Why won’t shelters and rescues let people adopt dogs?



In 2011 I wrote a post asking why some people were rejected when trying to adopt dogs from shelters or rescues. Later, I wrote a post on how to get a dog adoption application approved.

I read all the readers’ comments from those posts, and created two lists:

1. Reasons people said they were rejected from adopting a dog

2. Reasons people said they gave up on adopting a dog

I hope these lists will encourage shelter and rescue directors, employees and volunteers to loosen up their adoption procedures even just a little.

If someone has a positive experience with a rescue group, she will tell her friends. She will be more likely to donate and volunteer. She will be more likely to convince others to adopt. And when she is looking for another pet, she will be more likely to adopt again.

That being said, here were some of the responses:

Reasons people were rejected from adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue

They were college students

They were under age 25

They would be first-time dog owners

They were single and worked full time

The potential adopter worked 10-hour shifts

Both partners worked 9-5

Their commute to work was “too long”

They hadn’t decided whether or not they were going to have children

They had young children

They had young grandchildren

They owned indoor cats

They owned outdoor cats

They lived in an apartment

They did not own their home

They did not own a fenced yard

Their entire property was not fenced

They lived out of town

They lived out of the metro area

They lived out of the county

They lived out of state

They lived on a farm

Did not want to show proof of income by showing a tax return

They did not have a current veterinarian (because they were first-time dog owners)

They could not provide receipts for a full year’s supply of heartworm prevention medication

They chose not to give heartworm prevention meds in the winter months

The potential adopter did not give heartworm prevention to his senior dog dying of cancer

The potential adopter did not vaccinate a pet ferret for rabies

Current pets were not “up to date” on the kennel cough vaccine

Current dogs were not spayed/neutered because they were show dogs

Current dogs were not spayed/neutered for health reasons or because of old age

A show-quality cat was not spayed

Some were not given a reason at all – They just never heard back!

*Note: I would also be rejected for at least nine of these reasons if I tried to adopt from some of these places! How about you?

Reasons people gave up on adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue

The shelters and rescues did not respond to calls or emails

They sent in applications and never heard back

The adoption process was “demoralizing”

Shelter workers were rude or lacked basic customer service

The adoption fees were high (As high as $400!)

They could not meet any dogs until filling out an application

They could not meet any dogs until paying a $25 fee

They were not allowed to choose a dog themselves (the rescue got to decide)

Did not want to submit to a pre-adoption home visit

Did not want to submit to surprise home visits after the adoption

Did not want to give their social security numbers to the rescue

The application required an essay titled “A day in the life of your new dog”

Could not afford the required “holistic” dog food

Did not want to complete “multiple” interviews

Did not want to take the mandatory dog training class

Yep, some of those reasons would be enough to cause me to give up, too. Good grief! Craigslist dogs, anyone?

And how can we call it “pet overpopulation” when shelters and rescues are refusing to adopt out their dogs? Oh, that’s right! It’s because we have a marketing problem. Not an overpopulation problem.

What is the solution to this problem?

Black lab mix sleeping on his dog bed

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  1. Mary-Jo Chiklis on February 1, 2013

    I typically enjoy your articles and find them informative and well written. This article? not so much, and I have to voice my objections.
    Rescues have very real reasons for home visits, adoption fees and other pre-requisites. To suggest Craig’s list as an alternative to adopting from a reputable rescue is irresponsible at best. The adoption process can pose an obstacle or two, depending on the rescue you choose to work with, but it is designed to set adoptable dogs up for success in their potential new home. I suggest you look at a list of reasons why people surrender their pets in the first place. I am sure that the list will mirror many of the reasons listed on your “reject” list…”we both work, and no one is home for the dog…We had a baby…we cant afford the vet bills…we travel too much…my son/daughter is allergic…i have to move and can’t take her with me…my landlord said I can’t keep her…I got her as a gift but I can’t keep her in the dorm…she is old…we are divorced and neither of us can take her…the kids lost interest…oh, how is this one: I told my son(who is 5 years old) we can only have one pet and he chose to get a hampster, so we have to get rid of the dog…OMG!
    Solutions to the problem? Well, let’s start with spay and neuter. Bad mouthing rescues because they will not adopt the animals in their care out to anyone that walks through the door? That is far from helpful.
    And to suggest that: “If someone has a positive experience with a rescue group…She will be more likely to donate and volunteer.”Wow, I wish that were true!

      • Mary-Jo Chiklis on February 1, 2013

        How’s this: “Do you have any Pugs puppies? My daughter is graduating from High School this spring and has always wanted a pug puppy so we want to get her one for graduation. One thing though…how long do they live because she is going away to college in the fall….”
        True story!

        • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 1, 2013

          That’s an example of where more communication needs to happen. Were these people automatically rejected or were they interviewed? Perhaps they were planning on caring for the pug until their daughter finished college, and it would be reasonable to ask how long pugs normally live.

          I doubt someone really thought the pug would only live a couple months! And if so … well, then I agree they shouldn’t be adopting any dog!

