The Gap Between Rescues and Adoptions

I posted on the blog’s Facebook page yesterday that I wanted a beagle but was exasperated by so many restrictive and invasive requirements from the various rescue groups I was seeing on Petfinder.  I have visited this topic often on the blog and as regular readers know, I am all for reasonable screening (picture ID along with a 1 or 2 page adoption application which provides enough information for the group to search for animal cruelty convictions and call the vet reference) but I am opposed to most of the other arbitrary requirements (e.g. signing a contract that allows a representative of the rescue to inspect your home at any time during the pet’s life and repossess the pet if they so choose).  I also favor free or pay-what-you-wish adoption fees.

There are millions of pets being sent to the landfill every year in this country and rescue groups literally begging for adopters and fosters while imposing all manner of restrictions.  There is a gap here.  A gap the size of Oklahoma.  By imposing the arbitrary requirements and/or high adoption fees, rescues are not only turning away good people, they are turning off good people from considering or recommending rescue in future.  And meanwhile, rescues continue to issue daily pleas because they have no cage space or foster space for more pets and shelters continue the killing.  There is a gap.

Rescues have the right to impose all the restrictions they desire.  They have the right to charge any fee of their choosing.  And they have the right to fund raise in any manner they wish in order to cover their expenses.  None of this is in dispute.  It’s all legal.

But to my mind, if rescues are in fact driving adopters away with their restrictive and invasive requirements and their high fees, they do not have the right to continually beg for adopters and fosters.  Because it’s wrong.  There is a gap.

Many people replied to my comments on Facebook.  Some shared their experiences trying and failing to adopt from a rescue group.  Others posted statements of support.  Still others felt that because I am poor, I should not have pets.  One commenter wrote:

How do we know that the best of her ability is some little dog hut in the back yard with a 5 foot chain. I’m sorry, but this is the last person I would give a dog to.

Another person added:

I might as well give an animal to a dog fighting group, and that isn’t going to happen EVER…. I will make sure to tell anyone and everyone that these people and this “blog” are to be avoided when ever and where ever possible.. I have seen enough.. you anti-rescue people deserve to be fleeced and rejected by anyone with a conscience .. enjoy being second rate pet owners and second rate human beings..

I want to clarify for the record that the posts on this blog and on the YesBiscuit! Facebook page are attributable to just one person:  me.  I further want to clarify that I am not anti-rescue.  I am pro-rescue.  I have evaluated and pulled pets from shelters for rescue, adopted from a shelter myself, and I continue to support various rescue groups both on and off the blog.  I am trying to support rescue right now by adopting a beagle but I haven’t yet found one with reasonable screening processes and fees.  Thus my posts on Facebook yesterday.  There is a gap.

I am not ashamed of being poor.  I may be a “second rate” pet owner and human being in the eyes of some, but the question rescues ought to be asking themselves is this:  Is a pet better off dead than living in a home we consider to be “second rate”?  Because even though most rescues don’t kill pets, many do leave pets on death row because they have no space for them.  Freeing up space using reasonable adoption screening processes and fees is a win for people and pets.  The other way – well, we see every day of the year how well the other way is working.

None of this is to say that rescue groups are responsible for doing the job the municipal shelters are supposed to be doing.  None of this is to say that pet killing is ok, under any circumstances.  I’m just saying that rescues should be part of the solution to the pet killing problem in most communities and if you’re going to be part of the solution, why not be the most effective you can be?


And:  Many people have sent me leads on beagles and I would like to thank everyone who did.  I will let you know what happens.  I love you guys.  (Also, if any of you want to take shifts wearing Billy down on this, I’ll post a sign up sheet in the hall.)

111 thoughts on “The Gap Between Rescues and Adoptions

  1. I’m not a fan of rescues – at least as they are currently constituted. I take that back – the purebred rescues I have encountered have been on the whole well-run and working for the animals. The all-breed, local, usually AR run ones though, not so much. I was refused by the local whack job years ago because my fenced in yard had a gate and someone might come and steal the dog.

    I reached out to the NY rescue community over the weekend. Here ( and on Facebook. I have gotten a couple of emails saying that people are sharing his info and I did get one call, but the woman was looking for a much more mastiffy dog. The two emails that stick out are a semi-coherent anti-breeder rant from a known AR “rescuer” in the state and a primer for me to forward to the shelter on how to be no-kill. Since the shelter director worked with Nathan Winograd in Tompkins I think she probably knows how to run a no-kill shelter. Otherwise, I have been told to build a network of rescues. Well, I thought that was what I was attempting to do. But since my email signature identifies me as someone with purebred dogs and proud of it, these people don’t seem to want to help. Someone I know got a little frustrated over the weekend and called them an elitist cult. It feels to me like they would rather see the dog die than work with a “breeder” trying to save him.

  2. I foster for a breed rescue group with high fees ($350 healthy adult, $400 puppies, $300 breed mix, various price breaks for seniors and health issue dogs), and I think about this issue a LOT. On one hand, there are lots of folks who happily pay the fees, on the other, there are people I think would be great homes for the dogs but can’t pay the steep fees. Funny thing is, the fees are way too steep for me and I couldn’t afford to adopt one of these dogs, yet I’m considered a perfectly good foster home.

    The breed I foster is prone to tons of health issues, and I understand the hope that adoption fees will help pay the huge bills we incur. But they never do and we always end up doing tons of fundraising anyway. Sometimes I think that, since adopters often turn into future supporters of the rescue (as volunteers as well as donors), it could make sense to drop the fees a bit and maybe broaden our supporter base.

    But one of the reasons my breed rescue charges a lot is that puppies of our breed are expensive–$800 to $1,500. So people who really want this breed usually think they are getting a bargain. In a way, maybe they are, considering that our dogs are fully vetted (including having things like bad knees, which are prevalent in the breed, fixed). So I guess there’s that … anyway, all of this is to say that I have opinions on both sides of the issue ;-)

    As for the issue of “What if the pet gets sick,” well, paying a high adoption fee certainly doesn’t help someone come up with more money later … isn’t that a good reason NOT to make people put out a lot of money in the first place? I mean, the best way to have money to spend on the pet later is not to spend a ton up front.
    Five years ago, I got a “free” puppy. I had intended to find her a home and not keep her, but I failed at that. So hey, free puppy!! But two years later she took a nasty break to her radius and ulna and required surgery to install plates and screws. I came up with the $3,600.

    Am I a crappy dog parent because I can’t or won’t pay $350 to adopt a dog?

    As for home visits, I am ambivalent. On one hand I think they can be helpful in some cases, but when I have done independent rescue I have adopted out dogs without them. I do not agree that a rescue should retain home inspection rights forever, though. That’s ridiculous.

    1. When I lived in Seattle, the cost for pets there were in the $175+ up to $600 range, which made sense for the small dogs that were being imported from California to recoup cost, but for the bigger dogs, it seemed that they should be cheaper because they were harder to adopt out and so we could always get more from neighboring counties.

      There were people who would ask for cheap or free small dogs on Craigslist all the time, I would point out that they could get them, fully vetted in Eastern Washington for a up to a 3 hour drive plus a $35- $50 fee (rescues also pulled from eastern washington too). Hopefully, someone took me up on that offer. I mostly didn’t get a reply or got someone who would tell me that they didn’t want to drive out there, but would reimburse me the fee if they decided they wanted the dog.

      Two of my dogs were free, the 3rd I bought from a kill shelter for $50 because she was on death row.

      San Antonio is a high-kill city that is trying to go No-Kill. There is a constant plea for fosters and someone posted that she was rejected for being a foster because her house wasn’t “nice” enough. That they typically have their fosters at nicer homes. I then suggested a couple of different organizations that won’t do that, because just about anything has to be better than a 4 foot cell and dying. There was actually some pride on some rescues who said that they usually reject 4 out of 5 applications. I said a mouthful but I wanted to scream. Yes, you don’t want your dog living on a chain. That makes sense, but rejecting 80% of the applicants, typically?

      I live in a ghettoish apt that I hardly believe is the lap of luxury but my dogs sleep in my bed, eat good food and play in the yard. They seem to happy with their lives. Oh and I manage to find the money for their medical because of a really great low cost vet.

  3. I would hate to have it on my conscience that I adopted an already recycled pet to someone who would let it out, not vet it or rip it’s claws out. Rescues use guidelines for a good reason, to help find safe, permanent, loving, and caring homes.

    We volunteer our time and are NOT paid, we pull these cats / dogs from kill shelters. We want to make sure they are placed in the best possible environment.

    Most rescues learn and set their guidelines according to past experiences. If we adopted to a hoarder and didn’t know it cause we didn’t do a home visit, and the cat ended back at a shelter because of it. Then shame on us for not doing everything possible to place that pet in the right home.

