Are animal rescues doing animals a disservice?
January 30, 2012 7:05 AM   Subscribe

No pet for you. Want to adopt a dog or cat? Prepare for an inquisition at the animal rescue.
posted by Dasein (368 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
from article: “After receiving this hostile treatment, several would-be pet owners told me, they got offended and gave up.”

Having adopted many animals over my life from shelters and rescue groups, I've never found this "treatment" to be "hostile." But if it deters people who are ambivalent about owning pets, all the better.

People who aren't sure they want pets should not have pets. People who haven't thought having pets through should not have pets. These are important considerations, and shelters and rescue groups are doing a great service by weeding out the people who aren't really sure about the whole pet thing.
posted by koeselitz at 7:19 AM on January 30, 2012 [58 favorites]


No one expects the spaniel inquisition!
posted by cortex at 7:21 AM on January 30, 2012 [230 favorites]


I was a little surprised at the extent of the checks we went through when we adopted a rescue dog. They came over to our house and inspected the house and the yard. It was a little disconcerting, feeling uncertain like that, being judged - literally. We passed!

Fred turned out to be an escape artist though, and a digger. I got the issues with the fence dealt with. The better part was getting a pack member for Fred. So we got another rescue, from a different organization, and passed again!

Happy endings for two great dogs. Validation for me.
posted by Xoebe at 7:23 AM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


I hear you, Koeselitz, and I acknowledge it's important to weed out the people who haven't thought through having pets. But the article did point out some fairly nit-picky questions (the woman who was 60 being refused a cat, for instance, or the couple who was refused a greyhound because they didn't already have one).

There's "people who are cavalier about pet ownership" and then there's "overly exacting screening process".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:23 AM on January 30, 2012 [44 favorites]


Oh good god – and then this person bought a freaking Cavalier King Charles Spaniel from a freaking breeder?

'Being part of the solution is too difficult, because people who care ask me invasive questions. So I figured: why not be part of the problem instead? It was so much easier! Who cares if I'm helping to destroy the species?'
posted by koeselitz at 7:23 AM on January 30, 2012 [27 favorites]


koeselitz, there are very specific examples in the article of overzealous shelter workers making really dumb decisions to deny families pets. None of the people in those stories were "ambivalent" about owning pets; they were so committed to the idea that they went out and got one from a breeder even though they would have preferred to own a former shelter animal.
posted by mediareport at 7:23 AM on January 30, 2012 [19 favorites]


You know, I'd rather shelters and rescue groups be "hostile" towards potential pet owners than just say, "Sure, here you go. It's just an animal anyway."

I applaud making stricter to adopt an animal. And I'll go ahead and say it because I believe it: I wish we could do the same for children, too.
posted by Kitteh at 7:25 AM on January 30, 2012 [12 favorites]


Digby commented on this same article a couple of days ago, too. Attached comment thread is also good.
posted by gimonca at 7:25 AM on January 30, 2012


People who aren't sure they want pets should not have pets. People who haven't thought having pets through should not have pets.

Honestly, in my experience, most people who have pets, especially dogs, should not have pets. If your answer to "Are you OK with picking up feces with your hands several times a day" is not an enthusiastic "YES!", please, do not own a dog.

Although I admit the limitation on not being allowed a greyhound unless you already have one is... problematic. How does one start? Perhaps by renting one from a service like the Swiss Guinea Pig Rental Center.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:26 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


As someone who has owned a few different rescue cases, I see absolutely no problem with scrutinizing potential owners.

Rescued dogs are almost always special cases, and need special owners to care for them adequately.
posted by sunshinesky at 7:28 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seems like the best bet would be to get a species that's normally eaten anyways, like a pet goat or a pet lamb or something, then if you find you haven't thought everything through or you change your mind you can just serve it up au poivre.
posted by XMLicious at 7:28 AM on January 30, 2012 [18 favorites]


Happy endings for two great dogs.

You should be loving to your pets, but not that loving.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:28 AM on January 30, 2012 [56 favorites]


Oh good god – and then this person bought a freaking Cavalier King Charles Spaniel from a freaking breeder?

I wish I could super favorite this one.
posted by dig_duggler at 7:30 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, I'd rather shelters and rescue groups be "hostile" towards potential pet owners than just say, "Sure, here you go. It's just an animal anyway."

You know, it's really not either/or, and the author clearly understands your point. What's at issue is specific examples of overzealous rules - the requirement for a referral from a vet when someone doesn't currently have a pet is ridiculous, e.g.

Also, I would walk out of any shelter immediately whose contract tries to retain "superior title in said animal" and claims the right to drop in unannounced at any time. That's an overreach. The article is full of similar examples of shelter rules going too far.
posted by mediareport at 7:30 AM on January 30, 2012 [44 favorites]


Sorry; I know that there are situations where rescue groups go too far in screening. I guess I'm just very lucky to have always lived in cities large enough that I had a pretty broad pick amongst the groups and shelters if I didn't like my treatment at one or another.

And frankly I'd be willing to listen to her point a bit if she hadn't gone and bought a Cavalier King Charles. But those dogs are prey to innumerable genetic defects; it is a breed that simply should not exist. The poor variety only goes on generation after generation because of the capricious cruelty of breeders, who don't care how much pain the animals have to go through as long as they get paid for it. Paying for a Cavalier King Charles is just about the most damage you can do to dogs without actually being violent or becoming a breeder.

Please, refrain from buying animals from breeders entirely if you can. But if you must buy a dog from a breeder, please choose a breed that hasn't been consigned to a life of pain and suffering simply because someone somewhere thought its head should be a different shape. By paying money to breeders for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, you're perpetuating this abuse of the animals.
posted by koeselitz at 7:31 AM on January 30, 2012 [22 favorites]


About 10 years ago, a close friend of mine had a roommate 'up and ditch' him. The same roommate left behind furniture, clothes, and his pet cat.

My friend, rather unsure as to what to do next, brought the cat to a shelter in/around Washington, DC, hoping that somebody would be able to provide the cat a decent home.

About 3 years ago, my friend had mulled it over, and figured that he went to the same shelter, and filled out the questionnaire and did the oral interview.

He apparently was in their records as a 'cat-killer', and, as such, is barred from ever adopting.
posted by The Giant Squid at 7:31 AM on January 30, 2012 [22 favorites]


I'm all for the right people adopting/rescuing animals, but this:

As the family waited, the children sat on the ground and started writing in the dirt with sticks. A volunteer came over, alarmed. He reprimanded them, saying that if a dog sees a stick in a person’s hand it will expect that stick to be thrown, and it’s not fair to frustrate a dog...“We had a report about inappropriate behavior by your children,” M. was told, which meant they would not be allowed to adopt. M. and her husband were astounded and the children were crushed.

Nonsense.
posted by ndfine at 7:32 AM on January 30, 2012 [56 favorites]


You know, right before rescuing Apple at the shelter, my girlfriend and I gathered as much financial and identifying documentation as possible: old bills, pay stubs, personal references. When we got there, they didn't really ask to see any of it. I'm pretty sure they just took a copy of my ID and that's it. I guess we got ... lucky? I don't know.

Also: He reprimanded them, saying that if a dog sees a stick in a person’s hand it will expect that stick to be thrown, and it’s not fair to frustrate a dog.

Ain't that the truth.
posted by griphus at 7:33 AM on January 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


A few months ago, on a specialty-breed forum I read, someone linked to essentially this article but written by someone who is deeply involved with animal rescue. The bottom line was the same: We do have a responsibility to screen adopters, but if the purpose of a rescue group is to rescue dogs, they need to recognize that there is a trade-off between saving dogs and finding perfect homes

Anecdotal stories I've heard:
(1) Won't adopt to someone who has a yard but no fence (even if they promise to always keep the dog on a leash - essentially the group called the woman a liar).
(2) Won't adopt to a family where both parents work during the day.
(3) Won't adopt if all other pets don't have current records with listed vet (some dogs don't require vaccines every year, especially if they are older. Some people don't vaccinate indoor cats, etc).
posted by muddgirl at 7:33 AM on January 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


You know, it's really not either/or, and the author clearly understands your point.

Yes. I think a few comments in this thread are responding to a straw man. The author isn't saying that potential adopters shouldn't be questioned - just that rescues are applying standards that are unreasonable, and as a result are keeping adoptable animals in the shelter system, and that this phenomenon is risking turning people off even attempting to adopt resuce animals in the first place. People should definitely read the article before jumping to conclusions about what she's saying.
posted by Dasein at 7:33 AM on January 30, 2012 [27 favorites]


I agree about the King Charles and other similar breeds; I find the author's choice there distasteful and wish she hadn't done it. But that's partly what infuriates me about absurdly rigid shelter adoption rules. And honestly, it's none of the shelter's fucking business if you're "considering having children within 10 years."
posted by mediareport at 7:35 AM on January 30, 2012 [24 favorites]


I know that there are situations where rescue groups go too far in screening. I guess I'm just very lucky to have always lived in cities large enough that I had a pretty broad pick amongst the groups and shelters if I didn't like my treatment at one or another. And frankly I'd be willing to listen to her point a bit if she hadn't gone and bought a Cavalier King Charles.

If you've admitted that there are shelters at which you've had bad experiences at yourself, I'm not sure why the author's ultimate choice in pet is dissuading you from acknowledging that she's had experiences that you also had yourself. You chose to go to a different shelter; she chose to get a Cavalier King Charles. Disagree with the response she chose, but you were both still responding to the same type of treatment.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:35 AM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


"But that's partly what infuriates me about absurdly rigid shelter adoption rules: They drive folks to breeders instead of giving healthy mutts good homes."
posted by mediareport at 7:37 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I heard rumors back in the 80s (should I use an apostrophe there, apostrophe mavens?), that there were jobbers going around to shelters adopting cats and dogs to sell to research labs.
posted by jamjam at 7:37 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


When we adopted our greyhound years ago, we basically just showed up at house of the guy who ran the rescue (an article had run in the paper highlighting the group's work). We chatted for awhile about the breed, discussed a possible change of arrangements for our bird, which was used to having the run of the apartment and might prompt a chase-reflex from the dog, and agreed to spaying/neutering. One of the dogs loped out of the crowd to smell our hand, and that was that. Bee lived the veritable life of Riley for the next 14 years. No questionnaires, no interviews, no background checks.

I get that there are bad folks (or just apathetic ones) out there, and agree that these should be discouraged from getting into a multi-decade relationship with an animal that depends on you for everything, but there is probably some middle ground between 'here have a free dog' and some of the gyrations listed in the article.
posted by jquinby at 7:38 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I should clarify that this isn't an issue of a rescue organization choosing not to place a specific dog because of one of these issues (for example, dogs with Separation Anxiety should probably start out with someone who has a flexible schedule). It's the case of rejecting an application for all dogs because the home violates some pet peeve of the volunteer.
posted by muddgirl at 7:38 AM on January 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


Oh good god – and then this person bought a freaking Cavalier King Charles Spaniel from a freaking breeder?

Why did no one tell me there was a breed called a "Cavalier King Charles Spaniel"? Now, I really want to get one and training it to growl and snap whenever I say "Roundheads."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:38 AM on January 30, 2012 [30 favorites]


I was interested to see Yoffe make the connection between overzealous rescues and hoarding. She notes that 25 percent of the animal hoarder cases reported each year involve “purported rescuers.” I’m given to understand that it’s an article of faith among hoarders that no one else can offer care as good as they can; it’s why they take in every animal they can, and give away none of them. Running a rescue fits in very nicely with this attitude — indeed, a system that disqualifies virtually every potential adopter is almost designed to enable hoarding.

I’ve seen several reptile “rescues” advertise that they would take in all unwanted pets. I’ve seen others argue in favour of exotic pet bans because no one (else) could look after them properly. I always figured that legitimate rescue operations wouldn't need to advertise — would have all the business they could handle and more.
posted by mcwetboy at 7:39 AM on January 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


... a Cavalier King Charles ... consigned to a life of pain and suffering simply because someone somewhere thought its head should be a different shape.

Well a dog with that name couldn't very well be a Roundhead, now could it?
posted by resurrexit at 7:39 AM on January 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


Happy endings for two great dogs.

You should be loving to your pets, but not that loving.


This reminds me of a roommate whose relationship with her black lab was... not convenient to describe, but I must draw a veil of mystery over the whole disturbing memory.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:39 AM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


I understand the author's point, but the veterinary hospital where I work has a close relationship with the local shelter, and I understand heavy precautions on their part. Animals are OFTEN returned to the shelter because the breed doesn't fit well with the adopter's lifestyle, or the adopter dies, or because people adopt pets without realizing the enormous financial and time resources needed for their care. It's a heartache and a headache for everyone involved, not to mention hard on the animals themselves. Animal shelters (and rescue groups) also witness the effects of abuse and neglect on a daily basis. I also reject the idea that potential adopters are forced to go to a breeder if Shelter X won't adopt to them. There are so many rescue groups/no kill groups/shelters out there, that unless you're truly unfit to care for an animal, you'll find a match.
posted by juniper at 7:39 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


People who aren't sure they want pets should not have pets. People who haven't thought having pets through should not have pets. These are important considerations, and shelters and rescue groups are doing a great service by weeding out the people who aren't really sure about the whole pet thing.

Well it's not as if the majority of people who go to a rescue group and ask to adopt a pet are idiots who just randomly decide to adopt an animal on a whim with no previous experience in caring for animals. Nearly everyone who even gets to the point of a screening have already made the decision to get a pet, so "aren't sure they want pets" is less of an accurate description of what these kinds of screenings are designed for than "think they can take care of a pet to our expected standard but actually won't." The latter is much more subjective, and to a certain extent it's not really reasonable for a rescue group to expect to be able to have a high degree of control over what decisions future owners make with regard to caring for their pets.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:39 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not unreasonable to refuse to let someone not adopt a retired racer if they've not previously had one, particularly if they had other red flags. Why? Because a retired racer is like a dog returning from a lifelong trip to another planet. You have to teach them everything about being a pet, because they were a machine for running races before that. And considering the massive adjustment the dogs have to go through, getting them back traumatized because of a bad placement is heartbreaking.

On the other side, reasons I've personally refused to let people have a retired greyhound.

1. The woman who told me she did have cats (many retired racers are not safe with cats) but it was okay because her cat was on a chain in the garage.
2. The family who already had two golden retrievers they kept chained in the backyard.
3. The family with three kids under five who admitted their last dog had been injured because it was too small to play with their kids, who were 'a little rough with it'. (again, retired racing greyhounds not having grown up around children, many agencies, having seen dogs get returned over and over again, will not adopt to families with smaller children).
4. The man who wanted a dog he could breed and got furious when we told him the dog would be spayed before he got her. (some people think to get their own racing stable on the cheap).
5. The woman who wanted to get a dog for her husband 'as a surprise', but who admitted neither of them had ever had a dog, or indeed any pet, before.

Also, forgive me if I doubt that 'stick writing' story went down as reported. The other objections were not completely out of the ordinary, so I'm willing to bet there was more there than we're being told.
posted by winna at 7:40 AM on January 30, 2012 [23 favorites]


I'll add my support for stricter adoption procedures. I adopted a cat from a local shelter, and though it was very nerve-wracking to experience the scrutiny of a home inspection, an interview, getting a referral from my vet, and having to sign a contract that I'll return the animal to the shelter if any number of things were to happen (legally I guess the cat is still "owned" by the shelter), it was worth it.

