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Posts Tagged ‘adopting a pet’

Let’s pretend you’re a rescue, who would you adopt to? (Polls included)

April 23, 2014 22 comments

Let’s face it. Rescues often get a bad rap from people looking to adopt. People find their restrictions limiting, their paperwork daunting and their process somewhat convoluted and exhausting. I get it. Everyone wants to meet a dog and be able to adopt it right away. Waiting is hard.

I also get the frustration people often have with some rescues, who are so rigid in their adoption qualifications that nobody could possibly live up to their standards. In some cases, I believe this to be valid, but not in all. There are good reasons for some of the strict adoption qualifications rescues have in place. For instance, Shelties tend to be a much higher flight risk than many other breeds, so in most cases (not all) a fenced yard is a must for our rescue.

I recently participated in a discussion where people shared the restrictions some rescues had for qualifying adopters. As people shared their experiences, it suddenly occurred to me that almost everyone in the group was looking from the outside in. They had never had to make the difficult decision to place a dog with someone. It set my mind to thinking. Was there a way to let people play at being a rescue and share their own insight into how they would run things if they were adopting the dog out to someone? Hmmmm…. Maybe.

This is my attempt to let you, the adopter/potential, play at being the rescue. What follows is a description of the dog, it’s known history, and a series of choices you get to make as head of the rescue in selecting the dog’s new owner. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Meet Jenny. Sad Looking Chocolate Lab
Jenny is a stray that was rescued from a kill shelter. She is shy, nervous, and frightened of men. When she came into your rescue, she had mange and had to be treated before she could be adopted out. She also had to be spayed and vaccinated to ensure she would not get sick or get other dogs sick. She has been living in a foster home for the past two months and is now ready to find her forever home.

Keep Jenny in mind as you think about what you would do if you were a rescue.

 

As head of the rescue, you have a specific process that you like to follow when matching a dog with a potential adopter. These process includes the following (pick all that you would include in your process):

 

As the head of the rescue, you also have a certain set of criteria you use to weed out potential adopters who are not a good match for a dog in your rescue group. People you would automatically weed out of the adoption process include those who…

 

 

Three potential adopters have made it through your process and all three are interested in Jenny. Which one would you choose for her?

So what did you think? Was the process easy? Difficult? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

When an Animal Shelter Closes

December 3, 2010 40 comments

It seems ironic (or at the very least a sad coincidence) that today on National Adopt a Mutt Day there would be such sad news to report on the adoptable mutts in my very own community.

I had been hearing rumors for days now that the shelter I have volunteered at for the past 8 years was in trouble and would be closing, but I had been hoping and praying it would not true. It was not to be, today the Minnesota Valley Humane Society (MVHS) announced it would be closing it’s doors on December 31, 2010.

To say this is a sad event is an understatement. This one small humane society has been operating on its own since 1981. Despite many people’s mistaken belief, MVHS has never been affiliated with the larger Animal Humane Society (AHS) in Golden Valley, Woodbury, St. Paul, etc. It did not receive money from the the Humane Society of the United States (by the way, MOST Humane Societies DON’T receive money from HSUS). It operated on a tight budget, with a small staff, and had to raise all of it’s money on its own – and it had a high adoption rate (perhaps that’s because it didn’t put a timeline on an animal’s life like other humane societies do or maybe it’s because of the awesome staff and volunteers who promoted the animals and tried to help animals find homes).

It is the only animal shelter servicing the South Metro area and soon it will be gone.

So what is the impact when a shelter closes?

Other shelters and rescue groups end up taking up the slack. Most small shelters and rescue groups operate on a shoestring budget already, so when a shelter closes they not only take on additional animals they had not planned for, they also take on the extra costs associated with it. It can make or break a shelter or rescue group, financially.