    Personally our organization does not do home visits as we are internet based and adopt over several states, but if we have the opportunity to do a home visit, I will do one in a heartbeat.

    I want the best possible outcome for my fosters. So if that means being a little intrusive then so be it. They come first.

    There may be a gap of some sort, but to think that rescues contribute to the problem is a little silly at best. Without rescues more animals would die in shelters. We may not be the solution to the problem of overcrowded shelters and euthanasia, but we are helping the best we can.

    If you don’t like what one rescue requires, then try the next one. A little paperwork is the least you can do to save an cat/dog.

    And as far as the fees go, Rescues pay a pull fee for these cats/dogs, then we vet them if they are sick, we bring them current on all vaccines and spay/neuter. So you, the adopter gets a fully vetted pet for your adoption fee.

    Our fees don’t even cover the cost of preparing a cat/dog for adoption. So we need to offset the costs somehow. Be it adoption fees or fundraising.

    Anyway, this is my perspective on the topic., a foster mom and rescue member.

    1. I think some rescues, much like Homeland Security, are in reactive mode when something bad happens and go extreme under the guise of “prevention” when in fact it is merely “reaction”. Just because someone who didn’t get a home visit turned out to be a hoarder, the rescue now requires everyone to have a home visit to make sure they aren’t hoarding animals. Just like how one moron tried to light his shoe on fire on a plane and now we all have to take our shoes off at the airport. Will hoarders (the teeny tiny minority of pet owners) or terrorists (the teeny tiny minority of plane passengers) be stopped due to these measures? No, of course not. But someone, somewhere feels they are “doing everything they can” and that makes them feel good.

    2. “…Most rescues learn and set their guidelines according to past experiences.”

      Which is understandable, but leads to too much fear. I, too, foster for a rescue group who is afraid of EVERYTHING because of things that one potential adopter did 6 years ago, or only once in the history of the organization. Their adoption process now takes WEEKS, and they agonize over every detail/possible future contingency. They are going to burn themselves out of rescue because they can’t just LET GO.

  4. At the no-kill shelter I work at, I am very glad that they don’t ask for home inspection rights forever. That is crazy. However, I do feel that I have seen some nice families who just can’t afford the adoption fee. It is $200 for a small dog or puppy and $150 for a large breed. I would pay that if I really wanted the dog but I think maybe a sliding scale like they do in some offices would be helpful in the cases of people with limited income. If everything checks out and they are a great home but can’t afford $200, then maybe with proof of salary lower the fee to a more agreeable amount for the family.

  5. There is a difference between discussing the merits of the adoption fee on principle and necessity. One of the articles linked primarily discusses whether free adoptions attract less worthy pet parents. That is not what we are debating. In that instance the rescue is offering the pet for free and I have no problem with that. You are asking or demanding a free pet. I don’t see any empathy or discussion on your part regarding all of the expenses incurred by the rescue. How are they supposed to cover your and all the other free pets medical, boarding and transport fees? Will you offer in exchange for your pet to do fundraising for them? A small rescue does not have unlimited funding ability and most are run by full time employed people with families to care for too. I fostered for a puppy that in one single night cost $1400 when I had to take her to an emergency clinic. Most rescues are dealing with dogs and cats that need (often costly) medical care.The other point is that your stated reason is “you are poor”, ie your argument for a free pet isn’t based on principle – as you said you actually can’t afford it. Ok so if you get your pet for free, even from a shelter, and it has medical issues plus needs to be spayed/neutered vetted – which it most likely will – what are you going to do? This isn’t rhetorical.

      1. You don’t address any of those questions. Your primary thesis is assuming that rescues are being classist with their fees, while they are often trying to make up the costs that are incurred from rescuing animals. I like the idea of a sliding scale, but you should reciprocate with some sort of marketing or fundraising to make up the difference if you want a “free” dog.

      2. You are wrong on all counts.

        1. I never said I wanted a free dog. I said I favor free or pay-what-you-wish adoption fees for rescue pets.
        2. I didn’t say that rescues are being classist with their fees. I think they are following a crappy business model that no other charitable groups follow.
        3. Adopters do “reciprocate” – they give homeless pets a loving home. Isn’t that the whole point? Or must they commit to more such as marketing and fundraising as you suggest?

      3. Fair enough on the first point.

        One the second point, the sliding scale, donate what you want sounds like a great idea to rescue more animals, but the problem is – how will the rescue stay in business? I read both of the linked articles, and while they say that rescues should not be asking for money for the pets, they offer few suggestions for rescues run entirely on volunteers that are basically a grass roots operation. These rescues may not have the time or volunteer know how to properly market and fundraise or create retail shops to offset costs. Does that mean they shouldn’t be rescuing any animals at all and just give up?

        Your third point asks if saving an animal is the whole point, and it really isn’t. In order to save more animals, the rescue has to continue to exist, through financial means. My main problem with your post (long applications and home visits aside, because those can be over the top) is that asking all rescues to be free or donate what you will is just not always financially plausible.

      4. By saying I favor free or pay what you wish adoptions, I am not calling on all rescues to implement this immediately. It’s what I favor. I think rescues could successfully follow the fundraising models of other charitable organizations and I hope more will look into this as an option.

        On Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 11:55 AM, YesBiscuit!

      5. Sorry, as for your last question, I do think that if someone gets a low cost pet from a rescue that participating in marketing or fundraising for that rescue would be a good thing to do. It shouldn’t be a commitment, but a mitzvah. It could be as easy as sharing the rescue on Facebook (which you already do!)

      6. Someone who has a good adoption experience, doesn’t feel harshly judged and gets a new family member out of the whole deal is going to be better advertising than any money could buy: word of mouth. He’s going to tell everyone who asks about his pet or who mentions wanting a pet that Rescue XYZ is the place to go. Priceless.

        On Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 11:57 AM, YesBiscuit!

      7. The rescue I’m most active with keeps adoption fees low, and it’s quite common for those who can afford to do so to voluntarily contribute more than is asked for. They also, as happy pet owners with pets well matched by our awesome screener, become great advertising for us. And when the otherwise-right adopter has a problem with the fee, or the animal is special needs, the fee is often waived or reduced–because yes, the point IS getting pets into homes where they’ll be loved and cared for.

        We do do home checks before adoption, as well as checking vet references. For renters, we do check with landlords to be sure the pet is allowed. But while we encourage regular updates and pictures and are always thrilled to receive them, we don’t attempt to claim the right to visit anytime we want through the animal’s life. We don’t have blanket requirements for fenced yards, either, though we do require it for some individual animals–just as we have no blanket minimum age requirement for children in the household. Some pets can’t go to homes with small children, but many can, and why pass up a good home?

    1. Will all due respect Shirley I didn’t see an answer to how you would vet the dog if it had medical issues or needed spay/neuter and basic vetting if not done by the shelter or rescue? I only ask because you posed the issue as monetary to begin with and not purely philosophical. Also because you want to pay whatever you please doesn’t mean that is feasible for a small rescue that ( let’s assume is adopter friendly and doesn’t have home checks for eg) but needs to recoup costs to stay in rescue and don’t believe you addressed that either.

      1. If the adopter is a current or previous pet owner, and has a good track record with their vet, that means they do find a way to vet their pets when needed. I’d much rather know what their vet thinks than what size adoption fee they feel comfortable paying.

      2. I agree with you Lis and those are good guidelines except again in this example what if the need is *right now* since the new pet may not be vetted especially if coming from a shelter and Shirley is saying she is low on funds *right now* Shirley are you saying then you will restrict yourself to a pet already vetted at the rescue or shelter (and I wouldn’t trust most kill shelters to give you a healthy pet regardless of what they claim)? Because if you are considering a pet from a kill shelter the need to be vetted is almost always *right now*. Plus the small rescue funding issue was not addressed – re how they are expected to recoup their costs if they aren’t a fund raising machine, work with volunteers that already have other full time jobs etc.

      3. If the vetting need is RIGHT NOW, then that obviously should be a factor in choosing the pet–and it’s not helped by requiring a large adoption fee for an unvetted animal. Our group doesn’t adopt out unvetted animals. They are spayed or neutered, up to date on shots, and any medical issues, if not completely resolved, at least identified and under treatment before the animal is offered for adoption. Existing medical needs or other special needs would be a reason for us to reduce or waive the adoption fee for an adopter willing and able to take on that responsibility–not a reason to insist on it to “prove they can afford it”, in the process taking money that could have been spent on the care the dog needs.

        Unlike you, I assume that Shirley is looking for a dog who meets her needs and ability, and that she won’t knowingly be adopting a dog with immediate needs that she can’t immediately meet.

    2. The kill shelters I know about have a two week health guarantee (although I wouldn’t take the animal back if they were sick but take it to a vet instead). The animals I worked with from them, only 1 was sick and it was stated on his social media share.