The volunteers at my local shelter do a ton of work to make sure each animal is placed into the proper home. I can't blame them for being over-protective because they've had to witness the horrors of animal abuse and deal with the consequences.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 7:41 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's one thing to make sure your animals are going to good homes and another thing entirely to make sure they're only going to exactly the kind of home you like. Home visits and scrutiny instead of just handing over the animal to anybody who ponies up fifty bucks: Good. Disallowing adoption to a family because their kids picked up a stick while bored: Assholes.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:42 AM on January 30, 2012 [16 favorites]


Why did no one tell me there was a breed called a "Cavalier King Charles Spaniel"? Now, I really want to get one and training it to growl and snap whenever I say "Roundheads."
posted by Bulgaroktonos


Well I owe you a Coke or something.
posted by resurrexit at 7:43 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ugh I keep forgetting stuff.

When I adopted my greyhound, there was an application and a home visit. Our fence is in terrible repair, and it was noted by people doing the visit, but they let me have a dog anyway. Shocking that someone who can't afford to fix a whole fence this spring can still care for a dog.

again, retired racing greyhounds not having grown up around children, many agencies, having seen dogs get returned over and over again, will not adopt to families with smaller children).

See, this is what I'm talking about. I can see refusing to adopt a specific dog because it is not good with children, but there are many, many greyhounds that ARE good with children.

Of course, greyhounds are, frankly, a terrible example for this topic. The number of greyhounds bred for racing/AKC is in the tens of thousands, and the number bred and not registered is significantly lower. Greyhound rescue, in most parts of the country, does not have an oversupply problem. Greyhound organizations can choose to be picky because they are generally not putting down healthy dogs who can't find a home.
posted by muddgirl at 7:44 AM on January 30, 2012


I generally agree with the sentiment that weeding out crappy pet owners is a good idea, but good gravy some of the BS in the examples was infuriating. Particularly disturbing was the whole "adopter doesn't own the pet" weirdness. A preliminary inspection is fine, but if I adopt an animal, I don't want someone with undefined criteria being able to drop by whenever and arbitrarily decide they don't like the place and my pet has to go.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:44 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, my cousin and her husband were barred from adopting from a local shelter when a volunteer came to do their house inspection and saw the 2-3 dozen root beer bottles (yes, fucking root beer) in their recycling bin, because she (the idiot volunteer) decided they were dangerous alcoholics.

(It was the day after a dorky teetotal super bowl party.)
posted by elizardbits at 7:44 AM on January 30, 2012


You know, it's really not either/or, and the author clearly understands your point. What's at issue is specific examples of overzealous rules

I wish that more people would look at each case separately. But I think this is unlikely to happen because we live in a very litigious society and rather than bend a rule for a specific situation or circumstance - it's easier to go by the hard line and avoid any unpleasant legal trouble.
posted by Fizz at 7:44 AM on January 30, 2012


My local rabbit rescue would have turned me down for a rescue animal because I let them roam free in the garden (getting on for five years now, no break-outs or predator attacks so far). The rabbits are so much happier when not cooped up that I'd rather take the small risk of a predator attack.

I respect the shelter's desire to make sure the animals are safe; I wish they'd respect my desire to make sure the animals are happy. Their attitude pushed me into the arms of a breeder when I needed a new animal, and a rescue animal lost out on a pretty great life.
posted by Leon at 7:45 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


5. The woman who wanted to get a dog for her husband 'as a surprise', but who admitted neither of them had ever had a dog, or indeed any pet, before.

OH MY GOODNESS I HOPE YOU KILLED HER SUMMARILY.
posted by resurrexit at 7:45 AM on January 30, 2012 [16 favorites]


Sounds like gatekeeper syndrome gone to an extreme.
posted by aerotive at 7:46 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have adopted dogs through private groups, and have had very good experiences.

However, I have also gone directly to a local ASPCA shelter, packed to the brim overfilled with dogs and found a couple we were interested in. After bringing our children back at their request, and spending time with a couple of dogs, our family was found unworthy, as we wouldn't know "how to handle" the dogs in question. Or any dog, for that matter.

My wife and I have had dogs our entire lives, since wee little children, and currently had two dogs in the house.

I can agree with the article in that it seems some people who work at these agencies think they know better than the adopting family on if they know how to care for a dog, in the face of overwhelming evidence that says "Hey! This is a good family that understands how to care for many different kinds of dogs, and have had rescue dogs before!"

I have no issues with the adoption questionnaires we have done for other groups, but local shelters just seem to be overly militant in their judgement of people.
posted by rich at 7:47 AM on January 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


Local Pug rescue had an outreach event at a popular strip mall near me this past weekend. Nothing like a big pen full of adult pugs all vying for attention; shake, wriggle and snort baby! Too cute!
posted by Standeck at 7:48 AM on January 30, 2012


I heard rumors back in the 80s (should I use an apostrophe there, apostrophe mavens?), that there were jobbers going around to shelters adopting cats and dogs to sell to research labs.

1. There should be no apostrophe between the 0 and s in 80s (it's technically acceptable, though uncommon, to construct it as '80s).

2. Scare stories of evil scientists taking cats from rescue shelters are categorically untrue. For one thing, scientists need to know the history and pedigree of the animal in order to know whether what they're looking at is because of the cat's past or because of their experiment.
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:49 AM on January 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


Ain't that the truth

I hope that no shelter asks if I thought that video was funny....
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 7:49 AM on January 30, 2012


Here's an account of my adoption of my cat Trilby from the Toronto Humane Society.

I was told I shouldn't discipline Trilby by using a spray bottle but should say no and clap my hands. It turned out that Trilby is deaf as a post (and the THS didn't clue into that, which they should have, and they also should have told me!) so any sort of auditory discipline method won't work. I was made to promise that I would never let him outside (I do allow him some supervised outings), that I would never declaw him (I haven't), that I would never give him to anyone else but would bring him back to the THS if I couldn't keep him myself, that I would allow home inspections and stay on the THS mailing list forever, and I was lectured for saying I wanted a mouser. I was also told to feed him dry food, which is not what most vets recommend and which made Trilby gain weight until I switched him to wet food maybe six months later.

Then two or three weeks later, the THS was shut down for cruelty to animals. I sat at my computer with Trilby snuggled up fast asleep in my lap and looked at the photos and read about the conditions there, and I promised him that he is NEVER going back there, no matter what.

Then I kept getting claims of complete innocence and requests for donations from the THS. I'm grateful that they gave the opportunity of adopting Trilby, but really, screw them. If I ever adopt another animal, I'll be going to the city shelter.
posted by orange swan at 7:52 AM on January 30, 2012 [15 favorites]


We have two shelter cats, aged 10 and 7. Both are indoor-only, and we would never think of de-clawing. They are very happy, well fed (but not overfed), and quite healthy. They are a part of our family, and we would do anything for them (up to and including some fairly absurd medical bills for one of them at one point).

But, you know what? One day, they won't be around anymore, and we may want to get another cat. And if that day comes, and the requirement for adopting a cat has seriously gone so high in the last 10 years that it will require a home inspection and a contract allowing for random home visits ... well, there's absolutely no goddamn way we'd adopt an animal under those policies.

It's completely fine to want to ensure the safety of animals. But, there is a point at which you're going way beyond safety, and looking for some mythic and ill-defined ideal of perfection.
posted by tocts at 7:52 AM on January 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


OH MY GOODNESS I HOPE YOU KILLED HER SUMMARILY

Please, don't let the fact that greyhounds require an unusual amount of adjustment to the home environment and most shelters expect everyone in the household to consent to owning a pet to get in the way of your caps lock outrage!
posted by winna at 7:52 AM on January 30, 2012 [13 favorites]


He reprimanded them, saying that if a dog sees a stick in a person’s hand it will expect that stick to be thrown, and it’s not fair to frustrate a dog...

Yeah, but I bet if he came over and saw a yard with sticks piled six feet deep everywhere, he wouldn't accept the "I can't pick up any of these sticks without frustrating my dog" defense.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:52 AM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


"A few months ago during a Dear Prudence chat, I mentioned in passing how ridiculous some rescue groups were. When my family decided to get a second rescue dog, I felt it was my job to prove to the groups we contacted that I wasn’t a vivisectionist. Fed up, we decided to buy a puppy and found a lovely breeder, and our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Lily, has made us all ecstatic."

I thought she was just playing an irritating piece of shit in her Dear Prudence column, but Emily Yoffe went beyond the call of duty and Actually Became A Piece Of Shit in her real life. That's dedication.
posted by a_girl_irl at 7:52 AM on January 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


This reminds me of an argument I had years ago with an acquaintance who let his cat run wild for days at a time. Kitty would go wandering on Monday and come back on Thursday and he would think nothing of it.

Then Kitty went wandering on Monday and it took about two weeks for him to notice "hmmm, Kitty hasn't been around lately." He checked a couple of animal shelters and found Kitty had been turned into one of them. Since Kitty never had a collar, tags, chip or other identification, he was FURIOUS that they made him re-adopt his own cat. He then blew a gasket because I said "you're lucky they LET you re-adopt it," particularly because if Kitty had been picked up by certain shelters he might well have been put down before his 'owner' decided to go look for him.

If nothing else, cat-hunting has its own official soundtrack.
posted by delfin at 7:53 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


My mom fosters dogs on occasion, and I also agree with strict rescue standards, but to a reasonable point. It doesn't make sense to alienate potential pet rescuers by not allowing for a learning curve or a life-style change. And it's like these organizations forget that there are plenty of happy, well-cared for pets who also live in less than ideal conditions: a poor family, other annoying pets, inexperienced owners, small apartments etc, and do just fine.

Plus, if someone wants to rescue an animal, chances are they care a good deal about animal welfare and could benefit from support and education (if needed), rather than invasive scrutiny and suspicion.
posted by sundaydriver at 7:53 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


For one thing, scientists need to know the history and pedigree of the animal in order to know whether what they're looking at is because of the cat's past or because of their experiment.

Then again, if all the evil scientists bent on world domination followed accepted methods and procedures, we'd be living in the United States of Dr. Maniacal, who ruled over us with an cat-powered iron fist.
posted by griphus at 7:53 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can't find it immediately, but the best anecdote on this issue that I've run across in the last couple of days ran like this: couple adopts a pet, has to sign long, long contract. Friends of theirs have just adopted an actual human child. They compare pet contract with the adoption papers--the pet contract is longer.
posted by gimonca at 7:53 AM on January 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


OH MY GOODNESS I HOPE YOU KILLED HER SUMMARILY.

Giving somebody a living thing as a surprise gift should maybe not be a capital crime, but it's pretty fucking stupid.
posted by kmz at 7:54 AM on January 30, 2012 [17 favorites]


Jon_Evil: “There should be no apostrophe between the 0 and s in 80s (it's technically acceptable, though uncommon, to construct it as '80s).”

(This is a derail, but it's a common mistake to assume that anyone who writes it as "80's" is confusing it with the possessive 's'. Not so. I was taught in school that one needed to place an apostrophe between non-words and the plural 's'; so it is thusly: ▲'s. So "1980's" would be, under the scheme I was taught and that was quite common some years ago, perfectly grammatically correct. However, I'm not sure how much these schemes matter, and I think one should do whatever one thinks looks best.)
posted by koeselitz at 7:54 AM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


"My friend M., who looked into getting a family dog when her children were 6 and 9, had a similarly vexing experience. After she and her husband decided rescue was the right thing to do, they looked online and found a mutt named Rusty. Rusty’s rescue group was having an adoption day and the family made the long drive to see him. Adopters were told not to mingle with the animals, but that specific dogs would be brought to them. While Rusty was otherwise engaged, M. asked if they could look at some of the other dogs but almost all were declared not suitable for children. As the family waited, the children sat on the ground and started writing in the dirt with sticks. A volunteer came over, alarmed. He reprimanded them, saying that if a dog sees a stick in a person’s hand it will expect that stick to be thrown, and it’s not fair to frustrate a dog."

This is 100% fake. I can't believe Slate published this.
posted by a_girl_irl at 7:55 AM on January 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


Yeah, one of the local dog rescues we looked at when we were considering a dog had far stricter standards for the home than DCFS does for foster children ... and the dog foster program never terminated its parental rights, they continually reserved the right to barge into your home to inspect it and take the pet back. At least when you adopt a child it's eventually a done deal.

Another rescue program, the dog came for a visit definitely not secured in a safe way in the van. The rescue guy was complaining our (super-quiet) neighborhood might have "too much traffic" (and our yard is fenced anyway) and so he didn't think it was an appropriate fit ... while transporting the animal very unsafely. It was just weird, and he seemed hoarder-ish.

A third breed-specific one, on the website it had all this stuff about how you could only adopt if you had AS AN ADULT owned this type of dog before (didn't count if you grew up with one), but if you were over 35 they wouldn't consider you because you wouldn't have enough energy ... so I guess there's like a five-year window where you're an appropriate adopter, but the only way you could have acquired this breed was from a breeder, since the rescue for the region wouldn't give you one if you hadn't already had one ... but they had language about not wanting to let people adopt if they'd bought from a breeder ...

The one local foster/rescue program that was reasonable never had any pets available, probably because they were reasonable. :) The county shelter gets a lot of fighting dogs (big problem around here) and also doesn't have many dogs available -- the "good" ones get snapped up really quickly because of the INSANE RESCUE PROGRAMS BEING INSANE.

I've heard a lot of friends talk about how they really wanted to rescue a dog but they couldn't because the shelter only had fighting dogs and the rescues wouldn't talk to them, so they went to a breeder. Meanwhile the rescues complain that not enough dogs are being rescued, but their rules are INSANE. I've had multiple upper-middle-class lifetime dog-owning friends turned down -- house too small, we don't like your other dog, you have a child so you can't have a dog, you don't have a dog-parent at home, you are only getting a dog because you're grieving for your dog who just died so we won't give you a dog because grief isn't a reason to get a dog (that was my favorite).

Personally my favorite story from the article was about the litterbox in the basement -- my cats want me to watch them poop JUST ABOUT AS MUCH as I want to watch them poop. This is what basements are FOR. Plus if a tornado comes while they're pooping, they're good!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:56 AM on January 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I have a hard time believing that story is real, too. Seems very fake to me.
posted by koeselitz at 7:56 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm lucky because when I adopted my baby dog, I was a broke college student living in a dilapidated rental house with anywhere from 4-6 other people, a big yard with plenty of broken fencing, and no idea how to take care of a puppy, and they let me have her anyway (for just $35 dollars and a call to the landlord to make sure it was ok). And this was from a beautiful, well-funded no-kill shelter in Santa Fe, with some very dedicated people staffing the place

And now? I'm a broke non-student living in a dilapidated rental house, with a small yard with an ok fence, and a great relationship with my wonderful dog. We go running together, we go biking together, my dad takes her on his sailboat in the summer, and we do a lot of training work to keep us both sharp. I think we have it pretty good.

The shelter I adopted her from may have been too lax- I don't think they would have been out of line at all to ask some more questions to see if a 22 year old who had never had a dog (not even a family dog) was ready to take home a little puppy. And to be honest, I wasn't ready, but I think it's all turned out for the best and I'm very grateful to have her in my life.
posted by Aubergine at 7:57 AM on January 30, 2012 [15 favorites]


I heard rumors back in the 80s (should I use an apostrophe there, apostrophe mavens?), that there were jobbers going around to shelters adopting cats and dogs to sell to research labs.

