Do dog shelters make it too difficult to adopt?

Do dog shelters make it too difficult to adopt a dog?

I follow and support the movement to end all killing of adoptable U.S. pound and shelter animals. I wish all pet owners would support this idea.

However, a driving force behind the no-kill philosophy is to disprove the pet overpopulation myth. And that is the piece many shelter and rescue workers refuse to accept.

It’s easy to justify killing by blaming the pet owners who refuse to spay and neuter their pets. It’s easy to justify killing by blaming “overpopulation.”

Do dog rescues make it too difficult to adopt?

But the United States does not have a pet overpopulation problem, according to the No Kill Advocacy Center, an organization dedicated to promoting a no-kill nation. The United States has a problem with pound and shelter workers killing adoptable pets.

The system is flawed.

The United States continues to linger around the 4 million mark in annual shelter killings, according to Shirley Lyn Thistlethwaite who maintains the blog YesBiscuit!. This is not because we need to encourage more pet owners to spay/neuter their pets. It’s because we need to stop killing pets in shelters and get them into homes.

Obviously spaying and neutering is important, but I could not agree more on getting these animals into homes.

“What kind of homes?” Thistlethwaite asked on her blog. “Almost any homes.”

And this is the part I want to ask you about.

Do dog shelters make it too difficult to adopt?

When 4 million healthy, adoptable dogs and cats are killed in U.S. pounds and shelters each year, should we really be so picky about who can adopt?

It’s something that has the shelter/rescue world divided. As always, the answer is likely in the middle.

It should not be so hard for someone to adopt a dog from a pound or shelter. If someone wants a dog, they will get one somewhere. At the same time, there has to be some sort of screening process in place or the dogs could end up right back in the shelter system.

The screening and adoption process varies at each organization, but it typically involves:

  • an adoption application
  • references
  • a home visit
  • an adoption fee

Many potential adopters are automatically rejected for reasons such as:

  • owning an indoor cat that is not “up to date” on shots
  • owning a certain number of pets
  • owning outdoor cats (barn or feral)
  • owning an outdoor hunting or farm dog
  • admitting to previously re-homing an animal
  • admitting that a previous pet was hit by a car
  • admitting that a previous pet got lost
  • owning a dog or cat that is not spayed or neutered
  • not owning a fenced yard

Perhaps some of these reasons are legitimate. Perhaps not.

Many shelters are run entirely by volunteers. The whole adoption process from processing paperwork, checking references and so on can take up to a month.

If someone is looking to adopt a dog, he is unlikely to wait around that long. He is going to get a dog somewhere else – Craigslist, a breeder, a pet shop, another shelter.

Too difficult to adopt a dog?

This means he is not going to tell other people to adopt a dog from the shelter that took too long to contact him. He is not going to stay in contact with that shelter. He is not going to donate his time or money to that shelter. He is not going to adopt a dog from that shelter the next time he wants a dog.

Epic fail?

You tell me.

Do pounds and shelters need to maintain such a tough screening process for adopters?


If so many dogs and cats are killed each year in pounds and shelters, we should get them into almost any homes. At least they would not be killed.

In a recent post I asked people to define what they consider a good home for a dog.

Nearly everyone agreed that a good home for a dog is a place that provides the dog with his basic needs while also providing companionship and love.

Most people looking to adopt a dog will certainly provide a good home on that basic level. And that’s good enough for most dogs.

What do you think?

Do dog shelters make it too difficult to adopt a dog?

Follow this link to learn more about the No Kill Advocacy Center.

Finally, here is a link to a new post of mine on how to get your dog adoption application approved.

Do dog shelters make it too difficult to adopt a dog?


277 thoughts on “Do dog shelters make it too difficult to adopt?”

  1. I’m glad people are talking about this. We adopted a dog this spring, and we knew we wanted to get a rescue but OMG it was a nearly impossible experience. I can’t tell you how many times we started looking at Kijiji puppies, just because it would have been ‘easier’. The reasons we kept getting ‘rejected’ by rescue groups? We were first-time dog owners, and we both work 9-5 (even though we planned to — and did — hire a dog walker to come during the day.) I got my hopes up about SO MANY dogs, only to be turned down or, worse, not even hear anything back.

    In the end it worked out, because we got a wonderful little cocker spaniel, and he got a pretty awesome home and life (if I do say so myself.) But it was a seriously frustrating and demoralizing experience, and one we almost gave up on. I’m glad we didn’t, but I’m sure MANY other people would not be nearly as persistent as we were.

    1. I am very glad you didn’t give up. The reasons you were rejected are ridiculous. So people who work normal hours can’t have a dog? Come on!

    2. My husband and I are having the exact same experience. It is my first time looking for a dog, but my husband has owned one in the past. We want to get a dog from a rescue or shelter but are exasperated by how difficult they make it for responsible, hardworking, loving people to get a dog. We are feeling pushed towards breeders. We have been rejected b/c we live in an apartment (a dog friendly apt near many parks/trails), may or may not be pregnant soon, don’t have a current vet and work full time jobs. Who are they adopting to!??? Reading this site and many others gives us some solace that we are not the only ones experiencing this torture.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        It’s frustrating. I hope you are able to adopt a dog from somewhere. Don’t give up quite yet. Have you checked with any of the pounds in your area?

    3. Canis Imperare Suprema

      It’s horrible . I would prefer a few pets end up in less than ideal homes than dozen killed cuz somebody thinks you can’t have one.(when they prolly have filthy houses crawling with cats dogs mice and god knows what else)

  2. YES, much, much too hard. Heck, it’s even hard to get a gig WALKING a dog … as a VOLUNTEER.

    I appreciate the protection of the animals, but come on, people. Get them into a home. Get them loved. Get them fed.

  3. I think it all depends on the rescue. My mother tried to adopt a dog from RAGMN in the cities. They were not very helpful to the adoption process with her, she lives in Sioux Falls SD. They wouldnt let a different rescue do her home visit, it had to be a RAGMN rep, then when she was interested in a few dogs they told her she could only look at the first one she was interested in. The whole process i think was BS. She already has 3 other dogs that are all UTD on vaccines and spay/neuter, a six foot fence, stable income etc. The whole process got so ridiculous she eventually just went to a breeder and got a bulldog. But as an owner of 7 shelter dogs, most of my processes have been fairly easy and pain free. I have adopted from Sioux Falls HS, MN Border Collie Rescue, Luckys Place Afton WY, a shelter in CA and flew a dog to Fargo. But I also have pretty good credentials for an adoption agency to make a pretty easy decision.

    I was just in upstate NY at a shelter in Albany and they were adopting out any cat over the age of 2 fully vetted for free. I think another problem with adoptions is in some places they are becoming over priced. I have seen adoption fees as high as $400, people are going to see that and just think that they could get a dog from a breeder for that price. I don’t think adoption fees should ever go over $150. Most rescues get a deal on their vetting and they often have animals that come in fixed and UTD, so they essentially don’t spend much money on those animals. Good blog topic Lindsay!

    Out of curiosity Lindsay, you believe in no kill no matter what? Or just no kill for “adoptable” dogs?

    1. Abby,

      The only question is, who is to judge what “adoptable” is? Does that mean ready to go, or does that mean injured dogs that can recover with surgery, or rehabilitation. Or dogs that are good with people, but not other dogs? Or dogs with other problems? I definitely support no-kill but ask myself the same question too.

    2. Abby, thanks for your comment! That’s too bad that organization wasn’t easier to deal with. I’m sure your mom is a wonderful dog owner. Her bulldog is one lucky pup!

      I believe in no kill for adoptable dogs. I don’t believe a dog should be euthanized because of her age. The aggressive cases are probably the most difficult decisions. I believe 99 percent of aggressive dogs can be rehabilitated, but I also know the resources are usually not available. What’s your opinion on that?

  4. You make some really great points.

    I 100% support the no-kill nation idea, but at the same time, we just can’t give pets away to anybody who wants one, because the pets may just end up right back in the same spot in a few weeks or months. If a family already has multiple pets and ends up in a financial burden, all of those pets (not just the one being considered for adoption) could end up in a shelter. If a family has a pet at home without shots, whose to say they will keep the new pet up-to-date. If a family has a history of re-homing or losing animals, they may do it again. I understand that shelters want the best for the pets that they adopt out.

    Certain rules have to be in place, like being a home-owner or having landowner permission, maybe showing up-to-date shot records of pets that you have, showing proof of a job, paying the adoption fee, having a brief interview to make sure you understand the responsibilities, but that’s all.

    Like you already said, the answer is going to be someone in the middle.

    1. Thanks, Alonna! Yes, some basic standards should be in place like having a landlord’s permission. But I don’t believe someone should be denied just because their dog is not up to date on, say, the bordetella vaccine.

  5. I’m glad someone brought this subject to light. I, about 18mnths ago tried to adopt a deaf chiweenie from a rescue. I jumped thru hoops, gave history about every dog or pet I ever owned, gave a plethora of references, etc. I had to fight not to be disqualified because even with current neg hw test and hw meds in house I couldn’t provide them with the receipt for there purchase. Even the foster mom herself went to bat for me and then I was still denied because I had a ferret that was not vaccinated for rabies when it didn’t go outside or socialize with any animals that had a chance of giving it rabies. Even the vet didn’t feel the shot was necessary because of the high vaccine reaction rate with that particular ferret. This was explained to the “screener” all my references checked out and the foster mom even argued with the screened and I was still refused. That dog would have had an exceptional home! I had even started researching specific training and lifestyle techniques esp for small breed deaf animal. The foster mom and I still talk regularly we became friend thru this but it has changed my perception of rescues. That poor dog had to stay in fosters for months longer when he could have had a good home and made room for another dog to be rescued. (excuse any typos)

  6. Yep, I hear ya. That sounds crazy – you had to show a receipt for your dog’s heartworm prevention meds? Oh, wow. I do not give HeartGard to my dog during the winter months, so I guess I would automatically be denied from adopting from that rescue as well.

  7. Can’t agree with you more and I thank you for having the courage to discuss this. I’ve discussed this with other people who have had the same experience because I could not believe what had happened.

    My wife and I were about ready to give up after 3 months of not getting calls returned, rejections, and overall being treated like crap for trying to adopt a rescue/shelter dog. It’s frustrating to spend hours filling out an app knowing that the odds of getting a call/email back were nill. Finally, through sheer fortune a friend of a friend asked us if we would adopt one of their dogs. I think we’ve proved that we are a wonderful loving family and are doing a great job raising our corgi. However, I just can’t help but to have a ‘bad taste in my mouth’ for the treatment we received. I think next time I’ll just go to a reputable breeder.

    I will say though that the shelters are more open and professional with potential clients then the rescues were.

  8. I think that no kill nation is a nice idea, but I don’t feel that this is very realistic. I’m sure you have encountered TONS of dogs Lindsay, but I imagine you have some kind of policy where you won’t walk dogs with human aggression or bite historys. Also I doubt that people who have dogs that bite don’t often contact you due to the behavior of their dog. As a dog trainer I have been contacted quite a bit for dogs with human reactivity or aggression. I just recently had a client who got a rot mix as a pup, raised it from 8 weeks old. Dog was well socialized with other dogs and people yet was still very insecure and reactive to people. Tried working with the dog to fix these problems. Owners followed all directions. Tried everything they could. One day the dog was left unattended for 5 min outside tied up. A worker friend of the owner walked up the driveway, dog jumped on person, greeting them, person said hi and pet the dog, went to gently push the giant dog off of them, dog reacted bit the guy in the throat and arm, 30 sum stitches later… should that family rehome that dog? give it back to the rescue? manage that dog and keep it isolated from everything forever? Some dogs a messed up….they have a few screws loose and I did not hesitate for a second to tell those owners to euthanize that dog. That dog would not live a good life, training could be tried but that dog would probably never be ok. Rehoming that dog would just end up breaking some other families heart when it attacked someone and they would have to make the tough decision.

    I adopted a dog that should probably be euthanized. If i didn’t feel i could manage him, i would put him down. No one wants to take in a dog with a serious bite history and most average pet owners are unable to deal with a dog with aggression and bite history. Dogs like this are a liability and its not fair to place these dogs in homes. And that dog bites someone, that family gets sued, ultimately that rescues fault for placing a dog like that, then that family will prolly never get another rescue dog due to the bad experience they had.

    Not to discriminate breeds but i feel especially strongly about this with the high profile breeds out there, such as pits, rots, chows etc. only because those dogs already have a bad rap and if rescues are out there adopting human or dog aggressive pits, rots, chows and that dog bites someone or kills someone else’s dog, thats only fueling that fire of how the media and public view those breeds.

    Sorry for the crazy long response. Apparently I have alot of opinions about this topic =)

    1. Thanks for your comment, Abby. Good examples. I agree with you on your decision to recommend euthanizing that particular rottie. I do not believe in keeping a dog alive when it has a great potential to seriously harm or kill a person. I would never put a dog before a person. I am sad for the owners because I know they loved their dog and tried everything they could. Thank you for helping them. You are right, I am less likely to come across such severe aggression cases than you. Thankfully, I have never felt the need to turn a dog away from my running or pet sitting services because of aggression. But I definitely would turn a dog away if I felt I would be putting myself or anyone else in danger.

      So you are right, some dogs should not be adopted out because of their aggression issues. And some dogs can’t go to the average home. My foster dog is a good example because he can’t go to a home that has kids.

  9. Many rescues are very thorough with their adoption process because of clauses in their adoption contracts, i.e. the dog must be returned to the rescue if for any reason the adoptive owners can no longer care for it. In this instance, it makes much more sense to do research and background checks on the “front end” before an applicant gets a dog, rather than constantly deal with dogs being returned because their new owners are moving or they just discovered their fetus might be allergic to dog dander (things that would come up in the span of a normal reference check/home visit interview).

    I don’t think just getting dogs into “any home” is the answer. Adopting a dog into an abusive or neglectful home makes no sense, if you are truly involved in animal rescue to better the lives of homeless animals. Is it better to be alive and be neglected? To be alive and forced to give birth to endless litters of puppies (thus compounding the problem)? Is adopting an animal out to a home where it will be miserable/abused/neglected more humane than euthanasia? When it all could be avoided by a few minutes spent checking an application and making sure people are representing themselves accurately?

    I feel fortunate to live in the F-M area, the humane agencies here do a great job advocating for homeless dogs. It’s unfortunate that the statistics aren’t as good for cats.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Amy. Your opinion matters a lot to me. I also feel very fortunate to live in the Fargo area. The pound dogs have it very good here. Nearly all adoptable dogs are pulled from the Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead pounds by rescue groups such as 4 Luv of Dog Rescue. The cats are another story …

      Obviously some sort of screening process has to be in place – an adoption fee, adoption app, references and so on to weed out the very few people who would abuse a dog. Because of where we live, we are fortunate there is less urgency to get dogs adopted out compared to other U.S. cities where sometimes 50 or 100 dogs are killed per day in each shelter.

  10. I work at a no-kill shelter. Our adoption process takes less than a week from application to adoption. The animals are available for application even before they arrive at the shelter – their pictures are posted on the website.

    The last thing we need to do is blame the shelters! Where would the animals be without them? To blame the shelters for the animal overpopulation is absurd. Shelters have limited space and even more limited resources (hence the adoption fee!) Failure to spay/neuter is the ONLY reason for animal overpopulation. DON’T BLAME THE SHELTERS! They’re the only one doing something about the problem.

    1. Susan,

      Thank you for all you do for the dogs, and thank you for your comment. I am very happy to hear that the adoption process only takes a week at your shelter. This process – from initial contact to taking the dog home – should never take more than a week. And if the potential adopter is slow to respond, then that is not the fault of the shelter.

      I don’t see anyone blaming the shelters for animal “overpopulation.” But I am questioning the shelters’ adoption process. Spaying and neutering is an important factor, but that alone will not solve our problem.

      Feel free to post a link to your shelter here so we can get more eyes on those dogs and cats up for adoption.

  11. I do think some shelters make it too hard to adopt. About 25 yrs ago, my husband and I found out we were not qualified to adopt from any of the shelters where we lived at that time because we both worked days. I take very good care of my dogs. We owned a home, had a large fenced yard and made more than enough to pay for any and all dog expenses. I explained I was an experienced dog owner, I realized it would take longer to house train a pup when no one was home during the day and I didn’t have a problem with that. I told them I would not bring the dog back, once I take them, they’re mine for life but I couldn’t get a shelter dog. We ended up getting a little mutt from someone advertising in the paper. We had that dog for nearly 17 yrs and she had a great life with us. I hope the shelter dog we weren’t qualified for had a good life too. I hate to think she was euthanized after they refused to let us adopt her….

    1. Denise,

      Thanks for sharing your experience. There’s just something I don’t like about rescues or shelters requiring you to give the dog back if it doesn’t work out or requiring notification if you decide to euthanize the dog and so on. I get what you are saying. Once I take the dog, it’s mine. I adopted my mutt Ace from an individual who was looking to re-home him. This was so much easier than going through a rescue or shelter.

  12. i had a bad experience at the shelter my friend worked at. she saw regrettable things happen there. i’ve heard stories from others about there bad experiences.
    but, we’re not living in a perfect world. many good intentions and many more limitations.
    we all have room for improvement.
    starts with a desire to listen, face the scary things –
    raise our own awareness and dialogue.

  13. it would be unlikely that i’d be allowed to adopt.
    but, people keep telling me they want to come back as my dog in their next life.
    (i have to tell some people, i don’t spoil “my” dog, i treat her as well as i treat all my companions, friends, and family.)

  14. I’m still on the fence about the whole ‘no-kill.’ I tend to agree with Abby’s argument, that some dogs just can’t be fixed, and it’s not responsible to put them out into the general population, or put that kind of liability onto someone. Others might argue these kind of un-fixable dogs should be placed into sanctuary, but really, is there any kind of quality of life there?

    I completely agree that some shelters/rescues make it ridiculously hard to adopt. I found the rescue in my house through Petfinder and he was at a private rescue, not a shelter. The adoption process was insane, and honestly, parts of it were downright stupid. I had to fill out an application with references to be called BEFORE I COULD EVEN MEET THE DOG! I then got an appointment to meet him and get interviewed myself. Needless to say I fell in love with him and so was stuck with the process. Next step was to bring ALL of my dogs and my family (which consists of my husband) to go meet and interact with the dog. Herein lies another stupid part: they had my dogs meet him one at a time on lead and basically forced them together. I HATE having dogs meet on lead like that. The final process is basically a third interview where they come to your home, inspect the yard and home, bring the dog to see how he acts with my dogs at my home, and decide whether or not to approve then. In my opinion, this is all waay overboard.

    I will say at least their adoption fee was reasonable-$150. Agree with Abby, anything over that will turn alot of potential adoptors off. I don’t feel that people should be put down for choosing a responsible breeder, however, and I really detest the whole breeder vs rescue attitude. It’s a personal choice, and neither is bad. Responsible breeders will vet out buyers as much as rescues/shelters do, some even more so. The majority of dogs in shelters are owner surrenders……it’s not because of dog breeding, it’s PEOPLE. Yes there are bad breeders out there, but there are also bad ‘rescues’ that are nothing more than puppy mills or hoarders masquerading as saviors. I’m not blaming shelters for overpopulation, but neither should breeders be blamed either. Most breeders require elaborate contracts be signed, many sell dogs on spay/neuter pet contracts, and require the dog be returned to them if the owner can’t keep it. However, breeders can only do so much. I know of one case where I saw a purebred dog being given away, I recognized the breeder name where it came from, and the owner never even contacted the breeder. I’m sure this happens all the time.

    I was given quite a bit of grief in the adoption process when they found out I have an intact male. (Who by the way holds multiple titles and has his health clearances). I think in my case, taken as a whole, the sexual reproductive status of one of my dogs should have been irrelevant. I am a very responsible dog owner, am very active with all of my dogs, they get the best care possible, and I actually work in the dog industry… I guess that’s how they were able to overcome the fact I had an intact animal. Failure to spay/neuter is NOT the only reason for ‘overpopulation’, in fact there is such a high rate of spay/neuter for pets in this country it’s a very small part of why dogs are in shelters. Again, it’s irresponsible people that are to blame for dogs in shelters.

    I think this is a great dialogue to have, and I wish there was less of a divide between breeders and the rescue movement. After all, both have the same goal of happy, healthy dogs in forever homes.

    1. Completely agree with you, Sara. You pretty much summed up everything I would like to say! I hate the breeder/rescue divide as well. And I do not like when shelters and rescues won’t even consider allowing someone to adopt a dog just because they already own an intact dog. Good grief!

  15. Many of those reasons listed for not adopting out a pet are unfair. So what if you live on the farm and have a barn cat, or have a hunting or farm dog. That is what some breeds were bred for! As long as they are cared for, what does it matter? An indoor cat shouldn’t need shots. I’ve had a dog hit by car. She got out of the fence. It was an accident. Does that mean I shouldn’t be allowed to have another dog. Sometimes accident happen. And what is wrong with not having a fenced yard if your dog is an indoor dog?

  16. I know, it’s ridiculous, isn’t it? I have a friend who had her foster application rejected just because she didn’t own a fenced yard. Really? This woman can’t even foster a dog? The negative experience with that particular rescue made her a bit leery of other rescues as well.