    3. “One the second point, the sliding scale, donate what you want sounds like a great idea to rescue more animals, but the problem is – how will the rescue stay in business? ”

      Most rescues are non-profit agencies that can ask for donations to assist in off-setting the costs of providing care to animals. Some rescues work directly with municipal shelters that also off-set the costs of the rescue’s work. If a rescue is not a non-profit, they can still ask for donations but a) it won’t be tax-deductible and b) they should be extra diligent with reporting how they spend and track the gifts.

      If a rescue agency is investing more money into rescued animals than they can recover from adoption fees and donations, then they should probably reduce the number or type of animals they intake. Or they can request volunteers who can to invest a certain portion of their own money into their fostered animal and rescue agency.

      I once fostered a puppy who the rescue agency invested a grand total of $0 for me to foster him. The dog food he ate was donated. His neuter was donated. His toys and treats were donated. His adoption fee was $150. Which I don’t find particularly unreasonable, especially not for the family who adopted him. His fee probably help offset the costs of caring for more medically needy animals. But he could also have found an equally amazing home with a person who could only afford a $40 adoption fee…and the rescue would not have lost money from his rescue or adoption.

      And I fostered a dog who needed more than $500 in surgery to fix broken ribs and wire her jaw. I fostered her for a longer period of time and ended up spending some of my own money on her for different food, toys, and treats. The rescue ended up investing an additional $150 medications. Once she was healthy (and she was only 1-3 years old), she was adopted by a senior for $50 (the rescue offers senior discounts). Great home – I still get updates too. The costs of her care were offset by generous donors.

      I work for a rescue that specializes in rehoming farmed animals, like chickens and goats. We have 9 goats right now we have invested far more money in than we could reasonably ask an adopter to give! Nor would we expect an adopter to cover every single dollar we’ve invested in these wonderful animals. And while we are most assuredly larger than most dog-cat rescue agencies, we rely heavily on the gifts of others to ensure that we can continue our life-saving work. People give because they cannot adopt a goat but want to help. I am sure people will give to help dogs too! :)

      And we probably ask a lot more of adopters than other agencies, when it comes to farmed animals. We do adoption forms for all species, including chickens. On all of our bigger animals (sheep/goats, cows, pigs), we do site inspections. When possible, we do site inspections for the chickens and turkeys too. And, with our shy, flighty rescues, we require folks to meet the animals in person. We cater the adoption process to the rescue first, the prospective adopter second…to ensure that the best possible match is made. There is nothing sadder than a rescued animal being returned because we did not invest the time and resources to pair an adopter with the right rescued animal. That falls on our shoulders.

      We adjust our adoption fees depending on the adoptability of the animal, number of animals adopted, and the ability of the adopter. I think there should be room for flexibility.

    4. Depending on adoption fees for operating costs perpetuates a rescue’s financial instability. Ideally (yes, this ideal is an aspiration that may not be fully realized): 1 – the rescue looks at its physical capacity – things like how many fosters does it have and how many can in manage given its volunteer management staffing, databases, transport, and so on. 2 – the rescue projects how much money or in-kind services this will take 3 – the rescue makes a fundraising and marketing plan, soliciting everything from pro bono vet services to monetary donations from the community.

      Adoption fees can certainly be a part of that, but even in the best of circumstances, adoption fees are inherently not regular. E.g., if the rescue gets one or two sick or injured dogs at once, that month there may be fewer adoptions in addition to more expenses. Bad combo. Steady cash flow not directly tied to placements combats that.

  6. We go over the top to care, train with the best Trainer in KC, and use a vet behaviorist at 300.00 per hour if needed.So free isn’t an option….and dogs cost money, to care for properly. We do use a sliding scale for those that are seniors, or need a bit more training. We may pay for training for a hard to place dog…or adopt to an individual in an apartment for a fence jumper….that knows our hard to place breed. BYW Shirley, I have a wonderful young wire that would be tremendous for your new pup…LOL. I will send him to you…hahaha…I am not kidding…

  7. Depending on where you live aren’t most adoption fees about the same amount it cost annually to care/vet for an cat/dog?

    Why can’t the adoption fee be looked at as that pets annual vetting for that year. (Here in NJ, I just paid $250 for one of my dogs annual vetting. Yikes! )

    If an adopter can’t afford to pay for annual vetting, does that make a bad pet owner, No, but maybe they shouldn’t own one until you can afford to properly care for it?

    Or should they be able to adopt even if they can’t afford to care for the animal? Just so long as the animal is out of the shelter.

    As far as the unlimited home visits, I think that is a bit much.. One visit should be suffice. Most times, you can cover that when you deliver the pet to the adopter.

    Setting guidelines as a reaction response: I don’t think it’s a reaction so much as a do we learn from our/their mistakes or do we keep repeating the same ones expecting new results?

    We all live and learn that’s how we improve ourselves. You cannot make everyone happy; someone somewhere is not going to like how we do things.

    Which brings me back to try again, not all rescues are the same. Try the next one till you find a fit. Chances are you will find one that is not as intrusive and has the cat/dog you were meant to have. Happy hunting for your next forever friend.

      1. actually….he steps over a 5′ fence….he is tall and a runner….he has gotten over my 6.5′ fence while I was with him. Scared the crap out of me. PJ’s and damp hair…pitch dark. We finally caught him….He would probably be best with a lot of acreage, or with an active owner in a condo that is a runner….he would be a stresser….am taking him to boot camp with Mary the national trainer for Pete and Mac’s. She is excellent. He needs some work…and time.
        But perfect for a person that wants a high energy prey driven boy that would love a job…

  8. I have decided that if I ever rescue another dog I will simply do it from the local dog pound and not a private rescue.

    When I was looking to rescue I ran into a few situations that totally turned me off.

    One was a dog that had bitten 3 previous adopters and was on offer at a pet store adoption event through a rescue that did NOT disclose his bite history. I was fortunate that I brought my kids with me and a volunteer told me about the bites and said she was worried for my kids safety and then asked I not tell the manager of the rescue for fear they wouldn’t let her volunteer anymore.

    Another was a rescue that wanted my social security number, my bank account number, my husbands boss’s number and to do a home visit. Excuse me? I’m sorry, but that is pretty invasive and not a group I’d want to deal with.

    The last was a hound I was interested in listed as house trained and friendly as well as healthy. When I went to the foster home to meet him he was almost feral, had a HUGE abscess from a fight with another dog there, pee’d and pooped right in front of us on the floor and I was still willing to take him and work with him. I asked to walk him for a bit and noticed he had an off gait. When I mentioned this to the foster she told me that he had been to the college vet school to be evaluated and needed $2,500 surgery on each shoulder! When I told the foster I wouldn’t be adopting him because of the expense…$5000!!!…and the behavior issues combined I was told what an awful person I am.

    After that I was turned down by rescues because I have kids (as if I do not know how to raise a dog with kids…), because my fenced in yard was “only” a 5ft fence (as if I don’t supervise my dogs outside every time they go out) and because I said I was hoping my future dog would be a good alert barker. Apparently, I am a bad dog owner for expecting a dog to occasionally let me know if something is amiss.

    After a burger and a beer lunch at a neighborhood watering hole, my husband and I decided to go to a breeder. We got a wonderful purebred American Bulldog. His purchase price and vet care (puppy shots, worming and neuter) was actually a bit less than the rescues were asking for their mixed breed dogs of unknown history. My dog is now 4 years old and we have added 3 more dogs since. One from a family member who could no longer afford her ongoing vet care for allergies and 2 from reputable breeders.

    Sometimes I think about the dogs in rescue and the life they could have had with me. Lord knows my dogs are very much loved and well cared for. I like them more than I like 99% of the humans I meet and they have a very comfy life with our family.

  9. Interesting side note, this very same topic came up during a Seminar at last years No Kill Conference. It was pointed out how counter productive it is to have a 5 page (or longer) adoption application.
    Here a surprising fact: dogs can have a happy life without fenced in yard.
    On a side note, the majority of Americans doesn’t even have fenced in yards.

    1. Many people live in areas where fences are forbidden by zoning or home owners associations. Does that make them bad pet people?

    2. Dogs can live happy lives in apartments, too. Pit Bulls are often very difficult to place and a lot of people on my Pit Bull forum tried rescuing only to be told they could not because high energy breeds aren’t appropriate for apartments.

      Those same people either took in a dog someone was giving away or went to a breeder. They regularly exercise their dogs, and I don’t mean just a walk, and both the dogs and the owners are happy. It would be nice if shelters and private rescues would loosen their policies on both fenced yards and apartment dwellers. A high energy dog living in an apartment with an owner willing to exercise it is better off than a high energy dog tossed out into the fenced back yard for a couple hours her and there.

