restrict adoptions OR rescues. The Mayor’s Alliance works with hundreds of rescues, who try to pull animals every night. The rescue groups are all overwhelmed with kittens and cats, and I see constant posts on FB and craigslist from these groups begging for fosters and adopters. When a rescue cannot find foster homes, they cannot save animals.

    I live in the South and foster cats and kittens for a local kill shelter. Despite the fact that a local nonprofit offers low-cost s/n for every member of the public, all summer long people bring in their unwanted litters of kittens, mothers with kittens, and pregnant cats. It’s the same with puppies. Some days they are overwhelmed by the influx of unwanted animals. The solution to this is not just promoting adoptions. This shelter works very hard to promote adoptions and also works with local rescue groups to get the animals out. The adoption fee is only $10 and there is basically no screening involved…even so, the shelter’s kill rate is very high, because the market for kittens is flooded. They are everywhere. There are even a few so called “no kill,” open admission shelters in this area who are turning away kittens because they are full. Adopters are not materializing. Even if these shelters handed them out on every street corner like party favors (which I presume you would be in favor of), I doubt they could find enough people to take all of them.

    Cats–feral and stray–make up the largest number of animals killed in shelters. Why? Because there are too many of them. Feral cats cannot be adopted into homes: s/n is the only effective and nonlethal solution for them. Unsterilized strays produce feral kittens, who then grow into adults and reproduce. Do you see the correlation here? Spay/neuter is absolutely crucial if we are ever to achieve a no kill nation. Downplaying the importance of s/n is an enormous disservice to all companion animals and will only serve to hinder efforts in that direction. In fact, I don’t think the movement puts enough emphasis on the importance of high-volume, low cost or free spay/neuter. No, not nearly enough. BTW, I am a no kill advocate, so please don’t tell me to go read Nathan’s books. I’ve read all of them!

    1. Oh, but the NYC “mayors alliance” puts many roadblocks in the way of rescues pulling those cats and dogs on death row. I was a regular on Urgent Part 2 until it made me crazy with grief because I couldn’t go there and actually DO something.
      No-kill is a multi-thronged approach and certainly s/n is a big part of it.
      So is education (my “favorites” are those who want their children to experience the miracle of life – I say they must also then experience the pain of death).
      The more in-fighting there is among us who really care simply makes it harder for the animals who lose their lives while we argue.

  32. I too believe many rescues set their hopes too high. some of the best forever homes have been people with little means and hearts of gold. Yet, some terrible homes have been million dollar homes with no time to love their dog. they come back with no shots and bad manners. I believe as a foster and advocate for the dog I foster I owe it to that dog to place it with people that will fit his or her needs. I say no to few… mostly when I see children being unkind or where the family have unreal expectations like potty trained 8 week old pups. I foster pups and it breaks my heart to see one adopted small an cute and then returned at 9 months all grown with no attachments. Yes, alive.. but back looking fro a forever.. forever home. I believe as their foster mom I need to educate and let them know what to expect and be ready for.

  33. This was just posted on Facebook in reference to the Pets on Death page for cats in the NYC shelter system. Forty to fifty kittens and cats are going down every morning. Still think s/n is only necessary in isolated areas?