    Dogs without fenced yards often get more exercise than dogs with fenced yards. It’s called walking! 🙂

  17. Interesting topic, every one is making some good points! I have reviewed applications for a rescue, and it’s very interesting what people find acceptable. For example, one application stated they had 2 dogs hit by cars, left many answers blank, one being “when will the dog be allowed off leash” and on the question of how the dog would be exercised put “I live in the country so the dog will have plenty of off leash time.” I did not feel that this home would provide a dog with basic needs, such as safety. Yes, I understand that there situations where it is a matter of circumstance, like the reader who stated their dog escaped the fence. But, let’s admit it, most people are irresponsible and lack common sense. I could go on and on, and on about stories like this, but I won’t. To me, this why a dog can’t go to ANY home. MOST homes, probably.
    One thing that is really getting on my nerves is people saying “reputable breeders.” Ha! You are telling me that if some one is not patient enough to go through the adoption application for a rescue, they are going to find a “reputable” breeder who will likely have the same qualifications for adoption, possibly a waiting list for puppies? I don’t think so! First of all, in my area, I hear of very few reputable breeders. Most of them breed for the money, keeping their dogs in kennels with puppies aren’t very socialized or trained if they aren’t bought as a puppy. To me, a reputable breeder breeds for love of the breed, temperament, does not have more than 1-2 litters/year and will raise that dog as a family member with them and their other dogs until they are sold. I have only met ONE person who actually had to apply and do a meet and greet to buy a purebred dog from a breeder. I think that allowing pet stores, breeders, and “oops my dog wasn’t fixed” owners to give a dog to any one who wants one is a big part of the problem as well.
    As far as rescues/shelters go, I think that some of the reasons people said they were not approved are ridiculous! But at the same time, for a rescue to be successful and truly find dogs their forever homes, they need to find responsible homes that are a good match for the people and dog.

    1. Thanks, Amanda. You know I always like to hear what you have to say! I checked references for a while but had to quit because I did not like rejecting apps just because someone did not have an older dog fixed or something like that. I did have an interesting experience at the last adoption days where a man came up to me and said he was interested in Cosmo as an outdoor watchdog for his father. His father apparently does not have a fenced yard and lives on a frontage road and their last dog was hit by a car and “probably went off and died.” He was totally serious about applying for Cosmo. I had to think it was some kind of joke, but it wasn’t. Cosmo is a dog that can definitely not be kept off leash. Although there might be SOME dog out there that would be OK for this man, it certainly wouldn’t be Cosmo.

  18. I think that this is definitely true. Up here you often don’t get to adopt a dog unless you have a large fenced yard. Now, how dumb is that? We have two Rottweilers and no yard that would qualify. They get their exercise and they are happy. Don’t don’t need yards!

  19. I can agree with this post as I just recently adopted a dog from the shelter.

    I have been wanting to adopt a greyhound for years. I had just finished school and thought it would be a good time. After contacting a few organizations, I gave up hope on that idea. The applications were pages long with a phone interview and home inspection. Once they found out I had no fence, all lost interest in me and didn’t take my calls or e-mails anymore (Even the one who I was planned to visit a city over)

    I found that most will adopt to somebody who lives in a apartment/condo/townhouse, but because I lived in a basement suite, it was a no-no. (This is in Canada, it appears many organizations in the USA do not require a fence)

    At that point I questioned if I was even a good future dog owner, owning a dog if I didn’t have a fence seemed horrific to some people.

    I then tried all-breed rescues and wasn’t eligible to adopt, because I had no fence…

    At this point (As another read mentioned) all the cute puppies on Kiiji were very appealing and I started to wonder if anyone wanted their dogs to be adopted out, or if they all sat in crates waiting for the perfect home for years.

    Luckily enough, I was able to find a beautiful 6y/o Greyhound x Lab Cross at a shelter 7 hours away, who is currently sleeping at my feet, very content with her un-fenced yard and 3-4 walks a day!

    I don’t think shelters necessarily make it harder to adopt, but rescues and specifically breed rescues make it nearly impossible and from what I’ve experienced, my next dog will be from a breeder or shelter…I won’t consider rescue anymore.

    The irony of this post is that within the month I will be fencing in my yard completely!

    1. Rescues do tend to make the adoption process more difficult. This is because rescues have less of an urgency to get the dogs adopted out. The dogs are all safely tucked away in foster homes vs. crammed into a shelter. I’m glad you found a place that allowed you to adopt a wonderful dog.

  20. I think some shelters do over do things a little bit, but on the other hand if adopting a dog becomes really easy people aren’t going to take it as such a big responsibility. A lot more dogs could be going into bad situations.

    Though I don’t even know where the idea that someone without a fenced in backyard can’t take good care of a dog even came from.

    1. That is true. Pet shops typically allow just about anyone to buy a puppy, and we all know where many of those dogs end up.

  21. The rescue I volunteer at around here is pretty good about it. The only reason they ever euthanize is if the dog or cat has such severe health problems that it would be more humane to put the poor thing to sleep, or if a dog is aggressive beyond training. We have a lot of great resources here for training, so usually the aggression is not a huge issue.

    Also, the adoption process is pretty well set up, because you do send in an adoption application, but as soon as that is accepted, you can come to the shelter the next day and take home your dog or cat if you want. Applications usually only take a few days as well, so it’s quick process while still insuring that these animals get good homes. So far I have known them to turn down only a few people (Most of whom wanted a dog for breeding/money purposes).

    It took us three months with several applications with several different dogs to finally get our sweetheart, and most of the rescues stopped after the home visit, even though they expressed how perfect of a place that we live in for that specific dog and they assured us that they would be in contact with us soon. No, we don’t have a fenced-in yard, but we have three fenced-in fields just across the street.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl


      It sounds like the rescue you volunteer with has a good adoption process in place. It should never take more than a few days for someone to apply for a dog and take a dog home.

  22. Well, it looks like this a hot topic, so thank you for writing about it. I believe shelters are making it too hard in some cases for people to adopt a dog. I agree there needs to be some basic standards and a protocol to follow, but come one, the goal is to get the dogs into a home and there is no perfect home situation really is there? And I think the fees need to stay reasonable too. Otherwise people will go elsewhere.

    1. One problem is how rescue volunteers think the only good home for a dog is a home that is nearly the equivalent to the home they would provide for a dog. But that is just not the case! Everyone raises a dog differently, and as far as I’m concerned, most dogs are pretty darn happy!

  23. I absolutely agree, some of the requirements are nuts! I know of one rescue that even requires you to give your social security number! Are they insane?! While I will agree some of the requirements are valid, rescues need to work on a case by case basis. For instance, most of the time it’s bad to have an outside dog, but what about ranchers with livestock guardian dogs? And quite frankly, I think a home check is far too invasive. I’m the type who doesn’t care to have company over, even my own family or friends so there’s no way I’ll invite a stranger in. And then, even with all the precautions they take, they still have returns, abandoned animals, etc. You can’t account for every possible negative scenario.

  24. While I understand that shelters and rescues are trying to prevent animals from being returned, I definitely think the requirements are sometimes ridiculous. Like Saber, I especially do not like the concept of a home check. I mean really, what are they even looking for? My other favorite is the policy of many rescue groups (not so much shelters) to not adopt to college students. Period. Yes, many college students are irresponsible and can hardly care for themselves let alone a pet. On the other hand, being a college student makes your life so flexible that it is a great time to get a pet.

    Also, about the vaccines I agree that having a pet not being up to date on Bordetella is a silly reason to not be allowed to adopt. I’ve had my pup for 2 years now and have never had a reason to kennel her or put her in doggy daycare so her risk of exposure his pretty low. Based on my dog’s situation even my vet was like “you don’t really need to give her this.” In contrast my cat is an indoor outdoor cat who loves to kill birds and rabbits (I think is life goal is to depopulate my neighborhood of all small animals) so he gets more than the average vaccines because his risk is higher. It’s just basic logic. I also don’t give my pets flee prevention in January. All the flees are frozen and buried under 2 feet of snow (and so am I!)

    I think the biggest problem is blanket policies. Like the lady who wanted to adopt that deaf dachsund, the rescue said no without really considering the situation. Again, I understand that these policies exist to make it easier for the shelter staff to screen applicants but the ultimate goal should be finding good homes for pets, not reducing someone’s workload.

    1. Exactly. Blanket policies are not in the best interest of the dogs or of the people who would love them and give them good homes.

  25. All of my dogs have come from shelters. Our wait times to bring them home ranged from about 90 minutes (long enough for us to run home, grab our other dog, and make it back to the shelter for a meet and greet) to about a week (yard inspection, fix/repair the fence, second yard inspection). 3 of our dogs came from to us from private, no kill shelters (though one had been rescued from a kill shelter by the shelter we went through) and 1 from the county pound (kill shelter)- not the one that came home with us same day, we had to wait for her to be spayed.
    However, we have only adopted from shelters, and only from places that actually talk to us. So when I say we don’t have a fenced yard, I can also explain why that’s actually better for us and our dogs. Or if htey have concerns about our long commute (not any more, but it used to be miserable) we can talk about how we’re prepared for that.
    We once considered a private rescue, but they wouldn’t even talk to us once they learned how long our commute was (we were looking for a second dog to keep our first company- ended up going elsewhere and getting my perfect dog).
    Another time we talked to someone from a private rescue and realized pretty quickly that while she would talk to us, she probably wouldn’t really want to adopt to us, and we likely wouldn’t want to adopt from her. I even wrote a couple blog posts about it:

    I believe that it is better for dogs to be in homes. It bothers me when responsible dog owners are turned down for stupid reasons- like lack of a fenced yard or an intact dog (especially if its a show dog, hello). And I hate the breeder/rescue debate. I believe every pet deserves a good home, and I believe every family deserves the right pet for them- and that sometimes means going through a reputable breeder.

    At the same time, there are some families I want to remove the pets from. We have one on our street where the dogs run loose, following the kids on their bikes as they ride recklessly up and down the street. They’ve had at least 2 dogs killed because of this (and I swear one of these days, one of their kids is going to be hit, too). I don’t want them to get any more dogs.

    But the only way to solve these issues is not through checkboxes on an application. It’s through conversation. The problem is, conversation requires a worker/volunteer to sit down and talk to someone for half an hour or more (which some shelters just don’t have the time for) and requires the interviewer to be open to dog caring styles that differ from their own (a skill very few private rescue volunteers seem to have).

  26. Thank you for raising this tricky issue in such a sensible, well-thought-out way!

    I definitely feel that shelters should be in the business of saving as many lives as possible, and should do everything they can to make sure that people who would provide a decent home are allowed to do so. I think that few fates are worse than dying by lethal injection in a cold room, and dogs and cats are adaptable creatures who can be pretty happy with lots of different home situations.

    That said, in practice I have found it hard to practice what I preach! I get very attached to my foster dogs, and have a tough time sometimes letting them go to a home where they won’t be allowed on the furniture, given people food, snuggled to within an inch of their lives, etc. And I know rescue groups have many restrictions –no pit bulls to apartment dwellers, for example–because they want to avoid returns. I don’t know what the solution is–but I definitely think its better to err on the side of leniency in adoptions, and just have a support system of foster homes in place in case the result is that more get returned.

  27. Thanks, Kristen. I don’t get very attached to my foster dogs. I know they need to get adopted. I don’t mind if they go to homes with different rules than mine. I don’t let my dog on the furniture and I give him very few table scraps, but I can tell you he is one spoiled boy!

  28. I live in Queens, NY and am planning to adopt a dog next month once I move to a pet friendly apartment. In New York City, there is pretty much just the Animal Care & Control (which is the city pound) and a bunch of specialized rescues that all seem to have a “high and mighty” attitude. My boyfriend and I have decided to go to the pound, since the animals here are euthanized very often and quickly after arriving due to overcrowding at the shelter, therefore we will truly be saving a life.

    Although I do support the idea of no-kill rescues, after looking into some of the rescue organizations, I was shocked to find out all of the ridiculous adoption policies. I came across one rescue that required you to write a two paragraph essay about “A Day in the Life” of your new dog. This rescue also only feeds their dogs holistic food and required that an adopter would need to continue feeding holistic food, and they were clear to note that they would be checking up on you randomly after the adoption to make sure you were still feeding holistic food to the dog (meaning surprise home visits). I understand rescues want dogs to end up with good homes and good owners, but many are ridiculous with their demands. Almost all of the NYC rescues I’ve come across require home visits and multiple interviews.

    I also would not adopt a dog that’s in a foster home, because as stated by someone previously, it seems that a lot of the time the foster gets attached to the dog and any potential adopters are bascially just taking the dog away from what they believe to be their new home. I’d rather save a dog more in need of a good home, therefore I urge anyone looking to adopt to first look at the local pound and kill shelters in their area since these animals are in dire need of homes. It is not the animals fault that they ended up at the pound rather than a no-kill rescue.

  29. Lindsay Stordahl

    That essay thing is just ridiculous. Well intended, but ridiculous. I will not adopt from a rescue that says it will do random home visits. I have nothing to hide, but I do not want to be told how I should raise my own animals. It’s fine with me if a rescue wants to feed holistic food, but no one should be required to continue doing so. Good grief! I can hardly afford organic food for myself!

    I see your point about the foster homes. That wouldn’t deter me if I came across the right dog. But I would not want the former foster owner stopping by to visit “their” dog.

    I adopted my dog from a woman who no longer wanted him. She gave him to me for free and we have not kept in touch. This was the easiest way to get a dog, in my opinion. But I would like to rescue a dog from a pound or a kill shelter as you described. The problem with that is you might not know very much about the dog, and then you would not want to return it to a “kill” pound or shelter if it didn’t work out. I’ve returned quite a few foster dogs because of issues with separation anxiety.

  30. That’s an interesting point about fosters that I hadn’t considered. It can definitely be hard on dogs to be moved out of a home and a life they’ve gotten used to, with people they’ve gotten attached to.

    On the other hand, I think it’s far better for a dog waiting to be adopted to be in a home getting individual attention than to be in a small kennel surronded by other dogs (who are usually barking their heads off). This is not at all meant to denigrate the difficult and awesome work that shelter employees and volunteers do for animals, but when you have 50 or 100 dogs to care for, you’re doing good to just get their basic needs met.

    As far as getting attached, it’s definitely a problem. I’m fostering a dog right now, and it’s going to be very hard to give her up, because she’s a sweetie. But I’m focusing on what’s best for the dog, and for us. I don’t think she’s the right dog for us to adopt (though training and working with her separation anxiety issues may change that), so I’m putting my efforts towards making sure we get her trained and healthy so that she can go off to a good home.

  31. Lindsay Stordahl

    Dogs easily adapt to new homes. No one should hesitate adopting a dog from a foster home out of fear the dog won’t adapt well. But the reason I am sometimes hesitant to consider adopting from a foster home is that the foster owner is usually very attached and will likely want to “check in” from time to time. Also, I like the idea of saving an animal from a pound or a shelter. Dogs in foster homes are almost always safe from being put down.

  32. Around here (Binghamton NY) It’s not so hard to adopt as it is problematic. In my opinion the no kill shelter I first adopted from did not make enounh effort to socialize their dogs. The one I adopted my dog from only had people around five hours a day and only walked the dogs once a day for 5 minutes each. I think because no kill shelters will have a longer turnaround time for each dog they have a moral obligation to try a little harder then that to socialize them. My dog was a Pitt mix and he was there for five months before i adopted him. I had to take him back 3 weeks later because in spite of our best efforts the trainer and I could not stop him from repeatedly nipping my 5 year old. We were all very sad. I ended up getting puppy from a bullmastiff breeder The breeder bred her young female mastiff with a male boxer so she wouldn’t have a hard time with birthing the puppies for her first litter. I lucked out with a perfect puppy.  I met mom grandpa and grandma-all lovely social dogs- the breeder cried when she gave me Emmy to put in my car. The lesson I learned about all this is that when you get a dog for a family with young kids socialization is key.

  33. Lindsay Stordahl

    You always have to take the time to find the right dog for you and your family. Shelters do need to do a better job explaining a particular dog’s personality, and those adopting need to ask more about the dog to make sure it’s a good fit. The same is true with a breeder and a buyer. I’m glad you found the perfect dog for your family, and I’m sorry you had a bad experience with that particular shelter. My guess is the shelter is doing the best it can, but could still stand many, many improvements.

  34. The whole adoption process is ridiculous and stupid. There are people who live with less than what these agencies require to be provided to an adopted dog. A dog needs shelter and food. Love is wonderful, companionship is wonderful, designer bedding and expansive yards and fancy toys are all wonderful; but I promise you, and dog would be better off (and grateful) just to have a home, a bowl of food, a bowl of water and the chance to sniff at the same heels every day then to spend his last days in a cage in a cold room, and in the end put to death because some idiot thought that was a better solution than a small apartment with people who don’t pay for unnecessary shots or ‘work too much.’

    I’m poor. I work to scrape by, like most of this country. I don’t have money, I don’t have medical insurance and I’m not up to date on my shots. Neither is my dog. He’s on my lap, licking my nose and neither of us would trade it for the world.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I very much appreciate your comment.

      Heck, there are tons of homeless people in this country who still have dogs! And the dogs are happy!

  35. I think I sort of slipped through the cracks with the rescue I went through. They were going to do a home inspection, and they had some concerns because I live alone and work full time, but my pup wasn’t fitting in well with the other dogs at her foster home. So they fast-tracked me. Lucky for her! I may be single and work full time, but that also means I have 16 other hours of the day and disposable income with very few committments, other than spoiling the heck out of this wonderful animal, and taking her on lots and lots of long walks.

  36. I had no idea it was so difficult to adopt now days. I have had two dogs from breeders, one from a farm who had puppies to give away. Two from a shelter. I filled out some paperwork for the last two. But all of them, I always took my dog home the same day. They all lived long and happy lives. I haven’t had a dog for 7 years now, my daughter’s dog lives with me. So I haven’t been to a shelter in 24 years. So things have certainly changed. I’m glad all of you who wanted a dog were able to get one, despite the many road blocks.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      It’s not difficult everywhere, but many places make it very difficult. It’s rare that you can just walk into a pound and rescue it from being killed. There is a long process you have to go through, and in the meantime, many dogs are unfortunately killed while waiting.

  37. I have worked and volunteered in many different types of animal rescue.groups….if there is no funding for food or shelter, you have made it known you need help and you have 60+ animals in line waiting to come in and the adopted lines r not supporting the flux in intake….then Spay & Neuter and putting animals with behavioral issues down are the first steps to trying to take the edge off the problem….I don’t know about your area but when u pts 400 pets a week, and have 120 adopters saving them all just isn’t possible!!! That’s reality….regardless of how tough the application process is…these animals are there because some stupid human….its our job to keep them safe as possible. back in 07 I had to rewrite application policies because we had a wacko pts a dog after having her for a month….no reason…just didn’t want the dog. and the same week, I had a family adopt a dog that already rehome a dog that was too much for them to handle…to me, those 2nd ppl were smart the dog got a home equipt for him, and my foster got a home perfect for her.
    yes changes need to be made….taking a week is too long for some ppl….I have processed so many applications, 3day turn around ….that should be the goal!!!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      If you are putting down 400 pets a week at your shelter and only 120 people are adopting from this shelter in a given week, then it needs to be easier to adopt from that shelter! More people need to be aware of the shelter in the first place and how they can adopt. And the process needs to be fairly easy.

    2. This Lindsay just doesn’t get it. Overpopulation is a real problem–especially in the south. Your shelter can do EVERYTHING right, and still have to put down animals. I worked in a shelter for a short time under a very caring shelter manager. She worked tirelessly trying to get animals adopted. She put ads in the paper; she put ads around town; she talked to the public; she talked to the town council, etc., etc. Our adoption requirements were very lenient. At the end of the day, there were still more people turning animals in than there were adopting.

      I, personally, couldn’t tell you how many people I tried to convince to come adopt–but there are always jerks who would rather go get a new puppy from a shady breeder. There are always jerks who would rather buy a puppy they don’t have to spay or neuter, so that they can breed it later themselves. There are always jerks who will give up a puppy the moment it becomes difficult to care for.

      People put too much blame on shelter workers. Shelter workers cannot perform miracles. Shelter workers cannot make more cages out of nothing. Shelter workers cannot make more food appear out of nowhere. Shelter workers cannot change the vast majority of the public’s mindset.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        If a shelter is killing animals, then it is not doing everything right. There is always room for improvement. I admire your passion and I know you are doing very much to save as many animals as possible. There are always going to be people who wish to buy a puppy from a breeder or a pet shop, but there are always people willing to consider adoption. There is always more we can do to get these animals into homes.

  38. @apps…..I totally agree!!! They just want love and companionship….they don’t care how much money u have or don’t!!!

  39. A lot of people are getting “shelters” and “rescues” mixed up. Most city shelters will adopt out to just about anybody–provided you aren’t a total piece of crap. They may ask you some of the questions listed above on your application, but it’s usually so they can discuss these things with you further. Of course, they also have to abide by town laws, such as those pertaining to vaccinations and limits on the number of animals a person can have. If a shelter doesn’t adopt to you for one of those reasons, take it up with the city; it isn’t the shelter’s fault.

    Rescues typically have stricter requirements for adopting. You have to realize, these animals are usually fostered in somebody’s house. Somebody has grown attached to them. That foster parent doesn’t want to find that animal A home (indeed, that particular pet already has a temporary one); they want to find that animal THE RIGHT home. Yes, I’ve seen some rescues that have utterly stupid criteria. But, if you can’t get a dog or cat there, go to your city pound and the pounds of surrounding cities. If you STILL can’t adopt a dog or cat, maybe you need to reassess yourself and your current situation.