  10. I have been trying to find a rescue dog to replace my eldest rescue dog who is failing fairly fast. I’ve tried several rescues and have finally given up. I’m going to buy a purebred through the newspaper. I’ve found, if you can wait a bit, someone is always giving away a purebred dog or selling it for a really inexpensive fee compared to the rescues. Like you, I don’t have a lot of money. I’m disabled and my retirement funds went up with the Wall Street fiasco. While we aren’t poor I sure don’t have a lot of money to spend on buying a dog. I’d rather save that money for future vet bills. My vet bill, for 2012, came to over $2,000. I’m hoping my vet bill won’t be that much this year but you never know. I like senior animals so my vet bills tend to be higher than people who adopt puppies. It also pays to wait until the shelters and rescue groups are full of puppies. I’ve noticed they are much more willing to be reasonable when they have animals coming out their ears.

    1. you are doing the right thing.. also so is Melanie.. this elitist, bigoted, “rescue” mentality is rampant all over the USA..
      to Helen who says:
      but the problem is – how will the rescue stay in business? I read both of the linked articles, and while they say that rescues should not be asking for money for the pets, they offer few suggestions for rescues run entirely on volunteers that are basically a grass roots operation. These rescues may not have the time or volunteer know how to properly market and fundraise or create retail shops to offset costs. Does that mean they shouldn’t be rescuing any animals at all and just give up?

      I say.. since when is rescue a “business” to be run like a nasty “for profit ” animals business that rescuers so often denigrate? Want to rescue a dog.. pay the price of using what you can get to get it to the next home.. transports of over 175 PER dog to take a dog in a truck cross country. makes money..they take about 200 dogs per week.. rescue should not be a “business’ but a ‘from the heart’ volunteer situation but with fees like 400 bucks for a puppy from an unknown origin.. yes you are better off buying one from a breeder.. as for ‘rescue’ yes Helen it means you should not be “rescuing animals” because you really are not doing that.. you are selling animals that you get for free ( “pull fees’ are very low or non existent in most places)
      as for Shirley.. they should pay YOU to take a dog.. homes are not about fences and money.. they are about love and home baked cornbread.

      1. From what I see, pull fees depend on the shelter. In Texas, some shelters give the dogs free for rescue or in one case based on a grant, paid rescues $50 per animal to take. Other charge up to $100 for a rescue to pull an animal. Guess which are the higher kill ones.

        I hate hearing people give the reason that they buy from breeders that they have had a bad rescue experience. Ultimately, rescuing is about saving a life. Some municipal shelters cost less down here, particularly if the animal is scheduled to be killed or it is summer time, then you can snag “a deal” because it is a crisis situation. I would pretty much rescue every time now, because I want the peace of mind knowing that I saved a life.

        I would also more likely adopt from a municipal shelter because of their lower fees and the immediacy of knowing that they have the potential to be killed.

      2. Animals that come from shelters or puppy mills or shadowy backgrounds often need medical procedures, including just basic spay/neuter, shots, and dental. Sometimes they need intensive training or rehabilitation, so they can be ready for their new home. At the very least, they need food and shelter. All of this costs money for the volunteer rescuers. Should the volunteers foot the bill for all of these animals from their own pockets? I’m saying that the cost of adopting an animal offsets the investment in their care before the adopter even gets that animal. It has nothing to do with pull fees.

      3. The common problem with rescues and shelters, to my observation, is this false and downright stupid dichotomy between “from-the-heart” and “business-like.” The martyr syndrome can sometimes be as ego-driven and selfish as the profit motive.

        There is nothing sinful about running a volunteer-based operation with enough attention to money matters that the place can SURVIVE and that people aren’t subjected to UNNECESSARY hardship.

        My prime example of how silly this is comes from outside of the animal world. I once worked as an administrator for a church that was actually fairly wealthy. I had an injury and requested an ergonomic chair. My boss felt that an “expensive” chair would “send the wrong message.” Aside from me, most of the people who used that chair were elderly volunteers who were members of the church. It seemed crazy to me that cultivating this poverty-stricken image would be more important than the health and well-being not only of employees but of their OWN MEMBERS!

      4. As the director of a very small, grass-roots animal rescue who charges low fees on a sliding scale… we do it that way because we DO try to think like a business: we NEED to keep fees reasonable or people won’t adopt from us when there’s 5 kittens/puppies for free in the parking lot down the street.

      1. That’s awesome. It sounds like getting the pet out of the shelter environment and into a home is a priority for you. That gives me hope. Thank you.

      2. Not playing one-upsmanship here, but my current foster, Corky, from a different rescue than the one I’m most active with, came in to a southern shelter which shall remain unnamed, intact, with an umbilical hernia, blind, and completely unvetted, They wouldn’t have considered him adoptable, there. But when the rescue tagged him, he was handed over to the rescue up to date on shots, deflead, dewormed, neutered, his umbilical hernia corrected, and with a full dental done.

        This is a case where they actually DON’T want to kill the dogs.

        Linky is to Corky’s Adopt-A-Pet listing.

    2. Our city animal control shelter does adoptions for $35 and will refund $25 if the dog is spayed/neutered or if you bring proof you had the dog spayed/neutered within 60 days. a local humane society does senior citizen adoptions at a very reduced rate and they sometimes (about 2 times a year) will do senior dogs to senior citizens for free. Check out local Animal control (otherwise known as the city pound) and Humane Societies.

  11. Hah, Its a peeve of mine….when we went looking for a 2nd dog I ended up frustrated as heck.

    Local shelter won’t have anything to do with me (unless I want to donate money or goods) cause Apollo’s intact. The fact that the dog I was looking at was already spayed made no difference (um, hello, she’s spayed, I couldn’t breed her if I tried!), and neither did the contract with Apollo’s breeder.

    Two more rescues turned us down for the same reason. I finally found two breed specific rescues that basically stated that as long as the dog we wanted was already spayed/neutered they didn’t care what the sexual status was of our other dog….by that time we’d been approved to get Arty so it ended up not mattering.

    I do know our local shelter charges what at first glance seems to be a huge adoption fee, but in reality it doesn’t even cover the cost of the spay/neuter surgery that they have done on most animals (living in NY everything costs so much more), much less any other costs involved. And they DO run lowered cost adoption events fairly regularly. So I’m ok with that.

    I’m ok with an upfront home inspection, to make sure you haven’t lied about your living conditions. But the requirement that they be allowed back any time is just rediculous. Unless there’s serious reason to believe animal abuse there’s no reason for it.

    I understand the reasons for the various rules that rescues and shelters have, I just wish they’d put more thought into when to make exceptions on them.

  12. Our adoption contract is three pages and I have considered revamping it at some point when I have some time. The biggest concern we have is that we don’t ever want to see one of our dogs end up in a shelter again. We want them to be cherished family pets where they will never live outside. We want our babies to remain on preventatives and be cared for properly so they will live long, healthy lives. These things are all mentioned in our contract as is the right to check on them anytime. We’ve never had to check on any of our dogs luckily, but there could be a time when we do and really want to include this just in case. We try to be pretty thorough in screening people because it is in the best interest of the dog, but we try not to go overboard. We have never asked for people’s social security number, banking info or anything else thats crazy like that.

    As far as our adoption fee, we take a good deal of what I call “medically challenged” dogs which cost us far above average to vet. Even still, our adoption fee is $200 and honestly, we still lose money on many of our dogs. All of our dogs are vaccinated, dewormed, heartworm tested, spayed/neutered and microchipped before they head to their new homes. However, regardless of whether we have $150 or $800 in one of our dogs, the adoption fee is the same. It also doesn’t change if they’re a purebred, if they’re large or small. I do know of some rescues that double their fee when they get a purebred and know of one charging up to $900 for an English Bulldog which I found appalling. I think this sends the message that purebred dogs are worth more than mixed breeds. I understand that they are trying to raise funds with the fee but it turns a lot of people off to adopting from a rescue. All of my personal dogs are mixed breeds and I think they’re the best dogs in the world, (of course I’m a tad baised however).

    I only know how we handle adoption and reading some of these posts have been kind of shocking honestly. I cannot believe rescues would adopt out dogs that bite as this has never and will never happen in our rescue. I have friends that have adopted dogs from one fairly large rescue and half their records were missing. Then come to find out the dogs had medical issues that they hid from the adopters. I think honesty is the best policy and adopters should be aware of any issues, medical especially because they need to decide if they are willing (emotionally and financially) to take on a dog with above average needs. We also don’t require a fence, although we do have a few that we really feel would do best with a fence because they are very high energy. Dogs do just fine without a fence if walked/exercised regularly. Furthermore, I could care less if a dog goes to a mansion or a small, modest home. Our rescue dogs are like our kids and we want them to be part of families that will cherish and love them for the rest of their lives. That’s what is truly important.

