Something that pops up on my radar frequently is when a facility that kills animals issues a plea on behalf of a pet and features wording such as “NO ADOPTERS, RESCUE ONLY”. The plea often includes a deadline which may be a matter of hours or possibly days. The logical assumption is that if the animal does not get pulled by a rescue group before the deadline, he will be killed.
The reasons that shelter staff designate certain animals “NO ADOPTERS, RESCUE ONLY” are often related to an animal’s special needs which may be behavioral or physical in nature. For example, a dog who was impounded after attacking another dog, a cat suffering from burns received in a fire, or any pet who appears to be suffering from some unknown medical condition. The shelter may or may not have had the animal evaluated by a professional who may or may not have provided a plan (behavioral modification training or medical care) and an estimate for costs. That information may or may not be included in the plea but most likely, anyone taking the animal is going to get a second opinion from someone they trust before proceeding with treatment anyway.
It’s important to note that there is no standard agreement between shelters and rescues. That is, it’s up to each individual shelter director to determine which rescues he/she is willing to work with and which ones he chooses to deny. Depending on the director, most rescues may be welcome or no rescues may be welcome or only those who have never criticized the killing at the shelter or only groups who have a 501(c)3 status with the IRS and/or some other criteria. When limiting an animal’s survival options to rescue groups, it doesn’t ordinarily mean ALL rescue groups. And when compared to the population of the animal loving public, there are relatively very few rescue groups anyway and in all likelihood, some of them will be refused at the director’s discretion.
Taking into consideration that animal rescue groups are typically overburdened in communities with pet killing facilities, the number of groups which may have the resources to immediately respond to a plea for a special needs animal is likely going to be very small. From those few, the shelter director will deny any groups of his choosing. If the animal is lucky, there may still be a group left to help him. If not, it’s the kill room.
Meanwhile though, a compassionate individual might come across the animal’s plea and determine he has the resources to help. But that person sees the “NO ADOPTERS” designation and, feeling helpless, turns away from the plea. In fact, maybe he turns away from all future pleas from this shelter in order to spare himself the pain of seeing animals the shelter has forbidden him to help in favor of killing.
My question is this: Under what circumstances, if ever, is it acceptable for a shelter to drastically reduce the pool of potential caregivers for an animal, whom the shelter intends to kill, by designating an animal “NO ADOPTERS/RESCUE ONLY”?