    Let’s stop blaming the shelter workers for putting animals down. Overpopulation is NOT a “myth”. There are not enough GOOD, RESPONSIBLE homes for the amount of animals in the U.S., hence, there IS an overpopulation problem. People like you, who blame the tireless shelter workers instead of the over-breeding, throw-away society we live in, make me sick. Get out there and volunteer at a kill shelter in the south. Then tell me that “overpopulation is a myth”.

  40. Lindsay Stordahl

    Jennifer, can you please provide some statistics that support pet “overpopulation”?

    Just because we kill animals in shelters/pounds does not mean we have too many.

  41. To echo what Jennifer said about rescues… That has been our experience too. Letting foster homes vet the applications — before people can even meet a dog — means that candidates who look anything less than ideal on paper are pre-emptorily eliminated.

    My girlfriend and I (we’ve been together 10 years… very stable) have recently moved into a dog-friendly apartment building (with parks, etc nearby) after years of waiting to get a dog. We’re looking at shelters, but — being responsible — we want to make sure we get a breed that will be okay with apartment life, so we’re also looking at breed-specific rescues. But even in cases where the breed is “apartment-friendly,” fosters apparently don’t want to see you if you don’t have a yard.

    It’s not a good system. We could give a dog a great home, but we’re struggling to even meet appropriate dogs. Won’t be too long before we end up at a pet shop or breeder. We don’t want to, but we’ve waited so long already.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      It’s very frustrating, I know. I have never had a fenced yard. Yet, I take my dogs walking or running every day. I own a dog-running business, for crying out loud! Owning a yard often means the dog will actually get less exercise!

      I hope you can find a rescue group with volunteers who will actually sit down and listen to you. Don’t give up quite yet. Explain to them politely how you will offer a dog a good home and how you plan to go for all kinds of walks on the nearby trails. Another option is to get a dog from an individual on Craigslist or something like that. These postings are usually people who for whatever reason want to find their dog a new home. They are typically not “breeders.” These dogs will likely end up in the rescue/shelter system, so sometimes it’s easier to just adopt them from the original owner rather than go through the rescue group. That’s how I got my dog.

  42. My husband and I have been trying to adopt a shelter dog for a few weeks now. We’ve been to almost every shelter in the area, but they’ve each turned us down for one reason or another. The biggest problem seems to be that we live in an apartment… however, it is a spacious 2-bedroom apartment, plenty of room for a small dog. The other big roadblock for us is the fact that we obviously don’t have a fenced-in backyard. What we DO have is a plenty of yard/sidewalks for walking, and we live right across the street from a dog park.

    While I kindly pointed these things out, we were continually rejected. While the stipulations for the three shelters we’ve been to thus far were strict, none of them required a home inspection. The remaining shelter that is within reasonable driving distance does an inspection and follow-up inspections after the animal is adopted. That just sounds like way too much hassle. Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing to hide. Our apartment is clean and nice. I just don’t think it’s at all necessary.

    We would have been a great fit for so many dogs too… we have no other dogs or cats, one of us is always home so the poor thing would never be lonely, I love being outside so there would be frequent daily walks… and did I mention we would spoil it rotten!? I had spoken to my landlord and was prepared to make a 300$ pet deposit just so I could bring the dog back.

    I think I’m too disheartened to continue shelter jumping at this rate. I really wanted to try and save a dog from euthanasia, but being put down is apparently a better alternative than living with a loving couple that *gasp* doesn’t have a fenced-in backyard. I’ve been let down too many times after falling for a shelter dog then being promptly denied. I think I’ll just turn to Craigslist and see if there are any nice dogs in the area that need to be rehomed.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh Megan, I’m so sorry to hear this. Not sorry to hear your decisions, but sorry to hear that the shelters are being so difficult. This is not helping the dogs. Are there any pounds in your area that adopt dogs out to individuals? I know some cities have their pound/shelter as the same place. In my city, the pound is totally separate from the shelter. Just an option to look into.

      Craigslist is not a bad way to get a dog. I got my dog from an individual who no longer had the time for him. He’s been a wonderful dog. I got to talk to his first owner and gain as much info as possible about him before committing. He’s worked out perfectly.

      Best of luck to you. When you do adopt a dog – no matter where that dog comes from – I know he or she is going to be one lucky, spoiled and happy dog!

  43. I had a dog for almost 16 years. He died and my heart was broken. I did not want to be without another dog. I tried the shelters first. Everything you mention above, I experienced. You would think that someone who demonstrated that they could raise a dog from a pup and keep him alive, healthy and happy for almost 16 years was a great bet for a good home but NO… I found this thread because I googled: “animal shelters make it difficult” – my puppy is sleeping at my feet. This puppy could have been a shelter puppy but I wasn’t good enough for a shelter puppy. I gave up and instead, I went the want ad route and lucked out to find a great puppy and exactly what I was looking for with a lower fee. Where I live, the shelters charge $400. I googled because part of me feels bad I couldn’t rescue a dog but the shelters make it impossible for all the reasons you list. So instead of one of the shelter dogs having a decent home where the owner is “until death do we part” with her pets, I went the private route so I wasn’t dogless and now I have a puppy to love, spoil and walk in the woods with me. I needed another dog to help me with the loss of my dog and shower with all the love I could no longer give to my beloved old dog. If shelters really cared about the dogs they “rescue,” they would give more of a chance to both the dogs and people like me who truly want a dog to care for and love.

  44. I work from home and periodically browse the pet section on Craigslist. I’m not seriously looking to get a dog, but I’ll sometimes check out the posts from shelters on there. While many seem reasonable, I’ve noticed a few that have some restrictions I’ve found odd, such as not allowing you to adopt a dog from them if you do not live in the same county. I’ve seen others that require you to take mandatory dog training classes at the shelter. I can see the reasoning behind this, but I can also see how it can prevent a dog from finding a home if a potential adopter works during the hours the classes are, or already knows how to handle a dog and doesn’t want to bother with them.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Right. And some people would prefer to take their dog to training classes somewhere else, maybe where they went with their last dog or something like that.

  45. I am currently trying to adopt a shelter puppy and am coming across much difficulties. i have 2 dogs already that are not neutered. i contacted a shelter about a dog i fell in love with but he was already adopted, so they offered another to me, only to stop all correspondence when they found out my boys were not neutered. not even a “sorry, youre unable to adopt right now’ i have since moved on to another shelter and now experiencing the same problem! my boys are very well taken care of, i own my home with a fenced yard, have no other animals, have never had a pet run over or lost, but these shelters wouldnt even know that because they never gave me a chance. the only reason….my dogs are not neutered. i am frustrated beyond belief and have had my heart broken, but i will not give up.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl


      Have you adopted a new dog yet? You might have better luck if you try to adopt a dog directly from a pound. The public is not allowed to pull from the pounds in my town, but in other areas I know pounds are often less strict about who can adopt. There is more urgency to get the dogs out, and you truly would be saving a life.

  46. Lindsay,

    i have not gotten another dog …Yet! but i have a question, what is the difference between a pound and a shelter? thanks!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Well, each city/county is different, but typically pounds are ran by animal control (government) and simply serve as the temporary holding place for stray dogs and cats so their owners can reclaim them. After that they are either killed or put up for adoption to the public or made available for shelters and rescues to take. Shelters are often ran by volunteers (although not always). Sometimes they have paid staff and sometimes the pound is the shelter. It’s confusing and depends on where you live.

      I guess when I said you could consider a pound instead of a shelter, I meant you could consider a place where they actually kill the dogs for space. They are often less picky about who can adopt. There is more urgency to get the dogs out alive. So instead of looking at “no-kill” shelters you could track down more “kill” or “open admission” shelters/pounds.

      Maybe someone could explain this better than I just did!

  47. Jeremy Goldberg

    I was looking to adopt a dog a year ago and found it to be a ridiculously difficult situation, as many here are also noting. I filled out at least 10 applications, completely and would often not even receive a reply from these agencies. The closest I got to getting to adopt a dog was from a St. Bernard Rescue but it fell through because I wouldn’t agree to getting professional dog training as a stipulation. I was blown away they would even have the stones to request such a thing, much less make it a requirement. I ended up using a website for breeders, and found a mixed breed that I later learned was coming from a Puppy Mill. Happy ending is that Bubba is the most amazing dog I’ve ever owned, beautiful, and lives one of the best lives a dog could live and was saved from potential harm in the Joplin, MO tornedo’s.

    And just to add to how ridiculous I think these shelters are, a few months after I tried, my parents tried to adopt. Now my parents haven’t had a pet free home in over 30 years, at one point having 4 Mastiffs, a mutt, and 4 cats at one time. Big back yard, free reign of the house, and no expenses spared. They had a fosterer bring the dog to the house, look around, let the dog play, and then they never heard from the shelter again, not even to give an explanation of why they must have decided against adopting to them.

    It’s an absolute travesty the way some of these shelters are looking down their noses at potential adopters andI think it’s disgusting.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I agree. They should at least be able to explain why they think the home is not “good” enough. I’m glad you found a dog, and it sounds like he is one lucky pup!

  48. Lindsay,

    Your reasoning and story is too real and true to go unheeded. I experienced the same thing and your argument makes 100% common sense. Lets get together and get this into some state reps ear. If they hear how they can save money, their favorite thing, and get ppl pets, even 4 the short term, its going to make some lazy city worker feel that they need to get pets into homes instead of saying no and then accomplishing nothing all day. Will U pls contact me?

  49. I filled out an 8 page, 90 question survey from a shelter. We have a 10 year old sensational, laid back dog and plenty of room for another.

    We have a fenced yard, vet references, friend and neighbor references, I’m pretty sure our dog would give us a high five endorsement even on days I forget frosty snacks. With college age kids, someone is pretty much home all day even though who could vary. We’re working, steady income, good kids, nice house, decent sized lot. Kids and pets have everything they need including parents to provide for, watch over them and keep them safe.

    We were rejected from adopting a pet at a high kill shelter. We didn’t even get to the reference check, home visit or meet and greet. There is no reason short of discrimination that I would believe.

    You know, I grew up in a rural area.. we brought animals home and those that wandered in stayed forever – no forms, bs or judgement. Every animal, pet, I provided for responsibly since the age of 6, 4 decades ago so I’m taking this more personally than I should. Not sure what the world is coming to when good homes are passed over for death sentences,

  50. I agree completely that the adoption process is often ludicrously difficult, especially if you are not living as part of a family unit. I went to adopt a shelter dog about a year ago. I’m halfway through my college years, and I know that there are conflicting views about whether students are responsible enough for dogs, but the local shelters and adoption centers I visited didn’t even give me a chance. Even after explaining that I had my landlord’s permission and complete support, I have lived with dogs all my life, have a $3000+ fund that is routinely fed set aside solely for the fees and care a dog would require, plus the backing of my parents financially in case there are any expensive accidents and also to act as temporary accommodations (they live on a 9 acre farm) in case of housing problems or international study I was turned down. I even arranged my schedule and lived for a year with two or more hours a day set aside where I could not do homework or go to parties to simulate the time required to take a dog on walks/grooming etc (I’d draw or crochet to pass the time) and I had no problem fitting in these “dog walk/play” times while still completing my school work (with an A average thank you very much!) and keeping up with my hobbies (which are things like hiking and frisbee which I could enjoy WITH a dog) but still my application was denied at all shelters and I was even told at one that I shouldn’t bother filling out an application because they will not adopt to college students. Maybe I’m just hopelessly optimistic, but I’m probably going to try again this year. If I’m not able to find a shelter that will give me a chance soon then I will most likely be scouring Craigslist and local ads for someone who needs to rehome their dog.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I would definitely try Craigslist. There are so many dogs listed there in need of homes. Just make sure to interview the person and get as much info about the dog as possible before you make a commitment.

  51. I have to say that the no-kill shelters often have a very bad attitude when it comes to getting their animals adopted. For a while I was interested in adopting a cat from one of these shelters, so I went through the whole ridiculous process of getting “letters of recommendation.” Again, utterly silly when you consider that 4 millions cats and dogs are euthanized each year. Anyway, they wanted to give me a hard time and ask for even more references despite the fact that my current dog gets excellent care from his vet of a regular basis. I told them that I would rather go to a kill shelter and help save an animal’s life rather than deal with them anymore. I also expressed my opinion that I did not feel like they were really interested in getting their cats adopted. Now I love my kitty cat, and I know that I saved his life by avoiding the no-kill shelter.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I wouldn’t even consider that original shelter “no kill” if it is not doing what it can to increase adoptions. A true no-kill shelter knows that in order to end the killing, it has to adopt its way out and trust the public. That means offering adoption specials and making it more appealing to adopt. That’s too bad you didn’t have a good experience, but instead you saved a cat’s life elsewhere. Thanks for your comment.

    2. Excellent respond and blog. I was at the local animal shelter today & trying to adopt this 9 years old cat. They look at me like I am a criminal. Asked me to filled out application, ask many personal questions, like what I live, reference, job, etc. They have this distrust look and told me they will call me in a few days. WTF…. These people has no personality, no people skills, treat people like crap. You wonder why many people do not adopt pets from these shelters and the animals are so crowed in small cages. I won’t regret if they don’t call me back or reject my application. I will miss the cat though.

  52. I have volunteered and fostered with many rescues groups and shelters and it breaks my heart to see potential adoptors get turned away. And home visits are really a joke- come on- we have got to give people a chance. Definitely rescue groups are going too far. I have seen too many dogs stay in rescue-with little mre than food and water because they can’t find the ‘perfect adoptor”

  53. I originally commented on here back in April because I was having so much difficulty trying to adopt a dog from a shelter. Just a quick recap, the problem was because my two dogs were not neutered, thats it. Update…..I have still been unable to get a dog from any shelter or rescue, same reason. And I am absolutely heartbroken right now because we just recently lost our oldest dog due to old age. We started looking around February, and I’m almost ashamed to say the reason is because we knew this day was coming upon us. We felt it would help our younger dog not feel so lonely, to have another dog to play with. I understand the importance of having SOME restrictions and standards, but within reason. I’m always seeing posts on Facebook and Craigslist etc., saying URGENT…ACT NOW! But it should also say, unless……..blah,blah,blah. It’s so urgent, then give people a chance. It boils my blood the mindset behind these shelters and rescues. Under which definition of the word “rescue” do they fall under when most of these animals are being euthanized rather than going to good homes because they just dont qualify as “perfect”? But alas, I shall prevail. I have submitted,yet, another application. Let’s see if this place has the common courtesy to at least respond with a yes or no. Wish me luck!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I do wish you luck!

      Quick question, though, and you totally don’t have to answer, but why have you chosen not to neuter your current dog? It seems like that is the one thing that is preventing you from adopting. I do not believe it is fair for shelters to require spaying/neutering of current animals, and there are all sorts of reasons someone would choose not to. However, in this case you would then definitely be able to adopt.

      Another option to consider is Craigslist. Many people are trying to rehome their dogs there and many will go to a pound or shelter next. So you would be saving an animal.

      Where do you live? Maybe I can offer a suggestion.

    2. Yeah why not just neuter your dog? Most shelters will do it for less than $100. It will be a lot cheaper than having to buy your next dog from a breeder. This I can kind of understand because spaying and neutering is very basic to responsible pet care. You may not be a breeder and may not have a female in your home at risk of getting pregnant but un-neutered male dogs are at higher risk of wondering where you dog could than get someone else’s female dog pregnant and that congratulations we have another litter of puppies that don’t have homes. This is how I lost one of my dogs… because I thought it would be no big deal not to neuter a male dog. So my dog finally escapes after 6 years and I will never know but he could have gotten other dogs pregnant. I never found my dog either. So this is probably why the shelter is cautious of you because you have un-neutered aninals.

      1. Regarding adopting being cheaper than going to a breeder.

        It really depends. A breeder listed on one of the national breed registries, or the AKC who shows dogs, rescuing a dog would be cheaper, yes.

        However, going to a back yard breeder (yes, yes, I know all the implications and problems surrounding that) might just be cheaper than a rescue, and a lot less intrusive also. You pay your money, they give you the dog, you take the dog, and that’s that. No intrusive home visits, no requests to see your personal tax forms, social security numbers, driver’s license number, etc. etc. And there’s not much chance of being denied a dog as long as you have the money. (I’ve seen local rescues who want upwards of $350 for an *adult* dog, and want tons of personal info also.)

        While I know that a lot of people have ethical issues of exchanging money for a life (in the case, the life of a dog or cat), others don’t in that, well, it’s not like it’s a *human* being. And just because the person is willing to exchange money for a dog or cat it doesn’t mean they are not worthy of a pet nor that they wouldn’t take proper care of it, it just means they place a monetary value on the life of an animal.

        When someone wants a dog, and they want a particular type of dog, but are then denied, due to some arbitrary rules or that the person at the rescue is just having a bad day, what is the person to do? Go without? And what about those folks who DO try shelters and pounds only to have found that in their particular area rescues have already swooped in and taken the dog, or the pound only deals with rescues? Should that person go without a dog? I don’t agree with that.

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          One of the reasons I hesitate to adopt from a shelter is I can’t make all the decisions about the dog myself.

          I still want to adopt, but the restrictions make the whole process much harder. And sometimes “adopting” from an individual looking to re-home his or her pet is the easiest route. Or, as you said, buying from a breeder.

  54. Also to Stefani, are home visits for real? I have nothing to hide, but have considered telling a wee, tiny, little fib about my dog not being neutered just to get my foot in the door. Up to this point, after all the applications i’ve filled out, I’ve only ever heard back from one place and they told me no. Most places don’t even respond. And another place offered me a dog when the one i wanted wasnt available anymore, just to cut off all communication after they found out. They weren’t even polite about it! Thanks!

    1. Again… why don’t you just neuter your dog? I understand it might not be a problem in your home personally. But un-neutered dogs do sometimes accidently get un-spayed females pregnant. Dogs escape sometimes even from the best owners and this can happen. Honestly if you are not a breeder there is no good reason not to neuter and not neutering is a risk for creating unwanted litters no matter who the owner is. And this is why the shelters are rejecting you and this is one thing I actually agree with. Its not about you as a owner but about protecting your dog and female dogs from getting pregnant and helping to prevent more unwanted animals being born. If you are not a breeder and not altering your pets than it does look very irresponsible. I am not saying you are a bad owner but this is the impression a shelter is going to get. I used to be like you and had two un-neutered male dogs because I figured they can’t get pregnant so why bother neutering. I also liked that they were more muscular looking when not neutered. After 6 years one of my un-neutered male dogs escaped and I never found him. He may have gotten female dogs pregnant while running loose and I hate that thought. I have since neutered my other dog and will never neglect to spay or neuter again. So the shelters have very good reason for expecting owners to have their pets spayed and neutered.

  55. Well, honestly there’s no real reason other than his age. He’s 11. You would never know it because he’s still very puppy like. Both my dogs had always gone to the vet on an as needed basis and to get their shots, and my vet never recommended it. I would certainly neuter or spay any future dog I would choose, but wouldn’t put my dog through the surgery now at his age. I suppose I was trying to stick with shelter dogs because aside from my recently deceased dog and my current dog which I got from friends of friends, all of my previous dogs have been from shelters. I remember the days when you would walk in, pick out a dog and leave with him. I’m not saying that it should be that easy. But maybe your mojo luck worked!! I called my local shelter, which I had previously filled an application for and was denied, btw. They said they would give me a dog!!!! They said because of his age they wouldn’t expect me to have him neutered. It’s also because they can meet me in person and I have to bring my dog down there to interact with any dog I choose first, and my vet references have to check out. But then it’s a go! Filling out applications on the computer, everything is just black and white. But when you can actually talk to someone, you can explain things a little better and maybe that helps. Lesson learned. Perhaps that will help someone else on here. Thanks 🙂

  56. I recently applied to three different no kill shelters for lab/mix. I was looking for something to get about med size and found perfect dogs that would have worked out for my family. I have three kids under 9 yrs old. The problem is no one will let you adopt a animal if you are going to put it outside. One of my kids have asthma and can’t have indoor pets. We had to give the last one away to rescue do to not finacially being able to put her outside permittely. 1 1/2 yrs later I am now able to put a kennel outside with a nice deck that we build out of composite decking. And you got it, spent all this money for a nice place and it’s empty and kids are dissapointed along with me. I think it’s easier just to go find a breeder. I volunteer for one of these shelters and now I don’t no if I can noing there high standards.

    1. are you really surprised they wont rehome a dog to you?

      1. You have 3 young children
      2. One of your children is allergic
      3. You plan to keep the dog outside
      4. You previously rehomed a pet due to not being able to afford to keep it outside!