    Shirley, I’ll keep my eyes out for a Beagle :)

    1. Jamie, out of curiosity do you also do a vet check? When I applied to one rescue I was denied because my vet had no record of HW preventative. Well, yeah, because I buy Ivermectin instead of Heartguard. It’s less costly by quite a lot and is the same medication. Also good for Demodex mange, btw. And I had no mention of flea preventative because I use Diatomaceous Earth (a safe and effective all natural mineral) to kill fleas rather than use chemicals. All of which I explained.

      Then I got slammed for not having yearly vaccinations. However, I do yearly titers (blood test for immunities to diseases we vaccinate for) and the 3 year rabies shot. If a dogs titers come back too low they get the vaccine. This way I know my dogs carry the necessary immunity and I know I am not over vaccinating. One rescue and the local Humane Society didn’t know what a titer was!!!

      And do you object to small children? I was looking to rescue because my Old Man (Patches, RIP) was edging up on 15 and I realized he was mortal and would leave me. I wanted another dog to love that would already be established as part of the family before that happened to help ease the pain and because I like dogs. I was denied at a few rescues and shelters because my son was then 6 years old and the dog could knock him over. Well, DUH! Larger untrained dogs do occasionally knock a kid down in excitement. Kids fall down and get knocked over all the time just playing. Nothing to get bent about and the dog can be trained not to do so anymore. But I was denied anyways.

      And, as I said before in my original post, when I told the rescues and shelters I wanted a dog that was or would be larger because my husband was then an over the road truck driver leaving me home alone for days at a time with 3 kids. I wanted a dog that would have a big manly bark and that would sleep with me so I wouldn’t be lonely and hopefully would alert bark if someone or something was wrong. This also disqualified me as they didn’t think “watch dog” or “guard dog” was an appropriate job for a family pet.

      Would what I have told you disqualify me from adopting from your rescue? Are there some rescues out there that take things on a case by case basis?

      1. I too use Ivomec for HW. I am open and honest with my vet about it and in fact, when I got Surrey, who was HW positive, I took her in for an exam and the vet took a chest x-ray and told me to keep right on doing what I’m doing, giving the monthly Ivomec. So although I consider that my HW preventive and treatment is done with the full consent of my vet, I have no idea whether she makes a note of that in bold type in the records so that anyone verifying a reference for me there would know it. I suppose it’s possible they might simply say, “No I don’t see any record of her buying HW meds with us.” I would hate to think that someone verifying a vet reference would deny me on that basis but would hope they would ask me for an explanation. As far as vax, I haven’t done yearly vax in a LONG time since they are unnecessary and in fact I make use of mobile vax clinics when I can. So there again, someone checking a vet reference might be told “No I don’t see vax given consistently in the history” but hopefully would ask me about my vaccine protocols.

      2. Yesbiscuit, keep your receipts for the Ivermectin and paperwork/receipts from the clinic. If you are hoping for a rescue that understands your best bet is to tell them about preventative and vaccination protocols before they call your vet and to have paper proof that you’re caring for your pets.

        I had one lady come to my home with a Basset we were looking at and she got all angry at me because my vet didn’t have record of either Ike (the American Bulldog) or Rita (my American Pit Bull Terrier) having been spayed or neutered.

        Umm, I had already told them I took Ike to a low cost clinic to have his neuter and I took Rita to a different vet for her spay because she has a heart murmur and I wanted a second opinion of the severity of the murmur and how safe the surgery would be.

        What’s really funny is that Ike was wandering around and getting touched and loved on by the rescue representative yet she never thought to look and see that he had no testicles!

  13. As an aside, this conversation was timely because right this minute in Atlanta there is a heated political debate over which provider to choose for animal control and services and the choice is between a non profit and a FOR PROFIT. There are many other issues surrounding this but this conversation underscores why a for profit would be detrimental.

  14. Many rescues ask the question, “If an adopter can’t afford the adoption fee, how are they going to afford vet care?” when attempting to justify a high adoption fee. Some even ask for bank information apparently. Here’s the thing – nobody, regardless of income level, likes to tell strangers how much money they have in the bank and how they spend that money. When you ask the above question, you are asking how much money the adopter has and how they spend it. It’s demeaning.

    Instead, why not simply check the vet reference? All adopters who have or had pets will have one. By verifying that the applicant has a relationship with a vet, you are confirming that the person does come up with the money for vet care. How they do that is not your concern.

    To elaborate a bit: Maybe the person has a vet who allows him to make payments or or has some other arrangement that does not require full cash payment at time of service. Maybe the person sold a personal item of value to pay for an expensive surgery his last pet needed. Maybe he went on his knees to a family member or boss and begged for a loan to pay for an emergency vet visit. None of that is your business. All you need to know is that despite the fact that he can’t come up with $350 to buy the pet, he apparently does come through to get vet care when needed.

    1. Frankly you brought up your finances, even stated you are “poor” and don’t have $350. it IS nobody’s business so was surprised when you posted it. You asked for feedback by posting it. Otherwise I would not have thought twice about it. However, if you get a pet from a shelter that does no vetting you do need to be prepared to have funds available to care for him or her right away. If the vet is willing to make arrangements that is a great suggestion. Many wish we could choose to pay what we feel like for our human medical care, fees and children’s births etc. Are human adoption fees ever waived? I don’t know the answer, just throwing that out there.You haven’t answered on suggestions for the small rescue that is short handed as is, doesn’t have time for fund raising and needs their costs recouped through fees?

      1. Quit badgering me. I never asked for your feedback on my income status. And don’t expect me to deliver a Charitable Organization Fundraising Guide via blog comment. I am not qualified to write one and am under no obligation, regardless of how many times you repeat yourself. If you have something new to add to the discussion, please feel welcome.

      2. the comparison of whether human adoption fees are ever waived to adoption of pets is silly. human children that don’t get adopted aren’t routinely euthanized if someone doesn’t adopt it.

      3. “Short-handed” and “doesn’t have time for fund raising.”

        What I read there is “Has driven away potential volunteers, along with adopters, with rude, insular, and imperious attitude,” and “Cannot generate goodwill in the form of either donations or volunteers who will devote themselves to fundraising.” (see above).

        The thing about rescue is, there are lots of people who aren’t in a position to volunteer in animal care, but ARE capable of running raffles, donating items for those raffles, making handcrafts to sell, and a million other creative fundraising methods. (I think our rescue learned them all in 2009.)

        A rescue that is “too busy” for fundraising is, in the end, just a commercial pet-flipping enterprise. That accusation that the shelters sometimes make, that the rescues cherry-pick the desirable pets to quickly re-sell? That’s where *that* comes from.

  15. Lis Carey Says:

    January 21, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Unlike you, I assume that Shirley is looking for a dog who meets her needs and ability, and that she won’t knowingly be adopting a dog with immediate needs that she can’t immediately meet.


    Thank you Lis. Yes, I am an adult of sound mind who owns other pets. Any standard rescue application would reveal this basic information. From there, you may assume I am not going out of my way to find a potential disaster situation to bring into my life.

  16. Just a thought just because a person has money doesn’t mean it is a sure bet the pet will be taken care of. Money does not mean a person is automatically a good person. It is not a case of money it is a case of the person. I know people that have no money and take freak care oftheir pets. I know people with no money who I have had to educate them and same goes with people who have money. I think it is more about a combination of knowledge, compassion,empathy,love and enjoying what a pet brings into your life. I am poor and all my pets are vetted, up to date on their shots,well fed, given lots of attention and loved.I sometimes struggle with the vetting but I always find a way and willing to go without something for them. Because they are loved and poor can love also.

    1. True dat. Like my neighbor who felt like she got a bargain because the Cane Corso she was buying was advertised at $1300 and she managed to talk them down to $800. This is a dog who, two months later, had to be rehomed because it was such a disaster with an owner who thought all dogs were like Labs…

      Or the guy who spent $2000 on a Newfie pup, only to surrender it to the shelter six months later because he “didn’t realize they got so big”…

      Or the guy who went to get a Yorkie puppy from a miller. He saw the mom in the little cage who “looked like shit, but the puppy looked ok” so he gladly spent $400 for it and left happy (and without a second thought for the mom left behind, I’m sure). Puppy millers love dumb people with money.

      (P.S. – this was the second puppy this guy bought from this miller – the first one was accidentally killed when spooked near a flight of stairs and fell to its death, so this guy paid the miller $800 to keep on doing what he’s doing. Jackasses all.)

      1. Well, let’s toss in my next door neighbor who had money, owned a home with a fenced yard, thought of her pets as “her children” and was willing to drive to another state to save a Pit Bull mix in rescue due to the state it was in having statewide Breed Specific Legislation declaring all Pit Bulls dangerous and placing restrictions on owning them and their mixes.