          • Mary-Jo Chiklis on February 1, 2013

            Communication? I interviewed them. They did not want to be responsible for the dog after their daughter left for school.
            Bottom line is not every applicant equals a good home. Rescues have to advocate for their dogs.

          • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 2, 2013

            I would’ve suggested fostering.

    • Leandra Ford on March 6, 2013

      Don’t paint all owners with the same brush. Someone who works all day may have surrendered a dog but that doesn’t mean that all owners who work all day will do the same. I work all day too. My dogs get an hour long offlead run in the morning before I go to work. They are left inside my house all day. My neighbours tell me the dogs are well behaved. I don’t come home to any damage or mess so I assume the dogs are content to sleep for most of the day – just as they do on the days when I am at home. In the evenings I do stuff with my dogs too.

      To put this in perspective, people have the right to have children whenever they wish. No one demands to see a record of their finances, a recommendation from their family doctor, asks how many hours they work, etc, etc, If anyone did they would be promptly and appropriately told to mind their own business. This still holds true when we know large numbers of children are abused and even murdered by their own parents.

      By all means promote responsible pet ownership. But the attitude of extreme distrust of all potential owners unless they produce a truckload of documentation to prove their case is not only offensive, it is also utterly ridiculous.

    • Chris on April 16, 2013

      Oh my gosh Mary-Jo, I couldn’t agree with you more. Thank you. Just this past weekend 4/13/13 I wrote the exact same thing on Craigs List under Pets. I was called the Dog Police, imagine that. I was looking to purchase some supplies for the local rescue. I was told I was judging. Really, judging to coming to a conclusion without knowing all the facts, this is called FACT when ppl post on Craigs List why they do not want their pet any longer. Thank you again. This gives me hope that there are still intelligent ppl left in this crazy world.

  2. Beth M. on February 1, 2013

    We adopted our dog Sammy, a full blood doxie from a rescue. The reason why he and his sister were put up for adoption was that the couple got divorced and neither could take them. So not only did Sammy loose his parents, he lost his sister because they were seperated. Sammys a very clingy dog, perhaps for this reason, he’s afraid to be left again. I agree with MaryJo’s post. I used to work for a rescue and would perform refrence checks for them. Some of the things people wrote on their applications were scary.

  3. Leslie on February 1, 2013

    I think just listing rejection reasons is a little black and white and doing a huge disservice the vast majority of shelters and rescues that are trying to do the best they can.

    First time dog owner trying to adopt an older Lab with no behavior issues? That’s a crappy rejection reason. (But did it ever happen?)

    First time dog owner trying to adopt an reactive and fearful Rottweiler? Yeah, I think that’s a perfectly valid reason for rejection. Seriously, don’t you?

  4. Heather on February 1, 2013

    I think a thorough application process is necessary and many of the points listed are warranted but losing adopters because they can’t choose their own dog or they must feed them only holistic food or they didn’t give heartworm meds to a dying dog is a little extreme. Just plain ridiculous really. We were fortunate enough to find a couple great dogs that fit our lifestyle and family. They were both adopted and I don’t believe they would fit with any other family than ours. It’s just too bad more people don’t take the time to consider not just the type of pet but breed, training, health, temperament, and lifestyle fit. Perhaps that’s where communication comes in between adoption organizations, breeders, pet stores, etc. and the adopter?
    And….I found amusement in your concluding quip regarding Craigslist. Which has a alot of great dogs up for adoption as well! We would probably resort to that if we had local rescue groups that rejected us because we work full time! Luckily we have some great organizations here with friendly and concerning staff that makes it easy for us to donate to annually and we would most definitely return in the future.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 1, 2013

      I’m glad you’ve had great experiences getting dogs from adoption organizations! Because of that, you’re able to spread the word and recommend these places to other potential adopters.

      I will definitely be considering Craigslist as an option, along with certain adoption organizations, when I am ready for my next dog.

  5. Jess on February 1, 2013

    Thank you for posting this! I hope the rescues take a look at this and reconsider how strict they are about some of the ridiculousness they have going on. My husband and I (young professionals, have a house with a pool and a decent yard) were declined because: we both work full time, we have a pool, and we did not want to do the home visits/surprise home visits that were associated with the adoption.
    We ended up getting a pup from a breeder (gasp!) and at about 1 year old, she is perfectly socialized, gets plenty of exercise (7+ miles on the weekdays, hours of hiking on weekends), and gets mid day visits when needed (including all of her first 9 months). it kills me that many dogs are being denied great homes just because the adopter isn’t perfect.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 1, 2013

      Many rescues are doing a great job, but others need to find a better balance. Communication is key, and rescues are sometimes too quick to make judgments about people.

      You have one lucky dog! I know that!

    • Maggie on February 1, 2013

      I know, right? I ended up paying $150 for a mixed breed puppy. She’s 4 years old now and has gone to the dog park every day of her life with me. We were rejected because we didn’t have a fenced yard. Don’t need one, my dog’s are always at my side…

      • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 2, 2013

        I have never had a fenced yard. My dog gets more than enough exercise as well.

    • Dawn on March 6, 2013

      Well said Jess – - I agree wholeheartedly!