      These 4 points are all major no nos for practically all shelters, and tbh, I dont think you should be getting a dog either, its a family member and shouldnt be kept outside, and young children and allergies are common reasons why animals end up in shelters in the first place

      1. Consider getting a poodle. In this case you might want to go to a breeder. Visit the breeder with your child who has allergies and see if there is a reaction. I know someone with allergies who was able to successfully own poodles. I guess they are suppose to be hypoallergenic. Anyways get a miniature or toy size and allow the dog to be indoor/outdoor pet. No dog should be kept outside all the time because as soon as the weather gets bad the dog gets forgotten. Animal allergies are an unfortunate thing but sometimes people just can not have pets because of it. I know a woman who had to rehome 5 cats that she had for many years because she had her first child who ended up having allergies. You have to put your child’s health above all. I know your children want a dog but you can’t give children everything they want… that is a part of life. I wanted a dog all my child hood but my dad did not like dogs. I had to wait until I was an adult on my own before getting my first dog. Instead of taking whatever means to get your children a dog maybe you should instead teach them a life lesson about waiting and working for the things you want in life. I also agree with the poster above… if you already had to get rid of one dog than you need to seriously consider getting another one. I hate when people get a pet… it doesnt work out so they get rid of it… than they think getting a differant one will somehow be differant, I think you need to think about this long time before bringing home another dog.

  57. I too have just has some bad experiences with no kill and rescue organizations. My husband and I have a lab who is in a sense our child since we dont have children.. We have been trying to adopt another dog. I truly understand where the organizations heart is by putting a process in place to adopt to ensure that the animal has a forever home and will be well taken care of. That being said.. the three I have dealt with thus far have been far more intrusive then necessary, rude, unresponsive and a few of their practices dont make sense.
    Example 1: We saw a dog that would need some extra TLC but were up for the task of helping her. We were even happy to spend the money for heartworm treatments for the dog since she was heartworm positive. We went to one of their “events” and walked up to the coordinator and told her that we wanted to interact with the dog and ask more questions and we were extrememely interested. We were met with negativity and treated like we did not understand how to take care of a dog..Fully educated, being treated like I was an idiot was not favorable.. I left
    Example 2: We contacted a lab organization with interest in a specific lab. Filled out their lengthly application and have followed up twice.. no response
    Example 3: We saw an event coming up for an organization. We thought 3-4 might be a good fit but we wanted to meet them prior to the adoption process (like they do at shelters) to make sure we were truly interested before spending a volunteers time with out application. They told us under no circumstances could we meet the dog at the event until they had our 6 page application filled out and approved. I dont get the point of them going to events then.. In addition we were met with snotty and rude attitudes when we were inquiring.. I received the response “we have an adoption process you know” to which I responded, yes.. I have reading comprehension skills and reviewed your entire site.

    Thats my last attempt with these organizations. I will wait until the SPCA or Humaine Society has a dog that we like and want to adopt.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Horrendous customer service. And they wonder why people buy dogs from breeders or elsewhere.

      Don’t give up. I know you will find the right dog somewhere with a group willing to communicate professionally!

  58. Have been looking at dogs for a good while now and some of these places have just unbelievable standards. Emailed a so-called rescue about a dog I was totally in love with, and they responded with a list of “criteria” that required the adopter be 25+ years old, own your home, and have a physically fenced-in yard. This is a blanket policy for ALL of their dogs. Not only would I not qualify to adopt from them (I live in a 1000sq ft apartment and am 23 but have a very good-paying job and security in my position, and live close to work so I would be able to come home at lunch to take the dog out during the day), my parents, who take create care of their dogs (never re-homed an animal, all of their previous dogs have lived to be 12+), play with them a bunch throughout the day, buy them toys all the time, and take them to the dog park to meet new friends, would not qualify because they have an invisible fence – even though they are ALWAYS outside to supervise the dogs so that other people/animals can’t come bother them. I don’t know how the rest of this rescue’s dogs are doing, but this dog is STILL listed as available – at least 7 months after being listed! If you can’t succeed at finding a home for a beautiful dog like that after 7 months, you are a FAILURE as a rescue. Perhaps part of the problem is that a lot of these rescues are run out of foster homes, and those fosters are reluctant to give them up to any but the “perfect” adopter. If that’s the case, they should just admit that they’re not willing to let anyone else adopt it and take down the postings on Petfinder.

    With all the dogs that get put to sleep in this country, there is NO REASON why a good-hearted person who wants to rescue an unwanted pup instead of buying one from a pet store/breeder and who plans to keep their dogs in a nice, warm, loving home should have a hard time adopting if they have a plan to keep the dog happy and well-exercised, fenced-in yard or no. NONE. It makes me positively livid.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      That is so frustrating. There are good rescues and shelters out there that are not so strict, so I hope you are able to find one of these. If not, try to adopt a dog form an individual through Craigslist. These dogs need homes, too, and some will end up in the shelter system if their owners are unable to re-home them.

  59. I recently lost a dog Lucy to an inoperable tumor, I had her for 11 years and she was a sweetheart. It was a really tough loss. After close to a year of grieving I decided to visit the local SPCA to get a dog. I found a 2yr old shepherd mix (which my last dog was) and filled out the paperwork and both of my references were checked out. Received a call saying we would hear back and possibly be able to pick him up in the next 24hrs. Well the phone call I got the following day was bad. I find out I had been denied because when we took her in for her tumor diagnosis we didn’t get the heart worm shot. I’m very frustrated and very sad about how ridiculous they’re being. I’m just sick

    1. Jon Sorry to hear that. But all these adoption programs seem to be way more interested in exerting their control over actually stopping the killing of animals that would otherwise have homes.. Why anyone would deny an adoption and then let an animal die instead is just disgusting!

  60. Well I have been looking around to adopt a dog. My parents always adopted dogs when I was younger but I never knew how much work it actually is. They made it seem so easy…boy was I WRONG. I am not being picky with a dog I just want one because I lost my little one that I had since I was ten. Its been a year so Im ready to finally move on. But since I do have a toddler I know that sets me I guess on the no list. But I work from home so the dog will ALWAYS be in my sight. So far I have found four dogs and just waiting for an answer from someone to see whats what. The only thing is I wanted to adopt but if I have to just buy a dog then I will…just not what I wanted. Wanted to give an older dog a nice home…wish it was a little easier.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thank you for attempting to offer a loving home to an adult dog. You have a big heart. Thank you for considering adoption first, but don’t feel guilty if you end up buying a dog from a breeder.

  61. I have a very long story for you:

    Over the past several months, my family has been put through quite the wringer concerning so-called rescue groups. I too have a small child – a 4 year old. He specifically wanted a dog of a certain color, so I humored him in my searching. Basically we just wanted a small-small/medium breed dog that was under 1 year old so that I could train the pup around the small child and train the small child around the pup. I have done it several times in the past, no problems.

    After several weeks of looking through Petfinder and local shelters, I stumbled across a Facebook rescue group. From reading through months of their posts they seemed the way to go. Someone was fostering a group of abandoned 8 week old puppies (the right color, the perfect size) and was on the group daily begging people to share the information so they could find these puppies homes.

    I emailed the foster “parent”. We were interested in one specific puppy mostly because it was a female, and right in the middle size-wise. The foster “parent” commented nearly every 30 minutes on Facebook but never answered my email. I tried again. At this point half of the puppies were gone-adopted. Again I get no answer to even the most basic of questions – “How can I go about adopting from you?”

    The puppies once more get a posting on Facebook. And this time it is a different person’s email address. So I try one more time, expecting nothing. I was utterly shocked when I got an answer. After talking to this person. who was the wife of the foster “parent”, I decided to fill out an application. My kids were so excited at this point they could not contain themselves. The application itself was ridiculous – A PDF format that was 17 pages long. I understand gathering information but having to answer questions about pets I had had as a child seemed a bit overboard. There was also a contract of sorts stating that we would get the puppy spayed before she turned 6 months old at our own expense. I had no problem with that. It took a few DAYS to fill out the application, and the whole time I was getting near-hourly emails from both the foster-“parents” (at this time the original guy had started to reply to me, surprising I know). They kept saying that other people were interested, they had people scheduled to meet the puppy we wanted, people were wanting to adopt her THAT VERY DAY.

    That’s all well and good. But I spot a discrepancy between the contract and the application/information package. It stated in the very first part of the application that the puppy we were interested in would be spayed before we adopted her and that cost would be reflected in the adoption fees.

    I asked what the adoption fee for this particular puppy was. After 4 or 5 more emails back and forth, I am finally told that the total cost for this 1 rescue puppy would be $300.


    Now I finally understood the sudden urgent messages about other people being interested. They didn’t want me to suffer from sticker shock at the price.

    After having a great laugh over the cost, and never getting an answer about the spaying costs other than “I don’t know”, I was finally informed that the puppy had been adopted by another family. Two days later the same puppy was back on Facebook posted by the same foster “parents”.

    I really wish that was the only bad experience I have had with rescue groups. We attempted to use Craigslist to find an affordable option – I don’t mind paying for all the vetting but I refuse to spend $300 on a puppy that had at that point never even gotten a puppy shot. I tried emailing/calling/texting on 12 puppies (4 of which were from the same woman, who posted with different phone numbers each time). There were I believe 5 puppies total that we wanted to take a closer look at, made plans to meet with the owners so that we could meet the puppies, and then were told that all the puppies were gone. I actually had a woman who was supposed to bring a pup here yesterday, we were that ready to adopt we were going to take the pup without first meeting it and when I told her that I would be home an hour later than I planned, she sold the pup to someone else.

    I also tried posting my own ad, being very specific about what we wanted in a pup. Along with people who completely ignored the basics (color, size, age), I also got angry messages from rescue groups who wanted to know why I was buying into a pet instead of “saving a life”. I was told in some very colorful language that my family and I deserve to be mauled by whatever dog we get if we buy from a breeder instead of going through a rescue group. Not a very good advertisement for their service if you ask me.

    And at every one of our local animal shelters I heard the same thing. We were qualified to adopt a pet – but the pups we were interested in were on hold/spoken for/too young/waiting vet care. Instead they said we could have a dog THAT VERY DAY! if we would only take a Pitbull or a Mastiff mix or the German Shepherd that spent 20 minutes barking and attacking the chain link shelter he was in until my son started crying and we finally managed to get out of there.

    I do not think I am asking too much. I keep hearing that I should adopt a shelter dog because they deserve a chance, but I am of the mindset that I want a certain type of dog, a certain size, and I am the one that will spend the next 12 to 15 years or so caring and providing for it – Why should I accept a dog that I do not want and make that kind of commitment to it? No wonder dogs get returned to shelters. My son has only recently become more comfortable with small dogs and I do not need an aggressive adult dog that outweighs everyone in the house scaring him off of dogs permanently.

    My biggest issue with rescue groups, and some shelters! – is purely cost related. I understand they need to make some money to provide for other animals but they charge as much, if not more than, some breeders. If shelters want their animals to be adopted, they should try lowering their prices. What they lose in cost per animal they would regain in volume of animals moved out of the shelter. And something needs to be done about rescue/foster care groups. Especially groups that are allowing their foster “parents” to set the cost of adoption.

    Putting my soapbox away for the night. I have just been very frustrated and came across this article and agreed with every single word of it!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Paula, sorry to hear you’ve had such bad experiences with rescue groups. Thank you for sharing your situation with us on this post. I wish you the best of luck with finding a dog to add to your family. It’s wonderful that you are trying to adopt a dog for your children. Best of luck to you.

  62. I too, have had not much luck with rescue groups. My story is also a bit long.

    We decided that we wanted a ‘shop dog’ for my and my husband’s retail cigar lounge. We were told of many other shops like us across the country that have ‘shop dogs’. Since we now have a predictable schedule and our client base is growing, a shop dog would be a nice addition. Especially as a companion for me during the day when customer flow is slower, and gets a little lonely being by myself (my husband works outside the shop Mon-Fri).

    I had given up my beloved Siberian Husky, Mister Buster, a couple years ago when my ex-husband and I split up and neither of our new living situations were ideal for him. We found him a new loving family who adores him and he has the life he deserves. I cannot get him back because he is that loved and cherished. He is happy there, and so I can’t do anything about that. He impressed upon me the fun and excitement that the Siberian Husky breed can bring to your life. I know all the pros & cons of the breed, having owned one. Knowing the breed is very people-oriented and non-aggressive, I decided that I would search for another Husky. Part of this was wanting to have a semblance of my beloved Mister Buster in my life again. I decided to search for an adult dog to rescue, such as Buster was. I have never had a puppy to raise, always adult dogs.

    I came across the local Husky-breed specific rescue here in my state. I found a couple of their dogs that I was really interested in, and I sent an inquiry. It took them almost a week to get back to me. So, when they did, they sent the 5-pg questionnaire, a separate page for my vet to fill out, and a page for references. I filled them out, but it still took almost two weeks to get any reply at all from them.

    I understand why rescues do the questionnaires, especially with Husky-breed dogs. These dogs are not for the average family and you have to know what you are getting into. They need lots of exercise, attention, and you constantly have to stay ahead of them.

    However…I was denied—for a very stupid reason, IMHO. First, my husband and I have 2 cats. One male and one female. The male is neutered but my female is not spayed (both are strictly indoor cats). The rescue flat out denied me for that reason alone. Why? What is it that could possibly happen with the DOG that makes it necessary for my CAT to be spayed??

    The reason she is not spayed is because she is breeding quality with excellent show-cat bloodlines and I was planning on getting into being a certified breeding cattery when i got her. I ended up changing my mind for various reasons, but I also figured if there was someone out there who wanted to do that, but only had a male, I might be willing to coordinate a planned breeding with this person. I don’t know yet, and being she’s only 3yrs old…she has plenty of time. I am not performing unnecessary surgery on her to adopt a dog.

    Then they said that placing a Husky with me when I have cats is tough anyway. That—I do agree with— but I do know that most Huskies can be trained to leave the cats alone. I taught Mister Buster to leave my cats alone when I adopted him (when he was about 3yrs old) and never had been around cats before. It can be done. Just takes time and patience and lots of supervision. Also, being as the adopted dog would be in my shop more than at home, his exposure to the cats would be controlled and always supervised.

    Their last issue is they didn’t like that we lived in a townhouse with no fence and small yard. Nevermind that there is a HUGE riverside park with trails and fields to walk and run in that is 100 yards behind us. Plus we will be in our shop most of the time, which our lounge is bigger than our house living room. I am able to leave the shop several times a day and late evenings for walks–there is a park near by and I like to take evening walks around our main street area. Our kids are in sports in the summer, which means lots of time at parks for baseball and soccer practices/games. Plus two dog parks with off-leash areas. I also have a horse that I trail ride that I planned on tethering the dog along on after training him on manners around a horse.

    So with the issues that the local rescue gave us, I tried looking for rescues within reasonable diving distance out of state. They won’t allow out of state adoptions.

    One could say I could go to the local shelter and not be picky on the breed. I could, but the issue I run into is the liability with my customers. Sometimes people from the bars next door can be a bit obnoxious when they come in. If I were just adopting a dog to stay at home, I wouldn’t be as concerned. Unfortunately I would never really know the background of the dog and its’ true breed bloodlines—and we just can’t risk a bite or scratch or have a dog that is triggered to be afraid and lash out by seeing a burly guy with biker gear on, when the shelter probably didn’t know about that issue due to being so random. Even a rescue husky was a risk but a breed-specific rescue like that is a bit more knowledgeable on the quirks and what is normal for huskies vs. other dogs.

    Again—I get the desire to question people about their living space, how they will meet the dog’s needs, especially with the breed being a bit more maintenance than the average pup. However I don’t think some of their requirements are fair to the dogs themselves.

    I wanted an adult dog to give a needy one a good home with lots of people to befriend and regular customers to enjoy, plus our kids getting a dog they’ve asked for, for 2 years.

    Our lifestyle might be unusual but not insurmountable. I wanted to also avoid the potty training and getting up at night, etc. I had never had a puppy before, so the whole experience is new to me.

    But… we did end up going with a pup from a breeder who breeds for health and temperament, not the show ring, though they are registered. And the three dogs I expressed interest in adopting… are still on and the rescue’s site, waiting for homes.

    We are very happy with our pup, and it was probably the best choice for us and our lifestyle. Our pup is very loved and adored by our customers and he attracts people to our shop better than any other form of advertising. People even stop their cars on the street intersection when I am letting him go potty just to say he’s very cool and cute. Though I am glad I had kids before I had the puppy… it is very much like having a newborn child/toddler, lol! But I still can’t help but feel bad for the dogs we were interested in, could have been a forever home to one. They are still waiting and that was 4 months ago.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      How frustrating! Thank you for considering adoption first and for sharing your story here with us.

      I know of dogs that have waited for homes for more than two years. Doesn’t quite seem right, does it?

  63. About 3 1/2 years ago, I decided to get a standard poodle. I have allergies to some breeds, but I wanted a large dog. Unfortunately, there are not many rescues in my state with standard poodles, and all of the smaller poodles I could find (which I didn’t want anyway) were at rescues with blanket policies that adopters MUST have fenced-in yards. I lived in an apartment. I ended up getting my dog from a breeder 2 hours away from where I live, and my dog has been a great friend in good health. She isn’t a high-energy dog, and I play with her, take her for walks, and occasionally go to the dog park to meet her exercise needs. Of course I would love to have a yard for her to play in, but not having one doesn’t make me unfit to have a dog.

    When I get my next pet, I might go the Craigslist route. I hadn’t really thought of that before, but I just looked at the Craigslist pet ads in my city and someone posted an ad for rehoming a 6-month-old standard poodle just a week ago (someone else posted a few days ago that they were looking for a standard poodle, so I emailed her with the link to the other posting).

  64. As someone who has adopted 3 dogs and 4 cats from shelters and fostered for a local pound, I can’t disagree with you more. The purpose od being strict is because so many people return their dogs to the shelter, even though they claim to be animal lovers. As am example, we fostered a 6 month old dog from the pound. We found a family to adopt her that seemed like a perfect match. After two weeks they returned her to the pound because she was chewing things theu left on the floor and pulled on the leash. mind you this was a 28 pound dog. Also the woman was 7 months pregnant. A week later i saw her looking to buy a puppy from a breeder. So the poor puppy went from one home to the pound to a foster home to another home to the pound and then another home. Meanwhile the puppy being back at the pound took up a space for another possible dog. This is why they are strict.

    1. You missed most people here’s points. 99% of us do not fall into that category you are mentioning. I understand why rules are in place to ensure confident and permanent adoption, but lost of these places have take it a step too far. I have a loving home and a dog I have taken incredible care of for 8 years and have the ability to give more. All the adoptees I have considered I’ve done very carefully to ensure they would be a good match. Guess what after filling out now 4 applications 45 minutes a piece with one that I had to include my yearly earnings. Thus far I haven’t even received a phone call from any of them and the dogs are still available for adoption.

      1. It probably depends on where you go to adopt. I’ve dealt mostly with city run shelters and not so much time with rescue groups, but I do know how they function and they put an incredible amount of time and money to keep these animals healthy. I have never experienced a situation where I waited for an application to be processed, however I always do it in person. I really don’t think anyone can be too careful, and even if you’re dog has happened to be healthy and you have taken good care of it, they require a decent income because you never know what could happen. A broken bone can cost thousands of dollars, intestinal blockage also a few grand, and it isn’t a case of neglect or abuse, accidents just happen. I prefer to work directly with city or county run facilities because dogs from rescues come from those facilities anyway. The more dogs that get adopted directly from the pound or shelter, the less end up at rescues. And no, I did not miss the point of the comments. My point is that you never can tell when a stranger is making things up or not. Everyone here can say that they are the best dog owners out there, who are you to say that they aren’t lying if you don’t know them personally? They can never be too careful. Besides, even if this group of people does tell the truth, there are so many liars out their that make rules extra strict for everyone. It’s like the TSA. You may not be a terrorist, but because they exist, everyone faces new rules and regulations no matter what your personal background is. I know adopting a pet and homeland security are on two completely different levels, but the general outcome is the same.

        1. 1) I make plenty of money to take care of any situation that can occur as I showed on the application.
          2) Is it better for the animal to be in a cage or shelter rather than take a chance on a good family?

          1. Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry. But you can always increase your chances by providing proof of income and recommendations or references. Sometimes if you only apply online it can get lost in the shuffle. It is definitely better to go in person. For every pet we adopted, we went in person, applied, and left the same day with the animal. We also took our resident dogs in for a meet and greet. Many will not adopt out another dog to a family that already has one if they can’t meet first.

  65. Also one thing I didn’t take into consideration. Are you dealing with local rescue groups? I have a friend that adopted a Basenji from an out of state rescue and it was a very extensive process because it involves transport.

  66. I’m one of those horrible people who circumnavigated the shelter system.

    I started looking to adopt a dog about 6 months ago. I had already had to convice my fiance to go the adoption route because he had always had puppies from a breeder. Now, I was looking for a specific breed for a specific reason. I wanted a golden retriever because we will be starting a family soon and I believe that it’s important for a child to grow up with a dog and I wanted to have the dog established in our family before getting pregnant. I also believe that goldens make great family dogs (yes, I do know the bite statistics). My fiance has a dog, but he’s elderly and I’m afraid won’t be around for our kids. I was looking for a dog in the 18-24 month range, preferably already fixed and housebroken. He or she had to be okay with other dogs, cats, and all children.

    I started with breed specific rescues. The first problem was that I live about halfway between two major cities, each of which has golden rescues. The bigger of these two cities has two golden rescues, but neither of them will adopt out of the metro area, but “will sometimes make an exception.” I get that. Volunteers shouldn’t have to pay for a ton of gas for a home visit.

    The second problem is that my fiance’s dog isn’t fixed. He now sees the error of his ways, but that doesn’t change the fact that the dog is 13 years old and major surgery like that is likely to do more harm than good. I get that too, but it’s not like I’m adopting an unaltered dog from the rescue. All of the ones I’d been looking at had been fixed.