        Fast forward 3 years and the dog hadn’t been seen by a vet or licensed with the city since the day she got it, living in a crate in a bedroom next to my driveway for about 16 hours per day unless he was tossed into the yard alone, barking crazily at every sound out of boredom and excess energy and was then surrendered to a kill shelter at age 7 (5 years after she got him) because he was under exercised, under stimulated mentally, untrained, and they had a baby.

        But the rescue did the usual insane application, home check, invasive friend and family reference check, etc. AND had her sign a contract that if she could no longer keep him for any reason he would be returned to them.

        Some people look great on paper and initial inspection, yet suck as pet owners. Some look not ideal and are actually wonderful pet owners.

    2. When I first got involved in animal welfare, 9 years ago, the first abuse case i saw was a dog, neglected and abused by an extemely well to do, financially able, well thought of by the community, family. chained, tied outside, sick, not fed, infected with maggots, elderly dog who was left to live in the elements. They could have given this dog the best of the best with the money they make… so money does NOT make a difference. she was rescued, the former owners were convicted, and she was adopted and lived a nice life with a family and little girl who loved her for another two years. (and BTW, they were not rich like the former owners, but lived a modest life)

  17. Heck, I am counting on some folks wanting a good deal for a great cat here in a few weeks. Planning an adoption event where I am thinking of trying out the promotion of naming your own adoption fee. I’m willing to give it a go. We’re helping another agency by taking in some of their overflow, as well as another person who does independent rescue, along with our own cats. So we are going to have 15+ cats available for adoption at once, which is a lot for us. So I want to get them into homes ASAP so our foster homes aren’t ties up. The rescue’s volunteers are going to “screen” adopters the same we always do: by an open line of communication, but we’re going to let people offer what they can afford and/or what they want to give. We do pro-active scheduled follow up and adopters get my personal cell phone number and email. So we should be able to head off any unforeseen problems. Anyway, I got the idea from this blog talking about this very idea from other rescues. I’m willing to give it a try.

    1. Do you have photos/descriptions? If you can get them online ahead of time, it may help people network them and get more folks to your event.

      1. I will once we get the cats. A partnering s/n clinic is vetting them at no charge before we get them (so there is no financial risk to us if people don’t donate enough to cover their vetting so it’s a good time to test out the model). So we’ll take photos once we have them. Plan on the adoption sites and facebook for sure. We’re going to engage the media to help promote it, newspaper and television, hopefully radio. It’s our first event of its kind that we’ve ever done.

    1. Shirley, Silverwalk has some lovely beagles (and Walter Brennan, the B&T Coonhound I wish I had a place for), and I’m sure transport could be arranged.

      However, Roberta, your adoption application has switched over to some nasty malware site twice on me. I hope you can get that looked at.

      1. Thanks for the heads up. I have been plagued with malware both on my computer and on my website and have just recently (with much help from a generous reader) gotten a clean bill of health. I don’t want to risk getting back there again.

    2. Thank you Roberta! I just looked at your PF listings and already found several I can’t possibly live without. That brings my total number of beagles I MUST HAVE to 18. Must work on Billy… He keeps mentioning something about me collecting on life insurance by putting him in his grave. I take that to mean he’s weakening.

      1. He’s definitely going to cave. :-) LOL at mikken about the puppy. After living with the best dog ever for 8 wonderful, magical years, I will never ever again even think about adopting a puppy. Because the best dog ever was the puppy from h*ll. We survived, mostly intact, but our furniture did not. :-) Give me an adult dog any day! Good luck, Shirley. I hope you find the perfect dog for you & Billy!

      2. Andrea, you made me lol. Ike, the American Bulldog I ended up purchasing when turned down by rescues was also a pup from h*ll. He became a saint at age two, but for the first couple years of his life I went around with a bottle of cleaner hanging from my pants, a roll of paper towel under my arm, a wad of garbage bags in my pockets and muttered to myself a LOT.

        Then I took in an adult Pit that needed a home, but was already totally trained.

        Then my husband talked me into a Basset Hound puppy who has been a teeny tiny bit less than the Anti-Christ and then we got another Pit pup who has, thankfully, just gotten past her evil pup stage…mostly.

        That’s 3 pups in 4 years. I seriously doubt I will ever again want a puppy. Ever. When this lot grows old and dies and I need another dog or three I am going for nice adults!

      3. Follow up to Kate’s concern re: a malware redirection ( which I found) on my website Here is the action I received very quickly:

        “Hello the site re-direction has been fixed, and I successfully submitted a test form.

        Many Thanks

        Craig D Bishop
        Web/Tech Team Manager
        Ultimate Pet Websites”

        After Billy relents, Shirley, you may have your pick.

        To add to this conversation, I adjust fees all the time. Adopted two Beagle litter mate puppies to a pair of college students at half price who have intact dogs at home cause they are fantastic animal lovers and incredible young people. They consider Silverwalk a second home; I’m grateful and blessed in knowing them.
        After reading some comments, I made multiple adoption faux pas in that one sentence. I love other comments…those of common sense.

  18. I think the biggest “gap” in all this rescue/adoption stuff about what pet owners can afford if the pet get sick or injured is between the perfect fantasy heaven some people seem to think we can live in VS REALITY, the real world we live in. Hey, yes, it would be wonderful if every animal had a great perfect home with an owner to whom cost is no object to veterinary care, but that isn’t the world we live in. we live in a world in which a lot of PEOPLE can’t/don’t even get medical care and treatment they need! Should someone “too poor” to afford large expensive vet bills that might arise, that might just opt to euthanize it reather than spend a large vet bill, NOT have pets? Is someone really insisting that is worse than the animal sitting in a shelter cage till its time is up, and it is euthanized? and if in a ‘no-kill’ shelter, it sits there indefinitely while a dozen other dogs that no-kill couldn’t take get euthanized at other shelters and pounds? Are you REALY suggesting the “choice’ is between a home that meets a high standard or death in a shelter?
    As to someone ‘admitting’ they are poor and can’t afford a certain amount, i’m going to come right out and tell you, i am poor….I am elderly, disabled, and F()@&N POOR! There were times past in my life I too could and did pay huge vet bills to save sick or injured pets. REALITY, I cannot do so anymore. period. Not a choice.
    And, i have pets. I have a 20 yr old horse, I’ve had 18 yrs, from back when times were better in my life. Should I, just in case she gets sick or injured and requires a bigger vet bill than i can pay, auction her off to only god knows where she’d end up? when my personal fiancial situation went down, I made the decision to not intentionally CHOOSE to aquire more animals, because I knew I couldn’t afford big vet bills.
    But, sometimes, animals in need cross my path, and I trully am the best and sometimes ONLY option they’ve got at all. I have a 13 yr old dog that I inhereted when my sister passed away 5 yrs ago. Should i have dumped that 8 yr old sweet timid mixed breed onto some rescuer who might find someone with more income? I have a Lab I rescued from fast traffic on a heavily traveled hwy I live on a couple years ago, for whom I was unable to find an owner, the only individuals I found that wanted him would turn him loose to run the roads, and SE Texas has a high rate of high kill shelters simply because there are so many “unhomed” pets here. I’ve rescued a few others, placing them when it worked out. for these i’ve kept, i’m the best chance for ANY life they had or have, is that not good enough? Would death in a shelter be better for thme? I have vetted these animals, spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and provide flea pills and heartworm prevent. They eat premium food. They are cared for. They are VERY HAPPY.
    But if something arose, sickness or injury with a huge cost above normal vet maintenance, I face that reality..not choice…REALITY. I would have to “just euthanize” as someone else put it. There are no “rescuers” out there to pay for expensive vet care if one of my animals needed it. Does that make me an irresponsible or ‘second class’ pet owner?
    Someone mentioned some homeless person on the steets, sharing their meager food with an abandoned stray, that would otherwise have already starved or died in a pound or over crowded shelter.
    GET REAL! We do NOT live in a perfect paradise where every animal or even every human can have the best of everything, the best food, the best home, Sometimes the best we can do has to be good enough, for it is better than the alternative!

    1. Thank you for this eloquent statement. I agree with you. A few organizations give grants for unusual medical costs for pets whose owners can’t otherwise afford to provide care (, but there aren’t nearly enough of these groups, and a couple of them charge interest or do not fund care if the diagnosis is other than cancer.

      I believe in universal health care for pets as well as for people. Unfortunately, we are a long way from having it.