  6. Mel on February 1, 2013

    My husband and I have three adopted dogs, all of which came with various issues (blindness, arthritis, severe anxiety). Two we adopted from a city shelter. We attempted to adopt another dog, a min-pin, from a rescue. We were denied because our border collie mix “would probably attack” another dog or “try to herd it”, and having two large dogs with toy dogs is not a good practice.

    I should add I train dogs and their owners part-time AND my border collie mix works with me as a helper dog, regardless of the dog’s size, and is a very gentle player. I offered to demonstrate my dog’s compatibility with smaller dogs by bringing a small dog with me to the rescue and having them observe her behavior, OR by sending them video of my dog playing well with other small, strange dogs, or by having them do whatever temperament test with her that they would prefer. All of these options were rejected, we were told it was their “procedure”. The dog we attempted to adopt is still “up for adoption” with the rescue, almost a year later.

    We adopted a half-blind min-pin from another rescue and he and the border collie get along fantastically. There has been no herding or aggression on either side. The rescue met our dogs and examined our certifications only.

    It makes me realize the ridiculous lengths some rescues want you to go through to adopt a dog. I’ve talked to many people in the course of my work that were turned off by excessive requirements – yet, they have a dog, are taking good care of it, and are engaging a dog trainer. Often, people have been turned off by interaction with ONE rescue and subsequently go buy a dog from a breeder.

    Absolutely rescues should screen for stupidity. I have no problems with having them fill out lengthy applications and undergo an interview with all family members involved. However, I feel that, unless there is cause for concern, making people jump through additional hoops is unnecessary and downright insulting at times. I get that rescues want to advocate for the animals in their care and I am not against that, but I think that someone in the rescue has to look at their policies and ask themselves honestly, “Would I want to go through this as a potential good-faith adopter?”

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 2, 2013

      Sounds like you havea really down to earth view on this issue. Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts.

    • Emma L on March 19, 2013

      I tried to adopt a companion for my other dog..Her playmate passed away from some unspecifed heart issue at 9 years of age..They had been together for years, and she was not happy alone..
      I have always had outside dogs..have nice doghouses up off the ground on pallets (to eliminate dampness), a carport cover over said doghouses, so they can lay in front of them if it rains all day, not just inside the doghouses…LARGE fenced yard..
      I have aways had larger, northern-type breed dogs..
      I was turned down by three rescues because they didn’t want the dog to be kept outside….and I understand if the dog originally was kept inside all it’s life, it would be difficult to adapt..and I certainly wouldn’t keep a dachshund or chinese crested or other short-haired breed outside..But they said that was their requirements, so..I too went with Craigslist….And I felt guilty about that, but, I tried,….

      • Leandra Ford on March 19, 2013

        You shouldn’t feel guilty. The expectations of the rescues you dealt with were unreasonable. Plenty of dogs have a good life and a good home, spending their time outdoors.

      • Lindsay Stordahl Author on March 20, 2013

        I hope you find a dog through Craigslist or perhaps a pound or shelter that is not so picky.

  7. Robin on February 1, 2013

    When we adopted Molly, our blue weimaraner, she was looked at many times by others but because they had young children they couldn’t adopt her. She was put in a shelter because she could not get along with their ‘new baby’ Since we didn’t have any small children we were able to adopt her, that was 8 years ago, since then we have had a grandchild that she does wonderful with. I can see situations like this that they have to be careful for liability issues if something should happen to a child. Some of the other reason, ridiculous!

  8. rachel on February 2, 2013

    Kaya come from a shelter and Norman came from Craigslist and I must admit it was very daunting and scary to adopt from the shelter and that is not nearly as strict as a rescue group. I thought for sure being a single self-employed renter would count me out. I think I lucked out when they did not do a home check because part of my fence is low. I understand why some of these questions are important, but they should not be such blanket statements. And at the end of the day, the things they “try” to avoid are impossible. Because when someone “all of a sudden” has to move and can’t bring the dog or decides they can’t have a dog with kids is too hard to predetermine from a simple question like “will you have kids soon?” or “where do you work?” Please change their minds all the time and dogs lose homes. There’s no stopping it. The other one that drives me crazy is when rescues won’t adopt 2 dogs of the same sex in the same home.

  9. April on February 2, 2013

    Thank you for bringing the absurdity of strict adoption procedures to light. We recently adopted a puppy from Craigslist only after we contacted several rescue organizations that were out-of-state and wanted us to pay high travel fees to bring the pet locally, which would not ensure that we would actually get to keep the pet. It was only for a visit and home interview. But first we would need to undergo a long interview process complete with our life story and references.

    It is understandable that the rescue organizations want to prevent placing the pet in a home that will ultimately not care for the pet, but what is the alternative? Continuing the pet’s life in a kenneled facility? Isn’t it more important that the pet find a home, even if the circumstances aren’t entirely ideal? I suspect I would’ve been turned down after a home visit because we live in a small apartment. However, I take my dog down a three-mile wilderness trail DAILY. I also take her outside six times a day to play fetch and ball with her. She is getting more exercise than those dogs with large yards who are just “put outside” for their exercise needs.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 3, 2013

      I have known some dogs that have been in rescue for two to three years. How is that better than going home? I’m not sure.