    There were other various problems like the “lack” of a fenced yard. We had two (now there are three) fenced areas of our yard, but because the entire yard was not fenced that didn’t count. Also, at least one shelter had a problem with the fact that we wanted to start a family.

    What irritated me the most about the whole process is that some of these rescues never bothered to reply to emails unless you had already filled out an application. Several of the rescues (the golden-specific rescues especially) had a $25 non-refundable fee JUST FOR APPLYING. If you were denied then you lost the fee. If you were accepted, the fee was NOT applied to adoption fees. The shelters that did bother to reply to emails simply said, “fill out the application, pay the fee, and we’ll see what we can do.”

    So, I started looking at governmental shelters. What I found was that desirable breeds, breeds that had a breed-specific rescue in the area, stayed in the city/county shelter for very short periods of time. These dogs were pulled almost daily by breed-specific rescues, leaving the undesirable dogs to be euthanized.

    By this time, my fiance was sick of the process and had found a breeder a few hours away. Luckily, this breeder didn’t have an available litter at that time, so I convinced him to give me a little longer to find an adoptee. That’s when I found Champ on Craigslist. Champ was everything we had been looking for. He was a purebred golden retriever. Two years old. Fixed. Housebroken. Someone had obviously invested an awful lot of time into training him. He comes when he’s called and knows basic commands, including “shake.” I suspect that he had been crate trained, even though I don’t particularly care for crating a dog that large. He is a total sweetheart. He drags a blankie around the house like a little kid.

    He does have some issues. He seems to have a little bit of seperation anxiety. It doesn’t manifest itself in destructive habits though, which is good. He just wants to be thisclosetoyou all the time. He buries his head in your legs/lap/whatever body part his can get to and he always blocks the way when you’re trying to walk. He has chewed up a pair of shoes or two, but that just means I gotta be careful where I leave stuff. He’s a trash dog, so the garbage can has to be out of his reach too.

    From what I gather, we are his third home in his two years. His first home seems to have given him up when they had a baby (which is ironic considering I got him because I want to have a baby). His second home, which was supposed to be a foster home, bought him to keep him out of the pound and found a home for him, but that home decided that they’d rather have a female dog. The foster home already had 4 dogs and the foster dad said “no more.” I found the foster mom’s ad on Craigslist. It was meant to be. I found the ad and less than an hour later it was removed. Apparently, that happens a lot with CL pet ads, they are flagged for no reason. The foster mom told me that if I hadn’t gotten him then he would have ended up at the pound. I lucked out and got pretty much every bit of medical history available on him dating back to his 5 month checkup.

    All in all, I’ll say that adopting from Craigslist couldn’t have worked out better for me. This is not to say that a rescue dog wouldn’t have worked out just as well, but we’ll never know because the rescues wouldn’t work with me.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Gosh, that is just the perfect example of a perfectly good owner trying to adopt from a rescue. I’m so glad you ended up finding the perfect dog off of Craigslist. I may end up going that route myself. What a lucky dog Champ is, and thank you for sharing your story with us. If you ever want to write an actual guest post for my blog about this experience, I would love to post it.

  67. It is way too difficult and the people become downright righteous to you. I applied to adopt a dog 5 months ago and was rejected because I work four 10-hour days. The same dog is on the site today. I was told to get my previous veterinarian’s name and number so as to go over my previous dog’s visit history. Since the records arein my boyfriend’s name due to health care privacy laws I couldn’t provide that information. They asked for my boyfriend’s number and I wouldnt give it since my boyfriend would be livid about me giving his number away. Then they told me a home visit would be necessary – I said I live two hours away and that I could provide extensive pictures and even walk through videos of my home and they said “no” and that they would contact local volunteers to visit my home. I dont know these people and am not comfortable with them going through my house – and my boyfriend wouldnt have it. When they found out my previous dog wasn’t nuetered I got preached to about that – that dogs in their natural state dont live as long and that during their lifetime they can produce “1000” (i cant remember the number) offspring. Well the dog was an indoor dog and heaven forbid I tell them that the reason he wasnt nuetered was because my boyfriend originally planned on breeding him (17 years ago.) Then the references- again – none of my friends would be happy about receieving a phone call from a stranger regarding a reference check for pet adoption – I canceled the whole ridiculousness before they had a chance. I am a law abiding, educated, extremely empathetic, giving, caring, loving person. I do not give off creepy vibes – I am friendly and down to earth. I am employed by the government. This whole invasive process and the suspicious attitude I was given left a bad taste in my mouth – home visits and reference checks – in the end after vowing never to do so and after a year of following petfinder’s web site – I am buying a puppy from a breeder.

    1. I am going to clarify this – I attempted three times to adopt dogs that I fell in love with. I was rejected the first time simply after showing interest in the dog using my goverment email address. The woman replied that the dog was already adopted – and the dog was never taken off the site and continued to be advertised on the petfinder site for the next 5 months even today. Obvioulsy someone deemed a government worker as unfit for pet ownership. Once I emailed again asking why the dog wasnt adopted when I was told it had been and the woman replied that it “didnt work out.” Then she sent me another email a few days later that just said “Can you tell me what kind of tie out you use – is it just for “potty time?” I didnt reply. The next two times were similar – I was honest and said my previous dog wasnt nuetered not due to my choice but my boyfriend’s since it was his dog in actuality (although became mine after 7 years of being with my boyfreind.) People had a problem with my schedule of ten hour days as well – even though I have three days off in which I dont go anywhere and stay at home. The saddest part about this and the mosy absurd is that they cannot find a bigger animal lover than me and am rejecting someone that would treat these dogs with more love and empathy than anyone they could find. Their invasive process and their holier than thou suspicious attitudes fo not work for me anymore.

      1. Lo, thank you for sharing your experience. I am sad to read that you had such a bad experience with rescue groups. Most of these groups will say their missions are to get more pets into good homes, so it doesn’t sound like they are doing a very good job, does it?

        I hope that more and more people will realize the ridiculousness of the whole process and support the rescues and shelters that are not so strict.

        No matter where you end up getting your next pet, that dog or puppy will be so lucky to have you. Take care.

  68. I’ve been a volunteer with a dog rescue group for several years now, and it always baffles me when people object to rescues having standards. This isn’t a matter of “customer service”, the objective of a registered 501-3c rescue is find their dogs a safe new home. When you’re a no-kill, you can afford to not just pawn the dog off to the first person who comes along.

    I think people get offended when they are not given the benefit of the doubt, but you need to look at it from the opposite perspective as well. These dogs have already been through hell – taken from their homes, often neglected or abused. Finding a forever home is the priority, one that is not going to send the dog back because “oops we didn’t ask our landlord about keeping pets” or “oops turns out we don’t have time for the dog after all” or “it keeps escaping when we keep it outside all day!”

    What you learn very quickly is you can’t give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Specific criteria are needed, or bad things happen. Our neighbors have an electric fence and their Miniature Pinschers have escaped countless times, until one of the poor things was hit by a car. Their other dog still escapes and they have not gotten a different fence. I don’t blame a rescue even a tiny bit for making electric fences a disqualification. The rescue I work with has a policy that a dog must always be returned to us if the owner cannot keep it. We’ve still had cases like the adopter lying to the head of the organization and avoiding her, then dumping her two adopted dogs at a kill shelter. By the time they figured out what happened, the dogs had already been put to sleep. This is not a remarkable occurence, this kind of thing happens all the time. I could tell you stories for days.

    Like you mentioned in the article, most rescues and many shelters are run completely by volunteers. Everyone does the very best they can, but there are always more dogs that need rescuing. It is never-ending. Shoving the ones they have out the door as fast as possible is not the solution. The dogs in their care deserve a good forever home, and at the end of the day that is the priority.

    The rescue I work with still takes every potential adopter on a case to case basis, and do everything we can to find our dogs good homes. If a person checks out with everything but a fenced-in yard, but they commit to walking the dog and/or taking it to dog parks every day, we make an exception to that rule.

    Please don’t take it too personally if you are rejected by a rescue organization or non-kill shelter. If you’re having trouble finding a dog, you might try county and state-funded shelters. There are tons of wonderful dogs in there, and those shelters usually have much fewer requirements. Adopting is a wonderful thing, and it’s discouraging when it isn’t as easy a process as you imagined it, but there is a dog out there that will be very grateful that you didn’t give up.

    1. SK, this really doesn’t do much to relieve any of my assumptions about the amount of prejudice that rescue organizations have towards their applicants.
      It’s also important to take into account that people’s ideas about pet adoption are based on less discriminating orgs like the Humane Society and some breeders. I think because of this it’s fairly disingenuous to publicly list animals and show them off at pet stores without making and requirements very clear beforehand.

      1. *any requirements
        I understand animal welfare is a messy business, but I also feel it’s wrong to parade them around in front of people who really want to take care of them only to make them feel Absolutely Crazy.

  69. I am not offended that we have not been chosen to be good adopters or take it personal. I am frustrated that my application is not even responded to by the organizations I had inquired to. I l completely respect the rules in place to protect animals from irresponsible owners who don’t understand the amount of responsibility animals are. I also understand your view as a member of the organizations and the need to defend them, but to be honest I will not spend another minute filling out an application that ends up in never land. We are currently working with a local humane society that will actually respond to our willingness to adopt.

  70. SK — no one here is saying there shouldn’t be standards. It is the LEVEL of standards (impossible most times, and often changing on a whim).

    In my situation–what is the purpose of refusing to allow an adoption because I refuse to get my female cat spayed? She’s purebred, has a very-desired coloring, and is only selectively bred when I choose. She has had one beautiful litter so far. She’s only 3.5 years old and has plenty of time to produce more.

    What are they afraid of the dog (who would be neutered already) might decide to go inter-species and get freaky with my cat?

    I ended up adopting a pup from a breeder. The dog I was adamantly trying to adopt is still up for adoption. I would have provided an awesome home and very social lifestyle being our retail shop dog. But I was refused solely for the above reason that my CAT… I repeat: MY CAT….. NOT DOG… was not spayed, even though I explained why she was not.

    Standards are one thing. What I experienced was nothing of the sort. Standards means they are consistent. I was not experiencing consistent anything other than random hurdles they decided to throw at me, yet never mentioned previously.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I know you would’ve given that rescue dog a great home, Leah. Your puppy is very lucky!

      On the plus side, there are more and more rescues and shelters out there that are willing to work with people and to see each person as an individual without such crazy, blanket policies. It’s too bad that the others have to ruin the whole experience.

  71. Yes he is lucky! Our customers even asked me to make a facebook page for him so they didn’t have to sort through my personal page for photo updates.

    So I made one. He’s Stolichnaya Konstantin on FB. 🙂

    He’s a very spoiled pup. Customers bring him toys and treats all the time. Some of the wives of the regular customers come and take him for walks and play with him while their guy has a cigar and relaxes. Families come in just to see him. He’s the talk of the other business owners who welcome him in their shops (except the restaurants) when we walk around town.

  72. My boyfriend and I were almost rejected last year from adopting a puppy who had been found abandoned in an orchard with her sisters. We have a 6 foot fence, the ability to have a person at home with the dog pretty much all day, promised to enroll informal obedience training, previous experience with the breed, and I mentioned that I was a runner looking for an eventual running partner (ie, the dog would get plenty of exercise). When the interviewer from the shelter heard we have a pool in the backyard, she back pedaled majorly on our approval, and I had to beg to convince her that the puppy would be safe. Eventually the interviewer decided to “pretend” she didn’t hear that we have a pool and advised me not to include pictures of the pool with the pictures of our house and yard we were required to turn in for the application (along with our tax return??!! Geeze).

    Luckily, we were able to get our puppy, and she is the greatest thing in the world. She has a great life now – well socialized, lots of obedience training, working towards nose work certification, always playing with people and other dogs, and now that she’s old enough she’s starting to be a great running partner for me. Kelpie mix – she needs the running to keep all of us sane! And even swimming in that pool in the summer. Anyways…I still haven’t gotten over the fact that all of this was almost denied to a dog who, just a few weeks previous to adoption, was left for dead in a field. All because of a pool?? Seems ridiculous.

    I also know of someone who lived on a 100 acres of land in the country and was looking for a working dog for their ranch. The dog would be a family, inside dog at night but a working dog during the day. They were rejected because they didn’t have a fenced yard, and ended up going to a breeder. It’s silly that shelters preach the evils of breeders but force people to go to them.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      The fact that this group is making people show a tax refund makes me sad. I am glad you ended up with the right dog for you, but I am sorry to hear you had to jump through so many hoops to get her.

      I am glad she is enjoying that pool!

  73. I totally agree with this, and I was curious if other people felt the same way. I’m certain that any animal would prefer any home to being euthanized, considering that living things like to stay alive. We went to a shelter to adopt a companion dog for ours who we didn’t get through a shelter, we live out in the country and I failed to tell my husband that shelters were funny about previous pets being hit and lack of a fenced in yard. I really wanted to support a shelter rather than find a dog elsewhere or a get a puppy, I wanted a middle age dog. I think besides detecting blissfully ignorant people who don’t really respect animals or animals being used for fighting, they should be a lot less strict about it. Live free, die free 🙂 it’s a fact of life.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Shelters preach that more people need to adopt and that there are not enough homes. Yet, they turn so many potentially good adopters away.

      Thanks for sharing your view on this. I hope you get a second dog, no matter where that dog comes from.

  74. I so agree with you about shelters euthanizing dogs and cats because they can’t find them a home, yet the shelter is so damn picky about who they allow to adopt! Even a dirty home with no fenced yard is better than death! Wouldn’t you agree? I got so disgusted with the adoption applications from both pet rescue organizations and the shelters that I adopted from Craigs List. My dog is the most loved and adored pet, yet they denied me because I didn’t have a fenced yard. Ridiculous! How many dogs are put to death rather than taking a chance on a home? This is nonsense and we really need to find an alternative to this unnecessary killing of precious animals. They can make any dumb statement they want in defense of their requirements and still it’s just not practical, smart or necessary.

  75. After we lost our beloved Dog Apollo(Bullmastiff) we did not want to have any other dog. Recently i was thinking on second chance shelters in my area. I contacted them and i got the shock of my life , denied because i have 4 grandchildren (no small children because border collies are herding dogs., and no fenced yard(My yard is extremely big and the last Fence estimate was almost $10,000) and the dog i want to adopt is a baby 3 months old border collie.

    After finally started looking for another dog and found that little furry friend that opened our heart, we got denied after 1 week of waiting ( my Teen daughter was so excited and do not understand why)

    I firmly believe that a dog will grow according how the owner raise them, all my Dogs had been inside dog even they’re big dogs ( a Great Dane, a Rottweiler, a Belgian Malinois and a Bullmastiff) , we raised them as a family member, but they knew they were at the bottom of the pack ( not sure if you follow me). Always walking them and kept them socialized and around parks , people and kids.

    I know they want to be sure that the dog goes to a home that they will be taken care of, but too many restrictions and requirements send the potential adopter to buy a dog from a breeder
    I was looking for a second chance puppy, but it will be impossible to adopt one because those requirement, so buying a puppy from a breeder is my way to go.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I do not have a fenced yard and I run around 15 miles a day. I would probably be the ideal owner for a border collie, but I would also be rejected from the rescues you applied with.

  76. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who has been completely confused by the ridiculous policies in place to adopt animals.

    We recently decided after much conversation and research to adopt a dog. We already own cats, own our own home, have a medium sized fenced back yard, and two small children one 2 1/2 and the other 10 months. As we quickly discovered despite clearly having the facilities, the means to support, and a growing family to love all over the dog, we were deemed not suitable to adopt by many local shelters and breeders. Apparently having two small children and cats means it is impossible for a dog to live happily. This is a bit surprising to me as apparently many other folks haven’t received that memo because clearly some families with kids and cats have dogs.

    When questioned about the lunacy of the process shelters and even some breeders employ, they have been able to provide zero tangible support for their vetting process. So it seems having a dog either live in a cage in a shelter or get put down is a better alternative than having the animal get adopted out to families that can love and provide for them.

    My wife and I managed to bring two kids into this world without a house visit, income check, or references and they are doing just fine. Apparently dogs require a much higher level of pre-work. Ridiculous.

    Best of luck to all who are trying to adopt animals. I know it’s a crazy frustrating process.

  77. I adopted my dog from the pound, when she had already been there for 10 days and was close to being euthanized. I was told that a family had looked at her already and wanted her, and they were REJECTED because they had children. The people at the pound thought that this dog wouldn’t be good with kids. I was single at the time so they let me have her. Well, she turned out to be one of the most gentle dogs I have ever met. Two years after I adopted her I had a baby. My dog was SO sweet and patient with him. She passed away about a month ago from stomach cancer and I am heartbroken that my toddler won’t even remember her when he is older. Anyway, it makes me sick to think that this other family was rejected and my lovely dog was nearly destroyed, all based on the faulty assumption that she would be bad with kids. I am so glad that I happened to see her and adopt her when I did. Also, I didn’t spay her because she was already an older dog – I didn’t want to put her through the surgery and I believe that dogs have their natural hormones for good, healthy reasons. I was extremely careful with her and she never became pregnant (it’s not rocket science – you just keep the dog on a leash when she is in heat!). Does this make me a “bad” owner, really? If the pound had known that I wouldn’t spay her, they would have never given her to me and she would probably have been killed. Instead, she and I had four beautiful years together full of walks, swimming and good food. I am not sure where to get my next dog. I don’t really want to deal with the pound/shelter policies but of course I absolutely do not want to support a puppy mill.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thanks for sharing this info. I would look on Craiglist for another dog if you don’t want to deal with shelters.

  78. I have not yet applied to a rescue group for a dog, and after reading some of the above comments, I don’t think I will. I was interested in an adult border collie, as I had one growing up for many years and loved her dearly. I also had 4 loving Yorkies who all lived to be 12-14 years of age. I now have 2 cats (a male and female both neutered and spayed). I have had them both for 3 years and they are totally sweet kitties (indoor only).

    I recently retired and am interested in adopting a medium to medium size large dog. I am stunned regarding some of the requirements a person has to meet by two of the rescue groups in my area to even be considered. Wow, I was totally taken aback and quite intimidated by the application process, home visits, fencing requirements, etc. I do understand the rescue groups wanting to make sure their dogs go to the right homes, and I would definitely be willing to invest in a proper fence, however, the fence has to be installed off a back or side door! I only have a back door that opens to a carport, so that would probably eliminate me. Also, they won’t even consider a home visit unless you already have the fence installed. They don’t even show pictures of the types of fences that would be suitable.

    It is totally frustrating. I go onto Petfinder daily and having been doing so for a couple of months. I see the same dogs there all the time. Is it that hard to find a decent home for these pets?

    More than likely I will be denied for one reason or another and will have to buy a puppy from a breeder. Just like most of you, I would prefer to help rescue a pet that deserves another chance, but that isn’t likely.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      There are definitely rescues and shelters out there willing to work with you if you choose to adopt a dog. If you choose to go to a breeder, that is OK, too.

  79. Recently my Red Heeler passed away. She was my friend of 10years. She was going blind and didnt see my husband drive down the driveway. He stopped and waited for her to move, when she did, he proceeded to pull forward, she couldnt see his back tires and she went right underneath. I was heart broken, I still am. She and I did everything together.
    We no longer have a protector and have been looking into finding another med to large dog. I have looked and shelters and all of the requirements have steered me away from adopting from a shelter. We want a puppy so we can train it the way we want it to behave. We have a 3 year old and another on the way, so it has to be raised with kids. When I saw the requirements of all the shelters I’ve looked into, I thought to myself, no wonder why these animals dont have homes. These so called shelters wont approve any average household.
    Requirements are: fully fenced yard, at home inspection…and many of the ones listed above. Oh but first you have to fill out an application. Then they see if you meet the requirements, then you have to wait till THEY find you a dog that THEY think will suit your needs. You DONT get to pick your own dog!
    I own 10 acres, I am not going to fully fence my 10 acres for a dog. That dog is going to be trained not to leave the property. My Heeler, never left the property unless it was with me our my husband. She never left the back porch unless she needed to. Most of our neighbors had no idea we had a dog until they drove to our house.
    I think that if these shelters want to find homes for these poor animals then they need to think realistically and realize that not everyone can afford to fully fence their yard, but they can afford to care for an animal, and give them everything they need. Like I said, no wonder why these animals have not found homes yet. I wont be adopting from a shelter because of this. Im sorry you poor animals I wish I could help but I know that I wont meet the requirements of the shelter and my home wont be considered a good home because of it.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl


      So sorry to hear about your loss. That is just so sad. Thank you for looking into adopting a shelter dog. No matter where you end up getting your next pup, I know he or she will be one lucky dog! Thanks for leaving your comment, and good luck to you!

  80. I volunteer at a local open-admission shelter. To adopt is incredibly simple. You can pick out a dog/cat, do the application, be approved, attend the 15 min adoption class, and pay the adoption fee…all in less than 3 hours. If the animal is fixed, you can bring the animal home that day. It couldn’t be easier to get a fixed, vaccinated animal for under $100. We even have a huge banner in the lobby with the steps to adopt and estimated lengths of time for each step.

    But people still get upset that we are making them wait, and they walk out, badmouth the shelter online, spread rumors, and ultimately, do not adopt from us.