This is true. That's why it's usually more expensive to adopt Labrador retrievers and beagles - not because they're "in demand" as pets, but to make it unprofitable for those looking to sell rescue animals into medical research labs. (Beagles and labs are required by researchers because they are the most compliant and least aggressive, even when in discomfort or pain. Think about it, and that'll break your heart, right there.)

Even this is changing, as modern bioinformatics has cratered the demand for live subjects for testing and made it easier for labs to demand ethically sourced animals.

The rules in the article are pure power-mongering - they want control over someone's personal life for petty and counterproductive reasons. The shelters we've dealt with have been careful and conscientious, but not intruding or overcritical. One made us take a basic dog training course that included general dog-care tips. They want pets to go home with good people... no such thing as a perfect pet or perfect pet owner.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:59 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought she was just playing an irritating piece of shit in her Dear Prudence column, but Emily Yoffe went beyond the call of duty and Actually Became A Piece Of Shit in her real life. That's dedication.

...

This is 100% fake. I can't believe Slate published this.


Wow, a_girl_irl, I think you may be losing perpsective just a bit. Owning a Cavalier = P.O.S.? Quoting a friend's experience is a fabrication?
posted by Dasein at 8:00 AM on January 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


Why did no one tell me there was a breed called a "Cavalier King Charles Spaniel"? Now, I really want to get one and training it to growl and snap whenever I say "Roundheads."

In my experience, if I meet someone with a female Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, there at least a 50% chance that the dog's name will be Nell Gwynn.
posted by thivaia at 8:01 AM on January 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


For reference, from the ASPCA page linked in the piece:

The majority of pets are obtained from acquaintances and family members. About 15 to 20 percent of dogs are purchased from breeders, 10 to 20 percent of cats and dogs are adopted from shelters and rescues, and 2 to 10 percent are purchased from pet shops.

Also, I haven't been to Slate much lately and usually don't read comments when I do, but is anyone else finding that constantly moving comment stream thing really fucking annoying to read? Like, the paragraph you're reading constantly burps downward? And that's someone's idea of an elegant solution? Yech.
posted by mediareport at 8:01 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Scare stories of evil scientists taking cats from rescue shelters are categorically untrue.
I fear there are exceptions in that category.
posted by roystgnr at 8:02 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am a lifelong pet owner, incredibly responsible, spoil my animals rotten, etc. And I have had to ditch rescue groups that I badly wanted to adopt from, who had cats I adored and wanted so badly to take home, because they wanted contracts which insisted on things like, I am not kidding, the right to show up unannounced at my home at any time to "inspect". Unannounced. Did I think they were going to actually do it? Of course not. But my *landlord* isn't allowed to do that. Another wanted me to notify them of every move I ever made and allow them to inspect every living space if they desired, and the contract language furthermore was going to make me responsible for any travel costs incurred if they took her back. (With no standards for exactly what justifications they were going to use for doing so.)

Granted, I haven't *purchased* an animal, ever. But I now favor county shelters over private rescues any day of the week, and would vastly prefer to find someone with kittens and take the risk of health problems after I get them to the vet myself than deal with not just the paperwork but things like grossly inaccurate age estimates (one cat was small, but seriously, they were still insisting she didn't need to be spayed yet and she was obviously in heat when I picked her up) and living conditions at the rescue or foster home which were so grossly inadequate that I seriously questioned how someone who kept a house that smelled that strongly of cat urine could dare to insist that she be allowed to inspect my homes for the entire lifespan of a cat that could live to be twenty.
posted by gracedissolved at 8:03 AM on January 30, 2012 [13 favorites]


As Esquire has shown, the proper way to deal with intrusive animal shelter questions is to rub meatballs on your shoes when meeting your dog.
posted by mr vino at 8:03 AM on January 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


This reminds me of a roommate whose relationship with her black lab was... not convenient to describe, but I must draw a veil of mystery over the whole disturbing memory.

Our spayed female black lab loves to air hump my arm and/or leg. It's disturbing and hi-larious.
posted by kmz at 8:03 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


My friend who loves cats and takes very good care of them, but lets them roam outside calls these kinds of shelters "Cat Nazis" -- like the "Soup Nazi" from Seinfeld.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:04 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


About six years ago, my mother and I (a college student living at home at the time) decided we wanted a cat, as our old one had died a year before. We went to a pet adoption day at Pet Smart, bringing Tilly, our brindle mutt, with us on a leash. Tilly is sweet and had gotten along fine with Merlin, our old black kitty cat, for years and years. We were looking at the kittens in their cages, waiting for someone to speak to us, when one of the rescue workers saw us from halfway across the store and started screaming that someone had a pit bull next to the kittens. Now, Tilly might have some pit in her, but she's just as likely part greyhound or whippet--one of those 57 varieties dogs--and we knew she was fine around cats. And there were little poodly things on leashes all around us. My mother tried to tell them we wanted to adopt a cat but we were kicked out of the store. Like, really, the Pet Smart employees threatened to call the strip mall security team. Tilly was sitting there, harmless, panting on her leash because people were yelling all around her. It was one of the most bizarre experiences of my life.

The next day we went to a local shelter (with Tilly in tow again) and adopted Sammy, a very affectionate six month old kitten. He got along fine with Tilly--still does. When we visit home, he curls up with her and grooms her ears. He's stayed with me through three moves, and is currently sitting besides my laptop, dozing happily.

That rescue group's loss, I say.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:04 AM on January 30, 2012 [18 favorites]


(2) Won't adopt to a family where both parents work during the day.

This sounds reasonable. Most dogs don't do too well when left alone in ten hour stretches. It's why I don't keep a dog, as much as I would love to.
posted by invitapriore at 8:04 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I saw this the other day and thought it was quite tragic. I do know that even the local humane society requires a significant amount of invasive information to even volunteer with them. It just gets worse when you look at the adoption forms.

I agree that there should be a happy medium.
posted by graxe at 8:05 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dasein: “Wow, a_girl_irl, I think you may be losing perpsective just a bit. Owning a Cavalier = P.O.S.? Quoting a friend's experience is a fabrication?”

Buying a Cavalier from a breeder is indeed a very, very bad thing to do. It's not necessary to resort to insults and call her a "piece of shit," but it is more than vexing to me that someone would do the 'research' for this article and not have five minutes to look up the breed and find out what a terrible thing it is to buy one from a breeder.

Also, yes – journalists are supposed to check with sources besides their friends in researching articles like this. It doesn't sound much like the shelter was interviewed, or any alternate sources were found. So yeah, it sounds like a big-fish story from a friend; most of my friends would exaggerate similarly. It's pretty common. I appreciate that the line between 'journalism' and 'just a blog post' is a tough one to differentiate, but this is a serious topic to a lot of us, and it'd be nice to get some decent reportage.

I agree that we don't need to go calling Emily Yoffe names, though.
posted by koeselitz at 8:06 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


When we adopted our cat from the shelter they wanted a) your landlord's number if you lived in a rental (we did) to ensure you were allowed to have pets; b) proof within 2 weeks of take-home that you had taken the cat to a vet (they had a form that they used regionally, all the vets were used to it) and thus had established a relationship with a vet; and c) an agreement that if within a year it wasn't working out, you'd return the cat to the shelter. Those seemed like fair criteria to me, not too intrusive but likely to weed out the neglectful and super-lazy.

(My other two cats were rescues from vets I knew and were deemed "unadoptable" by the local shelters in question. In that case there wasn't any screening because I knew the vets and they knew me.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:06 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


(2) Won't adopt to a family where both parents work during the day.

This sounds reasonable. Most dogs don't do too well when left alone in ten hour stretches. It's why I don't keep a dog, as much as I would love to.


But doesn't that describe most families that own dogs? I mean, a lot of families own dogs, and a lot of families have two working parents; I can't imagine there are that many dogs doing that badly.

I mean, my family growing up always had two working parents and a number of dogs that was greater than zero. The dogs did fine.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:07 AM on January 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


Quoting a friend's experience is a fabrication?

Come on, if the stick story didn't ping your "there's probably more to that one" radar, you might want to recalibrate. The Columnist's Pal anecdotal evidence thing is always a little iffy and that one did seem off to me, for sure.
posted by mediareport at 8:09 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have at least two animal shelters near me. At one of them, they look at you with suspicion the minute you come in the door. I can only imagine what would happen if I actually got serious about adopting a pet there. Other people have had similar experiences there so I know it's not just me. It is a no-kill shelter so you would think they'd really want to help you choose a pet.

At the other (also no-kill), you can walk on in any old time and meet the kitties and puppies. The problem there is almost the reverse - you feel like you're disappointing them if you don't adopt.

Guess which place I'll return to if I ever really want another kitty.
posted by Currer Belfry at 8:09 AM on January 30, 2012 [6 favorites]



You all may be calling Bullshit on this, but it happened to Husbunny and I. After settling into our house, and a visit to an allergist to assure me that I wasn't allergic to cats (just the stuff outside cats roll around in, grass) we tried to adopt two cats.

I've always loved Siamese kitties, but I wanted to rescue a black kitty too, because they're supposedly harder to place. We looked on-line and found a brother and sister who fit the description, even better, they were in a business about 2 minutes from our house. We hopped in the car and peered through the window. We made an appointment and visited with the kitties. We answered questions, we filled out the application, we gave them our financials for goodness sake! After the home visit I was assured that the kitties were ours.

We waited and waited. The foster mom was pregnant, so we gave her some time to get it together. After two weeks, I called and called, no answer, no information. We drove by the business and saw the cats. Finally, we went there and confronted her in person. She adoped the cats to someone else because "the cats liked her better." Crushed? You don't know how crushed.

Luckily, my friend in Flordia had found a family of ferral cats, two of whom were pregnant. She was destrught because the shelters in Florida were so full they wouldn't take the kittens. I told her, "bring them up, I'll take two, and we'll find homes for the rest." Can I tell you, people came out of the woodwork to take the kittens.

There were 9 all together, and we placed them all in lovely homes of our friends and co-workers. Not only that, when I took the first litter to the vet for shots, de-worming and sexing (because we didn't know if we had boys or girls) there was a kitten there and I found a home for her!

Were any of these situations perfect? Probably not, but the kitties are living wonderful lives, with owners who adore them. When I talk to my friends, we all talk about how much we love our kitties.

I even got my 1/2 Siamese and full black kitties, just like I wanted them. Malcolm and Eartha are doing well.

So to the rescue group, I say TTHhhhhppppt.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:10 AM on January 30, 2012 [13 favorites]


"Wow, a_girl_irl, I think you may be losing perpsective just a bit. Owning a Cavalier = P.O.S.?"

No, she's a piece of shit because she purchased a dog as a fuck-you to people who would dare ask her questions about adopting a dog. When you purchase an animal out of spite, it says bad things about you.

"Quoting a friend's experience is a fabrication?"

This one is, absolutely. I'd bet $500 on it. It's about one degree removed from a chain email in which someone mentions seeing a black woman buying lobster with food stamps and getting into a fully loaded Cadillac while calling the chain email writer a "bad Honkey" and then the email asks us to call on our congressman to repeal the Hot Meals For Orphans Act.

No one has ever reprimanded a child for writing in the dirt with a stick, saying "the dog expects you to throw it." Don't you find it awfully convenient that this person is not actually named? Or that it's a "friend" of Ms. Yoffe's? It's fucking made-up. No question.
posted by a_girl_irl at 8:11 AM on January 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


Buying a Cavalier from a breeder is indeed a very, very bad thing to do.

Is that because of the health problems they have? Don't all purebreds suffer from genetic health problems of one sort or another?
posted by Dasein at 8:12 AM on January 30, 2012


I'm trying to adopt a dog right now, because I don't particularly want a puppy, I don't particularly need a purebred, and I think rescuing is the better way to go. But man, everything in that story rings true -- I applied for one dog from a rescue that required 4 references from people who knew me and had seen me interact with animals on a regular basis but were not related to me. They'd have preferred three references and a reference from my vet, but I don't have a vet, because I don't yet have a dog, so they would agree to a fourth reference.

Another rescue's online form wouldn't accept that I don't have vet BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE A DOG YET, but the rescue also wouldn't accept applications by email.

I haven't even got as far as a home visit yet, and I'm already discouraged by the ridiculousness of the process.

I don't want to buy a puppy, both because I don't want to train a puppy and because I don't like the idea of buying a dog, but I'm wavering on those convictions already, and if the ongoing process gets worse and worse, as I suspect it might, I may give up.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:14 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


My local rabbit rescue would have turned me down for a rescue animal because I let them roam free in the garden (getting on for five years now, no break-outs or predator attacks so far). The rabbits are so much happier when not cooped up that I'd rather take the small risk of a predator attack.

We did the same with our rabbits for nearly ten years (although we did lock them up at night (foxes)). We built a large secure fence and trained the local cats to avoid the area by spraying them with a water pistol if they came near our garden.
posted by captain ramshackle at 8:14 AM on January 30, 2012


No one has ever reprimanded a child for writing in the dirt with a stick, saying "the dog expects you to throw it."

You were there and you know for certain?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:15 AM on January 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


Nobody here can know for sure one way or the other, but as a rule of thumb, I've found that every time I think "no human being could ever be that stupid," I've been wrong.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:16 AM on January 30, 2012 [42 favorites]


"(2) Won't adopt to a family where both parents work during the day."

Also apparently single people with jobs outside the home can't have dogs.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:16 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, she's a piece of shit because she purchased a dog as a fuck-you to people who would dare ask her questions about adopting a dog. When you purchase an animal out of spite, it says bad things about you.

If that's how you read the article...well, you're misreading the article. She purchased from a breeder because, as several people have also related in this thread, she couldn't satisfy the overly-onerous conditions of the rescue organizations and didn't like being treated as a potential criminal. That's absolutely not "a fuck-you to people who would dare ask her questions about adopting a dog," and she's clearly not objecting to people asking questions.

Don't you find it awfully convenient that this person is not actually named?

No, I don't find it unusual that a journalist would not print a friend's name in an article like this; not when it's drawing reactions like yours. You're basing your allegations of fabrication on nothing at all.
posted by Dasein at 8:17 AM on January 30, 2012 [17 favorites]


Back when we were dating, I made a promise to my wife that we would always have a kitty. We both love cats. Our last two cats were adopted from a student in a comparative anatomy lab I was teaching in grad school. Student was dissecting a preserved cat (these are generally sourced from kill shelters for use in university research labs). I mentioned my wife's cat had died a few months earlier. She asked if we would be interested in adopting a kitten, as her own cat was pregnant. In the end, we adopted two, as her cat had four kittens and she could only find three homes. After the experience I think I prefer to adopt in pairs, given how much fun we have had.

Our catboys were neutered at age 1 (to allow complete urogenital development; male cats neutered too young can have urinary tract issues as adults). They are indoor cats, allowed out to explore only on rare circumstances (supervised at all times, on a cat leash until we moved into a home with a securely fenced yard). Because cats need stimulation, and smelling the grass and rolling in dirt makes them happy. They were never declawed, and the scratches on our furniture are our price for keeping their feet healthy and happy.

We still have one of them. My kitty died due to saddle thrombosis at the age of 9. We spent a lot of money trying to do what we could, but the clots went to his lungs and we had no choice: put him to sleep or let him die in agony. I cried like a baby.

