Doing It for the Animals

If your shelter or rescue is narrowly focused (e.g. you only adopt out a specific breed), low volume (that is, your breed is not in need of frequent rescue and/or available rescue resources are greater than the need) and the animals have a good quality of life (including daily individual attention and exercise with a person)  – then by all means, be as choosy about adopters as you see fit.  Get the very best matches you can for your animals.  Hold out for the best possible homes.  Because even if that best match never comes along, the animals can live out their lives being well cared for in rescue and no animals are being left in bad situations because you are turning down adopters.

But for many shelters and rescues, turning down adopters means death for shelter pets.  If your shelter or rescue accepts all comers (or at least tries to accept as many as you can responsibly handle), sees that there is a need greater than the available resources, and/or keeps animals living primarily in cages without daily individual interaction with a human, holding out for that best possible match is unethical.  If an adopter who has not been convicted of animal cruelty wants an animal, is willing to provide ID and fill out an application, let the animal go home.  Never be afraid to exercise common sense!

The Amarillo Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals rejects more adopters than it accepts.  When a couple in their 70s, current pet owners and former Chow owners, applied to adopt a Chow Puppy from the Amarillo SPCA recently, they were lead to believe they would be taking the puppy home with them.  They met all the requirements the shelter laid out, including purchasing a doghouse especially for the dog and scheduling a grooming appointment.  But when it came time to take the puppy home, the couple was refused.  The shelter wanted to know who would care for the dog if the husband died.  And although the couple had a plan in place (care would transfer to the wife and then to their daughter if necessary), it wasn’t good enough for the shelter.

As with all the ridiculous roadblocks thrown in front of adopters by shelters and rescues, the Amarillo SPCA justifies their refusals by saying they’re doing it for the animals.  Ack – if I had a nickel…  The still unadopted Chow puppy is being forced to grow up in a shelter – for his own benefit, ya know.  And meanwhile, pets on the streets and in kill shelters are being turned away and put into the dumpster because the Chow puppy, and all the others whose adopters were refused, are taking up cage space.  Doing it for the animals.  Yay.

This may come as a shock to the Amarillo SPCA and other groups with similarly stupid adoption standards, but every person who applies to adopt is going to die.  Guaranteed.  No one knows when anyone else is going to die.  Refusing adopters because they are going to die at some unknown date is ridiculous.  If you want to know who is definitely going to die today, knock on the kill room door at your local pet killing facility.  There you can find pets who would be delighted to take the cage your group freed up by letting an animal go home with an adopter who wanted him.  And you can explain why you are refusing people who want to help you save lives and how you’re doing it for the animals.

16 thoughts on “Doing It for the Animals

  1. And how many refused adopters then go to a pet store or backyard breeder or flea market and buy a puppy? Although I cringe when I see reports of dogs returned to shelters and rescues for reasons I think should have been identified in the adoption process, sometimes you just have to take a risk. There may be situations worse than death, but there are a whole lot more that are better.

  2. This exact topic has really been bugging me because I keep hearing stories about my local pound denying adopters while they kill dogs and cats. I want to write blog post with some examples from various places (and not just pick on my local easy target!) so I just posted some notices to several NC cities’ Craigslist asking people to share their stories with me.The Raleigh one was flagged for removal almost immediately (if someone flags your post, it is removed without review). But I rewrote it and put it back up. In less than a day I’ve gotten two responses from people turned down at high-kill pounds.

    So … if you are in NC and have been turned down for adoption at a kill pound, please send me your story: crashtestmoonpie (at) gmail (dot) com.

    Also, in response to Debbie above: isn’t it better for the dog to have a chance with a family and be returned than to be killed outright without even getting that chance? And being returned is not such a bad thing–just try to adopt him out again. A friend’s now 165-year-old dog had been returned to rescue TWICE before she adopted him. But turns out he was the perfect dog for her–we call him Bailey the Wonderdog because he is the best all-around dog anyone has ever seen.

  3. One symptom of a hoarder is not letting animals be adopted by having unreal expectations for adoptive families. HUMM makes some (many ???) shelters/rescues sound like glorified hoarders now doesn’t it????