    Is it really the shelter’s fault? Is 3 hours in one day, or broken into multiple days, really an inconvenience for someone to bring home an animal? We do not require a home visit, we don’t need to meet all family members, we don’t even require a meet-and-greet with other animals (though we highly recommend it). All we ask is that you don’t have Animal Control violations.

    It seems that no amount of simplifying will encourage people to stick with a shelter if they don’t want to.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I think you make some good points, and that has to be incredibly frustrating. Shelters obviously have to do some amount of screening, and I’m so glad your shelter is doing such a great job trying to find that balance. Keep up the good work! Where is your shelter located?

    2. Maybe some of these people have experience with “less friendly” shelters?

      Where are you located? Please say someplace in the Pacific Northwest! Please, please, please, please.

      I have no problem with your form of screening. But I was once turned down because I didn’t have the lingo right and didn’t know the “difference” between adopting and buying. Any dog that comes into my home is both adopted and bought. They are my kids, but money does change hands in every case.

      I had contacted the woman who ran the rescue because one of her dogs was in the same breeding line as one of mine. I saw her on the registration and looked her up. She then told me that she would never place a dog with me because I’d purchased my other dog from a backyard breeder…..WHEN SHE HERSELF. had purchased. that. dog’s. relative. from a backyard breeder also. She also informed me that her dogs were pond trained and were forced to go into icy ponds to retrieve. They would balk and she would throw them in. And when they came out whining and crying, it was because they were just excited. The woman was mentally ill, as I think are many people who go into “rescue”.

    3. Just stumbled on this blog post. I am not adopting right now because I have a soon-to-be-14 (hopefully) sick cat. But I’d imagine as I have a cat if I were looking now, I’d probably question why I am required to attend a class. Actually, I might consider it pretty insulting – what can you teach me that I don’t already know in 15 minutes? Now, if someone had taught me how to pill a cat back then, 13+ years ago, it’d have been useful, but I doubt it’s part of your class. Do you know by the way how to give sub-Q injections to a cat – if not, I can explain. I can also tell how persistent wheezing can be a sign of a polyp, how eye pattern in peripheral vestibular disorder (coming from middle ear and often self-limiting) is different from central vestibular disorder (very serious, could be brain tumor or stroke) or how IBD is treated, and how to recognize early signs of congestive heart failure in cats (especially after starting prednisolone). In addition to basic things. All from personal experience with my cat, so what exactly would you teach me? To use a scratching post – yes, have one. Litter box? Yes, clean several times a day given that my cat is on diuretics for congestive heart failure.

      When I adopted my cat, it was really easy, I just came to a shelter, picked a kitten, filled out a very short application, signed that I’ll spay and left with a kitten. I took probably less than an hour. But after I read some applications on the web — I stumbled upon an article about rescues making it difficult to adopt and got curious, I really got angry. It’s like their looking for some “perfect” home when perfect is define what they are considering best when in fact sometimes they are quite ignorant.

      Look at vaccinations for example. I saw in one application and contract with the requirement that cats get vaccinated every year. When I saw it, I wanted to scream to the authors: “have you never heard about Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma?” These people reject people for not vaccinating their indoor-only cats every year when most vaccines are labeled for once/three years use and ALL prestigious vet organizations – AAFP, Cornell, etc. say that it’s “NO MORE OFTEN than once every 3 years for FVRCP as studies show that immunity lasts longer – 5-7 years. The only exception is Purevax Rabies vaccine, but even this one is likely to work longer. Now, Rabies is subject to local laws, but for the other vaccines the schedule decision for indoor-only cats should be completely between the owner and the vet because it’s the matter of benefits vs risks, the chance of a cat’s getting out and getting say distemper vs small but very real risk of a deadly cancer. HOW DARE these people who don’t even bother to read the actual recommendations dictate to people to vaccinate cats more often than recommended? Or even with recommendations, the question of cat vaccines (except as required by law for Rabies), why do these people think they have a right to tell the owner to take the risk of getting deadly cancer over the risk of getting the disease, especially for indoor-only cats? If so, them should the cat gets VAS, they should be responsible for cost of care and pain and suffering. Really, do this people even know about this cancer?

      1. I’m running into this problem now. I am thinking of adopting a second dog, and every shelter requires my indoor cats to be “up to date” on vaccinations before I can adopt. I’m afraid if I am honest and explain I don’t want to over vaccinate, that I’ll be rejected from adopting. I could titer just to prove my cats still have immunity after a year, but I’d rather spend the money on quality food, and on the adoption fee of my new pet.

        I feel like in order to adopt a new pet, I have to put my existing pets at more risk. That doesn’t seem right to me.

  81. We’re long time animal owners and supporters. Fully qualified by any logical persons standard to own another dog. We’ve been trying to adopt a dog from a few different rescues and it’s turning into a headache. We don’t have a fenced yard but have never lost a dog (we use tieouts right outside out door). We have great references, vet & groomer. But I have a slight problem with the home visit and them wanting personal references. Our home is spotless, our dogs sleep in our bed (if they want to), we have a nice yard and lawn, quiet street, great neighbors. But to have these rescue people pry into my life too much is dissapointing.
    I’m looking for a small dog and they are harder to come by at the local shelters so I looked at these rescues. I’m about ready to give up and go to a breeder.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yes, I can understand why you would not want to submit to a home visit. Really, they are usually not that bad. In my experience, they are very informal (I’m the one who was doing the home visit). But I can understand why you wouldn’t want to have to go through that. Best of luck to you no matter where you end up getting your dog.

  82. My experience with the rescue groups is that they are a pita. I’ll never say anything good about them and its a shame that some of these poor animals never have a chance to go to some of the good homes because these stupid rescue groups feel like they have unlimited power in who they let the pet go to.

  83. There was a 3 legg cat that I really wanted to adopt. There was just that special something that made this cat feel like the one to me. The cat had been in the no-kill shelter for over a year. I really felt like I could be the one to finally give this kitty a home. Than I began the adoption application and sadly decided to back out. The shelter wanted a home visit before and after placement, referances, and proof of being allowed pets. Now I have nothing bad to hide in my home. My fear was that I currently own 4 cats… the city pet limit… all of my cats live in a very clean home, they all get along, and receive best care. There is no problem with the number of cats in my home as far as the environment being well. I simply feared that the shelter visitor would visit my home and than report to animal control the number of cats I have. Than animal control would come to my house and make me pay all of these fees and get a kennel liscense ect ect. It should not matter the number of animals so long as the environment is well and the animals are not bothering neighbors. But animal control wants to punish good multi pet owners by charging them all of these fees for no reason other than the # of animals. If it were not for animal control which claims they want to help animals, than I would probably even adopt a couple more cats. I don’t think it is fair that I would have to pay hundreds in fees every year for having more than 4 cats in a clean, healthy, and well cared for environment. I would not become a hoarder, I only get about one new cat every 5 years. I understand the concept behind home visits and I understand that there will be people who adopt that turn out to be bad owners but I don’t think having a nice home means someone will be a good owner. So I dont think a home visit is a good means to know if someone will be a good pet owner. Every cat I have ever gotten I have kept until death… even the cat that peed out of the litter box for 7 years and forced me to have to install wood floor in the entire house! not many people would do that for a cat! I think the best way telling if someone will be an appropriate owner for an animal is to look at their past not how nice their home is. I also considered adopting a small dog from rescue and I noticed that shelters have started charging premium adoption fees for small dogs and some purebreds. I have seen adoption fees as high as $400! Now I understand the shelters spend a lot on animals but I think they need to make the adoption fees reasonable than ask if the adopter would like to make an additional donation. I think most people would give above the adoption fee if asked, But when I see $400 to adopt a dog it instantly turns me away.

  84. Oh and I just wanted to add… that as of writing this… the 3 legg kitty is still in the shelter. Makes me really sad because she could have been sleeping warm on my bed right now instead of in a hard cage if the shelter had not has so many rules and wanted to come into my home.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I can understand your situation because I am in a similar situation as far as pet limit laws. I would also be rejected by most rescue groups/shelters that don’t have any type of relationship with me.

      I also understand that rescues and shelters would want to follow the laws, but they do hold a double standard for their own volunteers. I know this because as a volunteer myself, I can get away with more than your average adopter because the rescue knows me and will let it slide, even though I don’t think this is fair to have a double standard. I could also name several other volunteers who have more pets than legally allowed, especially if you count their foster animals.

      There is definitely something lost in this whole process. I think the answer is for rescues to trust the public more and allow more people to adopt. If I were a cat, I would want to go home with someone rather than spend another day at the shelter. What a scary environment a shelter can be for cats.

    2. I just wanted to update. I decided to inquire about the 3 legg cat. I emailed them and they were very friendly to me at first contact and even asked if I wanred to come meet the cat. Than I told them that I had 4 cats, one dying from cancer though, and my 2 kids. No surprise…. they never wrote me back. Too bad so unfair to the cat. I provide top top care for my cats. My house is their house, they have a whole bucket of toys, cat trees, top quality food and even home made food, vet care, someone always home. I don’t know what is the problem some of these rescue people have. They don’t even get to know anyone before judging. The cat has been in the shelter over a year. There is no way my home would be worse than that!

      1. I agree with you. How frustrating! I’m sure you prefer to give up on this shelter and adopt from somewhere else. But if you want to keep trying, I recommend you visit the shelter in person or try calling rather than emailing.

        It’s probably best to just adopt from a pound or, unfortunately, a kill shelter. They are sometimes more eager to get the cats into homes.

  85. I live in Portland, OR and my husband and I decided we wanted to adopt a dog. We went to our humane society and fell in love with one of the pit bulls, her demeanor was calm…but we have a toddler and they wouldn’t even let us meet her. We also have 2 cats. We decided to go to out county’s animal shelter and they were so sweet and nice! We brought our daughter with us, met a 3 year old dog and absolutely loved her! We were the second adopter on the list, so our chances of getting her weren’t very high. The next day we found out that Maggie went home, so we went back to find another dog. We fell in love with an American pitbull terrier, she loved our little girl, but we didn’t know if she had previous experience with cats. We went through the interview process, and although we are required to take Karmen through training, it was an easy process and everyone was so nice to us! They also required that we license our two cats and that they get rabies shots, we did just because we really want Karmen. They also reduced Karmens adoption fee by half. And wanted us to research on introducing a new dog to cats. We get to bring her home tomorrow :-). It sounds like a lot of people have had a horrible experience with their shelters, which sucks. We however, had a great experience.

  86. What makes me mad is that many shelters act like if your not willing to pay whatever the adoption fee they ask no matter how high, if you don’t have fenced yard, if your children are not over 10 years old, if you wont do home visit, or provide whatever document they ask than they automatically assume you will not provide a good home. Sure there will always be people who adopt and end up being bad owners but in my opinion the requirements they demand wont predict this unless the house is actually in a state of being condemmed. I think what is more important is finding the RIGHT dog. You don’t need a fenced yard if you adopt a smaller or less active dog or you are a runner. It should not matter if you have small children if you get a dog that is good with small children. But the shelters just seem to think if you don’t meet certain requirements than why even bother with you. They could be missing out on finding animals good homes because they pre-judge people. Even if an animal gets braught back because things did not work out than at least that animal had a chance. Majority of the animals do not get braught back. So taking a chance on someone who does not have the profile of the perfect adopter will more likely than not result in an animal finding a good home. The shelter staff need to lighten up and try to be more flexible with differant lifestyles and instead need to try to find a dog that will work in the adopters lifestyle.

  87. Another thing that makes me not want to adopt is that 2 of my cats and my current dog all came from breeders. I show my 2 purebred cats at shows and the shows earn thousands of dollars in donations for local shelters as well as donate floor space to cats who are for adoption and spectators come in see the cats and adopt. So our shows do a lot to help local shelters and find home for the animals. But it seems like whenever I have spoken with anyone who works or volunteers at a shelter and I tell them about my purebred animals or the shows they act like they are discusted by me and than go on about how horrible breeders are and blaiming them for the over population problem. I am not saying breeders are completely innocent of pet popoulation but there are many causes for pet over population. I don’t like that the shelter people are treating me like a horrible person because I decided to buy from a breeder a few times instead of adopting. I don’t deserve that kind of treatment after I have adopted several animals years ago, donate to their shelters, and help promote the adoptable cats at the shows. They may not agree with breeding or buying of purebred animals but that does not mean someone who owns purebreds or decided to buy from a breeder deserves to be looked upon like a shelter animal murderer. I actually has a shelter worker tell me… “did you know that when you bought your animals from a breeder instead of adopting that more animals in shelters than had to die.” They acted like it was MY fault that shelter animals were being put down!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yes, that is very frustrating. I support good breeders of dogs and cats, and I think they get blamed unnecessarily for “overpopulation.”

  88. Oh my gosh, thank you for this article. I’ve been so frustrated with this whole rescue adoption process for the past month, if I don’t still feel bad about all those abandoned adult dogs in rescues and shelters, I’d gone to a breeder already. We have 2 adults in the household, no kids, no other pets, own our house, have a fenced yard, have had previously adopted an adult rescue dog, yet we can not get a rescue to even respond to our application. Is it really standard practice to have to wait weeks and months just to get a reply? Even for some reason, that our home is deemed unsuitable for a rescue dog, is it really too much to ask to just get an email response? Apparently, it is.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Sometimes they don’t even bother to respond if you don’t fit their criteria, such as if you live too far away. You could try calling them directly. Sometimes that works better. Best of luck!

      1. I think that’s the part that gets me the most, the not even bother to respond. Isn’t it just common courtesy to at least say something? So I can move on to the next dog instead of holding on hope? And I’m also finding that most rescues don’t list phone number, probably because of people like me. 😉

        Thanks again!

        1. Lindsay Stordahl

          Ugh … I hope you are able to find a great rescue group that is willing to work with you. They should be excited to have great people like you showing interest! Hang in there!

          1. After another couple of unsuccessful attempts at getting a rescue group to respond to our applications, we gave up on them and turned our focus on our local animal shelters and humane societies. And I’m happy to say that we were able to adopt a dog this past weekend! The process was totally painless, makes me wonder why I even bothered with rescues in the first place, other than I thought I wanted to support them. :\ Animal shelters is the way to go!

    2. Same problem here. I just inquired about a cat from a no kill shelter. At first they responded friendly but after I told them I had other cats and two children 8 and 10 years they just did not respond. Rude Rude Rude! I mean you can at least tell me why you do not find me suitable for adopting. It makes me mad and makes me not even want to ever donate to them. Why should I donate if they don’t try harder to find homes for the animals. I think that whatever your lifestyle and whatever you have… dogs, cats, kids ect already in the house…. whatever your living environment…. there should be a suitable dog or cat for everyone. who can provide a loving home. They should not just ignore someone because they don’t have this or that or because they have kids or other pets. They should instead try to find a pet within their shelter that would be a good fit. If the one you inquire about is not a good fit they can always respond by recommending another animal. Rediculous. Not all dogs require a fenced yard, not all animals are too active or large to be around small children. And at the very least they could tell peopl why a certain animal is not suitable so the adopters can have some guidence for finding the right pet.

      1. My sister wanted to adopt a 6 month old cat from a shelter but they told her no because she had childred under 5 years of age. Apparently if you have children under 5 years of age they wont adopt you a cat under the age of 1 year. So stupid! There is not much differance betweeen a 6 months old and a 1 year old cat and in a few months the 6 month old would be 1 year old anyways. So they ended up going to a differant shelter to adopt.

  89. Some people I know have almost felt like criminals in trying to adopt. They lied to my sister about how many issues the dog had. Aggression, fear and illness. Another gave up. The people who are mistreating the animals can get them any time. But too difficult to adopt. Think I will buy one wich is something I didnt want to do.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      You have to do what is right for you. I am sad to hear so many people you know have had negative experiences while trying to adopt.

  90. Im extremely upset today, we were told we could not save a life because we have two dogs that are not fixed already. They are both inside dogs and we have a fenced yard. The puppy would have been a gift for my daughters 7th birthday. But they would rather kill it than give it to us!!!!! I’m so angry and my baby is afraid they will kill it now.

  91. First off my family had to cremate our dog *much loved* after he died, and we’ve had to put down our cat *much loved* 3yrs we decided a 1wk later that we would try and get another dog from our local animal shelter and they had two that we wanted. One I understand why they would not adopt him to us because he was cat aggresive and we are looking to add as cat as well, but we also have cats in the neighborhood and if he got out he would kill the cats .The other one was good with cats and he was a younger dog but a little active.The lady asked about our lifestyle we told her,well one thing led to another then she asked about how much time we would spend walking him we said about 30mins a day unless it was to cold at which case we would not be walking him that day but also added that on nice winter days we would be able to take him to the dog park,because the park is right behind our house! well the lady’s at the pet adoption counsoling decided they would not adopt him to us citing he was to much work for us or to active for us.Then they came up with well if we get an older dog in we will adopt to you.I,am kind of put off by all of this because they know we had just lost an older dog and now they want to adopt us and older dog..go figure,.they don’t care about adopting the animals to good homes it’s all about forcing people to adopt what they want and MONEY!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Sorry to hear about the loss of your dog and your cat. It’s unfortunate you’ve had such a poor experience while trying to adopt. That is all too common 🙁

  92. After being abused by different small breed dog rescue groups in or around our area, we just gave up on them. It was one of the worst experiences I ever had. Seriously. They make you feel like a criminal. They have absolutely zero respect for the potential adopter.
    I went to the local animal shelters and they were much nicer. We found a nice dog to adopt, the fee was lower than I expected, so we made a large donation to their cause. We have a wonderful new dog in our family now and feel grateful. We’re going to provide a great forever home for him, just like all the other dogs we’re had over the years, who all died of old age. We miss them all.
    To the rescue groups who felt we weren’t good enough – kiss my azz. Some of these people who run these rescue groups are real kooks.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Unfortunately it’s those bad rescues that give the good rescues a poor reputation. I’m glad to hear you had a good experience with the shelter you visited. Congrats on the new dog!

  93. I was just rejected from adopting a dog from a no-kill shelter because I am at work 8hrs/day, 5 days/wk (I’m also willing to hire a dog walker). Don’t a lot of dog owners work outside the home?!!

  94. I don’t even bother with the rescue groups anymore. I can get a dog from the pound for a reduced price, plus it’s a standard adoption form. The local rescue agency actually wanted to know the value of my estate because I might be too wealthy for a rescue dog. What!?

  95. I kind of wanted to know, why isn’t there anything we can do about these bad rescue group? Like website where we can leave review comments on our experiences with them. Almost all of these rescues are on Petfinder, so couldn’t they set up a review system (like yelp) so people can leave comments on their experiences? Seems like the bad ones just gets worse because they don’t have incentive to be better. And our emails of complaint just falls on deaf ears.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I imagine it’s because no one has taken the time to set up a web site for these types of reviews.

  96. Another horror story and a word of caution to those adopting in the Denver area!!!

    Back in 2010 my boyfriend at the time decided he wanted to adopt a second dog, since mine was so closely bonded with me. We went to a very well known no kill shelter in downtown denver called Maxfund and of course I ended up falling absolutely in love with a bull mastiff/shepherd mix. We filled out all the paperwork, had a very invasive interview with one of the volunteers and were told “everything sounds great, we will get back to you in a day or so.” I was a PROFESSIONAL dog trainer at the time who worked at a legitimate training facility. We had landlord approval and were renting a 1600 sq ft house with a fully fenced in yard, no kids, no cats, very quiet and peaceful area.

    After calling ALL five of my references(who all told them I was a fabulous dog owner and responsible, good human being) they called me back and said I was denied because my purebred belgian shepherd wasn’t altered. To give background, my purebred is a champion bloodline, titled dog who at the time came to work with me every day. There is no chance in hell he would “run off” on me and the female I was looking to adopt was already spayed.

    I contacted the director of the shelter hoping to come to some understanding and she replied by saying, “Well ma’am if you neuter your dog you would be approved for adoption and could take her home after he recovers.” After thinking about the situation for a week, I called back and asked if I would still be approved if I decided to fix my male. They then said, “Oh, we can’t guarantee a successful adoption.” and HUNG UP ON ME. I was actually considering fixing my dog because my bf and I had felt such an amazing bond with that rescue dog..

    These people had the nerve to try and strong arm me into fixing my licensed, titled, champion dog without any assurance that we would even be able to adopt the dog we so fell in love with. I checked back on the shelters website every week to look at pictures of the dog I fought so hard to adopt. She stayed in the shelter for an additional SIX MONTHS before finding a home.

    Four months after the incident my boyfriend at the time ended up going to a APBT breeder. We tried sooo hard to adopt a dog but that shelter put me through the ringer, broke my heart and turned me off of rescuing a pet.

    Three years later and the boyfriend and purebred APBT are gone and I am in a new city, new mortgage, new life with my still un-altered shepherd and I am in a good situation to rescue a dog. I’ve been to two shelters: one of which offered to lower the adoption fee and waive mandatory training and the other came and did a “house check” for a super adorable APBT (who’s been there for 4 months). I was denied the pittie because the side gate to my yard is only 4 1/2ft tall. WTF!?