My wife's cat took a long time to forgive us for having a kid, or for letting his brother leave, but he tolerates our son for the most part and spends a lot of time in the evenings cuddling with my wife.

So let's add this up: (1) taught a course in vivisection and currently work in a research field; (2) young child at home; (3) history of letting cat outside; (4) put down a cat in the last three years. Oh and (5) we both work full-time. Which means when Toby goes to join his brother some day, we'll probably be considered unfit to care for a new cat. To which I say, fuck you, overzealous adoption preventers. I was an awesome cat-daddy to my Petey cat. And I made a promise to my wife. We will never buy a cat. But we will ALWAYS have at least one.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:17 AM on January 30, 2012 [15 favorites]


Owning a Cavalier = P.O.S.?

Maybe not P.O.S., but it does show the author to be exactly the kind of person these agencies don't want to have pets. It's not nice to breed animals which will live their lives in constant pain.

Quoting a friend's [stick-related] experience is a fabrication?

It's an eyebrow-raising story which reeks of a exaggeration, confabulation, obfuscation, or lie. Not that there aren't nutty or poorly-run animal shelters/rescues, but I'd need proof to buy that story.

Is that because of the health problems they have? Don't all purebreds suffer from genetic health problems of one sort or another?

Nope, especially when it's a hardy breed well-bred by a responsible breeder. Some breeds are much more susceptible to lingering, painful conditions than others, especially those where all the dogs are only descended from an original six ancestors.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:17 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is true. That's why it's usually more expensive to adopt Labrador retrievers and beagles - not because they're "in demand" as pets, but to make it unprofitable for those looking to sell rescue animals into medical research labs. (Beagles and labs are required by researchers because they are the most compliant and least aggressive, even when in discomfort or pain. Think about it, and that'll break your heart, right there.)

Can you cite this? My husband works in cardiac tissue research (on rats) and their rat lines have to be carefully purchased and screened for desired traits/genetic makeup. I find it really REALLY difficult to believe that dogs not bred for medical research have the proper genetic purity.

The cases I have heard deal with training of medical students (aka the Frist case), which I have no knowledge of.

This sounds reasonable. Most dogs don't do too well when left alone in ten hour stretches. It's why I don't keep a dog, as much as I would love to.

Most dogs do fine alone or with other pets in 8-10 hour stretches. Some people who 'work all day' can come home at lunch.
posted by muddgirl at 8:18 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


You were there and you know for certain?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:15 AM on January 30


No, but my friend was, and he says it didn't happen.
posted by a_girl_irl at 8:19 AM on January 30, 2012 [22 favorites]


I always get the stinkeye from rescue people. But I should probably stop introducing myself as a nihilist.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:20 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


jacquilynne, have you looked at animals in the Toronto Animal Services and the new, improved, Tim Trow-free (to respond to orange swan's concerns, above) Toronto Humane Society?
posted by Dasein at 8:20 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


No one has ever said the words "it didn't happen." You're clearly making that up.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:20 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Frankly, I'm not sure either of you exists at all.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:20 AM on January 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


I've adopted three animals as an adult. Each time I have had to fill out a form with basic household information (fenced yard? kids? allergies?), talk for a minute with a person who cross-checked the information with the animal to ensure basic compatibility, write a check, and that was it. There's no way I'd be ok with a process that involved home inspections, proof of income, etc -- there are gazillions of wonderful doggies and kitties who need homes, and if the shelter was unreasonable I'd get an animal from one of the several irresponsible people I know who never spay their animals and who therefore are always needing to get rid of puppies and kittens.
posted by Forktine at 8:21 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have literally spent my entire life with pets that are not for everyone and which require a special kind of care and understanding: ferrets and bull terriers (not at the same time, for obvious reasons). So I am all for breeders and shelters making sure a prospective owner fully understands the responsibilities of good ownership for these animals and aggressively attempts to determine whether he has what it takes. Every time we got a bull terrier, one of the conditions of ownership was that the dog had to be returned to the breeder if we were unable to continue ownership for any reason (this actually happened once, with a dog that turned out to be a fear-biter).

But there are reasonable limits to these things, and I have to say that I'm not surprised that some rescue organizations or shelter providers overstep these bounds. People who care for abandoned animals and attempt to find good homes for them are truly doing God's work. But. It's also true, as a generality, that they are often not the most rationally thinking and evenly balanced people when it comes to the objects of their passion. (For example: I have a friend whose ex-wife shelters German Shepherds and related mixes, and who used to test them for aggressiveness around children by seeing how they reacted to their 7 year old daughter. One of these dogs eventually bit their daughter on the face.)
posted by slkinsey at 8:23 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, I keep an eye on both the THS and TAS listings, but they mostly have larger dogs.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:23 AM on January 30, 2012


The article and thread reinforces so much of what I experienced throughout most of my petless adult life: pets make way too many people irrational assholes. All out of such deep concern for the animals, of course.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:24 AM on January 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


Anecdotal stories I've heard:
(1) Won't adopt to someone who has a yard but no fence (even if they promise to always keep the dog on a leash - essentially the group called the woman a liar).


Had exactly this happen to me about 6 mo. ago. I didn't regard it as an accusation that I was lying so much as a distrust in my judgement that could magically be dispelled if I answered every question in the exact way they wanted, as if they were bug-checking an algorithm. It's intolerable to expose an animal to the uncertainties of someone else's choices, so the shelter tries to anticipate every possible problem and dictate solutions preemptively.
posted by jon1270 at 8:25 AM on January 30, 2012


This whole "frustration" issue makes me want to laugh. When isn't a dog frustrated? When we had my dog on a leash, we were constantly restraining him from chasing other animals and children, and he would start to choke on his collar. Every night, for 10 years, he sat with us at the dinner table, looking at us with pathetic, hopeful eyes, praying, despairing that we'd drop something. If we let dogs just do what they wanted at all times, there would be an awful lot of dead cats in the world.

Personally, I think that these overzealous shelter staff members either 1) need to justify their employment, and/or 2) feel powerless in their own lives, and therefore need to exert power over others.
posted by Melismata at 8:25 AM on January 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's intolerable to expose an animal to the uncertainties of someone else's choices

That's a great way to put it, jon1270.
posted by muddgirl at 8:26 AM on January 30, 2012


Can you cite this?

Cite.

Any dog shelter will tell you the same thing - even rich shelters like the Potter League in Newport, that's funded entirely by wealthy patrons, will charge an adoption fee. The fee amount is calculated to make it impossible for Class B Suppliers to make a profit on the animal.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:26 AM on January 30, 2012


Is that because of the health problems they have?

It encourages breeders to breed more dogs.

Not all breeders are terrible people though. My grandfarther bred beagles, he wouldn't sell beagles as pets only as hunting or feild trial dogs. There is even a type of hunting beagle named after him, they have especially large feet to run on top of snow.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:27 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


she couldn't satisfy the overly-onerous conditions of the rescue organizations and didn't like being treated as a potential criminal

Well, we never do hear specifics about what exactly Yoffe was annoyed at. Which, now that I think of it, is a little strange. Her previous "passing mention" is similarly vague:

When last year we all decided we wanted a puppy, I started filling out applications with rescue groups. The grilling you get for wanting to take in a homeless animal makes being strip-searched by the TSA seem like a holiday.

That's it. That's all we hear about her own direct experience. It would be nice to hear exactly what it was about the "grilling" she got that set her off, and it's a little odd that she shares details from other folks stories but is so vague about her own.
posted by mediareport at 8:28 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


me: “Buying a Cavalier from a breeder is indeed a very, very bad thing to do.”

Dasein: “Is that because of the health problems they have? Don't all purebreds suffer from genetic health problems of one sort or another?”

Yes, and this is one reason why I have a big problem with breeding in general; it's capricious, it's arbitrary, and it's silly, and playing with the lives of living creatures in arbitrary and silly ways is wrong. Dogs should be cross-bred for strength and vitality, as they were before the current vogue for 'pure' varieties started about a hundred years ago.

But the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is pretty much beyond this category. The Cavalier is an instance of pain so severe and so common in the dogs that it's inspired a good deal of outcry the world over; some people have called for an outright ban on the breeding of Cavaliers, and I agree wholeheartedly that it should be illegal to bring dogs into the world when there's such a high chance that they'll spend most of their lives rolling around on the floor in pain.

If you think you can stomach it, it's worth watching this short bit from a documentary about the dangers the breed faces. It should, flat out, be illegal to breed Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and buying them from breeders is, as I said, not a good thing to do.
posted by koeselitz at 8:28 AM on January 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


being immortalized by giant puppy toes seems indescribably awesome somehow
posted by elizardbits at 8:29 AM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh and don't forget, people who impulsively buy animals do exist.
posted by Melismata at 8:29 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


What to think of all this? On one hand some of those stories ring true for a certain type of rescue group; true believers who know that there are bad people out there who will treat their pets like a lawn ornaments and it would be better for the animals to stay in their loving care at the shelter. These people are part of the problem, preventing animals from going to good homes through their paranoid attitude.

On the other hand there are assholes out their who treat animals like lawn ornaments. I don't like the extreme rescue groups (they tend to allow their pursuit of perfection to prevent actually achieving something very good) but I'd be equally unhappy with a no-questions-asked attitude and as soon as you introduce qualifying requirements there will be someone who would be a perfectly fine owner who fails due to some odd combination. A happy medium is hard to find.

On the third hand I've got problems with anyone who would get a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel from a breeder as an alternative to a rescue dog. You are now part of the problem.
posted by N-stoff at 8:29 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


All of this seems perfectly in line with current trends of increasingly invasive Precrime-style tactics by multiple groups -- TSA, police, and now "rescue volunteers" -- wherein people are presumed guilty unless proven innocent. Except, unlike Precrime, we have no magical mutant prophets, and therefore these tactics are hugely ineffective. I wish someone would figure out a way to quantify just how much harm they do vs. good.
posted by Behemoth at 8:31 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


No one has ever said the words "it didn't happen." You're clearly making that up.

This joke doesn't work because it's very, very common to see and hear the words "it didn't happen," or their functional equivalent. It wouldn't set off anyone's BS detector to say that someone somewhere had said this. It's like countering skepticism of the "Le-a" story by saying, "oh yeah? Well, I know someone named Harold."

Could the stick story be true? Maybe? But even having spent my fair share of time around stupid people, it doesn't really fit into even stupid people logic. It sounds like there's at least a missing piece here.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:32 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


What happens to all the extant Cavalier King Charles Spaniels if everyone stops buying them, as they should? Bonfire? Melee?
posted by TheRedArmy at 8:32 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm all for reasonably strict requirements in pet adoption, emphasis reasonable. But then, I got my dog from an extremely high-kill shelter when I was just 19 -- broke, college student, renter, etc. I wouldn't have passed any screening process, had there been one. But I wanted him, so hard. He'd been there 10 days and was terrified, and had fear-nipped at one of the shelter workers, so if I hadn't adopted him, his life would likely have ended a few days later. He's been my best friend nearly 9 years now. So. There's that.
posted by changeling at 8:32 AM on January 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


It's not unreasonable to refuse to let someone not adopt a retired racer if they've not previously had one

Isn't this a catch-22? I think that's what the author was getting at.
posted by eugenen at 8:32 AM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Thanks Slap-happy. You can find the ratio of Class A to Class B dealers at the USDA site. Class B dealers do not solely deal with research facilities
In FY 2009, there were nine Class B dealers selling dogs and cats to research facilities.
posted by muddgirl at 8:32 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, I'd love to see the "You don't own this dog" clause in rescue contracts hold up in court. If one is fostering the dog, why are they paying for all their living expenses? When I volunteer to foster dogs I generally get reimbursed for food and vet bills.
posted by muddgirl at 8:35 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Buying a Cavalier from a breeder is indeed a very, very bad thing to do.

What should happen to Cavaliers that already exist at breeders? Isn't it a good thing that this particular spaniel has a home with a good family?

The writer did nothing wrong here. The rescue shelter did.
posted by General Tonic at 8:36 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


...And honestly, it's none of the shelter's fucking business if you're "considering having children within 10 years."
posted by mediareport at 10:35 AM on January 30


I don't know about anyone else, but I personally know of two couples who dumped their longtime pets (a dog in one case, a couple of cats in the other) because they later had children. Once the babies arrived, the parents decided quickly (like, in less than two months) that having both infants and pets was simply too demanding on their time, and dumped their pets at the local shelter.

Given that rescue organizations are often deeply committed to placing the animals in "forever homes", I can see why they'd ask about having children. There are people out there who would to have love pets right up until the moment that they have a baby. Then the poor pet's thrown out of its home.

I do think rescue organizations get a bit uptight with some of their questions. But in the end, it's about what's best for the poor pet that's been abandoned. I just hope they don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

Oh, and +1 to all the comments about how Yoffe went to a breeder and bought a King Charles spaniel instead. I'm sure she'll take great care of the dog, but I'm also sure she'll be stunned by its health problems (and the consequent vet bills).
posted by magstheaxe at 8:37 AM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


We did the same with our rabbits for nearly ten years (although we did lock them up at night (foxes)). We built a large secure fence and trained the local cats to avoid the area by spraying them with a water pistol if they came near our garden.

Same here, except we don't have local cats. We do have local foxes, so I know I'm taking a risk, but if I lock them up they'll sit in a line at the back door staring at the garden.
posted by Leon at 8:40 AM on January 30, 2012


Adoption counselors at a lot of the really strict rescues are there because they like being around animals more than people, and are not great at reading people. The most important part of deciding if the potential adopters will be good owners is being able to read human behavior and emotions during the interview. A multiple choice/essay test is not a good predictor. If the adopter wants to be a good owner, they will listen to suggestions - they don't need to know it all in advance. At the end of the day, a dog with a not-quite-perfect home is a damn sight better than spending their life in a kennel, which some rescuers don't grasp.

Fortunately we got a very good counselor when we got our dog from the shelter - she asked all the really important questions, but gleaned the rest from our interaction with the dog and each other.

When you purchase an animal out of spite, it says bad things about you.

If that were the case, sure. But this is more like buying toilet paper from Target because Sam's Club won't let you shop there without a membership. She already decided to get an animal, so she went with the supplier that didn't tell her to fuck off. On top of that, she was probably not aware of the Cavalier King Charles' health issues. If only she had someone to help her with these things instead of just telling her she wasn't qualified to own a dog...
posted by chundo at 8:40 AM on January 30, 2012 [22 favorites]


This joke doesn't work because it's very, very common to see and hear the words "it didn't happen," or their functional equivalent. It wouldn't set off anyone's BS detector to say that someone somewhere had said this.

It wasn't a joke -- it was pointing out that arguing from a basis of is "that is setting off MY b-s detector, and therefore all of you who aren't having the same reaction are clearly wrong" is kind of a ridiculous stance. Quite a few people in here are attesting to extreme stances that are the functional equivalent of "put that stick kdown because you're teasing the dogs by holding it", so to continue to cling to "it sounds like bullshit to me, so the rest of you are wrong" is rather a stubborn stance.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:40 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not unreasonable to refuse to let someone not adopt a retired racer if they've not previously had one

Isn't this a catch-22? I think that's what the author was getting at.


You should always steal the first one.
posted by chundo at 8:41 AM on January 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


Surely the flaw in having increasingly restrictive policies about adopting dogs or cats is that people can easily purchase them - thus adding to the overall problem, and encouraging the breeding of certain breeds that probably should not continue. (Or at least not in that form.) Or just drive over to the next town or city, whose shelter may be crammed and thus eager to adopt out dogs or cats or other animals. It's not really solving anything, is it?