    >>The “Pets On Death Row” page has been having an extremely hard time saving the cats off the euth list. There just arent enough people showing interest, sharing, or that even know about the page. This page needs massive exposure and preapproved fosters. On the 25th of July 2011 out of a list of 24 cats to be murdered, only ONE was pulled. Only ONE..Out of a list of 50 the average pulled is 5 (and that’s on a good day). They have anywhere between 20 to 55 cats nightly and not even 10 percent make it out. This page is in desperate need of help. Please people, do something. DO A BIT MORE. Do ALOT more. Let me also say to all of my fellow dog lovers. It is wonderful you love and help our canine babesi by sharing, donating rescuing and fostering, but just because you “prefer” dogs does NOT mean you should allow ANY animal to die without making an attempt to do your part to save their lives. If you are being bias and only concentrate on one type of animal then you are just as bad as those that are doing the killing. Its hypocritical to scream in anger over the slaughter of a dog while you didnt even blink to help the 100 cats right next to you. That also goes for people who only share cats and not dogs. That being said, ALL ANIMALS need our help and all of them feel the same fear, confusion and pain. NEVER FORGET THAT. It is out moral obligation as rescuers and animal lovers to help them in any way possible. They are in alot of trouble over there and are REALLY struggling. So I plead with all my fellow rescuers, potential fosters, animal lovers, advocates, do-gooders, friends and doners… PLEASE help them more agressively. They are in real trouble over there. Help them and stop your fuckery.​d=100001700812946&sk=notes#!/P​etsOnDeathRow

    1. There are pets being killed in alarming numbers at shelters?! ZOMG! I am soooooooooooooo thankful you came on here to enlighten me about this terrible really bad problem. I’m going to get on Facebook RIGHT NOW and start looking at all the pictures of death row pets I can’t save and put my status as “SPAY NEUTER YOU IDIOTS!” Thank you again for opening my eyes to this situation.
      Also, don’t let the door hit your sanctimonious ass on your way out.

  34. I have a comment to make regarding low/no cost spay/neuter:

    If you have a low and/or no cost spay/neuter program in place, if you host clinics, make sure people know about it, know when a clinic is scheduled, and how to use it.


    In my neck of the woods, for instance – Sonoma County, California – there are apparently several such programs, but they’re almost never mentioned in the newspapers and never, so far as I’ve heard, on the local radio stations. Let alone regional tv news. I only stumbled on the information by accident, cruising web-pages.

    Posting on a web-page – especially one that’s not very well-designed – that so many low cost tickets are available for the next scheduled clinic, or that there will be a low/no cost clinic soon and call here, is unlikely to reach the people it needs to do – the ones who already have pets, but who can’t afford the surgery without assistance. And in this neck of the woods, along with many in California, it’d be a good idea to provide the information in Spanish as well.

  35. I get Shirley’s point, I do. Rescues/shelters are ridiculous when they are denying homes because you don’t have a fence, or you have kids, or you like to tie your dog out for a few hours during the day to enjoy the sunshine. I also think they should, in some instances, adopt cats to indoor/outdoor homes. My family has had indoor/outdoor cats and they’ve all lived long, healthy lives. Although, if you live off of a really busy street, or deep in the forest where you could loose your cat to predators, I would rethink letting the cat go outside.

    There have been many times where I have wished the rescue I volunteer for was more open-minded. They like to deny, deny, deny when they hear something they don’t like. I am curious; I would talk to people to try to understand where they are coming from. I’ve always wanted to talk to someone who keeps their dog in the yard all the time and ask them, what is your dog’s purpose? I have trouble understanding the purpose of a dog if it does nothing but sit in the yard and get fed.

    I will admit, though, I am a little uncomfortable with the prospect of adopting a pet into a home with clear, if slight, neglect (such as the green water). When you have taken in a dog who is covered in mange, or has fly bitten ears, terrible ear infections, is crawling with all sorts of parasites inside and out, is terribly fearful either due to mistreatment or soft temperament (or perhaps both), who cowers (or even throws himself to the ground) when you raise a hand over him, a dog with an embedded collar (even dogs with the scars from embedded collars), and you’ve spent a lot of time and money getting the dog healthy and happy, I can see wanting the best home possible for that dog. Really, why take a dog out of a bad situation and then put him right back into a bad situation, if you can at all help it? Yeah if you look at the population as a whole, those who abuse or willfully neglect their dogs, probably are a small percentage, but it is still a large enough percentage that those working in rescue see terrible cruelty way too much.