  19. Hell of a conversation. Anyone who has a dog in need of a home and reads this blog and thinks they still need a bank account from YesBiscuit, a home check or anything else has truly missed the point. I volunteer for two rescues. No beagles, which is too bad because I wouldn’t have let Shirley know about them. Just would have dropped them off at her doorstep and picked up the next poor dog waiting to get out of the shelter. Someone give this woman a Beagle. Don’t worry bout Billy, he’ll be fine. ;)

    1. :-) :-) :-) And as I said in the previous conversation, many rescues would turn me down flat on my trying to adopt a dog from them. Because as we all know, a fenced yard is essential for any dog to live a good life. Apparently they never thought about someone who actually *walks* their dogs for exercise and bathroom breaks. My dogs are spoiled rotten (in a good way) but alas, they live without that fenced yard. Poor things.

  20. Davyd, why does it have to be all or nothing, demanding potential adopters jump a high set bar and run an obstacle course, or just throw them a free dog on their doorstep and move on? That is exactly what I was saying is so crazy! I’ve on this page expressed, in placing any pet, I think home checks matter, but they should be set to reasonable standards. Karen, it was not my intent in my rant to solicit sources for assisitance with my pets vet care…that idea is not even realistic, given how many pets both homed and unhomed that may need care. Its this attitude that everyone should be able and willing to pay any cost for whatever vet care might be needed to save every dog. when I see these people talking about spending even thousands of doallrs, or expecting someone else to, for extensive surgeries and special care, often for dogs that are poor candidates for homing to begin with and often left with permanent special needs at the end of it, i can only wonder at what kind of ego trip they are getting out of it. Doing it for the animals? No way, not when the costs of those cases could have been put to better use saving 10 or 15 other pets with reasonable needs and better placement potential that they then can’t afford to help, and second, not when it comes right along, as it does, with pleas for donations so they can keep doing the same, hey, its easy to spend other people’s money on such things, and then put down owners that can’t afford that kind of expense? THAT’S what I meant in my comment there’s no rescuers going to pay for my (or other pet owners’) pets big vet bills, rescuers casually tossing about spending thousands of dollars they’ve spent saving a single pet as their argument for why adopters should be financially able to do so, when those rescuers are for the most part spending others money, donated money, not their own. In real life, pet owners bear the sole burden of costs of their pets care, and to have an attitude that only those willing and able to provide care on a cost is no object basis is nonsense.

  21. I am in no way “anti-rescue’. I have the greatest respect for those that rescue responsibly and sensibly. And I think others here criticizing *some* rescue practices feel the same. But there ARE a lot of abuses going on under the name of “rescue.” Some are ego driven and even pathological “god-complex” elitism, some are profit driven. I had some involvment with organized breed rescues in the past, 15, 20, 30 years ago, and remember when such things as absurd, abusive “contracts” as Shirley mentions, that required people literally sign away their constituional and legal rights, including rights to privacy and to protection against illegal siezure of property, and some adoption contracts became actually nothing more than letting the adopter ‘borrow’ the animals until some resuce inspector decided to repossess it at a whim, began to appear on the scene, and the term “grab back” was being tossed about as if a respectable practice to boast of. In case any don’t know what a “grab back” is, it is literally STEALING an animal back, even when it might involve illegal breaking and entering into private property. That’s when I backed out of involvment in that.
    My last attempt personally at trying to deal with organized rescue was 18 yrs ago when I aquired the 20 yr old horse I now have. I wanted a young horse, being competent to train it properly, and had made the commitment to insure it a good home the rest of its life. I thought getting a rescued horse would be a good idea, but discovered the demands such as despite an “adoption fee” equal to or greater than what I would expect to pay for an outright purchase, having to agree to unannounced visits and inspections for the rest of the horse’s life, with the clause that at the whim of siad inspectors the horse could be immediately repossessed, that the only way I could EVER dispose of the horse was to return it to the rescue without any financial compensation the rest of its life, just way too much nonsense to accept. i was not interested in “renting” what would remain “their” horse!
    Those that don’t like the criticism of abuses in so-called rescue need to stop blaming the victims, trying to discredit their horror stories about unfair and even illegal practices under the name of rescue, and recognize there really are problems, and people that have been burned have every right to talk about them, and yes, swear off dealing with rescues again. They need to turn their focus on those abusing so-called rescue, toward cleaning up the whole messy rescue scene, whether it involved abusive, invasive treatment toward adopters, or running what are actually for-profit flipping businesses.

    1. And to add, btw, even in adoption of human children, once an adoption is done, the adopting agency nor anyone else maintians any rights to subjecting the adopting family to continuing inspections and threat of repossessing the child if they don’t approve of something in that home!

  22. I am a former rescue volunteer who just quit. I doubt I’ll ever volunteer for rescue again. Why?…

    I could not foster, but I could transport. I was a transporter who was willing, on short notice, to move dogs up to 500 miles one way. I only asked to be reimbursed for the fuel one way. I tried to bunch transport to the same geographic area in order to save the rescues involved money by splitting fuel costs, and worked with a local boarding kennel for a phenomenal “rescue” rate. I would also pick up from foster homes enroute. Hubby and I would occasionally tweak vacation plans in order to deliver a dog (and not charge those rescues for fuel at all). All dogs were individually crated, in a large SUV, on bedding, with something indestructible to keep them occupied, fully vetted, with health certificates (if going out of state). I carried cardboard in case dogs in adjoining crates took a dislike to each other, and additional bedding in case I needed to change it enroute. All dogs were taken out for a short walk every 3-4 hours.

    My approach was professional. I was willing to work with rescues to keep their expenses down. I stayed with friends at my destination or in unreimbursed hotels. I made no money doing this. Everything was done for the animal’s comfort and I got to visit with distant friends. Win, win for everyone, right…

    The straw that broke the camel’s back was an out of state breed rescue who asked me to evaluate a dog at our local shelter. Dog was a nice boy, but a little timid. The more I worked with him, the more he came out of his shell. I was asked to arrange for the shelter to neuter, then pull and board the dog and all would absolutely be reimbursed. All expenses were discussed ahead of time and approved. I sent pictures and video ahead to the rescue along with my behavior eval notes. Enroute I was told a foster had already been arranged and I could meet them. After an 8 hour drive, they refused to accept the dog and felt they didn’t have to reimburse for any of his agreed to expenses. They claim they only wanted to “see” him before deciding. I do not drive dogs 450 miles for people to see them – it’s too stressful on the dog. You want to “see” dogs, go to your local shelter.

    When I explained that I had incurred expenses at their request, they claimed I “was crazy”. When I told them I had nowhere to put the dog, they told me to dump him back at the shelter, or any shelter on the 450 mile drive home, no one would know, they could give me a list. I explained that the dog was already micro-chipped to them (because our shelter always microchips to the receiving rescue) and the woman running the rescue lost it and threatened me with physical harm if I did not get off their property immediately. She also threatened to sue me for having the dog microchipped to them. I networked the dog all the way home and found a rescue close to home willing to take him. The dog has since been adopted and is a much loved pet that sleeps on a little boy’s bed every night.

    In the time that I did this, I regularly got stiffed by rescues. Regularly, as in more than half the time. Apparently once dogs were out of the kill shelter, dumping them on me is part of some rescues’ “business” model.

    Too many rescues are just too flaky and the good, responsible rescues suffer for it.

    1. Therese, you open up a whole ‘nother all too common problem here, that of even the most sincere and dedicated volunteers feeling used and abused. That, too, could use some serious attention. Year ago, when I had kennel facilities for my own show dogs, one way I tried to help our breed rescues was as a foster. There were not only difficulties over being reimbursed for legit expenses, but sadly, once dogs get placed out to fosters, those operating the rescues seemed to just forget about them, new incoming dogs into the central rescuer’s facilities being shown first to potential adopters, and usually adopted out before those potential adopters even saw or met those already languishing, sometimes for months or even years, in supposed “foster” homes, that ended up being their “permament” home. Unfortunately that does lead so some rescues placing a lot more effort into finding more and more new foster homes than in actually getting those dogs adopted out. As some have commented here, they’ve encountered rescues that would approve them for foster, but not adoption! Go figure!

      1. To add to your comment about feeling you’ve been stiffed for legit expenses, that is actually one of the 2 most common reasons I’ve heard Vets give for why they won’t or stopped providing low-cost services to rescues…getting stiffed for bills. the 2nd reason? Realizing a signficant part of even even most of their low cost or donated services intended for rescued pets were being done on the personal pets of the rescuers and/or their family and friends.
        Again, none of this is intended as offense to those doing rescue responsibly, but these ARE problems giveng all rescuers a bad name.

