Please Stop Making Excuses – Part III – Adoption

By Lynn –

My friend and her fiance wanted to have a child of the four-legged variety, and they are both at a point where a dog is within their means and time schedule. They were looking for something that would be a good apartment dog, shedding optional, and obviously temperament was a plus. He prefers bigger dogs, as he one day hopes to be a K9 officer (and I keep asking him when he’s finally going to get his partner!), but she is a fan of the smaller breeds, especially the dachshund and the pug.

I wish I could say that they went to a shelter and gave a rescue a good home. In all truth, so do they!

In fact, they had their potential child picked out when, in the adoption interview, the shelter learned that they lived in a rented apartment. Upon hearing this, they flat-out denied (nicely, of course) my friends the privilege of acquiring one of their dogs. Never mind that their lease allows pets, never mind that they are capable dog people with sound heads on their respective shoulders, never mind that the dog would be able to be a pet and not just an accessory…the shelter refused to give them one of their dogs. Their reasoning consisted of something along the lines of “People who live in apartments cannot give their pets adequate care.”

Way to paint everyone with the same little-kid, “let’s-make-as-much-mess-possible-with-as-little-effort” brush! You don’t fulfill our requirements. Sorry, but you can’t have one of our dogs.

So where did they go next? Naturally, the pet store, where they found Daizy, a shih-tzu/Bichon mix who happened to catch their heart and win out over the boistrous Golden Retriever that, both admitted, would be too big and slightly less manageable than a similarly-spoiled small dog. Please note that, while my friends are not trainers, they do have some reasonable expectations for behavior and know at what point to seek help. This puppy is in quite capable hands. As of currently, potty training is progressing and the soon-to-be-married couple is enjoying having responsibility without diapers, a new car or a college tuition payment (other than what they themselves have, of course!).

I’ve heard stories similar to this, in which breed rescues who proclaim to do the right thing to try and place dogs into good homes do TOO well of a job and end up rejecting homes that are indeed ready and appropriate homes for their dogs.

A woman here on the forum who was looking to adopt a miniature Schnauzer from her local breed rescue group provided all information necessary, received glowing reviews from her vet and dogsitter, and passed what she referred to as the rescue’s “preliminary test.” Despite her experience with terriers and having owned many such dogs in the past, the rescue then decided to deny her a dog until she submitted to them two more names of unrelated persons who would vouch that she is a “good dog owner.”

A man came into my store one day glowing with pride over his newest pet, a medium-sized black mixed-breed. I asked where she came from, and he explained the hurdles through which he had to jump just to get her out of the shelter. Seems that our local shelter must have a question in their adoption process inquiring if the potential adopter had ever given away a dog or otherwise disposed of it. To this question, my customer did the right thing: he told the truth. Yes, he had a dog…but he was in such straits at the time that he couldn’t take care of himself, much less himself and a dog. It went to a home of someone he knew and was able to visit it until he had to move to a different town.

In response to his truthfulness and willingness to own up, the shelter politely replied “Very well, but we must now reject your application because we don’t know that the same thing would happen to whichever one of our dogs you would care to adopt.”

My customer was understandably upset by this decision and appealed it. For whatever reason, the shelter decided that the fact that he went to such efforts to show them his dedication was enough to overturn the rejection, and he left with the dog who managed to ensnare his heart.

Another woman decided to rescue a Great Dane from her local rescue, and ended up doing the same thing as my dear friends. I’ll let her tell the story, though!

“We contacted a rescue group…Actually we called more than one and had the same run around with all of them. We had to have a fenced in back yard (we had that), 2 vet references, 4 character references, did I own my own house, did I have experience with this breed,etc. They even wanted me to go to a doggy parent group. Then the big one was when all was said and done they wanted to charge me over $600.00 to adopt the dog, $800.00 if it was under the age of two years,and I could not pick the dog I wanted; the dog had to pick me. I was going to have to make at least 3 visits to see the dog before they would even give me a solid answer on whether or not I could even pass all their tests. Most of the dogs had come from homes where they were mistreated or ignored and all had some issues and we were willing to look past all that and give our dog a forever home.

“After a month of the run-around (endless emails and phone calls) we decided to just go out and buy a puppy. When I had had enough of their “You-are-not-good-enough-to-have-one-of-these-dogs” attitude, I called them and told them we were no longer interested in adopting from them, and that we were going that weekend and buying a puppy.

“Oh, all of a sudden they had a different attitude: ‘Of course we could have any of the dogs you wanted, you would make perfect dog parents,’ yadda, yadda. One week later they called me back and I told them NO Thank You we had a new puppy. They even tried to tell us that they would give us one of the dogs, as they were so short for homes for all of them–they had 42 at the time!

“I kindly told them that it was no wonder they had so many and could not find homes for them; they wanted people to jump through impossible hoops and stand on their heads just to adopt a dog. I also told them I bought the new puppy from a very good breeder and he never asked for any of the things they wanted.”

Perhaps the last part of what this woman wrote is what is required for my obligatory final paragraph. I’ll paraphrase it for the purpose of the topic and put her ideas in italics.

To those rescues and shelters who deny people dogs simply because they didn’t check off the appropriate box on the “Perfect Dog Owner” grocery list: Please stop making excuses for why perfectly capable individuals and families can’t get one of your dogs. I understand that these dogs need to go to good homes so they do not wind up in a shelter or several homes in their lifetime, but these adoption agencies need to be realistic in what they are looking for. These dogs need a home, not an FBI interview. Keep in mind that denying an application only keeps that person from taking one of YOUR precious dogs. Short of documented and court-ordered restriction from owning animals, it doesn’t keep them from going somewhere else and getting another dog. They are simply exercising their freedom of choice in deciding to own a pet, and for you to demean them for supporting breeders (against most or all of whom you seem to have some type of personal vendetta) only shows the true nature of your interests: stroking your ego and standing over the rest of us holding the morally-charged contracts to dogs that some people will never get to rescue.

I am making a concerted effort to not paint all rescues, shelters, or county-run pounds one color. There are rescues out there run by people who really do it for the dogs, who seek to make sure that the home to which the dog is going is suitable and will be a good match. These people and their organizations are to be congratulated and supported. Not those who turn the pre-adoption interview into a criminal investigation and use any excuse available to find the tiniest of faults with the potential owners. That is a job for insurance companies…not rescues.