  10. janet huntington on February 2, 2013

    Adopt from the local kill shelter. The staff wants to actually find homes for the dogs.
    All of our dogs have been adopted from our local Humane Society.
    One of them was rejected by the local breed rescue because she was too old. We get along with her just fine.

  11. Dawn on February 2, 2013

    OMD! How shameful. I knew the process was tedious for me but many of these are even more ridiculous. I’d be careful of Craigslist, though. They have their own set of problems like charging high adoption fees without providing the services like spay and neuter and up-to-date shots. The solution? Some rescues need to ease up. I realize they want to make sure their dogs find good homes and don’t end up back in the shelter. But just because someone doesn’t meet all the criteria doesn’t mean they won’t make great pet owners.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on February 3, 2013

      At least there are also some rescues and shelters out there with reasonable policies. We can support those groups, but I feel bad for the dogs that have to stay in the rescue system for years because of these policies.

  12. Carla on February 2, 2013

    Wow, we don’t even give people who have kids these kind of tests!

  13. MB on February 3, 2013

    Obviously you have never worked with or for a rescue – nearly ALL of which are completely dependent upon donations, adoption fees and many volunteers reaching into their own pockets to support the animals in their care. Any idea what it costs to treat a dog for heartworm? Have it spayed/neutered and teeth cleaned? Treat demodectic mange? Bloat? Cherry eye? Pyometria? I think that should address the complaints about ‘exhorbitant’ adoption fees. As for application fees, those are typically applied towards the adoption, and generally can be tax-deductible. They help separate out the serious adopters and the ‘just looking’ people. We are volunteers, after all.

    I’ve been part of many rescue groups over the past twenty years, as a foster home, as an application screener/approver, completing home visits and interviews. Most of the dogs in rescue have been through enough – volunteers are trying their best to ensure that next placement will be the dog’s forever home. These dogs are usually throwaways from people who ‘don’t want to go through the screening process’ and instead buy from a backyard breeder.

    The last thing a rescue wants is a return – and many of the reasons on the list (I work long hours, I have small children, don’t own my home, no fenced yard, have other unaltered animals) account for a very high percentage of returns. If someone told you eating certain peanuts would give you a rash 60% of the time, but you could screen them before you ate them and reduce the risk to 8%, wouldn’t you seek out the peanuts with the lower risk?

    Certain purebreeds have traits which may make them unsuitable for some people, but they refuse to acknowledge that and buy from a backyard breeder. A good example of this was the popularity several years back of retired racing greyhounds (a breed which REQUIRES a fenced yard for very good reason). Folks who adopted these wonderful couch potatoes found themselves attracted to the tiny Italian Greyhound, wanting a ‘lap size’ version of their lovely, low-key, easily-housebroken, typically very-healthy retired racer.

    As the demand went up, so did the number of backyard breeders and puppymills. Except the IG is hard to housebreak, very busy, very demanding attention-wise and very delicate. What happened? A flood of IGs to rescue, many with genetic defects as a result of shit breeding, not to mention even MORE challenging housebreaking issues because they were used to living in filth at the mill or the backyard breeder’s place. So, if you don’t want to listen to what the breed rescue person is trying to tell you, then you probably shouldn’t have one.

    As others have mentioned, many city pounds, ASPCAs and Humane Societies do not have the home visit requirement or only minimal background checks, which scares the bejeezus out of me for the dogs, but, I understand the limitations of funding and volunteers. However, if you buy from a backyard breeder to avoid rescue’s questions, then you are part of the problem.

    As for ‘tests for people who have kids,’ kids can talk. They go to school, people see them and at least most of the time can identify abuse and neglect. A dog can be tossed into a backyard at the end of a chain with a muddy bowl of water, a bag of food ripped open and a crappy dog house and even if by some fluke the community has some sort of animal welfare officer, typically authorities can’t do a damn thing about it

    Rescues rarely have dogs in their care for ‘years,’ and those typically are the hard-to-place with medical issues or who are old. I fostered a Great Dane for 6 months because he had a significant allergy and skin issue which required medication and special food. In the six months I had him I had two applications, one from a woman bragged about how much money the family had and how well she took care of her beautiful arabian horse. However, she didn’t want to pay the $250 adoption fee “because they were a wonderful home and he is a special needs dog.” We had well more than that $250 into him for his neuter, the skin scrapings, shots, and medication and special shampoos to get his skin condition under control. Think I was going to hand him off to someone without careful screening? NO.

    I currently have four rescue dogs – an elderly boston terrier (rescue group had him for 7 months – we were the first application for him) a miniature poodle (in rescue for 8 months because ‘no one wants black ones,’) and two retired racing greyhounds – one who languished in rescue because he was very, very shy, and the other who was a bit of a troublemaker so had to go to a home very familiar with the breed. Even though I had glowing vet references and was well-known in the rescue community, I did not object to the home visits, because I know how important it is to know where the dogs the group is responsible for are going.