Plus turning people down because everyone in the house works seems foolish as a blanket policy, especially in the age of doggy day care and similar creations. And do you demand that if it's a couple they never both get jobs? How is that even enforceable?

(Confession: I once started the adoption process for a pair of rats, but it floundered because I did not currently have a rat vet. That this was because I did not have rats, was not considered an acceptable excuse. So I'm a wee bit bitter.)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:44 AM on January 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Or buy some wolves and breed them into greyhounds.
posted by TheRedArmy at 8:44 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't know about anyone else, but I personally know of two couples who dumped their longtime pets (a dog in one case, a couple of cats in the other) because they later had children.

A month ago, we adopted two British Blues whose owners couldn't keep both them and their (human) twins. I'm glad everything worked out well for everyone, but even during the time we were picking up the cats, we could see how crazy it was having both rambunctious 18-month kids and two persnickety cats.

On the other hand, my sister and I grew up alongside cats our entire lives, so, you know, people do make it work. It depends.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:45 AM on January 30, 2012


Isn't this a catch-22? I think that's what the author was getting at.

Greyhounds have special needs. If the adopter has never had one before, but they've familiarized themselves with how greys are different and they are clear on how it's a challenge to introduce a greyhound to their new world, that is usually not a problem. But if they roll into the adoption center and have clearly made no effort to understand that they're not just getting a different-looking dog (like the woman who told me she didn't let dogs in her house and the greyhound would be fine living outside in freezing temperatures) then it's valid to tell them that they can't have one, and if it sounds a little catch-22 well, it keeps a dog with no body fat from freezing to death in the snow.

As far as the 'yard with no fence' thing goes, greyhound adopters promise that, too, because an off-lead grey may not come back on voice recall and you certainly can't catch a dog that runs faster than a person on a bicycle. And everyone rolls their eyes as if it's so onerous and how dare the adoption people be so crazy.

But a lot of us have had to go out searching for an adopter's lost dog when because 'the dog always came back before'. And most of the time a dog who is completely unfamiliar with the outside world and who can run miles before they slow down, well, they don't come back home.

You should always steal the first one.

We had someone try this once. For every Keith Olberman-style 'how daaaaare they' type of outrage in this thread, there's hundreds of people who are the reason that rule exists.
posted by winna at 8:45 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


but I personally know of two couples who dumped their longtime pets (a dog in one case, a couple of cats in the other) because they later had children.

The dirty fact of pet rescue is that returns are going to happen. Responsible rescue organizations screen for compatibility and recognize that life changes are going to occur. Irresponsible rescue volunteers screen for qualities that resemble their own and drive people who want pets towards less ethical organizations.
posted by muddgirl at 8:46 AM on January 30, 2012 [21 favorites]


It seems clear to me that certain requirements or lines of inquiry are entirely appropriate for certain breeds/ages/histories/temperaments of dog. Prospective owners of bull terriers may not own cats, for example. Prospective owners of former racing greyhounds will be getting an older dog that has to be taught how to live as a pet. Prospective owners of Australian cattle dogs should not be apartment-dwellers who can only provide a few short walks a day. Jack Russell terriers need a lot of stimulation and exercise. And so on.

But, on the other hand, there are other requirements or lines of inquiry are not appropriate for certain breeds/ages/histories/temperaments of dog. French mastiffs, for example, can be perfectly happy in a small apartment (provided you are willing to let them have the whole couch!). Bulldogs don't need to be taken for hour-long walks. And so on.
posted by slkinsey at 8:46 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Eventually, every well-intentioned process will be rendered useless or actively harmful by a soulless half-wit on a power trip. It's simply a matter of time, as humanity's supply of soulless half-wits is apparently inexhaustible.
posted by vanar sena at 8:46 AM on January 30, 2012 [15 favorites]


Thank goodness we just found our little cat hunting mice in our yard. She was so tiny and skinny that you could see all her ribs, and so anxious and tired that she literally fell asleep in my arms when we finally built enough trust to pick her up. Now she is the boss of our creaky old Victorian, which I suppose would not have passed muster with the shelter since we're still fixing it up. She goes to the fanciest vet in town and eats only the best food from the yuppie pet store (while we shop at the crummy low-income neighborhood grocery), and we have a constantly changing array of cat toys for her, as well as innumerable repurposed baskets and boxes.
posted by Frowner at 8:47 AM on January 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


We had someone try this once. For every Keith Olberman-style 'how daaaaare they' type of outrage in this thread, there's hundreds of people who are the reason that rule exists.

How does "some jackasses are willing to steal greyhounds" translate to "nobody who has never owned a greyhound before should be allowed to own one"?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:47 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


And everyone rolls their eyes as if it's so onerous and how dare the adoption people be so crazy.

Literally no one has rolled their eyes at the requirement that dogs be on-leash outside. I have rolled my eyes at the fact that someone with a back yard but no fence was treated differently than someone with no back yard at all, even after that person said that the dog would never be off-leash.
posted by muddgirl at 8:48 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've found that the interview process gets longer the fewer animals a facility has. A private, 20-dog no-kill shelter that refuses new animals until they place current ones? Loads of restrictions. The state-run kill shelter that gets a bare minimum of 20 new animals a day and can't turn any away? Absolute minimum of restrictions.

And for the latter, Christmas is the worst time of year. I volunteer/work at one of the state-run kill shelters because really, they're the ones in my area that desperately need the help, and we get MOBBED in the weeks leading up to Christmas with people who want a living stuffed animal for their homes. And then we get MOBBED in the weeks after Christmas with returns, because they adopted a dog/cat, not a stuffed animal.
posted by vegartanipla at 8:49 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


In FY 2009, there were nine Class B dealers selling dogs and cats to research facilities.

Yup, things are definitely much better these days - there were hundreds in the early '90s. A victory hard-won by tightening adoption standards (tho not to the stupid levels in the article) and instituting mandatory adoption fees.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:49 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


"There are people out there who would to have love pets right up until the moment that they have a baby. Then the poor pet's thrown out of its home."

Yes, but given that far more people keep their pets upon having a baby (I would assume), and that it's a very normal progression to have pets when one is out of school or first married, followed by children later on, pre-emptively screening out people who might in the future have kids is limiting a huge potential adoptive group, of whom probably 95% are good pet owners even after the kids are born. I'm sure many of these groups ask this just as a counseling question to help you find a family-friendly dog, but I have also heard about rescue groups that screen people out if they intend to have kids. A friend of mine who got a dog not long ago, one of the rescue groups gave her trouble that her son was 16 and will probably go to college in two years, and they were "afraid the dog might bond with him" and it would be too "upsetting" when he left and ultimately refused to adopt to her for that reason. (I feel like it's only a matter of time before they require marriage counseling sessions before you can get a dog because you might get divorced.) They ended up going with a different rescue that wasn't so weird.

A better approach would be to include with the adoption papers some literature on integrating existing pets with new children, and a guarantee that the rescue group will help with finding a trainer if necessary or re-sending the literature in five years when the kids arrive and the parents panic and can't remember what to do to train the dog for kids. I mean, look, nobody can guarantee their life will remain the same for the next year, let alone the next 15. Obviously it's better to get a pet when you think you're in a stable enough situation for the life of the pet to care for it, but first, we have shelters and rescues partly for when an owner's situation becomes unstable and the pet needs re-homing, and second, absolutely NOBODY can make a 100% guarantee that won't happen to them. Any rehoming organization that wants a 100% guarantee is doing something wrong.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:49 AM on January 30, 2012 [12 favorites]


me: “Buying a Cavalier from a breeder is indeed a very, very bad thing to do.”

General Tonic: “What should happen to Cavaliers that already exist at breeders? Isn't it a good thing that this particular spaniel has a home with a good family? The writer did nothing wrong here. The rescue shelter did.”

The only reason – the only reason – that breeders continue to breed Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is because they believe, apparently rightly, that people will always pay money for a purebred Cavalier. If you pay for one of these dogs, you're directly funding the industry; it's hard to avoid this conclusion.

What should happen to the Cavaliers that already exist at breeders? I would think this would be obvious. The breeders should have to care for them for many years, frustrated at the fact that nobody is buying them; and finally, after becoming exasperated at this state of affairs, the breeders should finally conclude that there's no money in Cavaliers and just donate the dogs to a shelter, deciding never to breed Cavalier King Charles Spaniels again.
posted by koeselitz at 8:51 AM on January 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think people are missing the whole point fo the article - many rescue organizations, in their zealousness about 'protecting' pets and ensuring the best 'forever home,' drive many good, qualified potential pet owners away. In doing so, they are pushing people to find other methods of finding pets that aren't as onerous, one of which is the exact breeding structure institution that ends up creating a lot of shelter animals. I think that the loss ratio of good, stable families is probably fairly high.

Also, people should distinguish between breeders. There are plenty of excellent breeders (just as there are rescue organizations). But there are also private breeders that are focused solely on the money. And there are the breeders that directly service the pet stores as puppy mills. Getting a dog from a reputable private breeder is not irresponsible (although I prefer rescue mutts, and think that is more responsible).

Me, I just get all my dogs from Puerto Rico via Island Dogs. A very good and sane rescue organization.

(as for the whole kids-with-a-stick thing; I totally can see that happening, as I've seen shelter workers turn their nose up at anything they personally perceive as the 'wrong way' to do anything around a dog, regardles of how innocuous it may have been)
posted by rich at 8:53 AM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have rolled my eyes at the fact that someone with a back yard but no fence was treated differently than someone with no back yard at all, even after that person said that the dog would never be off-leash.

Ah, see, that makes much more sense (that having no back yard at all is treated as better than back yard with no fence) than the original complaint.

What should happen to Cavaliers that already exist at breeders? Isn't it a good thing that this particular spaniel has a home with a good family?

The writer did nothing wrong here. The rescue shelter did.


Giving Cavalier breeders money -> Cavalier breeders continue breeding Cavaliers.
posted by kmz at 8:53 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I appreciate that there is overzealousness with some shelters, and that's really unfortunate. However, without interviewing the rescue groups in her story or corroborating the anecdotes in any way, this article comes off as a bit of a rationalization for getting your pet from a store or a breeder. The whole gleeful, "we ended up getting our dog from the store...sucks for Rusty!" vibe is particularly creepy.
I feel that without having a balance in the article, perhaps some perspective from the shelter/rescue side, people are going to come away thinking, 'why bother' and just go to Pet Smart or wherever, which is really a shame.

For what it's worth, we had a great experience getting our dog from a rescue. After several emails and phone calls, sending pictures of our house and fenced in backyard and the application form with details including who our vet is (this part was pretty unchallenging...there's like 3 of them in our immediate neighbourhood alone) we took a family road trip to pick her up and we kept in touch afterwards, sending pictures and updates. Each concern of theirs (large breed dog in a smallish downtown house) was met with our response (I'm home during the day to take her for a run) and I never felt imposed upon.
posted by chococat at 8:54 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


My parents were also inexplicably denied by a local rescue group after filling out a long detailed application, meeting the dog three times, and having a home inspection. Of course they fell in love with the dog and had high hopes. We didn’t see any reason that they should be denied. They were both newly retired at the time and home all day with a huge fenced yard. It seemed really cruel to drag it on as long as they did and it made me quite angry. They ended up going to animal control and have a wonderful pooch now, but yes the whole thing was very strange. They sent an email and gave no reason.
posted by heatherly at 8:54 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


How does "some jackasses are willing to steal greyhounds" translate to "nobody who has never owned a greyhound before should be allowed to own one"?

I should have moved that sentence to the paragraph about not letting dogs off-lead.

The point is, I guess, that the people at the adoption agencies don't see only the reasonable people who have normal, complex lives and who may need accommodation. They also see swarms of lunatics who can convincingly seem reasonable up until they tell you something that makes it clear that they are unfit to live alone, much less have the charge of a pet. The people at the adoption center have seen it all, and it makes some of them a little crazy.

I don't volunteer anymore because of issues with the way the center is run. But I do understand why the rules exist, and I was trying to point out that in most cases a lot of the rules people are outraged about actually have reasonable original purposes.

But I've spent enough time in this thread today, so I'll take my leave.
posted by winna at 8:54 AM on January 30, 2012


I don't see how adoption fees prevent brokers from filling a need in the medical research community. The price of animals is structured into the grant. Saying, "We don't give pets to brokers" is clearly a restriction that would limit the number of Class B licenses.

(I'm not denying this is true - I just don't understand the industry).

than the original complaint

The original complaint was
Won't adopt to someone who has a yard but no fence (even if they promise to always keep the dog on a leash...)
There is no difference here.

I also think that greyhound adoption groups who do not allow apartment dwellers to adopt a greyhound are silly, but again they can afford to be picky.
posted by muddgirl at 8:56 AM on January 30, 2012


I had a really good experience adopting from the ASPCA in Manhattan earlier this month. One of the things I liked about it was that their questionnaire was mostly just to try to match me with the right cat personality. The Harlem animal shelter has you fill out a 4 page thing listing how all of your previous pets died and all this other depressing stuff. I also looked at another, private cat adoption service in the city, where you have to take some sort of mandatory cat care training class before you can adopt a cat.

I definitely understand why they do this because there are so many horrible pet owners out there, but I've had cats all my life, and while I was willing to fill out the Harlem shelter's questionnaire and go up to the shelter, the ASPCA's method was so much more friendly and inviting to people who really do love animals and want a pet for the right reasons, so that's where I ended up going.

The cat I got had been there since November. They had microchipped her, spayed her, dewormed her, gave me a collar with a tag, and gave me a bunch of the food she had been eating there. And since she was 3 years old, I got her completely for free. FREE! And they give you a voucher to get her checked out at the local animal hospital (which I didn't end up using because I took her to a vet much closer to my apartment). They make sure you know that if you have any problems with the animal, you can bring it back there at any time, and they also send follow-up surveys via email to see how you and your new pet are getting along and if there have been any problems with it, health or behavioral. I found it to be a really positive experience where I was not treated like a potential criminal, and I love my new kitty.
posted by wondermouse at 8:57 AM on January 30, 2012 [6 favorites]



I betcha my anecdatum can lick your anecdatum.

 
posted by Herodios at 8:59 AM on January 30, 2012


I do understand why the rules exist, and I was trying to point out that in most cases a lot of the rules people are outraged about actually have reasonable original purposes.

I don't think anyone is denying this, though -- only saying that some shelter volunteers may be obeying the LETTER of those rules a touch more diligently than may be completely necessary, is all, and that this diligence may be causing them to unknowingly exclude people who are actually perfectly capable pet owners.

Such behavior is a highly individual thing, though, I'd wager; I have a hunch that if I went to the same shelters as some of these people and just spoke to someone different, I'd be hearing "well, technically we recommend you have a vet in place before you adopt; but if you're having trouble finding one, maybe I can just book an appointment for you at our own recommended vet, so you're all set up to take Dozer here for an initial screening in a week, and we'll do it that way."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:00 AM on January 30, 2012


Also, I wonder if there is a distinction to be made here between rescue groups and SPCA or Humane Society chapters. In my experience, the rescue groups are *much* more overzealous. I've adopted pets from SPCAs and while they have a thorough screening, I've always found it fair. (And I've appreciated the fact they do this, to discourage impulse adopters, or those who haven't thought through the implications of their new pet-owner life.)
posted by aught at 9:01 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't see how adoption fees prevent brokers from filling a need in the medical research community. The price of animals is structured into the grant. Saying, "We don't give pets to brokers" is clearly a restriction that would limit the number of Class B licenses.