  4. Who’s the idiot at Amarillo SPCA who would turn down a potential adoptor because of age? That’s nuts!

    Turning down most any adoptors when shelters are so full doesn’t make any sense. Any chance at life is better than forth-coming death sentences. Besides, anyone can get a dog or cat if they really wanted one from a disreputable source.

    It would be better to allow the dog/cat to decide if they want to leave the “shelter” with someone rather than some of these “officials.”

  5. A note to Amarillo SPCA:

    I want you to meet Clint. He’s passed away now, but I fostered him for a local rescue group and placed him with a 91-year-old woman. Her family and I were realistic and didn’t think she had much time left. But she needed company for comfort and had a small fenced-in backyard made just for Ol’ Clinty Bear. I got the group to waive the adoption fee.

    Six months later that woman had to go into a nursing home. The family called me for help and I took Clint back without hesitation. Instead of putting him through that again (he was about 13 years old then), I decided to make him a permanent member of my family.

    That situation obviously never would have been approved by your tight-ass organization, but I want you to see Clint in the last few months of his life, 3 years later! This is a testimony to what persistence and love can do for an unwanted dog = (btw, originally Clint was vicious and was going to be killed when I offered to foster him – enjoy the video, Amarillo SPCA!).

  6. My local shelter would look downright reckless compared to others. The only “adoption requirements” are that you have a valid ID to prove you are a county resident, cash money ($42 to buy a dog, $15 for a cat), and you don’t creep out the people running the place. Dogs go home with shots, license, and a s/n certificate, cats go home “as is” (and you sign a form for both stating that you understand that the animal comes with no health guarantee at all and you will see a vet to have your animal examined within the next 24 hours).

    They have turned some people away (bad vibes, or “wanted to breed” animals), but generally speaking, if you’re not freaking out the (surprisingly sensible, yet heavily tattooed) guys behind the counter, you’re good to go.

    They had a live release rate of 93% for dogs last year. Cats did less well, but we’re working on that (part of the problem is the attitude that they’re a “dog shelter” – a holdover from the pound days and a result of having people who have worked there for 20 years or more).

    They do record your ID info and a record of your animal purchase. Do they do too little in the way of screening? I don’t know. But I do know that they aren’t killing dogs for space.

    1. I’m always wondering why some pounds require adopters to be “county residents.” What purpose does that serve? But other than that your pound sounds way better than many around here.


  8. We rescue dogs from kill shelters 1 at a time. We are very picky about who they go to because we want to be sure they will live happy, healthy lives and never end up back in the shelter, we would take one back at any given time, but would rather find a forever home. Our shelters adopt to anyone over 18 who can pay the adoption fee. For them that is good, but for us we want to find the best possible homes.

  9. Wonderful article and so true Biscuit. And so foolish of these kill shelters to ban folks from adopting dogs/cats in need of a home because the adopter is elderly. It is known fact that animals keep their human parents healthier making them live longer.

    Perhaps it is the jingle of coins and swoosh of bills that make a kill shelter so choosy to rather slaughter these poor animals for the financial funds they bring in, not going into a dumpster, from vet colleges for teaching purposes, or to labs for experimentation on carcasses, or from soap manufacturers for the fats from the dead bodies of innocent killed animals that such killers prefer!

    1. The “fats from dead bodies” you speak of comes from ‘Rendering’ plants that accept every dead thing from county’s road kill, animal hospital’s dead bodies, farm’s dead animals and some “shelter’s” killed pets. No matter what drugs that those dead bodies have had go through them while they were alive or poisoned from, Rendering plants still cook & serve them up.

      Among various products, also make little pellets for food for cows, chickens & pigs, which people then consume. Think about that next meal you have with meat.

  10. Thank you for blogging this. I will send an email to the shelter expressing my disappointment. Who knows if it will help, but unless there’s public outcry, nothing will ever happen.

  11. I couldn’t agree more with this post. My only exception would be abuse/dog-fighting situations, but other than that, I don’t see what the big deal is to adopt out to anyone! My cousin and his wife had to deal with something like this. They wanted to get a dog out of a rescue and they wouldn’t do it because they both work. It’s the 21st century, most families have 2 working parents! So what ended up happening? They got a dog from a breeder, of course. Sad.

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