  97. – great link

    I have been having trouble recently with the German Shepherd Rescue of New England. They have an adorable 10 month old that has stolen my heart, and not two seconds after speaking to the volunteer, I was turned down. Why? Because I only have a partially fenced in back yard. Now we already have an adopted dog, a small chihuahua who i accompany outside at least 4 times a day for twenty minutes, EVERY DAY. I was told that it is inconceivable for someone to go outside to a park or for a walk everyday, and that is why they want a fenced in area.(and some other nonsense about rescue dogs being more prone to chasing squirrels. as if only rescue dogs have a pension for chasing small animals) i was told i needed the fence for the days im sick, etc. i dont know about anyone else, but i know that i still walk my dog even when i am sick. it is a necessity as a pet owner. i see people who do do this everyday.

    to me, the aire about their policies come off as somewhat presumptuous. I offered them crudentials and references to back them up. I told them i had spent a year and a half as a dog walker/caretaker in the city of boston, handling no less then ten dogs a day during my route. also, that i had worked on two seperate horse farms in warner, nh for a period of two years as caretaker, same thing, with around 15 horses a day total during the week. i told them about the three shiba inus that i had had during my lifetime. and i also let them know that i am certified as a personal fitness trainer, and that running is part of my daily routine. one of the driving forces behind getting a dog that needs copious amounts of exercise to be happy, i had hoped that they would factor all this into their decision. It didnt. I wasnt even considered. no amount of polite, persuasive chitchat seemed to change that.

    i dont understand it. i know i am a good, faithful dog lover. i know that i could give any of their animals a loving home given the chance. so why wasnt i even given the benefit of the doubt, and at least evaluated? i thought i had proven my self articulate and level headed. the woman even had the audacity to tell me that they had been fostering addie since four months (she is now ten months) and that they recieved no less then ten inquiries a week about possible adoption. if these rescues really “give a s**t” about these animals, they need to be a little more open-minded, and they need to stop looking down their noses at prospective owners. I mean, God forbid the prospective owner actually be as knowledgable as the rescue, right? I would also like to note that the woman I spoke with felt really bad and was incredibly polite and patient with me. That she had nothing to do with the rules and said that I sounded like I would be great… were it not for the fence.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      That is so frustrating. I wish I had something to say that would help. Great link to the kc dog blog. Love that site.

  98. i am an avid animal lover but I am finding the whole rescue adoption process a big joke. I currently have a shaded silver persian who has cancer and doesnt have a lot of time left. He is my BABY and was a rescue and was the best thing that ever happened to me. I love him with all my heart. This brings me to the problem I am having which is to adopt a shih tzu. I have been looking for over two months and am finding that trying to adopt a rescue is a completely ridiculous! I would give a dog a wonderful life and would do everything for that,dog. but i can’t get anyone to give me a chance. Either they don’t adopt out of state or they don’t return your emails or their qualifications are too high that there is no reason to fill out an application. What is wrong with these groups? and why would you put a dog on petfinder when it’s not even ready for adoption? i just called on a dog and was told she isn’t ready for adoption. Then don’t put her on the site! I’m getting to the point where I might as well go to a breeder because at least I know I’ll be able to actually get a dog. I REALLY wanted to give a dog a second chance for a good home but apparently that doesn’t matter. It’s more about whether or not you fir all of their qualifications. Very very disheartening. I feel bad for the dogs who sit there waiting for a good home!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      It is tough, especially to get a small dog. Seems like rescue groups snatch them up first and never let go. Have you looked into the pounds and shelters in your area? They might not have purebred shitzus but they might have other small dogs that could be an option. Or Craigslist, which I know has it’s downsides as well …

    2. OMG…I lost my very best friend Clancy six weeks ago…he had a mini stoke with
      teeth cleaning and had issues that required huge attention 24/7 for over a year..
      I absolutely LOVED him….and one night he just died….he was adopted @ 2 and
      I had him for 14 years so he was 16 ++++
      I also have Sadie…11 year old Lab mix adopted as a rescue baby…totally dependent on her best friend so we are both having an awful time.
      I am amazed…it it virtually impossible for good people to adopt…what in the
      world is going on…???? I said to friends I can get a job and a car easier
      than adopting a dog… are correct…dogs posted are not available…
      three references for a dog????? I have state and federal clearances for
      my job…so what’s the issue??????? i AM SO VERY UPSET I CANNOT
      BELIEVE IT…they are killing dogs or …as in the case of one today…
      having a dog at a shelter for 6 years…(no kill & she bites so do not list her!!!!)

      These people are absolutely out of control.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        Sorry for your loss, Laurie.

        As for the adoption groups you wrote about, what a shame. I hope you have better success with a different organization.

  99. We’ve put in so many applications to try and adopt a new family member and either the dog listed is adopted (take it off the site), they don’t get back in touch with us, or the applications ask for personal information on references. I don’t mind giving out a phone number, but I’m not comfortable giving out OTHER peoples personal information. We would make a great home for a dog, we love our animals and they are basically our kids but these application processes well people never even give us a chance.

  100. I am beyond frustrated with the whole adoption process!!! I have had 3 shelter rescue dogs and numerous rescued cats…all who have lived long and happy lives (2 of 3 died of old age and my third died of a very aggressive cancer at the age of 10 that even our vet suggested not to torture her with treatment to postpone the inevitable ) . My soon to be husband insists that we should go to a breeder, but I can’t imagine doing that with so many amazing puppies available for adoption. I’ve never “bought” a pet and can’t imagine doing it. His reason for wanting to go to a breeder…he has tried on numerous occasions to adopt dogs (not puppies) and gets questioned more than a suspected criminal. I have convinced him to let me try to find our next family member in a shelter. I have contacted a couple shelters that were so friendly from the get-go until I filled out an application.
    I have almost 4 acres of yard (It is not fenced in, however not once have my other dogs ever run away or even been left unattended in my yard). My pup would never be left unattended at home because I work part-time and there is always one of us at home. We are both experienced with large/extra large dog breeds and have the time, accommodations and love to give.
    I understand that the shelters want what is best for the dogs, but how can they brush me off without ever even speaking to me??? I have done numerous follow-ups with my contact information and asked for them to contact me to get to know a little more about my family to no avail. But I’m sure my neighbor with the fenced in dog run who keeps her dogs outside 365 to amuse her kids will have yet another shelter dog that she’ll abuse like the last before I ever get a chance to share my home with a new “child”.
    I now understand why my fiance insists on a breeder and that breaks my heart that I am actually even contemplating it. 🙁

    please like this page to show you agree that rescues adoption policies are too strict and THOSE are the reasons people dont adopt!!

  102. It has been my experience that rescues are making it very difficult to adopt. I have been adopting dogs over my life. I’ve never had a problem with being interviewed of having a home visit. My last adopted dog died three years ago. A year ago I a started looking for my next companion. I have applied to four different rescues. All acknowledged my application, some which took three hours to fill out. Only two did more then acknowledged the application. Two said that they would call and that I would hear from someone for a home visit. I heard from neither of them. When I contacted them, one told me the dog I had asked about had been adopted and the other never got back to me. I finally gave up and bought from a breeder. This is the first time I’ve ever not had a rescue dog. I am so disappointed with my experiences with rescues and I feel sorry for the dogs that aren’t finding homes that they could be. I’ve heard of similar experiences from friends and acquaintances.

  103. Hi John:
    We have had similar experiences with cats. It seems that dog or cat adoption all have road blocks that result in unnecessary pet death. I’m starting to believe the whole business is about dominance not about saving animals. Sorry 4 your exp John U didn’t deserve that.

  104. I am a volunteer for an independent rescue organisation who rescues dogs off death row at the pound. We foster dogs in our own homes until we find them a permanent home.

    I am fairly new with this organisation but I have to say they have nailed it. They acknowledge that no ‘forever home’ is going to be the perfect home. It can be hard giving your foster dog to someone whose home isn’t 100% like yours but you have to keep things in perspective. As long as some basic needs are met (e.g. ability to provide appropriate exercise for the dog etc.) there’s always wiggle room. Ultimately you want the human to be happy with the dog so it doesn’t end up back in the pound, and you want to the dog to have a basically good quality of life.

    I will say on the fencing issue that I would not be allowed, and would not choose to rehome to a place without fencing, but I because I live in a city the repercussions of an un-fenced dog are pretty high and I think that’s fair.

    On the other side of the coin is another local rescue organisation who is run by a massive hypocrite. She fosters around 15 dogs at a time in her home – a small townhouse! – and will NOT re-home to a house that doesn’t already have another dog, unless you adopt two. She so strongly believes that dogs should have other dog companions that she’ll keep them in her over-crowded and unhygenic place where dogs have DIED in the past from attacks from other dogs even if a pretty good home presents itself. That kind of rigidity is just unfair and ridiculous. I once donated something to her (before I knew all this) and mentioned I had a pup of my own who I was contemplating getting a friend for one day and she proceeded to lecture me for 10 minutes on how cruel I was being leaving my dog at home by himself (for the few hours at a time I’m out a day, mind you). Great way to foster business, lady!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thank you for sharing that. So glad to hear the rescue group you work with is doing things right! And about that other “rescue” – yikes! Sounds like a woman with good intentions but who has lost touch with reality. Poor dogs.

  105. @Pipa I can see that U apply some common sense in your decisions. However shelters often forget in turning away a potential home the alt is often death! A dog or cat MAY be hit by a car because the home doesnt have a fence. That is a small risk to pay over the alt of almost certain death. Someone once said suicide should never be an option because U could be on a a 1 way boat to a small island in the south Pacific 4 the rest of your life instead. Maybe it would be a boring life, but maybe U would leave your suicidal probs behind too. The pt is U cant be sure if an animal would have a great life. But to the animal that life is a chance, that once taken away can never be given back. Seems like that makes it worth the risk…

    1. That’s definitely true for shelters with few options – that they should consider adopting to people with poor/no fencing as long as the dog was desexed. I will admit that where I live we have the luxury of being picky because there is a fairly large population of people seeking rescues and we don’t have to hurry to get rid of the dogs we foster.

      You’re right though – when the alternative is death anyway, may as well hope for the best by giving the dog to someone who has gone through the effort to adopt it!

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        Interesting to hear what the rescue/sheltering system is like in other areas. My area doesn’t have the urgency for dogs, either (cats are another story). I wish the rescues would still adopt out the dogs a little quicker so they could take in dogs from a wider area. There are communities within 100 miles that could really use the help. They are pretty good about being lenient on the fencing. Tons of people live in apartments around here and still have dogs.

  106. Im from Ireland so things may be a bit different here than to the States however three years ago I went to get a dog from a shelter. I visited three in my city (surprisingly enough, there is only three in the entire capital of the country!) and each one I got rejected. I got rejected from two because at the time, I was living with my friend and her one year old child and they would not let me adopt because there was a young child living in the house. Although I was annoyed by this, I did understand the reasons behind it.

    However, the last place (which is the main animal shelter in the whole of Ireland) turned me down because my boyfriend was not “enthusiastic enough”. At the time, myself and my boyfriend lived with another couple, their one year old child and their dog. I went up to meet the dog I wanted to adopt, I then had to introduce the child and my friends dog to this dog I wanted to adopt so I did that, I then had to introdcue the other couple to the dog so I did that, they carried out a home check and everything was fine. Then, lastly they wanted to meet my partner. I arranged a visit and I got a call the next day saying that I got rejected because my boyfriend was not enthusastic enough when he met them and the dog. I really dont know what reaction the shelter was expecting from a 26 year old man! I just think it is outrageous that the little dog may have got put down because 1 person out of the 4 in my house was not “enthusiastic enough” for us to get the dog.

    I think shelters do have to be careful who they give the animals to but also need to be a bit more lenient! I just hope the dog finally got to stay in a happy home!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Yes, that is just sad. I try not to be over enthusiastic when I meet a dog so the dog can remain calmer. My husband is very calm around dogs and definitely would’ve “failed” that shelter’s enthusiasm test as well. Good grief!

  107. We currently agreed to foster a dog while she was waiting to go to her Rescue group. We only had her a couple days when we realized we wanted to adopt her. I filled out the adoption application, turned it in and gave the lady all of the requested info. We do have another dog, who our foster gets along with great. We have had him for 8 years and he has undergone surgeries for bad knees, tumors, etc. He has special needs and we treat him like our child. The rescue group wanted to know where he was vetted. So I gave them that info, I actually have a cousin who works at his vet however, so I guess that’s not considered a reliable reference. In our emails back and forth throughout this process I was disrespected and belittled because 1) we don’t make our dog wear a collar. *It tickles him and he tries to scratch it. He already has a bad leg and we didn’t want to risk him hurting the other because he was constantly trying to scratch while walking* 2) The food we feed him has too high corn content *We’ve tried him on a couple different foods and this is the only one he keeps down that actually fills him up* 3) We do not have a fenced yard *We live on a farm with 80 acres and he barely gets off the porch to do his business before he wants to go back in* 4) I “insulted her intelligence” by stating that I could order certain meds online without an RX…this resulted in her calling those companies and pulling my purchase records, didn’t even know that was legal! 5) I “tried to pull a fast one” on her when I sent her the confirmation of where I ordered the meds without an RX. 6) I wasted her “valuable time” by having her call my vet references who were “not getting anywhere” 7) My dogs are only allowed downstairs, she wanted to know how much sq ft they had downstairs, since I didn’t allow them upstairs *My dog cant come up the stairs because of his bad leg, if he cant, neither can the new one…I don’t play favorites! Besides, they have over 1700 sq ft downstairs, I think they are fine…8) The only pc of furniture they are allowed on is the sofa and that’s only after they are freshly bathed *Again, dog with bad leg, doesn’t like to get on couch anyways, but he associates “bath” and “couch” together so they go hand in hand!*
    9)His rabies vaccine was not administered by a vet *In my state it is legal for a dog owner to give vaccines at home, heck the vaccine is not even required in my county, but we have a family friend with a horse farm that gives our pets their vaccines. We have the tag and everything….
    I decided to foster a dog because I thought it was the right and good thing to do. I decided to try to adopt her because the look she gave me when I picked her up from the vet (she was spayed and had a tumor removed) was a look Ill never forget. She looked like she was surprised that I actually came back for her. And she was so happy. I just wanted to give her a good home. Who are they to judge me? They are two states away, Ive never met these people! I have had this dog since they day she was rescued from the pound, they have never met her!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      This is so disturbing, Alisha. There is nothing I can even say to attempt to make you feel better. This is just terrible. I’m so, so sorry to hear of this experience.

  108. I submitted 3 applications. I was completely honest on all of them. Today I was denied on 2 because my wife and I both work full time and the dog would be home 8-9 hours alone many days. I know MANY people whose dogs are home that long with no issues. I responded to the first email, asking many questions and got a very short response barely answering any of my questions. The other just says puppies can’t be left home alone, and the two I emailed them about were both younger than 6 months old. Everyone I have asked who is a dog owner is shocked I was denied because of that. We would provide a great home for a dog. You know what that means? I’m going to be lying on my next applications.

  109. AnastasiaBeaverhausen

    Dog shelters and rescue groups make it RIDICULOUSLY hard to adopt a dog. I have been a Yorkie owner for 18 years now (2 dogs, one of whom lived to be 16), and when I applied with my local Yorkie Rescue, I got an extremely RUDE response from a woman who basically told me that I knew nothing about the breed. Because I worked and had no fence in my yard, I was not good enough right off the bat! What??? I had 2 happy, healthy Yorkies with all the treats, walks, toys and human LOVE they good ever want, and oI nly wanted to give a dog in need a good home. However, because I had an 9 to 5 job every day and not enough money in the bank to prove I wanted the dog by installing a $4000+ FENCE in my yard, I wasn’t good enough. That is bogus! If the dogs truly needed a home, someone like me and my husband were perfect candidates. However, they wouldn’t even give us a second look. Do you know what we ended up doing instead? Went to a BREEDER for both of our next two dogs (who are now very happy and healthy as well). We could have given a rescue animal the same, but we were casually discarded like yesterday’s trash by the rescue orgs.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Sorry to hear of this poor experience with a Yorkie rescue. Unfortunately this is the norm with breed-specific rescues.

  110. I was recently blocked from adopting an unwanted dog who had been passed over for adoption and was up for euthanasia. A boxer rescue org took him in, but couldn’t find a foster family, so the dog was boarded at a kennel. I already have a dog and a cat, which are both kept indoors in my large home which has a nice, shady, fenced-in backyard. I filled out the application and agreed to a home visit and an adoption fee of $250. The rescue org owner wrote me several letters. First she said she couldn’t do a home visit right away because she might be flying out of state that weekend. But she apparently didn’t go out of town because she emailed me over the weekend to say the dog failed a “cat test,” so I couldn’t adopt him since I own a cat. The “cat test” was done when she took the dog to an animal test to be microchipped. A cat was set on a counter and the dog put his paws on the counter and repeatedly barked at the cat. I was told that the dog demonstrated “prey behavior” when he continued to look at the door while being microchipped. Nevermind that my other dog was trained to befriend our cat, nevermind that the cat goes with my kids to their father’s house, and spends half her time there, and nevermind that their father offered to keep the cat full-time if the new dog wasn’t cat-friendly. Nevermind that I’m an animal rights activist, vegetarian and all around animal lover with room in my heart and home for another pet. None of this mattered. The dog continues to sit in a kennel, waiting for someone to adopt him. The rescue org owner did offer to put me in touch with some of the many organizations she works with, and bragged that she has many contacts who could help me find a suitable pet to adopt. I respectfully declined. I’ll take my chances with one of the numerous unwanted pets being given away for free on Craigslist rather than support a bogus animal rescue organization.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Sorry to hear of this experience. I find that rescues do not cat test their dogs properly, quite often. Just because a dog barks at a cat in a stressful environment when he is met head-on with a cat does not really tell you much. That being said, this dog could have been cat aggressive. If that was the case, why wouldn’t they at least hear you out about your possible arrangements for your cat? Why wouldn’t they suggest another more appropriate dog from their rescue?

  111. Shelters and Rescue Groups make it insanely impossible to adopt a dog these days. I’ve had two dogs over the last 11 years. Neither were so hard to adopt at the time. Both had to be put to sleep, our first girl due to an illness. Our other girl due to D.M. (degernative myelopathy) My husband and I took care of our little girl for a year and half with this disease until it started to affect her lungs and then putting her down was the right thing to do vs. letting her suffer. It’s been 3 months and we started looking again. Other than what others have said about being flat out ignored by rescue groups, we went to a community animal shelter just yesterday. We found a dog we’d like to meet and did their questionnaire. The woman took one look at us, asked us if we both worked, (which we do) and said we were not suitable people to own a dog. Never asked what experience we had with dogs in the past, what our jobs were, nohing. We both worked therefore we were not suitable. It’s places like these that are allowing the puppy mills to continue because they are too ridiculous with their requirements. Folks who want to adopt and give a dog a good home are being rejected for insanely invalid reasons. And people will go elsewhere, sometimes sadly going to the pet store where in my state puppy mill dogs are mostly sold. In the end it’s the dogs who suffer.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I just can’t even believe why they would reject a home where the owner works full time. I can’t understand that at all. It hurts my brain.

  112. My wife and I are looking to adopt a specific breed and have been denied because our fence is too short. The rescue we applied at had a questionnaire so long and so detailed that it took me almost 2 hours to fill out. On their website they have a page that says all of their requirements for adoption so you know before you fill out the papers if you should even bother trying to adopt from them. Under their rules for fences they list that you only need to have a fenced in yard if you have children because they are afraid that the kids will let the dog out and it could escape. But other than that it says that no fence is required, so it boggles my mind that we were denied for this reason. Knowing that we are looking for this specific breed we were then told that they would contact us if a dog became available that “better suit” us… I emailed them back and pointed to their policies, and the fact that they didn’t even bother giving us a phone interview or contacting our references/vet. We are responsible pet owners who have taken care of three dogs in the past. Never have we given a dog away. Never has a dog gotten away. I get that they want the dog to have a place to play, but I mentioned several times that we have a bunch of huge parks and dog parks right by our house. We spent over $12,000 on one of our dogs for treatment on a very serious illness she had and were able to give her 4 more years of a wonderful life that she would have never had without us. That might sound crazy to spend that much, but taking in a dog is a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. I feel that when you take in a pet you are obligated to do anything and everything to make sure you can care for that pet. But after all of that, I am denied just because my fence is too short. They don’t bother calling me. Don’t bother with my references. Completely ignore my previous experience with dogs. Now that dog is still in a kennel rather than in a loving home. So my answer would be yes. Some rescues are much too strict. Now I am going to have to get really lucky to find another dog like this. I refuse to “buy” a puppy from a mill or breeder though. But sadly, I know for many that is probably their only option if they want a dog.

  113. We went to a home-based rescue center and found a 7 1/2 month old Komondor mix. We want a dog that will assist our Lab in keeping predators out of the yard. A Komondor mix seemed to be the perfect dog for the job. After reading the application, I emailed the lady explaining that there were 2 requirements we would not be able to fulfill.
    1. The dog would have shelter, but not live in the house.
    2. The dog would not wear tags and a collar due to the possiblility of strangulation.
    I explained that the dog would have shelter, but would not be a house dog. We need her to help protect our little dogs, chickens, and cats when they are out in the yard. I also told her that none of our dogs wear collars or tags because our yard is 1/4 mile from the road. None of them leave the yard unless we take them somewhere with us.

    She replied: I don’t adopt to homes where the dog does not have access to inside time. Just the way we rescues operate.

  114. We’ve adopted every animal we’ve owned in the past 20 years from rescue organizations…cats, dogs, horses, even guinea pigs. The application process is steadily becoming more and more ridiculous, and there’s a huge hypocrisy that infuriates me every time we are faced with the process: weekend adoption events.