    I when I worked at the kill shelter, I saw a cat who had been left in a carrier all night who was covered in his own feces and urine and had something wrong with his jaw that caused it to quiver when he meowed. I saw a 6-7wk old kitten so full of fleas he dripped blood when he walked. I saw a pit bull taken from a cruelty situation with skin issues, a belly full of worms, with old scars on his body from mistreatment. When I worked at the grooming place, we had many dogs come in who’s coat would come off in one piece when it was shaved because it was that matted together. Yeah I guess they “cared” enough to eventually take their dog to a groomer, but letting your dog get matted to the point he has giant clumps of matted hair hanging off him is pure laziness and unconscionable. I have to think that those people never pet their dogs, because matted fur doesn’t feel very nice under the fingers. I’ve seen my share of cruelty volunteering for rescue as well. We had a dog with mange so bad she had no hair. Once her hair grew back in, we realized she was a chocolate lab! I knew a rottweiler who had been abandoned in a yard when her owners moved. She had stitches still in her neck from an embedded collar. Not to mention the dogs we’ve had come in completely skin and bones because for some reason people decided not to feed them.

    Anyway, my point to all that is when you see cruelty like that over and over, it can make you paranoid about who you adopt dogs to.

    1. I’m a groomer. I’ve shaved felted coats off big and little dogs. I’ve had to use surgical blades to get beneath a mat. But if you want to confiscate every dog that has grown green water or has a matted coat, you’re going to have to kill 10 million dogs in *shelters* instead of just 4 million!
      Yes, maybe YOU could do better. But, um, you’re pretty busy already with what you’ve already got on your plate…right? So now we’re gonna hafta find MORE viable takers for these animals (dogs with green water and matted coats, or outdoor cats.)
      I’m sorry I missed Seth’s talk. I can see exactly how we all get side-tracked by the minutia.
      Should I groom for free because somebody can’t afford to pay me? Yea, I’ve done that—to help the animals! Should vets spay and neuter for dirt cheap because it needs so desperately to be done? Some do, and the ones that do often get frustrated with the sometimes low-class clientele they build as a result!
      We’re human. Some of us learn to work the system, some of us get caught in the system. But life is mostly better than death.

      1. Where in my post did I say I wanted to confiscate dogs? Or cats? Or any animal? I was merely outlining why people in rescue might get paranoid at times. Some people may not keep animals quite to my standards of care (which is different than outright abuse and neglect). Would I take their animals if I had the choice? No. For the most part, the pets are happy, although I do try to educate wherever I can. I just wish people would have a little more common sense. I.E. don’t get a long-haired dog if you aren’t willing to pick up a brush now and then. :p

        I think we, as a society, have improved in the way we keep animals, for the most part. We have certainly come a long way from the days where, in 1877 NYC, animal control’s job was to round up all the strays and drown them in the lake. Article for reference:

        I would like to find a happy medium between denying everyone and allowing anyone to take a dog or a cat. I think animals should have quality of life, not just an existence.

  36. As someone who has rescued and adopted countless dogs over three decades, volunteers at both a HS surrender desk and adoption desk, and currently fosters dogs through a rescue with intelligent standards, I won’t bother to tell you how misguided some of your points are. But I will recommend a history lesson. I believe the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter – and lost the war. They say history repeats itself. . .

    1. Yes, I’m quite well aware who fired on Fort Sumter, and what transpired after that. I’ve studied history my entire life, My point was (and is) much more specific.

      The issue of slavery was being talked about and danced around for more than a decade. A confrontation to settle the matter was inevitable, and sadly necessary. My analogy was that Ft. Sumter was the fuse finally reaching the powder keg.

      The misguided people who choose to live in the past and rely on outdated, and in fact cruel shelter methodology, and are responsible for the needless suffering and killing of untold thousands of pets each year, need to a proverbial cannon shot. That’s what I meant.

      Shirley and Christie understood my point when I uttered it in Washington, and the vast majority of the readers of my column at Pet Connection (which Shirley helpfully linked to) understood with crystal clarity what I was talking about.

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