Staff and Volunteers feel set adrift. Many volunteers work at animal shelters because they deeply care for the animals, but in many cases, there is also a sense of commaraderie that develops between the staff and volunteers. Friendships are formed. There is a feeling that you are all united in a common cause – saving animals

The animals that remain suffer undue additional stress. Animals that have not been adopted out feel the additional stress from the staff and volunteers, who are stressed out themselves, but their daily routine and lives change too. Suddenly, they are shipped off to some other location, maybe to a place where conditions are worse than where they came from (or more stressful) or they may have a limit on the number of days they can remain before they are euthanized.

The community suffers. Shelters provide a lot of services that the community often does not often recognize – educational programs, veterinary services, dog training, personal support after adoption, spaying and neutering, pet supplies for your newly adopted pet and informational resources. MVHS even offered people a list of apartments and townhomes that allowed pets.

What can you do?

Give money to your local animal shelters and rescue groups. Now. Call your local animal shelter and ask them if they are affiliated with a larger organization or if they operate on their own small budget, and then give. Contact a rescue organization and ask what you can do to help. Most of them need money, but many of them also need foster homes for the animals they already have.

Adopt. Normally I would be encouraging people to not to adopt during the holiday season, but this year I am asking people to adopt the remaining dogs, cats, birds, etc. that remain at MVHS. If you have the space, the time and want to make a difference, please adopt. And, if you are not local and living in MN, please adopt from your own shelter or rescue organizations. So many of the dogs, cats and other animals that end up at a shelter are not there because they were bad or did something to deserve it. In fact, some of the most common reasons animals are surrendered are because: someone lost a job, someone died, a family situation has changed (e.g., divorce) or the family had to move to a smaller location, like an apartment that doesn’t take pets. People that want a purebreed dog or cat often don’t realize that a lot of purebreed dogs and cats end up in shelters every single day (I should know I have two of my own – a Lab and a Sheltie). Many rescues and shelters have purebred dogs and cats, and often rescues are geared towards a particular breed. If that’s what you are looking for, please check with a shelter or rescue group first. Please.

Volunteer. I have had so many people tell me that they could never volunteer at a shelter because it would break their heart. I’m not going to lie, some days your heart does break, but most of the time you feel good knowing you have given a dog or cat a little extra attention and love that day. Every single interaction of love and kindness matters to them. It is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. And did I mention the friendships you develop? Trust me. It is SO worth it.

It’s never easy when an animal shelter closes, but sometimes it can bring change. I hope you will be a part of that change.

Please Note: If you are coming here to read this because HumaneWatch.org sent you here, please note that this shelter DID NOT close because of anything HSUS did or did not do and I completely disavow their misrepresentation of this fact in order to push their agenda to smear HSUS or any other group that supports caring for animals in a humane way.

Animal Rescue Groups: Are They Changing With the Times?

August 26, 2010 5 comments

Last month, I posted A Letter From A Shelter Manager and received a much bigger response than I ever expected. Many people commented on the dogs they had adopted from a shelter or a rescue. Or, how they would be adopting a dog in the future.

A few people wrote me or commented on the fact that they had tried to rescue a dog only to be turned away because no one would be home all day with the dog or they didn’t have a yard. Then, this last Monday during our #dogtalk discussion on Tweetchat (about the BlogPaws Conference in Denver) someone mentioned that they had been turned away from adopting a dog because the rescue wouldn’t let someone adopt a dog if they didn’t have a backyard – even though a dog park was down the street.

I want to acknowledge up front that I know many amazing rescue groups. They do the hard work of rescuing, spaying and neutering and preparing a dog or cat for a new home. I have met many rescue folks on Twitter and even locally, here in Minnesota. But, I hear these stories and wonder why some rescue groups are being so stringent when the economy is changing the housing environment. Are they changing with the times?

Just last week, Time Magazine pondered home ownership and whether home ownership even makes economic sense. An article in the Wall Street Journal (written by Thomas J Sugrue, Historian at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on American urban history) suggested that the new American Dream should be renting. And, in The Washington Post was the announcement that three U.S. Senators “are pushing an amendment that would wind down the government-controlled mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

Are rescues taking a second look at their guidelines and wondering how they will fit into the changing landscape? In an age when home ownership seems to be on the wane, should they refuse to adopt a dog to someone without a yard? In these economic times, when both parents often work either out of necessity, should they refuse to adopt a dog to a home where someone is not home all day? Obviously, I’m not the one to decide, but I do wonder if they are asking themselves these questions as well. After all, if the economists and historians and politicians are questioning who should own a home, shouldn’t rescues be asking whether a home with a yard is a valid guideline anymore?