    • Leandra Ford on March 6, 2013

      @MB – Although I would never recommend purchasing a dog from a backyard breeder, I do know lots of people who have done so and have cared for their dogs for life. They are not part of the problem. None of their dogs have ended up in rescue.

      The holier than thou attitude of some folks in rescue is a big turn off. As for the comment about kids can talk – in order for that to be effective adults need to listen and take action. I know of plenty of incidents where the kids have talked and not been believed. The abuse has then continued. Dog care is being held to a ridiculously high standard by some people that doesn’t exist for other species. The Dog Nazis need to back off a bit.

      • MB on March 17, 2013

        Yes, they ARE part of the problem because their purchases allow the BYB to continue doing what they are doing. The vast majority of dogs I’ve fostered and placed since volunteering for rescue were products of BYBs, because reputable breeders have a contract with their purchasers to return the dog to the breeder ONLY. When rescue gets a dog from a person who bought from a reputable breeder, we can usually find out who and they take the dog back.

        I’ll acknowledge there are rescuers who are holier than thou – and I agree that is a turnoff. However, I think sometimes people use that as an excuse to go buy a BYB dog.

        • Leandra Ford on March 17, 2013

          Since when do you have the right to dictate who shall breed and who shall not? Not all BYB produce lots of puppies. Some of them only have one or two litters from their bitch that is a well loved pet. I’ve known some whose puppies end up in the homes of friends and in the local neighbourhood as well loved pets. Those people have the right to breed and others have the right to buy those dogs. Their choices are none of your business. I’ve seen some better dogs come from those places than from some registered breeders I know.

          Ultimately, the person responsible for placing the dog in rescue is the owner. Yes, BYB breeders, puppy farmers and pet stores are more likely to place a dog without questioning the buyer. But there are also plenty of buyers who know the right things to say to a reputable breeder too and then they still get rid of the dog eventually. Most, if not all, reputable breeders eventually place a dog in the wrong home, no matter how careful they are.

          • MB on March 17, 2013

            I’m on the side of the dogs. Period. THEY suffer when breeders refuse to be responsible for the puppies they bring into the world, while millions of great dogs are put down every.single.year, and while thousands of purebreds from BYBs fill rescues and shelters to overflowing. Their choices ARE my business when I, and others like me, reach into our pockets to subsidize and attempt to fix the misery they cause and refuse to be responsible for.

            Finally, as I mentioned – reputable breeders are not adding to the dogs flooding rescues, shelters and the like. Irresponsible BYBs making money off that “well loved pet” are. I never said a ‘registered breeder’ was better….many horrific mills are registered and supposedly inspected by USDA and/or AKC. I only referred to reputable breeders, and by that I mean a person who takes back any pup sold, anytime, for any reason. I have yet to meet a BYB who does that – most of the time they can’t be found. If they can, they refuse to take responsibility…and I have PLENTY of examples of that.

  14. Brooke on February 26, 2013

    Many pros and cons about adopting through shelters. I have a rescued, senior Rottweiler, but she came to me on her own when I was living on a farm. She had been dumped by someone, and had many behavioral and health issues. She’s doing great now, no longer afraid or timid. I think she was a breeder in a mill due to her initial behavior issues, scared of the wind, people, other dogs. After two years, she’s a different animal now, happy and calm.

    I do have to comment on referring folks to Craigslist though, as that is a KNOWN marketing place for puppy mill owners, and believe me, dogs that come out of that milieu are riddled with some of the most challenging health and behavioral problems that you’ll find anywhere. So please DO NOT support those who sell dogs or any other kind of pet through Craigslist! And don’t advise others to do so!

    All this being said, my neighbors adopted an adorable dachshund puppy from a shelter in Austin, TX., where I live, and they promptly tossed him into their backyard 24/7, did not get him vet care, heartworm meds, shelter to get out of the elements, or anything else that I could see. He is not fixed, either. I cut a hole in my fence so he could come over so I could make sure he had food, water and some company, and once had to cut a leather collar off him that he had grown out of (it was way too tight). I got a dog house off CL for free, gave it to them and discussed care of their dog with them, and they started taking a better care of him. He’s a great dog, really sweet. But I didn’t want to report them because I didn’t want to expose the dog to any possibility of being put down, as our city is not a no-kill. Anyway, we must have more lenient standards for adoption where I live, since these neighbors don’t seem to have a single clue about being responsible pet owners.

    I endorse vetting adopters in order to avoid situations like what I have experienced with my neighbors, but the reasons you cited in this article, and some of the reasons shared in the comments, seem absurd and quite counterproductive to the goal of reducing unwanted animal populations. Let’s hope a happy medium is found at most of the shelters in our country.

  15. Dawn on March 6, 2013

    Well – I would be rejected for 10 of those reasons……but I own 6 dogs, all of which are healthy and well looked after! I understand rescue agencies and shelters are doing what they feel is the best interest of the dog, but unfortunately in this day and age, most people work full time jobs. I make accommodations for my dogs during the day (I have a pet sitter that comes over) and ensure they are getting enough exercise and attention when I am home from work.

    Rescue agencies complain that they can’t find enough homes or fosters and shelters are killing healthy animals by the dozens on a daily basis because of overpopulation – I agree with you – maybe it’s time they look at their adoption processes and lighten up!

    I too tried to adopt a rescue dog who would have ended up in a great home as a pet and a sport prospect (and if it didn’t work out for dog sports – oh well – it still would have been my pet – I have 3 dogs that are retired and living comfortable lives as cheerleaders).

    • Dawn on March 6, 2013

      sorry…..hit enter too soon…..

      I tried to rescue a dog and I called and called and called – and they never called back!!!! I filled out the application, provided references (including my Vet) and did my due diligence and never got a call back. I don’t know what happened with that dog (it was a JRT/ACD mix – would have been a difficult dog to place with your average dog owner because of the high energy), but they couldn’t take the time to call me back, so I got one of those “free to a good home” dogs off of Craigslist!

  16. Leandra Ford on March 17, 2013

    @MB – Whilst your care for and generosity towards rescue dogs is admirable, at the end of the day it is your choice to spend your money on this issue. You have absolutely no right to dictate to the choices of others, nor to tell them how they shall spend their money.

    I also know of dogs from reputable breeders that have ended up in rescue. The breeders were never contacted when the owners wanted to surrender the dogs. Ultimately, it is the owner who places the dog in rescue. It is the easy way out. No need to make an effort to rehome it, get rid of it instantly and in some cases at least the rescue is geographically closer than the breeder. It would be nice if laws provided for compulsory microchipping of dogs and recording the owner’s name so that serial dumpers could be identified and prevented from owning another dog.

    • MB on March 18, 2013

      When did I ‘dictate to the (sic) choices of others?’ I merely pointed out – accurately – that anyone who buys from BYBs, and any breeder who does not take responsibility for his/her pups are both big parts of the problem. I stand behind that comment.

      And you’re kind of arguing against yourself when you say ‘serial dumpers could be identified and prevented from owning another dog..’ that sounds suspiciously like ‘dictating… the choices of others.’

      • Leandra Ford on March 18, 2013

        No one has the right to be cruel to an animal. There’s a world of difference between buying a dog from a breeder of which you do not approve and giving it a good, forever home vs buying dogs on a whim and dumping them when the novelty wears off.

        • MB on March 18, 2013

          Both buyers are contributing equally to the root problem, which is enabling an irresponsible breeder to remain in business, making money off a so-called ‘beloved pet,’ (most aren’t) while ignoring the thousands of great dogs, purebred and otherwise, who are put down every day in this country.

          • Leandra Ford on March 18, 2013

            So long as the buyer looks after the dog, they have the right to buy whatever dog they want. Their choice is none of your business. No one died and made you the boss. You’re free to buy the type of dog you want. Respect the same right of others. We all have different standards that we seek from a breeder and in a dog. That doesn’t make you right and everyone else who differs wrong.

  17. MB on March 18, 2013

    For the third (at least) time, I never said people couldn’t buy a dog from an irresponsible breeder. However, I DID say those who do are contributing to overflowing shelters and rescues, and I will add, the ruin of many previously healthy breeds. Italian greyhounds are a perfect example. So are chihuahuas.

    You don’t seem to want to acknowledge my words, which is fine, but your comments don’t really make any sense as a debate.

    • Leandra Ford on March 18, 2013

      Oh nonsense. Registered breeders are doing a fine job of ruining breeds all on their own with a high COI for generation after generation. They don’t need anyone’s help with that. All we have to do is leave the custody of every breed to the very people who consider themselves to be responsible breeders.

      Using your logic then we could say that people like yourself are contributing to the problem of overflowing shelters. You take all these unwanted dogs and make it oh so easy for people to get rid of their unwanted dogs with absolutely no consequences for their poor choices.

      • MB on March 19, 2013

        You are the one who continually refers to ‘registered’ breeders, not me. For the second time, registered does not equal responsible. Some of the shittiest puppy mills and BYBs are ‘registered’ or have ‘akc registered’ pups.
        Here is my definition of a RESPONSIBLE breeder:
        (note nowhere do I use the words ‘registered’)
        –health tests for all breeding dogs, depending upon the breed (ex: OFA hip/penn hip certification for Great Danes & other hip dysplasia-prone breeds)
        –careful attention to lines for health
        –rare litters – and all sold on strict contracts for either spay/neuter or show (usually co-own unless it is someone they know and trust) if left intact AND all health testing done.
        –pup chipped before it leaves the breeders’
        –strict return policy for any age, any reason,any time
        I defy you to find a chihuahua with luxating patellas in a shelter that came from a breeder who does all of the above.

        I know several responsible breeders who do all this and more. They don’t make money on their pups, and if by some fluke they do end up in a shelter or rescue they are chipped for identification.

        As for your comment about my ‘logic,’ uh, no, I’m using the law of supply and demand. If the demand for BYB dogs went away, so would they, because they are in it for the money. Period.

        • Leandra Ford on March 19, 2013

          Strawman argument. Referring to registered breeders once is not “continually”.

          You are entitled to your views on what constitutes a responsible breeder. Not everyone agrees with you and they have a right to disagree.

          I’ve encountered plenty of BYBs who only own one bitch and only have 1 or 2 litters in that bitch’s lifetime – hardly in it for the money. They’re more likely to like their bitch and want a puppy from her. They will breed without even considering whether or not there is a market for the remainder of the litter. It’s also worth noting that a very large percentage of shelter dogs in my area are extremely fugly staffy crosses. No breeder who is in it for the money will waste their time breeding fugly dogs that no one wants. These dogs are more likely to be coming from pet owners of entire dogs who let their dogs wander. Lack of demand for these dogs isn’t stopping the breeding and these dogs are filling up our local shelters.

  18. MB on March 19, 2013

    Uh, it was twice. And as for the strawman argument comment, you’d probably better read the definition, since you have repeatedly misrepresented my position, alleging I’m claiming “the right to dictate who shall breed and who shall not,” inferring I decided “[someone] died and made [me] the boss; and alleging I “…dictate to the choices of others (sic): and “…tell them how they shall spend their money,” when what I am stating, and correctly, is that:

    –irresponsible breeders (including but not limited to puppy mills and backyard breeders) are filling up shelters and rescues. Run a petfinder search on any of the following purebreds:
    chihuahuas
    yorkies
    italian greyhounds
    shih tzu
    cocker spaniels
    silky terrier
    jack/parson russel terrier
    Better yet, go to National Mill Dog Rescue’s website and see even more of the carnage.

    “They will breed without even considering whether or not there is a market for the remainder of the litter.” So then what do they do with the leftovers? Thought so. Oh that’s right – they find a ‘wonderful home for it’ with the neighbors and walk away. Great.

  19. Leandra Ford on March 19, 2013

    You clearly have dictated to the choices of others by casting judgement upon a breeder and a buyer you know nothing about, by claiming that the buyer was part of the problem. Buy the dog you want and let others do the same – as is their right.

    It is very rare to find purebreeds in my local shelters. When they arrive they don’t stay there for long. Shih Tzus are in high demand here too. Small white fluffies of all kinds are very popular and are quickly rehomed. Local shelters are largely filled with fugly combinations of crossbreeds, often combinations that don’t appear to have been considered in light of the parent breeds’ original purpose and behavioural characteristics.

    I have not suggested that the BYB who breeds rarely is a responsible breeder. I am merely responding to your incorrect assertion that all BYBs are in it for the money. The problem of high numbers of dumped dogs is a multi-faceted one and will never be solved. Everyone has the right to own a dog. Some people will continue to purchase them without considering whether or not the dog agrees with their lifestyle.

    You consider that a responsible breeder only breeds rarely. Lots of people turn to puppy farmers, pet stores and BYB because they don’t want to wait for a year or two or even longer to get their puppy. The waiting list for Westies in my area is around 5 years now. Small white fluffies are incredibly popular with local puppy farmers, in fact some of the largest in this area sell more small white fluffies than anything else. Demand for the services of puppy farmers and BYBs won’t decrease so long as responsible breeders are unable to keep up with demand.

    You place the blame for overfilled shelters solely on breeders. Yet as you correctly state, if the demand wasn’t present, the supply wouldn’t be either. Therefore a large portion of the blame must be attributed to the people who actually place the dogs in the shelters, and that is frequently the buyers/owners. The entire system is contingent upon their demand for dogs and they want them now.

    • MB on March 20, 2013

      I did not place the blame for overfilled shelters ‘solely on breeders.’ I placed it on IRRESPONSIBLE breeders AND the people who buy from them. Big difference. Responsible breeders probably could keep up with the demand, but choose not to for the health and welfare of their pets. Shrugging your shoulders and continuing to defend an industry that is inherently cruel isn’t the right thing to do, either.

      Don’t know where you live, but I found 252 westies on petfinder, across the country from California to Pennsylvania…and that’s only the rescues and shelters who list there. I find it contradictory that someone who will buy a dog from a puppy farmer (probably more properly called a puppy mill) won’t go to a shelter because ‘they don’t know what they’re getting.’

      And not everyone has the right to own a dog – many abusers have lost that right.

      • Leandra Ford on March 21, 2013

        “I did not place the blame for overfilled shelters ‘solely on breeders.’ I placed it on IRRESPONSIBLE breeders AND the people who buy from them.”

        Irresponsible is subjective. Not everyone shares your views and what you cannot seem to acknowledge is that you passed judgement on a breeder and owner that you do not know. People who buy dogs and give them a good home for life are not the problem. They are not putting dogs in shelters.

        “Responsible breeders probably could keep up with the demand, but choose not to for the health and welfare of their pets.”

        That’s logical. In other words, they cannot keep up with the demand. Or perhaps you’re trying to say that anyone who cannot buy from a responsible breeder is an incompetent owner.

        Thank you for an enlightening conversation. You have done a great job in turning me and others away from rescue dogs because we really cannot be bothered putting up with dictatorial attitudes and prejudices like yours.

  20. MB on March 21, 2013

    Oh please..you and others like you have no intention of going the rescue route. You already exposed your prejudice by twisting words and ignoring logic. Continue being part of the problem… I believe in karma.

  21. Mary-Jo Chiklis on June 7, 2013

    This is one really good reason why shelters and Rescues screen the way we do:

    our-compass.org/2012/04/11/free-to-a-good-home-craigslist-dog-killer-sentenced-in-west-virginia/

  22. Dawn on June 7, 2013

    Mary-Jo……..I totally agree that Rescue groups need to do their due diligence in order to protect rescue animals from nut jobs like the guy you referenced in your link above, but I think the point that was trying to be made was that sometimes Rescue groups go overboard and good homes with loving people get excluded for asinine reasons.

    I am a good dog mom – I have six dogs (3 of whom are rescues; 5 of which are altered) and everyone of them is healthy (including my fourteen year old boy), happy, vaccinated and three are licensed (because where I live, 3 is the bylaw). I also have two cats (both are rescues) that have never seen the outdoors – they are NOT declawed, but live their lives inside, for their protection. They too are healthy and happy.

    My dogs live in the house; they sleep on my bed; they all have warm coats for the winter (to go outside a potty); and their food is more expensive than mine is every month. If I had to add up how much I have spent in vet bills in the past 15 years, it probably exceeds $35,000 (I had one dog who was epileptic and I spent over $10,000 on him in one year). They go to a Chiropractic DVM for adjustments, massage and receive specialty exercise/workout training (they are sport dogs). When I found a lump on my girlie Border Collie, she was immediately taken to the Vet to have it tested and removed. When my Cattle Dog came up lame, she immediately went to the Ortho Vet for exam. When one of my cats got very sick, he was rushed to Emergency and that bill ended up costing me $2,000.

    Based on the questions outlined above that some Rescues base their selection criteria on, I wouldn’t qualify for a dog and probably wouldn’t qualify for a cat either. Is that fair to me or an animal needing a home? I don’t think so.

    The point I am trying to make, is not everyone will fit into a Rescue Group’s pigeon hole as the perfect home, but yet they can offer a perfect home. Common sense needs to prevail.

    Dawn

  23. Hannah on July 5, 2013

    I agree with most of what the author has said. Two of out of my three dogs were from backyard breeders. In the sense they were family pets who accidentally bred, we purchased the two from friends, one is 15 weeks Pomeranian, the other a one year old yorkie. They are the best of friends. I tried rehoming a friends dog. But sadly it was riddled with anxiety problems and was not socialised properly as it was abused long long before. It didn’t want to be friends with my dogs, and it wasn’t working. When I tried with a shelter even with no fees, they made it extremely difficult for me to even phone them, every time I rang, it wasn’t suitable and they wouldn’t set a date in stone, for me to meet their rescues. Needless to say I didn’t get very far and ended up purchasing a puppy for my two dogs, through a friend. My three year old Pom, was bought from gumtree and we didn’t know the breeder, luckily she’s in good health but wasn’t very well socialised, and still is nervous with other dogs. I think if dogs are gonna be put to death everyday I’d rather see a dog go to a good home, even if it isn’t a forever home.

  24. Hannah on July 5, 2013

    Ps the dog I tried to rehome was returned to its original owner. if a person goes out of their way to buy essential items for the rescue, set up a safe area, researched. The breed or even the breeds in it genes and understands the dogs likes etc like it perfers a home without kids, or other dogs, etc, and they can offer the dog those promises, I say bloody give the dog a safe home. Realistically now if I was adopt a rescue it would have to be socialised with other dogs, or be a puppy. I find it easier training a puppy than I do trying to correct behavioural problems. That shelters scare you with.

    • Lindsay Stordahl Author on July 9, 2013

      Yeah, it’s a strange system we have in place, that’s for sure. Hopefully things will begin to change for the better.

  25. Jess on August 1, 2013

    I went to my local animal shelter to adopt a dog. I looked at all of them and fell in love with one. So I filled out the adoption papers for him. I was told they take a week to let you know. Well I’ve been waiting just over a week. I asked my three friends who I had to put for references if they were contacted yet, but they haven’t gotten a call yet! So I called the shelter, twice. Left a voice mail asking how the adoption process is going and that I’m really excited about adopting this wonderful dog and asked them to get back to me as soon as possible. Well that was five days ago. Still nothing, no call from them, not even an email! And my friends still haven’t heard from them!!
    I don’t want to end up going to the shelter and asking them whats going on and why are they not returning my calls and taking so long in letting me know. I want this dog! He’s still at the shelter.
    If they take any longer I’m just going to give up waiting and calling them and just get a puppy for free from someone who’s dog ended up getting pregnant by an unknown male dog.

    And the other thing is, they say that they have WAY to many dogs and cats at the shelter, that they have waiting lists and can’t take in any more. So why give a person who really wants to adopt a dog the run around?? I was told no one ever showed interest in this dog and that I was the only one who actually filled out a form and brought it in for him. So why make me wait a week and five days and not call and tell me whats taking so long?? I’d like to know whats going on so I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time with this animal shelter!! And here I thought I was doing something wonderful by adopting a dog!

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