Two things are going on:

1) Buyers are demanding ethically sourced animals, and they have less need for animals than they did before bioinformatics.

2) Shelters understand that potential adopters might be dealers in disguise. When I was a kid, we adopted our cat for, like, five bucks. Animal dealers at the time could sell the animal for ten, so they'd make a habit of adopting all of the animals they had an order for. Shelters figured this out, and put adoption rules in place. Then the dealers would just pose as adopters, or hire mules to adopt for them. By increasing the cost of adopting the animal to more than what a class A dealer would charge, it effectively priced the Class B suppliers out of the market.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:07 AM on January 30, 2012


I betcha my anecdatum can lick your anecdatum.

I betcha my Trilby can lick you.
posted by orange swan at 9:07 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are people out there who would to have love pets right up until the moment that they have a baby. Then the poor pet's thrown out of its home.

First of all, not every baby, nor every parent, nor every pet is the same. For that matter, the potential parents and/or pet can change a lot in 10 years. And no one can know exactly how well they'll be able to handle having a child, no matter how much preparation you go through. A child with physical or mental health problems is going to be harder to deal with than a child without. A job could go from stress-free to stressful in no time, and in this economy, 10 months was enough to change people's fortunes, let alone 10 years. What was easy at 25 is harder later (and vice versa), or a pet who was mild-mannered at 2 could be cranky and violent at 12.

Also, while I sympathize greatly with the pet that is getting taken out of its home, and have always considered pets part of the family, in the end there's simply no comparison between a human life that is completely and totally unable to care for itself in basic ways for several months (and mostly so for many more months afterward) and that of an animal. You can give an animal food and take it for walks (if applicable) and love on it more or less by a loose mix of your schedule and your pet's. That's impossible with a baby, and very very difficult with infants and toddlers. Whenever possible, these issues should be reconciled, but that's not always possible.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:08 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow, a_girl_irl, I think you may be losing perpsective just a bit. Owning a Cavalier = P.O.S.? Quoting a friend's experience is a fabrication?

Here's why Emily Yoffe deserves all the scorn being heaped on her: the number of people who will read her article, take it as gospel truth, and NOT adopt from a rescue or shelter.

Some points:

1. Writing an article about how crazy animal rescues and shelters are is like writing an article about how all dentists suck because you've heard terrible stories from people about their experiences with dentists. It is overbroad, and regardless of any disclamatory statements, it tars every rescue and shelter with the same brush. All rescues/shelters are not equal, just as all dentists are not. If you fail to do your research in advance, and you end up going to a rescue which is really a hoarding front, you have only yourself to blame. Legitimate non-profit animal rescue organizations can be researched. Their financial records are public. There's usually no end of information you can discover with a simple Google search.

2. If you drill down, which Ms. Yoffe did not, you would find that the level of vetting done for adopters is directly related to the type of rescue, and the type of animal being adopted. I think, as a general rule, legitimate, well-run rescues don't do as much vetting for puppies and kittens as they would for older animals. They are blank slates which can adapt to whatever your circumstances may be. Do you live in a tiny apartment? A kitten, never knowing anything else, will be perfectly happy there. An older cat that has already ended up in rescue, that was used to more space? Maybe not so much. Which brings me to my next point.

3. Adult animals that are already in rescue are there because someone has already rejected them. I can't speak for dogs, but in cat rescue, there is no such thing as an adult cat that did not belong to someone previously. An adult cat is there because someone didn't like its behavior, its demeanor, the fact that it poops in a box (and not always neatly), the fact that it sheds hair, the money it costs for vet care, the inconvenience of moving the animal to a new home, the inconvenience of just having a pet period. You would be amazed at the reasons people give for tossing away their adult cat. Matching a cat with the right adopter is hard, and goes way beyond whether you have the means or knowledge or appropriate space. It means matching a cat with an already established medical and behavioral history that may require specific considerations - such as not having a children, or not putting the litterbox in the basement.

4. Most rescues run on 99% volunteer effort. It's hard to establish uniformity in the vetting procedures. Further, these are people who aren't being paid, but doing it for the love of animals. Sometimes, they don't have great people communication skills. It is my observation that one area in which rescues truly fail is in not telling the truth to people who are rejected. It is much easier to say, "you don't have a fenced yard," than it is to say, "it is my judgment that you and this animal are not a good fit." Last week, a women came to one of our adoption events, and she was disgruntled that she hadn't heard back on her application to adopt. She had said on her application that she wanted an indoor/outdoor cat. She lives in a highrise apartment building surrounded on two sides with six lane roads. Why didn't anybody send her a message telling her why she was rejected? I don't know. Why didn't the head of the rescue give her an honest answer right there and then instead of fobbing it off on the Adoption Coordinator who was not present? I don't know that either. As I say, communication is not something that rescue people do well, as a general rule.

Next: Emily Yoffe rights about Fat People.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 9:09 AM on January 30, 2012 [17 favorites]


The writer did nothing wrong here. The rescue shelter did.

Giving Cavalier breeders money -> Cavalier breeders continue breeding Cavaliers.


Turning people away at shelters -> People giving breeders money
posted by burnmp3s at 9:09 AM on January 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Gah. "writes about Fat People."
posted by ereshkigal45 at 9:10 AM on January 30, 2012


Making issues black and white when they're not really quite that simple ---> Metafilter
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:11 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I also think that greyhound adoption groups who do not allow apartment dwellers to adopt a greyhound are silly, but again they can afford to be picky.

I agree that'd be pretty weird. Apartment compatibility was something that was touted as a benefit to owning a greyhound, which (despite its appearance) really ought be renamed to rughound.
posted by jquinby at 9:11 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. I had never hard of the breed until two friends of mine adopted puppies from the same litter a few years ago. Both dogs now live with me because their lives took different directions than they expected and they found that they were gone too many hours a day to care for dogs whose raison d'etre is lying in someone's lap. I am a homeschooling mom so the dogs are much happier here.

Of course, I've now learned about the neurological problems Cavs can have, and it is one of the worst problems of dog breeding that I've ever heard of. I have a kind of mental advance directive about my two dogs, that if they develop problems, I will euthanize them rather than let them suffer (like that poor dog in the video linked up-thread).

I might support a ban on breeding Cavs. Somebody asked what you do with all the Cavs we already have, and I'd say: you spay and neuter them, you let them live out their lives in decent homes, and in a decade or so there's a news story about the death of the last Cav and a big memorial service in a stadium somewhere with pictures and videos of our beloved dogs, where we all get together and weep. And then we say, "OK that's one horrible thing eradicated from the world. What should we take on next?"
posted by not that girl at 9:12 AM on January 30, 2012 [35 favorites]


Writing an article about how crazy animal rescues and shelters are is like writing an article about how all dentists suck because you've heard terrible stories from people about their experiences with dentists.

But the fact is that the concerns expressed in the article are not unique at all to Yoffe. I really wish I could find the article I mentioned above that was written by someone who consults for rescue organizations. The language was much more diplomatic as the intended audience was other rescue organizations.
posted by muddgirl at 9:14 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I lost my best friend this year.

In 1992, he was the beneficiary of a shelter (Evanston's C.A.R.E.) that not only took him in and adopted him out once, but when that family returned him two weeks later, the shelter workers broke the rules laid down by the former Evanston Animal Control chief and re-admitted him to the shelter under a new name.

I came into the picture about a week later. Here was my shelter experience: I came once to see cats casually and then another time where I had to take a disposition survey, do a short interview in the shelter offices, and bring my lease--all completely reasonable--in order to adopt a cat.

But here's where my story diverges--the shelter gave me a reduction in fees to adopt Zucchini (who was then Curtis) *because of the information the shelter got from my interview and survey*. The shelter workers risked a lot in bringing Zucchini back into the shelter when they were expressly forbidden to do so, and they risked a lot on me in adopting him. But precisely because of asking questions and making 100% sure I was a good candidate for pet ownership, they realized that I was a pretty good bet. So they reduced Zucchini's adoption fee from $100 to $15. As a graduate student living on a tiny stipend, this left me with enough money to take my new friend to the vet and to buy him plenty of food to start us off.

Turns out, I was a good risk. Zucchini lived to be 20 and died just a few months ago. He changed me for the better in a hundred ways. It's still hard for me to write about him.

Because the smart people at C.A.R.E. in 1992 got it right, I am a big believer that the right amount and type of questioning is necessary. I also think that shelters need to be able to do what C.A.R.E. did for me and use the data they get from prospective adopters and make the adoption process easier. And I'm not just saying that. I did something to make it happen. My friend deserves it.
posted by yellowcandy at 9:19 AM on January 30, 2012 [32 favorites]


"Turning people away at shelters -> People giving breeders money"

I sympathize with the people that had difficult experiences with rescue groups/shelters, but there's a bazillion of them in any given area. If one, or even a couple, seem unreasonable, move on down the list to the next one. The is no reason to buy from a breeder, even if OMG YOU WERE SO CRUSHED BY TEH REJECTION.
posted by HopperFan at 9:20 AM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


I volunteer-translate at a local shelter, converting forms and newsletters etc. into English, and was curious about the "unannounced drop-by evaluation, and we can seize your pet" policy.

As much as it is an EGREGIOUS OMG VIOLATION OF MY CIVIL RIIIIIGHTS, it stems from facts like the following:

1. The SPA (as they're called here) are the first port of call when an animal is being mistreated. Period. If you've got a dog with a broken leg chained to a post in your back yard in January, they get the call and it's up to them to investigate.

2. If you're the sort of person who would chain a dog with a broken leg to a post in your back yard in January, you are generally *not* the sort of person who would politely oblige to a well-spoken request, written in longhand and sealed in wax, to prithee make arrangements that we might visit your domicile at your earliest convenience that we might see the conditions in which the animal entrusted to your care is kept on a routine basis. The "unannounced" part is actually kind of crucial.

3. The "we can seize your pet" thing has a lot to do with what happens when the dog owner refuses to acknowledge that chaining a dog with a broken leg to a post in the back yard in January is unacceptable, and says "fuck you, it's my dog, I paid for it."

The above happens more often than you'd like to believe. It's still a fringe scenario, but here, at least, the SPA has to deal with pet abuse complaints because the police don't want to. It really does come down to them to respond to reports of pets behaving badly, and people treating their pets badly, and it's in their nature to make sure that animals suffer as little as possible.

I can't speak to individual, anecdotal, undocumented accounts of people saying a single solitary shelter employee was overzealous. I'm sure it happens. But I'm equally sure that the vast majority of the work done by shelters is done by dedicated volunteers who have the well-being of the animals in their care at heart; there may be the occasional power tripper, but their goal is to make sure that the animals they care for go to good homes, not that anyone that wanders in off the street can walk out with an animal that's probably suffered enough.
posted by Shepherd at 9:21 AM on January 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


Ah, found it: Good Homes Need Not Apply. This article is aimed at kill shelters, not dog rescue organizations, so the need for rational screening is even more acute.
One of the most enduring of these traditional dogmas is that animal shelters must kill because the public cannot be trusted with animals.
posted by muddgirl at 9:25 AM on January 30, 2012 [16 favorites]


muddgirl, link's missing!
posted by likeso at 9:28 AM on January 30, 2012


Thanks for the link muddgirl, looks great so far.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:28 AM on January 30, 2012


I have no doubt that there are some hypervigilant shelters and rescue groups and that there are bureaucracies that make people who. I also have no doubt that this is mostly yet another click-bait rage-generating Slate article -- "positing" as if it were a given that most people who work in shelters "don't have a particularly positive view of humanity," which is utter BS -- that has accomplished its purpose.

Shafer says, “My question is, what adult wants a guinea pig? Of course they’re for the children!”

As someone who's owned many a guinea pig, hamster, and rat, if Shafer thinks that there aren't a slew of people who adopt rodents for the kids and end up returning or discarding or otherwise harming the rodents when they find out that they really aren't cuddly creatures who sit contentedly on your lap eating produce but are instead often nipping, ill-tempered poop machines who are ill-fit for kids with unicorn dreams who don't want the chore of taking care of them when they turn out not to be unicorns, Shafer's living in a fantasy world.
posted by blucevalo at 9:28 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


(nevermind)
posted by likeso at 9:28 AM on January 30, 2012


I volunteer-translate at a local shelter, converting forms and newsletters etc. into English, and was curious about the "unannounced drop-by evaluation, and we can seize your pet" policy.

Yeah, for rescue groups specifically my impression is that this clause is included so that, if the SPCA or local animal care group is called in, the pet can go back to the rescue group rather than to the general shelter.
posted by muddgirl at 9:29 AM on January 30, 2012


This article infuriates me for so many reasons. I have been heavily involved in rescue for over 10 years - I foster, have served on the BoD for my group, and have worked in conjunction with pretty much every shelter and rescue group in our area. So I like to think that I speak with a fair amount of experience here.

I can almost guarantee that 75% of the horror stories she lists are gross misinterpretations of the facts by people that are pissed off because they were denied the animal they wanted. I've seen it happen HUNDREDS of times. We get approximately 15 applications a week, and usually 10 of them are rejected. Often the people we reject for good, sound reasons will take to facebook or other public forums and start bashing our group's policies, and their stories are so far from the actual truth it's almost laughable.

I guess we are considered to have fairly strict adoption policies, and it rubs some people the wrong way. But you know what? Our policies are in place for the dogs, not for the convenience of our adopters. And every requirement we have comes because of years of experience dealing with animal adoptions and facing every worst-case scenario you can think of.

Here is what we do and why we do it.

The first step in an adoption application. It has a lot of questions, mainly about who lives in the home, what other pets are present, previous pet history, and where the dog will be kept. There are few things here that will get you an automatic dismissal:
1) Your current pets aren't spayed/neutered. Our goal is to reduce overpopulation in all pets, not just the breed we deal with. If you are willing to spay/neuter, we will be willing to reconsider, but if you insist on keeping intact animals, you won't be getting a dog from us.
2) You don't have a fenced yard. I know this one is controversial, but it's there for a reason. We have had situations where people *swore* they would only let the dog out on a leash, and 6 months later we get a teary-eyed email saying that the family started letting Fido run around without a leash and surprise, he got hit by a car/shot by a neighbor/attacked by an animal. When we spend months and $$ rehabilitating a dog and sending it off to a new home, we do so with the hope that it won't die a violent death due to owner negligence. So, no fence, no dog. We will sometimes make exceptions for people living in highly urbanized areas where yards are rare and dog-parks are the norm (French Quarter of New Orleans, for example), but only if you can prove that you have successfully had a dog in this situation and are aware of the extra work it presents.
3) You plan to keep the dog outside or currently have dogs that are outside-only. We want our dogs to be part of the family and be indoor pets.
4) You have a history of giving away dogs. We want our dogs to go to a forever home and not get bounced back to us in a year because someone decides dogs are a pain or they get a new shiny puppy.
5) If you have never owned a dog before, we won't outright reject you, but we will ask lots of questions to make sure you are familiar with the basics of dog ownership.

The second step is a veterinary reference check. If you have pets currently or recently had a pet, we want to make sure they are taken care of. It's as simple as that. Reasons for dismissal at this stage include:
1) Your pets were not kept up to date on vaccinations. Unless there is a medical reason, pets need vaccines.
2) Your pets are not seen by the vet on a regular basis. Dogs need annual checkups. If you cannot afford veterinary care or do not think it's necessary, you don't get a dog.
3) Your pets are not on appropriate monthly prevention. In our area, roughly 75% of the dogs we take in are positive for heartworms. It costs us $500+ per dog to treat for this disease, and the treatment is very painful for the dogs. We NEVER want a dog to have to go through treatment again, or for the first time, because an owner is unwilling to give the dog a pill once a month.

Next we will do a home visit. We do not care if you have an expensive house or that it is kept immaculately clean. We could care less about those things. We want to know that it is a safe environment for a pet. Ways to fail:
1) You lied about having a fenced yard. See above.
2) Your current pets are not well-cared for (ie. tied out on a chain, are severely underweight with no medical reason, are matted or have dangerously overgrown nails).
3) One or more members of the family are not on-board with the idea of adopting a dog.

And that's it. Once those steps are completed, approved adopters can then come meet the dogs and hopefully go home with a new companion. This final step usually has it's share of trouble-makers and complainers though, usually because we "won't let someone have the dog they want". Well, we know more about the dog than the adopters do. Some dogs aren't good with cats, or small kids, or other male dogs; or are very high-energy and need a specific type of home. People look at pictures online and get their heart set on one dog, and could not care less that that particular dog would be a poor match for their setting. These people usually go on to complain to anyone that will listen about how we "hoard" our dogs and that "no family is good enough for us". That's just simply not true. When it comes to these dogs, WE know best. We spend months working with these dogs and we know their temperments and personalities. If someone gets mad because Fido is "so pretty" and WHY WON'T YOU LET ME ADOPT FIDO, then they also will not likely get a dog from us.

Rescuers work tirelessy to help homeless dogs find homes. We do it because we love dogs/cats and we want to help the animals and the community. Yes, our rules may seem strict and limiting, but they are in place because somewhere along the way we learned through experience that they are necessary. We always look at each potential adopter's situation as a whole and will absolutely consider exceptions to the list above if provided with a compelling reason.

The vast majority of shelters and rescue groups in my area have similar, if not less stringent, rules as we do. Yes, there probably are some extreme exceptions, but I take offense to the fact that this article paints them as the standard. If this woman was turned down by *every single* group she tried to adopt from, then I have to believe the problem lies with her and not with the rescue community as a whole.
posted by tryniti at 9:29 AM on January 30, 2012 [28 favorites]


I can almost guarantee that 75% of the horror stories she lists are gross misinterpretations of the facts by people that are pissed off because they were denied the animal they wanted.

tryniti - can you read the article I linked to before responding that all these stores are 'gross misinterpretations'? It was written by someone involved with animal rescue for 20 years. It is about his experiences with kill shelters, but IME his experiences are not unique. For example:
They filled out the application: Do they consider the adoption a lifetime commitment? Yes. Do they have a veterinarian? Yes. What happened to their other cat? Died of cancer. “In my arms,” the old man said. But one thing caught the adoption counselor’s eye. When they came to the question asking about where the cat would live, they had checked the box: “Mostly indoors, some outdoors.”

“Sorry,” the adoption counselor said. “We have a strict indoor-only rule.” She denied the adoption. They were stunned. I was stunned.

What happened to “15 years,” “in my arms,” “wanted to mourn her appropriately,” “lifetime commitment”?
No one is denying that accommodating, responsible groups exist - I adopted a retired greyhound from an amazing group that exhibited none of these behaviors. But the fact is that irresponsible groups do exist. They are public-facing, and they do harm.
posted by muddgirl at 9:33 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


But muddgirl – that makes absolutely perfect sense. Cats should not be outside. Being outside lessens a cat's lifetime by many years, statistically speaking. I know there's some controversy over this, and I'm aware that many, many cat owners don't really think this affects them, but it really is not egregious for a shelter to deny allowing cats to a family that will have them outside.
posted by koeselitz at 9:36 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


There are few things here that will get you an automatic dismissal:
1) Your current pets aren't spayed/neutered.


Don't you adopt out dogs that are already spayed/neutered? In which case, the sterile pet won't be breeding with the non-sterile pet, right? I realize you want to depopulate all pets (a worthy goal), but isn't this beside the point of preventing adoption of a pet that won't ever be bred?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:36 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


The last thread I remember reading here that talked about this sort of thing--meaning demanding that someone have a bourgeois, perfect, orderly life in order to get something very basic done--was a post about how authorities and people in general demand perfect victims before taking them even minimally seriously.

I don't mean to equate the two things--just very odd that our society and culture could bring itself to the point of having such similar demands for such wildly different things.
posted by aerotive at 9:36 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


My parents took in a rescued research beagle and the group they got her from included that stipulation that the dog be returned to them if my parents died. My parents have had this dog for a long time and put a lot of effort into helping her overcome her research past. (she used to hide under the bed anytime a stranger was around) My mission, should my parents die together, is to get to the house, steal the dog and take her to my house, and then pretend that I have no idea where the dog went if the rescue group comes looking for her. She will be happier with me...she knows me and she'll be a part of a multi-beagle home. If she went back to the rescue group, she'd be placed with strangers because I don't live in the area they service.
posted by byjingo! at 9:38 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


tryniti - I have been turned down by a local shelter and dismissed out of hand. At the time, I had 2 dogs (now have 3). I have a fenced yard. I have vet references. I never gave a dog away. I don't keep them outside. We are financially stable.

no matter what dog we were interested in, 'we were not the right fit for the dog" or they "didn't thinkw e could care for the dog"
posted by rich at 9:39 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


And this is why I only get my pet's the only reliable way: From doe-eyed disheveled barefoot ragamuffins standing out side the Five-and-Dime with a worn down apple crate hastily labeled PUpPYS N KITTиS 10¢
posted by wcfields at 9:39 AM on January 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


If one, or even a couple, seem unreasonable, move on down the list to the next one. The is no reason to buy from a breeder, even if OMG YOU WERE SO CRUSHED BY TEH REJECTION.

I'm not saying that people who get rejected at shelters and because of that buy from a breeder are making a good choice or were actually forced to make that choice, just that the screening process is going to contribute to increased demand for breeders. To use an analogy, if a few competitors of Walmart started screening their customers and rejecting ones that didn't meet their standards, that would be a good thing for Walmart's bottom line, even if competitors to Walmart that didn't have a screening process also existed. If we're talking about the economic side effects of buying from a breeder, it makes sense to talk about the (unintended) economic side effects of shelters having a screening process. It would probably make sense from an overall harm reduction perspective for shelters that reject potential pet owners to purposely refer those rejected people to shelters with less stringent screening and help reduce the number of people who give up and buy from somewhere shady, but I'm guessing most of the shelters doing the screening would consider rejects to be completely unsuitable for pet ownership at all.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:39 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I should also say that many localities who are moving towards no-kill shelters rely on partnerships with local no-killrescue organizations. This means that policies which prevent no-kill rescue organizations from adopting out dogs increase the kill rate of shelters as much as the shelter's own policies.

But muddgirl – that makes absolutely perfect sense. Cats should not be outside. Being outside lessens a cat's lifetime by many years, statistically speaking.

Please read the article:
I looked at the adoption counselor and told her: “We’ve got to take a more thoughtful approach to adoptions.”

She stared at me blankly.

“Ok,” I said, “Let me put it this way. Outdoor cats may face risks, but it largely depends on circumstances. We need to use common sense. This isn’t downtown Manhattan. This is a rural community. I only saw one car on my way to work this morning. In fact, given how safe it is, people should be required to let the cat go outside.” I smiled.

Nothing.
posted by muddgirl at 9:41 AM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


You don't have a fenced yard. I know this one is controversial, but it's there for a reason. We have had situations where people *swore* they would only let the dog out on a leash, and 6 months later we get a teary-eyed email saying that the family started letting Fido run around without a leash and surprise, he got hit by a car/shot by a neighbor/attacked by an animal. When we spend months and $$ rehabilitating a dog and sending it off to a new home, we do so with the hope that it won't die a violent death due to owner negligence. So, no fence, no dog.

You do realize that a fence doesn't guarantee that a dog won't get hit by a car, right? Our dog used to grab onto our five foot tall fence and pull herself up over it. We didn't believe it was happening--and couldn't figure out how she was getting out--until we saw her do it one day. Likewise, the requirement that cats always be kept inside doesn't save them from violent deaths. My cat is now 99% indoor (he's leash-trained though even that was a struggle; he was barn-raised and he ALWAYS WANTS OUT, but eventually we got sick of him fighting with the neighbor cat), but I know more than one person whose "always inside cat" got out through a window screen or door opened for visitors and was promptly hit by a car. I understand that you're attempting to reduce harm, but it seems that with animal overpopulation, the greater good could be done by placing animals with empathetic, caring owners rather than, say, only owners with fences.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:42 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is that because of the health problems they have?

Cavaliers have a lot of health problems, and -- worse -- have a lot of genetically-linked problems that could be eliminated if the breed club chose to act on it, but the breed club doesn't. I'm thinking here of the huge mitral valve problems that could be eliminated quickly by simply not breeding dogs until they're old enough to ultrasound for the condition (5?) and not breeding the affected dogs. But no. There are problems with most any breed, but the Cavalier is really fucked up. Likewise the people fucking up the sheppies.

Don't all purebreds suffer from genetic health problems of one sort or another?

Any dog can have genetic health problems. Any given breed will likely have more of one problem than free-breeding dogs and less of some other.

Some breeds are much more susceptible to lingering, painful conditions than others, especially those where all the dogs are only descended from an original six ancestors.

The two don't go together so well. We have Vallhunds. Having almost gone "extinct," they are all descended from (IIRC) three or four bitches and one (cryptorchid) dog. Apart from a tendency towards cryptorchidism, they don't really have much in the way of genetic problems. About the only thing is this weird eye thing that we still aren't sure is an actual problem, as opposed to a mild scientific curiosity.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:43 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


More:
Increasing adoptions means offsite adoption events, public access hours, marketing and greater visibility in the community, working with rescue groups, competing with pet stores and puppy mills, adoption incentives, a good public image, and thoughtful but not bureaucratic screening. It has nothing to do with lowering quality. It has absolutely nothing to do with putting animals in harm’s way. Indeed, shelter killing is the leading cause of death for healthy dogs and cats in the United States. Adoptions take animals out of harm’s way.
Again, this applies to rescue organizations and no-kill shelters as much as kill-shelters, especially in areas with kill/no-kill partnerships (like my town, San Antonio).
posted by muddgirl at 9:44 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


1) Your current pets aren't spayed/neutered. Our goal is to reduce overpopulation in all pets, not just the breed we deal with. If you are willing to spay/neuter, we will be willing to reconsider, but if you insist on keeping intact animals, you won't be getting a dog from us.

Almost everyone who keeps pet rabbits neuters the males. I spay my females too but it's a decision with both pros and cons, and some people feel the risks to the animal outweigh the rewards. It's certainly not something I do lightly. Of course, with all the males neutered, population control is not a concern. Frankly, your no-exceptions rule looks a bit bonkers from my point of view.
posted by Leon at 9:44 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Don't you adopt out dogs that are already spayed/neutered? In which case, the sterile pet won't be breeding with the non-sterile pet, right? I realize you want to depopulate all pets (a worthy goal), but isn't this beside the point of preventing adoption of a pet that won't ever be bred?

Yes, all of our dogs are altered prior to adoption. The problem is that when we ask why people have intact pets, 9 times out of 10 the answer we get is "Well we want to breed FiFi one day, she's such a great dog". We try to educate people on pet overpopulation and the health benefits of spay/neuter. It is a bit of a catch-22 and I understand your point, but we have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. The upside is that the other 1 of the 10 often will take our advice and alter their pet, which is a win for everyone involved.
posted by tryniti at 9:49 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Cats should not be outside. Being outside lessens a cat's lifetime by many years, statistically speaking. I know there's some controversy over this, and I'm aware that many, many cat owners don't really think this affects them, but it really is not egregious for a shelter to deny allowing cats to a family that will have them outside.

It's better for them to stay in the shelter indefinitely than to go live with a loving family, even if it's life might be shorter? I'm a huge proponent of indoor-only cats, and agree that cats should be indoor only, but I think forbidding otherwise perfectly suitable owners from adopting an indoor/outdoor cat is a case of the perfect being the enemy of the good.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:50 AM on January 30, 2012 [19 favorites]


If she went back to the rescue group, she'd be placed with strangers because I don't live in the area they service.

You know that rescues really *want* the animal to go and live with a loving family member, right? It's heartbreaking when we hear of an animal whose person died, and not one single family member loved the person (or the animal) to give the pet a home.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 9:51 AM on January 30, 2012


muddgirl: “Please read the article...”

I did. As someone who grew up in a 'rural community,' I found it laughable that anybody would think that cats are much safer outside in such communities – as though cities are full of roving bands of cat-killers, and that's the reason cats shouldn't be outside. Cars emit chemicals in rural communities just as much as cities, and what's more there are coyotes in rural communities. It's just clueless to think that you're exempt from this stuff just because you live outside the city.
posted by koeselitz at 9:51 AM on January 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


That they went to a breeder is galling. Any ethical breeder will have a puppy process that's about as intrusive as a rescue's... but most breeders aren't ethical.

The last time biscotti had a litter approaching / on the ground, she had a couple of families that got disgusted with her questions (how dare you ask what we plan on feeding!) and left in a huff. Byyyyyye! Don't let the door hit you on the way out!

(3) Won't adopt if all other pets don't have current records with listed vet (some dogs don't require vaccines every year, especially if they are older. Some people don't vaccinate indoor cats, etc).

Dogs don't just need vet visits for vaccinations and emergent problems. They ought to have periodic checkups.

I can't remember whether it's on the questionnaire or not, but I'm pretty certain biscotti wouldn't place a puppy in any household that she knew wasn't up on its vaccinations and such. Why start off with neglect?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:54 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: nipping, ill-tempered poop machines
posted by XMLicious at 9:54 AM on January 30, 2012


In other words, muddgirl, what's silliest in that article is the assumption that the "cats shouldn't be outside" rule is because cats get hit by cars. It's not. For one thing, cats have extremely sensitive kidneys, and even chemicals we think of as stable and non-dangerous can cause an obstruction and kill a cat. For another thing, yeah, coyotes. There's a lot of crap out there. Cats shouldn't be outside.)
posted by koeselitz at 9:55 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


For some animal breeds there are health risks to spay/neuter prior to quite an advanced age - as late as 18 months.

Again, I recognize there is a need for screening. Someone who is adamantly against neutering any animal is one thing. A thoughtful, considerate owner who has logical and sound reasons not to neuter ("It's a female pet rabbit that literally never, ever encounters an intact male," "there is a potential risk of bone cancer in dogs of this breed who are neutered before age 18 months and this dog will literally never encounter an intact female") should not be disqualified based on a rigid adherence to rules.

It's better for them to stay in the shelter indefinitely than to go live with a loving family, even if it's life might be shorter?

It's even more illogical coming from a kill shelter: "Either we adopt them out to an other-wise perfect couple and risk shortening their lives by several years, or we don't adopt them out to this couple and they, statistically, die in 3 days."