  23. For You who complains about the adoption fee’s, the contracts, the “invasive” visits. Let me tell you about MY Rescue! My boy, Jaxson, came from a rescue organization in Kansas. When the foster parents picked him up from a kill shelter, he was 15 lbs. UNDERWEIGHT. Covered and I do mean covered in flea bites. Both ears full of infection. He also had a massive case of heartworms. His foster parents took care of him for 6 straight months to get him back to good health. They loved him, cared for him, took him to the vet many times as he was treated and monitored. They pulled no punches, he was very sick and it was an absolute possibilty that he may not survive the tough treatments. His vet bill, by the time it was said and done, was MUCH closer to $1,000 than it was to the $250 that they asked for the adoption fee. When I picked him up, the foster parents were choked up, they loved this dog they had cared for. They told me that if I could not or did not want to keep him, that they would come pick him up in a minute. They and the rescue org director never want any of their dogs ending up in “the system” or a shelter again. Their only concern was that this sweet boy went to a wonderful home. What he deserved, especially after the misery he had been through. You complain about these fee’s as if the rescue org’s are “cashing in”. Indeed! I paid $250. In return, we got an incredibly healthy, very loving dog. Several toys that foster Mom & Dad bought from their own pockets. We got the Bargain of the Century!! How?!?! Alot of generous people that make donations so that these wonderful people can make a difference in the life of Man’s Best Friend!! If you find your free Beagle, good for you. Even better, good for that Beagle or Poodle or Pointer. But whatever you do, DON’T villianize these people and these organizations! You obviously have NO IDEA what it takes to help these poor animals. More time, more love and more money than they could ever ask for a fee!I am very, very thankful for them!! I now have a sweet, sweet boy that runs our yard like he was never sick at all! Before I put him in my car and drove away, I promised that we would love him and spoil him rotten! I am doing my best to keep that promise! Thank you to my new friends, the org director and the foster parents!!

    1. Ah, someone who thinks anyone with a different opinion than you, or a different experience, must have never done rescue and has no idea what’s involved.

      You’re mistaken.

      There are great rescues out there. There are terrible rescues out there. And everything in between. But adoption fees aren’t, as your rescue demonstrates, the only means of fundraising, and high adoption fees don’t guarantee a better placement.

  24. This just in from a fellow rescuer whom I sent this discussion:
    “well I’ll be!! After 30 years rescuing animals from my area of poverty- and taking in all the “I got a litter I need to get rid of” or pulling out of our high kill AC-I now find out I’m doing it all wrong and should be giving these animals away to a good home. Letting people name their own price.
    As you know I have spent tens of thousands of my own money every year to vet these animals and hope to recoup a small amount in their adoption fees.
    Obviously the new and younger generation have a better way and can step in my shoes and save more than the 40 or so a month that I do, with miraculous donations to cover all their expenses for the animals.
    This is the “aha” moment for me, and I have
    decided to step aside and retire.
    May God Bless them and the animals.”

      1. *snerk*

        I don’t understand the reluctance to try new things? Just because you’ve been doing it a certain way for a long time doesn’t mean that there isn’t another (possibly better) way to do stuff. Human nature, I suppose.

    1. Wow. If such conversation as here is all it takes for you to just throw it all down and quit, you aren’t very serious about it to begin with. Many of the comments here deal with legit complaints about abusive practices, I’d think a responsible rescuer would want that kind of thing stopped as well, since it reflects badly on all.

  25. Shirley deserves a free puppy from any place that has one. She has done so much for so many, and has helped save more lives than probably anyone here. And who better could advertise for that rescue group who gives one up?

    I personally have never bought a dog from anywhere but the pound, and once from a neighbor as the only way to have her life from their abuse. I can’t imagine paying the prices for adoption I read about on this blog. They’d never get my business at those prices! And if I wanted a pure breed dog, I’d still shop at the pound, as I have seen some of everything in there.

    As much as MAS seems to like killing, they still do want to get dogs out the ‘front’ door as I would think every pound does.

    1. Hm. I fear I can’t muster much sympathy for him. His level of jerkitude would have been off-putting to many, I think.

      1. Perhaps. But now instead of getting a puppy from a rescue he got it from a Pet Store or Puppy Mill.
        How does that help to put an end to Puppy Mills?

      2. I wonder if some people think the same thing about me. (*overcompensating laugh*) The thing is, even jerks deserve pets and let’s face it, they are going to get them from SOMEWHERE. I’d rather get the jerk’s name and phone number and give him a dog so I can offer lifelong support for that dog than have him get a dog with possibly no support. If that dog doesn’t work out, do you think he’s likely to contact a breed rescue for help? I would assume not.

      3. I’ve always tried to look at people based on whether or not I think they will take care of the pet I am adopting out. I could hate their guts, but if I think they will care for the pet, I will still place the pet with them. They aren’t adopting me.

      4. It doesn’t, Peter. It doesn’t. Maybe if they adopted out to him with lots of follow up (not home inspection-type, the phone call with the “hey, how’s it going, do you need anything and you know you can always call us if you need help”-type) and the reassurance that he can always bring the dog back if things don’t work out, we totally understand, no problem…

        As long as there’s a safety net there for the animal.

        I wonder. Do you think that rescue groups could make their adoption forms less onerous if they had someone just fill out the very basics (name, address, what animal they’re looking for) and then just take time to talk to a potential adopter to get a better sense of them rather than the six-page questionnaire? They could write down vet reference and whatnot during the conversation, then get back to people. Maybe this guy wouldn’t have been so jerkish actually talking to someone on the phone or in person, you know?

      5. Mikken, our adoption paper is one single sheet of paper. We do follow ups and we always tell people that they have to bring the animal back if there are any issues. We do some background checks but the requirements are pretty low. I doubt it that all the animals we adopt out suffer or having a bad life. You have to have some faith in people.

      6. Mikken- The rescue I voluteer for does the face to face interview vs. a longer application. While we have a great, nay spectacular record we have a very good director who does all the interviews and adoptions. There have been several rescues who have tried to adopt this method but you need someone who is terribly good at reading people and has the right personality to pull it off with success. The failures I have seen with this system are people who are to starry eyed and naieve and those who sit at the opposite end of the spectrum who are to hardened and cynical. Plus not everyone is good at reading people. Most of those who started trying this method have been burned badly or have turned people off. When they went to a short page long app with open ended questions and added the face to face to deal with education assesment, as far as care and familiarity with the breed species of animal, the have become much more successful. Also, to address the adoption fee end we keep our adoption fee to the basic wellness and vaccine update the animal recieves upon intake and we have had great success with that lower fee and we bust our butts fundraising in our spare time to supplement the shelter income. (we are dealing with a different species, ferrets)

    2. The author needs a slight attitude adjustment (e.g. the right brand comment) but the comments posted by several rescue people are far worse. Instead of politely educating, several of them resorted to unwarranted and quite possibly false accusations about the author’s character and nasty name calling. I think they proved the author’s point quite nicely. It is much easier to buy a dog than adopt one when you’re expected to put up with that crap. Just think, it pet store employees treated customers like that, we wouldn’t have to worry about the sale of puppies in pet stores!

  26. Unfortunately, this guy does NOT want a dog. His daughter does. He talks about “as long as we have to put up with a dog, we may as well get the right brand”. Seriously !?!? Anyone who has to “put up” with a dog does not need or deserve one. And brand?!?! Are we talking about appliances or pets? We all know that there are good shelters-bad shelters, good breeders-bad breeders, good rescue orgs-bad rescue orgs, good owners-bad owners. We have to be responsible, sensible adults and investigate every situation. Some people don’t mind paying $600 for a puppy that has had all their shots, but not much other car. They may have been in the home of a loving breeder or they may have been in a home that makes a poor female pop out 2 litters of puppies a year, every year. What about a 4 yr old that has a wonderful loving personality that has been very, very sick but is now totally healthy? A dog that was loved every single day in foster care. If you have run into a rescue org that has bad practices, don’t slam them all!!! Most give much, much more than they ask for in return !!! And if you can’t afford a $250 adoption (planning for it is a wise thing!) then you probably can’t afford the yearly vet care that the dog deserves. Everyone deserves to have the love of a pet, BUT if you are “poor”, then maybe you have bigger things to take care of !!! Just because have the RIGHT to have something doesn’t mean you SHOULD have that something.

    1. “Everyone deserves to have the love of a pet, BUT if you are “poor”, then maybe you have bigger things to take care of !!!” Gee, what a swell sentiment.

      1. I guess not many people realized the sarcasm in that article. I actually thought he answered the stupid questions really well and in a fun way. Either way, the fact is that people who are rejected by a rescue, for whatever reason, will get a dog somewhere else. I guess that way we are making sure that the shelters and rescues stay full ;-)

  27. It’s unrealistic to expect to adopt a dog for free or even very cheap. Someone, somewhere has incurred costs to rescue the dog in the first place. If an adopter cannot afford to pay $200 for a dog, then how will they pay vet bills? I seldom have a vet visit costing less than $100.

    I do agree about some of the contracts adopters are expected to sign, especially demanding lifelong visits to the adopter’s home. I wouldn’t sign them either and I have no doubt that some of the ridiculous requirements are driving adopters away.

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