    I’ve found that if you contact an agency during the week at their business number or email, they subject you to everything just short of a cavity search. Some wont even talk to you until you send in an application and they’ve had time to review it, judge it, and get around to contacting you back…you cant even ask simple questions about an animal they may have without an application. (Well why would I want to fill out an application unless I know basic information that may tell me if the animal could be a fit for me?) HOWEVER if you walk into a Petsmart or Petco on a Saturday morning you can fill out an application, pay the fee and walk out the door with your new family member in under an hour – from the same rescue group that wouldn’t talk to you 3 days before without a credit check, a home inspection, and a note from your mother.

    This system is set up in favor of the impulse “buyer” who walks in and sees a cute face that they never considered getting an hour ago (and may not even be prepared to handle the commitment), while deterring the person who spends their weekdays searching websites, making calls, and asking pointed questions in their effort to make an informed, thought out decision.

    We gave up on jumping through the hoops and now just go to weekend adoption events where they are more eager to make the event “successful” and leave with empty crates. It must be a psychological thing that they dismiss some of their own rules in order to get instant gratification from the hours spent organizing and setting up and manning these events, (whereas they’re too far removed from it all during the week?)

  115. It seems pretty sad that not one comment has a positive experience with rescue organizations. I think maybe rescuers are just claiming such to receive donations and tax breaks to care for the animals they keep for them selves. (this is a totally baseless statement, so please feel free to bash) I’ve owned dogs and cats all my life, always from our local government run shelter. When i was in my 20’s, I tried the “rescue” route and I don’t think they even looked at my application. I went to the local shelter, found a puppy, paid the adoption fee, and picked him up the next day after he was neutered. I feel better going to a high kill shelter, because I know I am really rescuing an animal that needs it. I feel like rescues have already rescued the dogs weather they find a forever home or foster.
    How can you not adopt a pet to a family that works, how they heck are we suppose to feed and take our pets to the vet.

  116. It breaks my heart to here all there negative experiences, the last one being the final straw. I’ve been rescuing and fostering for years keeping the animal in my own home being bitten by neglected and abused animals because the people that had them for whatever reasons could not provide the love and commitment they from the beginning said they could.

    Keeping an animal for themselves??? having non-profit status to take donations? Do you know how much paperwork how need to do these day’s (hours, upon hours, upon hours) fee? $850.00

    I only take in animals from shelters in which they are deemed un-adoptable in most cases they are aggressive or have other problems. These animals stay in my home and are treated like my own until the RIGHT FIT is found for them. I have spent a small fortune of my own money rehabbing, training and feeding these animals.

    YOU BET I’M NOT GOING TO GIVE THEM UP TO THE FIRST PERSON WHO THINKS THERE CUTE!!! I pride myself in finding the right fit and i will hold on to animals for months fully committed to there welfare until they are adopted.

    I myself have gone through the adoption process. I’ve filled out applications that were never replied to. I was rejected because i had a cat and my apartment was too small. at the end of that process i found the love of my life (or hers). Who cares if it’s uncomfortable!

    I think people should pay serious concern to finding the right fit, the right breed, the right temperament, SPAY AND NEUTER your animals!

    I’ve never in 10 years gotten a call from ASPCA or animal care and control saying our dog (we have our own microchips registered to us) came back into the system. I’m deeply sorry for the animals being euthanized DEEPLY but unless you’ve done the work i don’t think you have the right to judge.

  117. I think it is way too hard to adopt a pet. I tried to adopt one and the person who answered my emails was so rude and snotty, it was ridiculous. I also met all criteria, and had recently lost my dogs of old age 12 and 13 that were both adopted from animal control and SPCA. My vet lives 2 houses away. She would not get back to me and when she did, I ended up buying a dog from a breeder, which now I feel guilty about doing. I will never buy again but I am unable to find the type of dog I want in this state. With all these poor animals needing homes, they should adopt out of state. I would pay for transport and a local shelter could visit my home. I want a large breed dog, such as a Newfoundland mix but there are none to be found here. A lot more dogs would be adopted if they were a bit more lenient in their processes. It isa real shame.

  118. We are about to go buy a dog in Lancaster, PA. I have had shelter dogs before – the last one was roughly 5 years older than they said he was (10) and cost 20K in medical bills over the course of his more geriatric years. Our vet was shocked to the amount of attention we lavished on him. He was as big as a horse (120 lbs) and loved apartment living. He even was mentioned and pictured in the lifestyles section of the NY Times (he was a beauty – but when adopted shaved pink and underweight – my husband said never did a sadder, more pathetic dog leave a shelter). Today, I would never get past a Malamute rescue. We have always had Malamutes and Huskies (all rescued, some mutts) but I know I will never get past the rent or own, house apartment. I live in NYC, I have 3 teens, live by a big park with a dog park and successfully owned a 120 lb stubborn as all hell Mal with severe health problems. My husband said my kids could have a dog but no way is he going through a grueling interview to be told no. I think we had Bart in under an hour. Oh by the way, I have a son with autism (with a 140 IQ) but someone on the committee will deem him a risk too. He really wants a friend.

    So yup, off to a puppy mill. I will watch some Amish guy go off into a barn and for a thousand dollars bring back something that can really help a lonely kid. Don’t worry, we all love dogs. I am home all day (a common trait for mom’s with autistic kids) . The pup will be spoiled rotten.

  119. What a joke to try to adopt through a pet rescue. We have been trying without success to try to adopt a pug between the age of 2-4. You complete an adoption application, then you never hear from the rescue organization. My most recent experience was I found a pug on Petfinder. I spoke to the pet rescue, she was extremely eager for me to complete an application and get a home visit; almost pushy. She wanted us to travel approximately 200 miles to “meet” the pug which was okay except, now we found out that there is another applicant and her atitude has completely changed. Not fair, she should have told me that there was another applicant involved. I feel like I got screwed and frankly, she wasted my time. All people want to do is give a dog a good home and these people are jerks. No wonder why the puppy mills stay in business.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      So sorry to hear you’ve had a bad experience. Adopting a dog should be enjoyable. I hope you can find another rescue group or shelter that is easier to deal with. They are not all bad, although sometimes it seems like it. Best of luck to you and thank you so much for considering adoption.

  120. I’m sorta torn. 8 years ago I adopted from out of state and my dog was perfect for us. My dog flew in and an associate who lived in my same city picked up and waited for us to pick up. It was a smooth process. Now I’m searching again and I find the initial process a bit time consuming. I contact the rescue organization and I’m always instructed to call shelter and put my name as an interest. I just feel the rescue organization should already have INGO on hand if they are representing the pet. Also I have seen some applications and its very personal. They ask for social security and drivers License number. I’m not getting a loan..I just want to save a dogs life and provide lots a care and love. I’m still torn… Any suggestions or secrets?

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      If you go to a government-controlled city or county pound/shelter the adoption process is usually easier than a rescue group, although not always.

  121. I have been trying to adopt a small breed dog for about a month. I have gone through the process twice with two different rescue groups and we were rejected both times because my husband and I both work. We have a big house, 14 acres of land, a fenced yard and a doggie door. We had two other dogs that both died at 15 of old age. We treat our dog like our children and give them lots of love and attention when we are home. It is very discouraging. We have been going to the local shelter but most of the small dogs are adopted as soon as they come in the door unless they have a lot of problems. We really wanted to adopt a dog instead of buying one from a breeder but it is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’m sure it’s frustrating. I have never adopted a dog through a rescue or shelter, but I know when I do adopt my next dog I will face some challenges for similar reasons.

      Are there any other shelters you could consider looking at? Maybe the next county over or something like that? I’m sure you’ve already looked into that possibility.

      Best of luck to you. The dog that does end up going home with you will be so lucky!

  122. I’m glad I read this article, because now I know that people are being advised to either lie or conceal the truth about certain issues (such as whether they ever re-homed a pet). Thanks: you have made my volunteer job that much harder.

    There is a reason for every question on an adoption app from a rescue. Some might seem burdensome or intrusive to you, but we have the best interests of the animals we care for at heart. Volunteers who runs rescues often invest thousands of dollars of their own money, thousands of hours of our own time, to rescue, rehabilitate and care for these animals, many of whom come from backgrounds of abuse, abandonment and neglect. Our rescue is never in a hurry to adopt out any domesticated rats because if we cannot find the best adopter, we keep them, no biggie!

    Why would we adopt to someone who has a history of re-homing animals? Its one thing if it was one exceptional situation, but how do we know you won’t re-home the animal you want to adopt from us too? We are working to change the “animal as paper plate” mentality. Would you rehome your child if things got tough? So why rehome your companion animal?

    Pet ownership is a PRIVILEGE, not a right.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I think it’s unfortunate that some people have to lie or conceal certain info in order to adopt a pet from certain rescue groups/shelters. (I know I would have to lie or “leave out” certain info.) Luckily, many groups are changing their policies and are not as picky.

    2. I seriously doubt the animals that have “backgrounds of abuse, abandonment and neglect” were adopted from a rescue group. Those were more likely bred, found, or bought online. Your attitude epitomizes the elitist snobbery I discussed in my comment. I too have spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars. However, I believe it is my purpose to collaborate with a potential adopter to provide a loving home. Not every home will be ideal, but they will be superior to death or life in a gage. And no, just keeping every rescue is not a realistic option or attitude.

  123. Ralph Reynolds

    To descrimate because of a person’s age, physical ability, or socio-econimc status is illegal. Not only is it illegal, but it is ethically wrong. Any organization refusing to provide an animal a home because of any of these reasons is in violation of many laws, for example the American’s with disabilities act.

    Studies suggest that indoor cats outlive outdoor cats. However, the potential longevity of the animal’s life should not be a disqualifier for a person wanting to adopt that animal. The quality of an animal’s life is far more important, and if that means a cat that is more comfortable outside rather than inside and enjoys its life, that’s fine by me.

    I find it interesting that those volunteering find themselves qualified to make these decisions. What are the taining criteria required to make these decisions? Is there an organizational requirement for everyone to meet that same standard/competency? I highly doubt that there is anything concrete, and it sounds as though the criteria for adoption is subjective more than objective.

    I would also place a wager on whether there is a double standard within these organizations. Does ever volunteer meet the same standards as they expect from a potential adopting family? I doubt it. Do any of them work, live in an apartment, live in a place without a fenced yard, have and have pets? Sure. I’d bet they do, and nobody is questioning their ability or qualifications to have that pet. Furthermore, many of these people are pet lovers and have a household of many companion pets, and I would bet that those pets are happy, healthy, and well cared for despite their owner’s lack of all the criteria they use for a potential adopting family to adopt a pet.

    So the option that these rescue leagues are taking is to continue to allow these animals to live in shelters/pounds, foster homes or in a facility housing a very large population of animals in often less santiary conditions found in most homes, and without the consistent attention and love that is more likely given by an adopting family to their companion pet.

    As for the question, “would you rehome your child?” First, I find it disturbing that you would equate an animal’s life to a human life. I understand that animals are living creatures. However, they are not human, and they certainly are not equal. Furthermore, some people do rehome their children, and there are a variety of reasons to do that and some of those reasons are why some chose to abort and others rehome their children. Does that mean that a person who had a circumstance that resulted in the re-homing of a child should never be allowed to have children later in life? Shame on you!

    I’m in the process of offering my home to a foster dog. I have recently completed a lengthy questionaire. In fact, I was quite surprised at its length and the questions it asked. I am awaiting to schedule a home visit. I visited the animal and talked to the people where it is being housed. I also walked the animal and had my wife there as well. They now want to conduct an interview with me, which is fine. I will say that if they refuse my application because of 1 of the reasons listed above, I’ll make it known and probably take the time to bring them to court. It would be interesting to have them argue before reasonable people their just cause of their decisions. They won’t win. Trust me.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’m so glad to hear you are planning on fostering a dog! I don’t think you will be rejected. If you’ve made it as far as the “home visit,” you should be fine.

      Interesting points on the legal side.

  124. I attempted to go through Dogwood Animal Shelter in Ozark Missouri. My friend had recently adopted a pet and had to return it after her husband lost his job and the dog injured his leg. The surgery it needed wasn’t something they could pay for so they HAD to return the dog to the animal shelter. THEY could have dumped it on the side of the road or did something cruel but instead they returned it to the place they knew it would be taken care of; the same place they had adopted it from.. Now, I moved in with her recently and wanted to get a dog for both me and my son.. There is a dog there that I just can’t get out of my head.. I literally bawled my eyes out when I laid eyes on her.. They rejected my adoption form because the people I live with didn’t ‘care’ for their animal they had gotten before.. First off, what they did, which wasn’t because they didn’t care for their animal DOES NOT reflect on me and second off-I am completely torn by this. I have only had two dogs in my life-in which I had for five and eight years. I think it is unbelievable how they are close-minded and rude. Dogwood Animal Shelter is harsh and honestly don’t even care about their animals.. They simply want to bring heart ache to those who really deserve and desire an animal to befriend and love. I believe something should be done about these regulations; they are absurd. I understand where they come from to an extent but they make it damn near impossible to adopt a dog.. I mean, wouldn’t they be thrilled someone is interested in a seven year old dog, anyways?

  125. I am a dog lover who has had a dog(s) all my life. I am even a foster mother for a local animal shelter. I personally feel most private shelter/rescue groups criteria are elitist and over the top. I have seen them require the name of your vet (fair enough), a home visit, and three references. I don’t believe anyone is willing to go through the process and pay the adoption fee (usually $150+) if they do not intend to care for the animal. Many groups “rescue” animal from kill shelters. Every person they deny represents another animal that may not make it out of the kill shelter because the no kill group continues to lack room. Yes there should be some reasonable standard, but you also shouldn’t be treating as if the rescue group is doing you a great favor by allowing you the privilege of adopting one of their pets.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      That’s how I see it too. I foster and volunteer for different groups and have spent hours and hours helping them. Yet, I think most are too strict on who can adopt. This is unfortunate since so many pets in my area are still killed for “space.”

  126. I cannot even get the rescues to respond. I ask them for applications and information about the dogs etc and never hear back. One site said the people who foster have families and they work and have their own dogs they do not have time to answer questions about the animals etc. So how do they get adopted if they won’t take questions and send applications. I am starting to think they don’t want to adopt out the dogs.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Oh how frustrating. I hope you can find a group that is easier to work with. Shelters are usually easier than rescue groups.

  127. My husband and I took in his sister’s Aussie, who had some pretty severe behavioral concerns (seperation anxiety, poor social skills with other dogs, barked like crazy outside). Granted, I was VERY nervous since we have 2 acres unfenced in a quiet suburb of western New York. She did marvelously..all her behavior concerns disappeared, and despite two dogs on either side of us she stays very close and is happier than I’ve ever seen her. Its been almost three years we’ve had her. We wanted to get another dog, but I’m very adament about adoption and our dog really only gets along with younger dogs (which is a huge improvement). Trying to adopt a younger dog with no fence has been an awful experience…. Despite how wonderfully our dog behaves and how well we’ve trained her. None of the adoption agencies have gotten back to us, and it breaks my heart to feel as though we’re being penalized for having a large yard (really? Fencing in 2 acres?). We are two young professionals who own our own house in a great area yet still can’t get another companion. if anyone knows hows we can make ourselves better candidates to help agencies focus less on the fence, it would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      How frustrating. Have you tried city or county shelters/pounds? They are usually less picky than rescue groups. You could also look on craigslist for people who need yo re-home their dogs.

  128. We just got a puppy over the weekend – we ended up buying a Pitbull puppy for $100 on Craigslist.

    This was probably the 15th or so dog we inquired about, after contacting several rescues and shelters and filing out a couple applications over the last 2-3 weeks.

    Half the dogs we inquired about were already in the adopting process. One of the rescues responded to us and then failed to return our messages when we thought we would finally get to go meet the fella.

    When I would inquire about a dog and explain who we were and our situation (fiance works from home and we currently have a cat and dog) they would always tell me a reason why that dog wouldn’t work for us (needs to be an only dog – MIGHT not do well with a cat, etc.) – but wouldn’t even bother recommending another dog or letting us know if there was one to fit our needs.

    It was frustrating. Here I am, an experienced dog owner of 8.5 years with a GREAT Doberman Pincher that they can meet and see her vet records to prove it…. and no body wants to give us a dog. One shelter did say that the dog we wanted was no longer available and that they had some puppies we should come look at, but that was only one.

    We got on Craigslist and had our new baby 3 hours later. It saddens me because I really wanted to adopt a dog and change its life – but the people at the shelters just don’t seem to be interested in letting people adopt their dogs.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      That sounds really frustrating, and I wish it wasn’t so hard to adopt a dog. Regardless, congrats on your new puppy. He or she is lucky to have a good home.

  129. I am in Australia and have ELEVEN rejection emails from different foster groups. Everything from our yard not being big enough, to the dog not getting along with cats, to us working full time has been cited as a reason. Some organisations don’t give a reason at all. Over a period of six weeks we’ve only been given the opportunity to meet three dogs. I was going to drive two hours south just to meet a dog next week but we managed to find a dog in the last few days.

    This is in Australia, not the US. I’m convinced some organisations are on a power trip. I was asked by one to provide photo ID, two referees, and sign a form giving them permission to run my details by the police at a $15 cost to me just to MEET a dog. If this doesn’t sound like a power trip to rehome an otherwise unwanted animal I don’t know what is. That particular refuge still hasn’t replied to my application.

  130. Thank you for this article. We were rejected once because we had been given two ‘male’ gerbils…turned out to be two pregnant females. Ended up with fifteen gerbils, found homes for 8….couldn’t keep that may so we took them to the shelter (no pet store we could take them). 10 years later, we’re ‘suspicious’ for adopting a dog.

    A more serious concern I have is the shelter/rescue world in my area, at least, is very anti-child. Very rarely do they have dogs to adopt if you have children under 10, even less for children under seven. It’s like they believe it’s impossible to be a responsible dog owner if you have kids. It troubles me that they are adopting out dogs to the general population they don’t trust around kids. Or what if those homes they adopt to have kids eventually?

  131. We had a terrible experience attempting to adopt a dog from a number of local rescues. Due to strict breed-restriction lists at the house we were renting at the time, we could not use the local human society. We tried breed rescue groups, large dog rescue groups, and several others.
    Each time we applied, we always read the rules. Most said that “in most cases they would not adopt to a home with no fence”, but since the wording indicated they might, we tried anyway. Each adoption application was $25-$50 just to apply. After being rejected (or receiving no reply at all) from about 5 groups, we gave up and bought a dog from a breeder.
    We are very responsible, and while I understand the standards, the rescue groups should NOT rely on a piece of paper for rejecting applicants. We feed our dog top-grade food (she has a lot of allergies), keep her covered with health insurance, and give her plenty of exercise (now we have a fenced in yard but before that we walked her all the time & took her to the park). Our dogs are our children as we do not have any human kids.
    Just think, some poor dog has been sitting in a cage for 3 years just waiting for a loving home that we were willing to give it. My husband was so disgusted he’s completely turned off by adopting a pet ever. I don’t think we will ever go back to trying to rescue a dog due to our horrible (and expensive) lesson.

  132. I’m looking to adopt a cat but after looking at the hoops these shelters expect you to jump through I’ve decided to look on craigslist. Our last cat was adopted at a shelter at the age of nine and passed away from old age. He was a very beloved member of our family. Years ago when we adopted him it was a simple process. This is insane, they would rather kill an animal than risk it returning to the shelter. I would think it would be better that people take them back an not be penalised. Situations change, people lose jobs ,homes , get injured.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I know, it can be so frustrating sometimes. You can find lots of cats in need of homes on Craigslist. Good luck. I’m sure you’ll find a great pet.

  133. After trying for months to adopt a dog from a rescue shelter, we’re going to a greener and don’t feel bad about it at all. In have grown up with dogs my entire childhood and young adulthood all from pounds and shelters as my family has always valued rescuing dogs and are firmly against breeders and puppy mills. My partner and I are hard-working, college-educated people who’s own our home with a huge backyard. I am a teacher who is off by 3 and home in summer. My partner works from home two times a week. We can afford dog walkers and trainers. I’ve loved and taken care of dogs — and cats, guinea pigs, fish — for half of my life. I have always stood firmly against pet stores, breeders and any organizations that partner with puppy mills. When I was growing up, adopting a rescue dog felt feasible and joyful. We’re also pretty nice, respectful people. After Trying to jump through so many hoops with shelters and usually being completely dismissed by shelters or told that about half the dogs we inquire after are no longer available (bait-and-switch?) or made to feel that because we haven’t yet doesn’t thousands to build a fence, we would be a horrible home (though we’ve explained over and over that we are ready to build a fence once we actually know we can get a dog). I have reached a point where I feel zero guilt about contacting a breeder or going to a pet store. It’s sad that rescue shelters have made it so difficult for decent people to adopt a dog that they are driving many well-intended dog lovers to adopt from the organizations they most abhor. Why spend one or two years trying to adopt a dog from a shelter while being criticized for checking off all boxes (almost all of which we do) when we can start point and taking care of a pet now from a breeder who easily accepts that we’re just regular people who want to make a dog a part of our family. Rescuers have turned into a self-righteous racquet, and we’re not playing anymore.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’m so sorry to hear shelters and rescues have failed you and the dogs. There are many wonderful breeders out there who will work with you. Definitely avoid pet stores/shops though.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *