Dog rescue won’t adopt to homes with kids

Dogs and kids? Hell no!

I came across a Boston terrier rescue group that will not adopt out dogs to homes with children under age 8, according to its adoption application.

Yikes? No kids?

I understand that all dogs, including Boston terriers, can get a little enthusiastic at times. My Lab mix goes nuts over a tennis ball and could easily knock over a child, for example. Heck, he’s knocked me over. Does this mean all Labs should stay out of homes with kids? Yes. Yes, it does …

These blanket adoption requirements are not helping dogs find homes. Why would a rescue reject an entire group of people from adopting? Why would it assume all Boston terriers are bad with kids?

Isn’t it about matching the right dog with the right home? Isn’t it about responsible dog ownership and responsible parenting? No dog should be trusted 100 percent with a young child. Living with any animal involves some risk.

Leo the Boston terrierWhat message is this group sending to the public about Boston terriers? I think it makes the dogs sound vicious and scary.

It reminds me how some rescues and shelters put additional criteria on “pitbull” adopters such as requiring all pitbull adopters to have “experience with the breed,” requiring all pitbull adopters to sign up for mandatory training classes or requiring all pitbull adopters to carry extra insurance.

These kinds of policies send a clear message to the public that certain types of dogs are different, scary or unpredictable. It doesn’t make the general public interested in adopting them.

Rescue groups should be advocating for these dogs. They should be educating the public about how each dog is an individual. Whether the dogs are pitbulls, Boston terriers or Labs, they’re all just dogs!

Some dogs should not go to homes with kids, but the dog’s breed is not a factor. I fostered an American Eskimo who would try to bite kids. Guess what? No kids for him. This doesn’t mean all American Eskimos are bad with kids. It just meant this one was.

As for this Boston terrier rescue group, I wanted to give it a chance to explain its no-kids policy. So, I emailed the group and asked why it believes Boston terriers as a whole can’t live with kids. Isn’t it about responsible parenting? I asked.

A representative responded and said the rescue has a “policy of not placing dogs into homes with children” for a variety of reasons. One reason is because the rescue does not always know the history of the dog or how it will react to children, she said. “They are strong, powerful dogs that love to jump during play and can easily knock down a young child.”

“Bostons are not dogs that like to be manhandled and carried,” she said. Also, they have powerful jaws and “even a playful nip can hurt young fingers.”

She also said a Boston terrier’s protruding eyes are “susceptible to injury from prodding fingers or thrown toys.”

I disagree with all these excuses.

Most dogs are powerful. Most dogs can knock over a child or nip during play. Most dogs don’t like to be “manhandled.” Plenty of dogs with bugged-out eyes have lived safely with children.

Ultimately, the representative used “liability” as the group’s main excuse stating  “we simply cannot ask our volunteers to put themselves and their families at risk for the increased potential liability associated with placing any dog (whether we have information on the dog or not) into a home with a young child.”

What a shame.

Plenty of rescue groups successfully adopt out dogs of all breeds to homes with kids. These groups understand it’s about finding the right match, working with the public, encouraging responsible dog ownership, providing resources and sending pets home.

Once a pet adoption group stops adopting out pets to people with children, that group has forgotten its mission. Its members have lost compassion. They have forgotten what it means to love a dog or a cat or a child.

Misty the heeler mix and Mack the Boston terrier out for a walk


24 thoughts on “Dog rescue won’t adopt to homes with kids”

  1. Interesting. I’ve always gotten the ‘kids are evil to dogs’ vibe off various shelters, but I honestly haven’t considered that it might be (in the most insensitive of phrasings) the ‘dog’s fault.’ The implications of that suck for all breeds. I’ve had issues with various shelters for their stern criteria for owners–not having a backyard sticks out for me. I have a dog park in my complex, and my current pup gets all the exercise he could want and more (his 31# self was 7# overweight when he joined my family last year…), but I’ve all but been laughed out of the application stage for my lack of a big backyard with 6 ft fences. I understand the reasoning, of course, but a backyard shouldn’t be a substitute for walking. I’ll make the argument for case-by-case basis, here.

    I agree with you 100% that these should not be blanket limitations. A dog (ideally) should be adopted out on an individual basis, and a parent with a child of any age should take the responsibility upon themselves to teach their children the proper way to interact with a dog. And vice versa, of course. I say this having a spitz/cocker spaniel mix who is NOT good with kids. He is, however, MUCH better than when we first got him, and getting better with each outing.

    Lastly, this is unrelated to the above, but I stumbled on your blog a little while ago (prowl all the articles!) and I feel impersonal just randomly commenting without introducing myself. I’m Amelia and my little fluffy wondermutt rescue is Bear. There. Done. 🙂

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thanks for introducing yourself and your mutt Bear. And thanks so much for reading and commenting! I enjoy hearing what you have to say.

  2. What a crazy thing. I had to show proof of enrollment in training classes when I adopted Kaya from the shelter because she’s a pit bull type dog and honestly they did not help at all. I was shown how to ask my dog to sit, stay and down which I’ve known since I was a little kid. Every helpful training tip I’ve ever gotten has been from the internet honestly. As for kids and dogs…I can’t think of a better thing for kids to grow up with!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      About those training classes, what a joke! Of course, they are a good option for someone who wants to attend, but those classes are not for everyone. There are other ways to train a dog.

  3. Stupid requirement. And what about couples who adopt before having children? Are they supposed to take the dog back to the shelter? Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    Oh, and Tarski’s non-bugged out eyes can’t be affected by pokey fingers? So stupid. My son has totally tried to grab Tarski by the eyes (he’s 7 months, still learning his petting manners), which is one of many reasons why, despite having a well-trained dog, I never leave Tarski and baby alone, and they only interact physically with supervision (not just supervision, but with me or my husband *right there*).

  4. I came across the same issues while looking for a dog to adopt and again during my search for a kitten. No children under 8, all animals in home up to date and fully vaccinated, if you declawed a cat in the past or plan to in the future you’re out, home visits, fences and so on…. I have a 22 year old cat that hasn’t been to the vet in over 20 years, he is doing fine, my cats are declawed, I have no fence and I have 2 children. No rescue would a adopt to me, I rescued my dog off of craigslist and got a kitten from the pound. I love my pets and treat them great, my kids love them and yhey love my kids. These rules are insane, some of these rescues are just on a power trip and do not understand the harm they are doing to the animals they are supposed to be helping. Also, $250-$300 adoption fees, give me a break.

    1. your cats are declawed? shame on you. this is the most cruel thing you can do to cats. inform yourself. find our why. find out that the neurological system is highly affected by declawing – its highly linked. do you want a dog who ‘s ass is removed as well so he doesnt poo around your house ? #lame

  5. People file lawsuits for all kinds of crazy reasons. Is it possible that this rescue group ended up having to go to court because someone tried to sue them for something their adopted dog did? It is the only reason I can think of about why your respondent mentioned liability. I agree it is unfair to exclude a whole group of possibly very good people from being able to adopt a dog. But I can also see how organizations have to be careful because of certain lawsuit-happy people. Sadly, this really happens. Shelters and rescue groups really can be sued if a dog they adopted out bites someone. 🙁

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      When I attended the no-kil conference last summer, a woman named Kim Wolf who worked for Animal Farm Foundation at the time, said the best way for a group to be free of liability is to transfer ownership of the dog from the rescue group to the adopter. The problem is, these groups try to keep part ownership of the dog through a contract, and therefore, as owners of the dog, they can be sued.

      Now, I’m not entirely sure if this is true or not, but it made sense to me. Rescue groups should also carry insurance.

      1. That does make a little sense, but I’m sure it is all much more complicated than that. Anyone can file a lawsuit for any reason. Whether they can win the case or not is a different story. It still costs the nonprofit organization money to defend themselves. The more protection the organization has in place by having certain restrictions, the less likely that lawsuit will make it through the court system and incur more legal costs. Let me give an example. If someone adopts a dog, whether through a contract or not, and that dog ends up biting someone, all the new owner has to do is file a lawsuit claiming that the people who adopted the dog to them knowingly adopted out a dangerous dog. The contract or lack of a contract makes no difference whatsoever if the new owner thinks they can prove the adoption agency was negligent. It doesn’t mean the person filing the lawsuit is right or will even win, but people can and have won cases like this.

        I’m not saying that having restrictions is the right way to avoid a lawsuit, I’m just trying to give another perspective on why they might have them. It might even be the case that their lawyers suggested the restrictions. Remember, law isn’t about what is fair. BSL is a perfect example of that.

  6. I’m with Amelia. I initially thought the rule would be for the dog’s sake. Smaller dogs and small children are often a bad combination for the dog’s sake. Kids tug and pull and poke and are generally careless and thoughtless with dogs.

    That said, I agree with you. And I’ve known a handful of Bostons, all great with small kids.

  7. I agree. I have adopted many dogs from shelters in NM. Moved to PA and when looking for dogs the last two times–rescue groups make it too hard and have ridiculous requirements. God forbid some of my kids were under 8 and my yard wasn’t fenced at that time although we had a dog run and a large yard. I ended up buying one pup and rescuing another from an individual who thought giving an 8 year old a puppy would make the kid responsible for caring for it. After 4 months they realized their mistake. Love my yellow lab though. I will try to rescue dogs the next time I am in the market now that my children are over 8.

  8. A little late to the party, but an all out ban on children is ridiculous.

    By not allowing families with children to adopt, the rescue is not only going to turn families off of rescuing a dog, but they’re encouraging those families to look elsewhere for dogs — and they’ll likely end up supporting a mill.

    I swear, the longer involved I am in rescue, the less I like it. Except for the dogs. The politics and the rules and the excessive screening is just such a waste.

  9. We had a similar issue when adopting a Livestock Guardian Dog. The LGD breed specific rescues won’t even consider you unless you’ve owned an LGD before.

    So, first, we adopted Turkish, our German Shepherd Mutt and raised him as an LGD. Once we proved we understood the process suddenly we were a good candidate for those breeds.

    Completely unnecessary in my opinion. A home visit to inspect our fences, livestock, interview us, our personalities, etc. would have, in my opinion, shown them that we were up tot he task.

    Of course, it worked out, because I’m now sold on German Shepherd mixes as LGD (given the right temperament) and will probably steer clear of the traditional LGD breeds in the future (no offense to Miss Cleo).

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I am amazed at how difficult it was for you to get a dog when obviously your dogs have such an ideal life. I’m so glad you ended up with Turkish and Cleo. They are such lucky pups! I hope you are feeling better these days!

  10. Is it sad that I know EXACTLY which rescue group you’re referring to? If it is the same Boston Terrier rescue I’m thinking of, I had a horrible experience dealing with them– crazy requirements such as the “no children under 8 rule” (especially ridiculous considering Bostons are typically known for being great with children) and also being told that not one of their fifteen rescues at the time was cat-friendly. Despite being informed that my application had been “pre-approved,” I heard nothing back from them for at least a week. Realizing they had no intention of following up with me, I finally pestered them with several emails asking when I could meet their dogs, only to be told none were suitable for my lifestyle because they were all bad with cats (I’m not sure how they determined this to be true, unless if all of their surrendered Bostons were given up due to their incompatibility with cats, and the remaining Bostons happened to all be fostered by cat owners where they exhibited aggression towards their feline companions… meaning they then had to be replaced into a new foster home without cats; point is– the rescue’s claims were highly dubious).
    Still not willing to give up on adopting a Boston from this rescue, I suggested fostering one instead. They shot me down yet again. Never once was I able to meet any of their rescues during this arduous process, much less did the rescue ever explain the methods used to find all fifteen Bostons incompatible with cats (because you know, all cats have the same personality, ergo a dog could never possibly get along better or worse with different cats). Finally fed up with their curt responses (or lack thereof), I chose to welcome a 6 year old Boston girl from a reputable breeder into my home (who I am completely obsessed with). For some weird reason I later decided to contact the same difficult BT rescue group to see if I could volunteer. After politely being told yes, they never sent me a follow up email to inform me of upcoming volunteer opportunities. Fool me once… I’ll probably write a bad review on Yelp about you.
    Having read some of the other blog posts on your site discussing the ridiculous requirements rescues similar to this BT group require, I can’t help but find all their talk about saving animals’ lives to be a bit of a juxtaposition. If they stopped finding reasons to reject potential adopters, and instead found reasons to accept and educate good-willed adopters, then they could start saving substantially more lives. I can’t help but wonder how many people some of these rescue groups have turned away out their arcane fear that the majority of potential adopters will abuse their dog or return them to death row. Granted, I’m not claiming this never happens, but this culture of fear among so many rescues that’s founded on the assumption that people are untrustworthy and only a select few are capable of owning a dog is unfortunate and a definite reason why attaining a no-kill goal will continue to be a pervasive issue.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Ugh … I just don’t even know what to say. Thank you for the thoughtful comments, and for remaining polite even though this rescue group treated you like crap. It’s so, so frustrating. When I am ready to adopt a second dog, I will be going through a shelter. I just can’t put up with all the nonsense from the majority of rescue groups. I know there are some really amazing rescues out there, and I’m sure most of them are doing great work. I just wish they would ease up on the adoption requirements even just a tiny bit.

  11. What a piece of crap article. The sole purpose of this article is to paint rescues in a bad light and to illicit responses from people who have had an experience with a rescue that did not go their way. Do you have even the remotest clue how much time, effort and money goes into rescuing just one dog? The number of emails, phone calls and messages to get the dog to the rescue, the time and coordination to transport that dog to the rescue? Not to mention the time, money and endless hours spent to foster, train and get that dog ready for adoption? A majority of dogs that come into rescue are because of previous irresponsible owners that had no clue how to hande, train and socialize a dog. These dogs have issues that take time to work with. So if a rescue has a policy you do not agree with, move on, there are plenty of other rescues out there. At the end of the day, it is the rescue, not a person sitting behind a computer, who has done everything to save the life of each dog, if they have policies in place to ensure their rescues find the right forever home, that is their right.
    As to the countless people who comment about the requirements of having a fenced yard for many dogs, do me a favor, everytime you have to go somewhere, put a collar around your neck and have someone else decide where you go, when you can stop, and when you can go to the bathroom. Dogs need room to roam, play and to explore, not to mention the freedom to be able to just be a dog. Having a fenced in yard gives that dog the ability to have the choice to explore, to just roll in the grass or find the perfect spot to just sit in the sun and relax. Do not even get me started on dog parks that are a cesspool of parasites just waiting to make your dog sick.
    Are rescue groups perfect, no they are not, are they overprotective of their rescue dogs, yes they are. The reason, they have lived with the heartache of seeing dogs they have spent many hours and resources on to find them a good home, only to have that dog returned to their rescue in worse shape then when it was adopted out. Or they have been informed that the dog they adopted out that should have had a fenced in yard, but they made an exception, ended up getting loose and being hit by a car, or ended dead because it got sick after it was exposed to some parasite at a dog park. Or worse yet the dog was attacked at a dog park and the owner did not want to spend the money for the surgeries and medical treatments necessary to save it’s life.

  12. Lindsay Stordahl

    Seems like groups are moving away from the fence rule because they realize its not necessary to have a fenced yard (for most dogs).

  13. We just tried to adopt/rescue a puppy for my grandson, he’s 8, got turned down because his brother is almost 2!!! (They had 59 puppies from a hoarding situation). Lucas has been taught to be very gentle with animals, his sitter has a dog, his GG has a Chihuahua, I have cat’s, they have a elderly shepherd, he knows how to pet them and not to pick them up! I’ve seen many adults on the news for animal abuse and never once seen a toddler on the news for animal abuse!

  14. I am in complete agreement with Robert Clark. As a person who sites next to the Rescue CEO, and she has saved over 100 dogs with those phone calls, transports, advocates, animal shelters ad nauseum. And thousands of dollars in vet bills. The rescue has every right to run their business the way they see fit period. Its a shame that litigious people, or misinformed people cavalierly adopt a dog thinking they can purchase the dog without some responsibility in learning everything they must in order to be a successful dog owner. History of the dog is usually not available, and sometimes there is not enough foster homes for observation of their behaviors. In our case we always try to foster them with other animals and children, to see how it goes. But there are families who leave their kids alone with an animal, or put the dog in strange circumstances, when things can go sideways. Then when they return the dog, after a year of success, they put the blame on the rescue. So no, I do not agree with the premise of the lead posting. Although after a year in the non profit of saving dogs from kill shelters, we have a success ratio of about 99%. And we haven’t yet put those strictures yet, but the 1% may force us to do just that.

Leave a Comment

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