Dear Pet Owner: Can you Handle the Truth?

May 3, 2010 6 comments

Recently, I read a book review written on Amazon.com about Randy Grimm’s book, Don’t Dump the Dog: Outrageous Stories and Simple Solutions to Your Worst Dog Behavior Problems (it’s the first review listed, written by Charlie S from Wag’N Book Review).

In case you’ve never heard of Randy Grimm, Randy is a famous animal advocate and animal rescuer from St Louis, Missouri. He runs Stray Rescue of St Louis, where he has been actively involved in saving the lost, abandoned and stray dogs that roam the streets of St Louis. Quite a man in my opinion. But, that’s not what caught my eye, it was the reviewer’s description of a section of Chapter 1 of Randy’s book,

“An owner contacts Randy wanting to relinquish his dog because of (a) hyper-activity issue. The owner comes by the shelter on a day where Randy is alone at the shelter, clearly overwhelmed by work, and (Randy) asks the pet owner to answer the phone while he brings the “abandoned pet” to its new home – (A) cage. While there, the owner takes many dramatic calls covering a few ‘real emergencies’. When the owner gets a break, he drops the phone, runs back, frees his dog, gets another dog and runs out of the facility. The owner realized that the issue he deemed terrible was nothing compared to the realities shelters have to deal with. He later sent money to the shelter to thank them of the invaluable knowledge he acquired that day.”

Pets are often surrendered for legitimate reasons, especially now, with many people losing their homes. But, just as often people surrender their pet simply because they didn’t take the time to train their dog, do their homework before getting their pet or made a hasty decision to get a pet because it was “so cute”.

It got me to thinking… would pet parents be less likely to surrender their pets for a frivolous reason, or at the very least, would they think twice before surrendering their pet if they knew the truth about what could happen to their pet?

For instance…

– A surrendered pet may go home with someone that will not treat him as well as the previous owner did. There is no way to know which adoptive pet parents will be good ones unless you do a home visit, and most shelters can barely afford to stay open so that is usually not an option. It’s a sad commentary on how we humans treat our pets when a dog or cat comes back to the shelter in worse condition than when they left.
– An overcrowded shelter means that a pet could be euthanized, especially if the pet is old, sick, has behavioral issues, or just plain runs out of time. According to the Humane Society of the United States and The Shelter Pet Project, approximately three million (3,000,000) healthy and treatable pets are euthanized every year because they don’t get adopted.
– Sometimes a sick pet (e.g., Parvo virus) is surrendered to a shelter and infects all the other pets in the shelter. Someone’s pet could die before it reaches the adoption floor, unless it’s vaccinations were kept up-to-date.
– Many shelter environments are loud. The noise level can be enough to damage human ears and it can drive a dog nuts. Literally. It’s called going “kennel crazy”.
– Just because a dog lived inside it’s last owner’s home doesn’t mean that will be the case when he is adopted. Chances are that he could be tied up outside.
– Training and socializing a pet is important. It makes them more adoptable.
– Adopting a dog or cat saves a life. Buying from a backyard breeder or puppy mill ensures that one less dog or cat will find a loving home.

I don’t want anyone to think I am disparaging animal shelters. Let’s be honest, without them and other rescue organizations, many more animals would be roaming the streets and suffering at the hands of an abuser.

The people who work in shelters are some of the most dedicated, hard-working and loving people I know. And, most of the people who adopt from an animal shelter are great people. I’ve seen and heard some really great, heart-warming stories about dogs and cats that have found their forever homes and are loved completely by their new families.

But, the reality is there is no guarantee that your pet will find a loving home. When you decided to get a pet, you took on the responsibility for that pet. Don’t you owe it to him to make sure that you’ve tried everything before you give him up?

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