Cars emit chemicals in rural communities just as much as cities, and what's more there are coyotes in rural communities. It's just clueless to think that you're exempt from this stuff just because you live outside the city.

Hi, my grandfather runs an entirely-outdoor Catch-Neuter/Spay-Release stray/feral cat program in a rural community. Over the last 10 years he has lost exactly 0 cats to coyotes. I think he lost a kitten to an owl once.

Again, the point is that the choice is between statistically shortening their life, vs. statistically killing them in 3 days (or, for no-kill shelters, taking the kennel of some OTHER cat that will be killed in 3 days).
posted by muddgirl at 9:55 AM on January 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


You do realize that a fence doesn't guarantee that a dog won't get hit by a car, right? Our dog used to grab onto our five foot tall fence and pull herself up over it. We didn't believe it was happening--and couldn't figure out how she was getting out--until we saw her do it one day.

Of course we realize it. The thing is, if a dog is an escape-artist and is prone to digging or jumping, we already know that about the dog and will ask the potential adopter about how they plan on working to keep the dog safely contained.

For example, we had a dog that would easily jump a 5-foot fence as if it were stepping over a puddle. No amount of training would keep this dog from leaping fences. We tried him with a 6-foot fence and it turned out that was 1-foot too high for him to jump. Consequently, we made a 6-foot fence a requirement for anyone looking to adopt him. It's not because we hate people with shorter fences, we knew that a tall fence would keep the dog safer and make life easier on his people.

People aren't perfect, dogs aren't perfect, and no situation is without its own unique challenges. Most people that rescue animals just want to see the pet go to a home where it has the best chance of success.
posted by tryniti at 9:58 AM on January 30, 2012


(Not that coyotes won't prey on cats, but that the risk is statistically much MUCH lower than the risk of timing out in a shelter.)
posted by muddgirl at 9:59 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am fascinated by the language and experiences in this thread.

"Adopting" * ?
Questionnaires?
Home visits?
Someone deciding you can't have a pet?

Craziness.

Last time I got a cat, you just went on down to the pound, paid them your money, got your certificate for a cheap spay/neuter, and carried on your way.


* "Adopting out" has to be one of the worst turns of phrases ever.
posted by madajb at 10:00 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


tryniti: We get approximately 15 applications a week, and usually 10 of them are rejected.

The point that shelters miss — and the point that Yoffe makes — is that shelters rejecting applicants doesn’t prevent them from getting a dog or a cat. How many of those 10 rejected people simply got their pet from another source? How did your rejecting them make any difference whatsoever to animal welfare? They still have the dog they wanted, just from a source you don’t approve of; you still have a dog that needs a home.
posted by mcwetboy at 10:00 AM on January 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


It's even more illogical coming from a kill shelter: "Either we adopt them out to an other-wise perfect couple and risk shortening their lives by several years, or we don't adopt them out to this couple and they, statistically, die in 3 days."

That isn't illogical at all. A decent shelter and quick, humane euthansia is better for a cat than a long life of periodic injury terminated by being killed violently or suffering a prolonged toxicity problem.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:01 AM on January 30, 2012


Cats should not be outside. Being outside lessens a cat's lifetime by many years, statistically speaking.

I personally only have indoor cats, but I don't think it's that simple. Statistically speaking a prey animal in a wildlife preserve will have a shorter lifespan than one in a zoo, but does that mean that zoos are inherently better than wildlife preserves?
posted by burnmp3s at 10:01 AM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


A decent shelter and quick, humane euthansia is better for a cat than a long life of periodic injury terminated by being killed violently or suffering a prolonged toxicity problem.

Using that logic, every wild animal on earth would be better off euthanized.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:02 AM on January 30, 2012 [35 favorites]


Almost everyone who keeps pet rabbits neuters the males. I spay my females too but it's a decision with both pros and cons, and some people feel the risks to the animal outweigh the rewards. It's certainly not something I do lightly. Of course, with all the males neutered, population control is not a concern. Frankly, your no-exceptions rule looks a bit bonkers from my point of view.

I admit to knowing nothing about rabbits, since I deal with dogs. In almost all cases, the health benefits of altering a dog greatly outweigh the small risk that surgery involves. But there are always exceptions, and this is why we ask why the pets are intact. If the answer is "because we want to breed Fido", then we try to educate and move on. If the answer is "because Fido has a congenital heart condition and can't have surgery", then we take that into account and move forward with the adoption. There are always exceptions to the rules, but there has to be a good reason.
posted by tryniti at 10:03 AM on January 30, 2012


I'm currently serving as a reference for friends of mine who just bought their own house and now, after years of living in apartments, are logistically and legally able to have a companion animal. They want a dog and have now been denied twice for adoption on the basis that they don't have a yard. I fear that my "references" for them are going to become more and more hostile to the shelter, because these are truly responsible people (public interest lawyer and a college instructor). I am really disappointed that the shelter has denied them on the basis of "no yard" as I trust my friends to do anything and everything to ensure that their companion animal is well cared for - up to and including trips to a neighborhood park or dog park.

Anyway, if the experience of my friends is any indication (and it seems it is!) then shelters are preventing animals from being adopted by loving and very capable families.

As for the "cats shouldn't be outside" thing - that's not necessarily true. My brother adopted a beautiful cat and took wonderful care of him for years until he developed some weird elopement issues (running for the door every time it opened) and then shortly thereafter some mysterious kidney thing which would have killed him. The vet's answer: let him outside. He's been an indoor/outdoor cat ever since (including staying outside when Hurricane Ike hit my hometown and my brother couldn't catch him) and he's in fine health. Living outside LENGTHENED his life rather than shortening it. I'd rather he take his chances with the coyotes (of which there are plenty in my hometown) than doom him to an unpleasant, shorter life indoors.
posted by jph at 10:03 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


muddgirl: “Again, the point is that the choice is between statistically shortening their life, vs. statistically killing them in 3 days (or, for no-kill shelters, taking the kennel of some OTHER cat that will be killed in 3 days).”

Yeah, I think we agree on the degree to which coyotes prey on cats; I just feel as though it's not this simple. There has to be some care taken to make sure people are prepared to be pet owners. But it sounds like you're saying that any selectivity at all just consigns animals to death. Can there not be some middle ground?
posted by koeselitz at 10:04 AM on January 30, 2012


I can't believe I'm hearing about the cruel situation where people chain their dogs outside. People, have you never heard of rope!?! It's so much softer.
posted by resurrexit at 10:05 AM on January 30, 2012


and this is why we ask why the pets are intact

You didn't say that bit originally, did you? (If I missed it, I apologise in advance).

(FWIW: female rabbits have a high incidence of uterine cancer if you don't spay them, but they're fragile animals that don't take deal well with anaesthetic, and spaying results in personality changes. With the giants, who only have an expected lifespan of 4-6 years, the cancer thing is less likely to show itself. So, you know, difficult call).
posted by Leon at 10:07 AM on January 30, 2012


Yeah, I think we agree on the degree to which coyotes prey on cats; I just feel as though it's not this simple. There has to be some care taken to make sure people are prepared to be pet owners. But it sounds like you're saying that any selectivity at all just consigns animals to death. Can there not be some middle ground?

It doesn't sound like she's saying that at all. It sounds like she's saying that "responsible pet owner" does not necessarily equal "fenced in yard" or "cat inside at all times." You might question those premises--and clearly rescue groups do, too--but no need to go all slippery slope here.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:10 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Using that logic, every wild animal on earth would be better off euthanized.

And most people too. Ethical Suicide Parlors for all!

BTW the feral cat that's been pooping in my front yard for the last seven years seems to be immune to cars, coyotes, and toxic chemicals, somebody should look into this
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:11 AM on January 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


Again, the point is that the choice is between statistically shortening their life, vs. statistically killing them in 3 days (or, for no-kill shelters, taking the kennel of some OTHER cat that will be killed in 3 days).

Personally, I'm more concerned with the effect outdoor cats have on the native bird population (in the grand sense) and finding cat poop in my kid's sandbox (in the purely self-interested sense) than I am that one of the huge overpopulation of cats might not make it.
posted by madajb at 10:11 AM on January 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


I foster rescued rabbits who would have a tough time being adopted - they're older, they've got personality concerns - and going through the foster application wasn't very hard. An added benefit is that all vet bills are covered by the group.

If you're willing to take on an animal that might need a bit more space or work, fostering can be a great way to get to know the local rescue group and bring more trust into their relationship with you, thus helping you, the animal and the rescue feel more trusting once the adoption process starts.
posted by Salmonberry at 10:13 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm more concerned with the effect outdoor cats have on the native bird population

This. (And the native snake, frog and other little prey animal populations too.)
posted by mcwetboy at 10:14 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was shocked recently to learn that many UK pet shelters will not adopt cats to people who *won't* let them outside. Some will generously allow you to adopt an older or chronically ill cat to be kept inside at all times, but otherwise you must have a garden to allow the cat into.
posted by katemonster at 10:15 AM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Cats should not be outside. Being outside lessens a cat's lifetime by many years, statistically speaking.

I usually hate this sort of comment, but please show your work here.

I've tried to track down the scientific literature on this without a huge amount of success. There are studies on feral cats, lots of anecdata and opinion pieces masquerading as fact (e.g. 1, 2). I have been unable to find good data on the average life-expectancies of cats offered good care at home with access to regular medical attention (i.e. have all their shots) for both indoor only and indoor/outdoor cats. Note that comparisons of feral vs domestic cats, while interesting for other purposes are not germane for this question.

Is this actually good advice or is it in the same category as "drink 8 glasses of water a day"? Is there actually good science behind these sorts of statements or is it just some random supposition of what must be true?

Primary sources or secondary reviews only, please, with citations. I will discard source data prior to 2002, as that's when FIV vaccines became widely available.
posted by bonehead at 10:17 AM on January 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


The last time I visited a local shelter a few years ago, there was a fairly small number of decent, non-problem dogs available (meaning, dogs without obvious issues that might actually require special attention or care). There was at least a little room to be choosy about who gets to adopt a dog.

On the other hand, the shelter had a giant room full of cats. The impression I got was that the world is awash in cats, and as long as the person who wants to adopt isn't a crazy hoarder or abuser, any opportunity to get a cat a home is a good one. If there are resources for someone to make a 10-second visit to make sure the residence doesn't already have a hundred cats in it, I'm sure that's fine, but anything beyond that is uncalled for.
posted by gimonca at 10:18 AM on January 30, 2012


The only reason – the only reason – that breeders continue to breed Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is because they believe, apparently rightly, that people will always pay money for a purebred Cavalier. If you pay for one of these dogs, you're directly funding the industry; it's hard to avoid this conclusion.

What should happen to the Cavaliers that already exist at breeders? I would think this would be obvious. The breeders should have to care for them for many years, frustrated at the fact that nobody is buying them; and finally, after becoming exasperated at this state of affairs, the breeders should finally conclude that there's no money in Cavaliers and just donate the dogs to a shelter, deciding never to breed Cavalier King Charles Spaniels again.


Just like the Drug War!
posted by spaltavian at 10:19 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was shocked recently to learn that many UK pet shelters will not adopt cats to people who *won't* let them outside. Some will generously allow you to adopt an older or chronically ill cat to be kept inside at all times, but otherwise you must have a garden to allow the cat into.

Yup. The whole "indoor cat" thing looks a bit mad from this side of the pond. Cats are top predators over here, they can even see off foxes.
posted by Leon at 10:19 AM on January 30, 2012


For another thing, yeah, coyotes. There's a lot of crap out there. Cats shouldn't be outside.

Not to mention that pet cats that are let outdoors kill millions of wild songbirds and other small animals every year. They decimate wild bird populations when they have no need to do so - it's just what cats do, whether they're hungry or not. That an indoor/outdoor cat may live a shorter but more exciting life is less troubling to me than that. It's just as much about the cat as it is about the animals it would be hunting.
posted by wondermouse at 10:22 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can there not be some middle ground?

There can be, yes, but the point being made by this article (and the article linked to by muddgirl) is that right now, many shelters are already way off the deep end. Approaching a middle ground would require that those shelters change, and you seem to be taking a stance that somehow it's the adopters that need to change their attitude.

As I alluded to in my prior comment, it has been about 7 years since I last adopted a pet. But, I'm not completely un-aware of what the process is like right now. I've seen friends adopt (some with horror stories of their own), and seen various articles over the years, and it's really disheartening.

The prevailing attitude at many shelters, it seems, is that they would rather kill 20 animals in-house than allow the adoption those same 20 animals and see a single one end up in a bad home. That's really not right. It's an attitude completely tied up in emotion and a poor understandings of statistics and triage.

If we ran hospitals this way, the only treatment offered would be assisted suicide, because any other option might have an unexpected outcome.
posted by tocts at 10:23 AM on January 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Cats should not be outside. Being outside lessens a cat's lifetime by many years, statistically speaking. I know there's some controversy over this, and I'm aware that many, many cat owners don't really think this affects them, but it really is not egregious for a shelter to deny allowing cats to a family that will have them outside.

I'm challenging this statement on principle, because I've seen it put out there like it's a given, and heard people quoting it, but I have yet to see any hard data backing it up.

Do feral cats die sooner than pampered indoor cats? Sure, I'd take that as a given. They're subject to starvation, diseases and parasites that owned animals are not. They aren't vaccinated against rabies, for example. But feral cats that live only a few years are not the same as owned cats who are allowed outside. That's like saying that since homeless people die young, people should not be allowed outside their homes.

Seems like a no-brainer to me that any animals who have been vaccinated, are regularly treated for heartworms, etc. and fed regularly will live longer than those that aren't, no matter what the living arrangement. Those animals that get hit by cars, even, could *easily* be indoor-only animals that escape their owners when the door is open (and have no clue that they should avoid roads because they've always been kept indoors away from cars!).

I have two cats. They are both rescues, and they they are allowed outside only on our screened-in porch. They are the most pampered cats you will ever meet, because fortunately I am in the financial position to pamper them. I choose to keep them inside because it is easiest on all of us, as I am home all day and can let them in and out on the porch at will. They have occasionally escaped from the porch, and I hunt them down and bring them in, because I am told that is what responsible pet owners should do. Meanwhile, several of my neighbors have cats that roam the block regularly. They are all in good health, and one at least I can attest to having been around for between 10-12 years.

My parents, who were not so financially comfortably off when I was young, had an indoor/outdoor cat who I loved like crazy. We lived on a dead-end street and he climbed trees and ran around in the grass and had a ball. He was a persian, a breed whose lifespan usually runs 12 years on average. Their cat lived to be over 19 years old. He finally died of old age.

I know that's all anecdotal, not hard data. The point is, the whole "outside cats only live a few years," is an estimate put out by pet advocacy groups (whose intentions are good), but that estimate is also not substantiated. They can't track every outdoor cat, ever--if they could, we would have no feral cat problem, as they all would have been scooped up and neutered already.
posted by misha at 10:24 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


As I alluded to in my prior comment, it has been about 7 years since I last adopted a pet. But, I'm not completely un-aware of what the process is like right now. I've seen friends adopt (some with horror stories of their own), and seen various articles over the years, and it's really disheartening.

You just skimmed a lot of the comments in this thread, didn't you?
posted by ereshkigal45 at 10:25 AM on January 30, 2012


Around here I wish the shelters were a bit more selective. In the last six months my next door neighbor has brought home four different shelter dogs. They spend most of their time outside and off the leash wandering the countryside. Recently they decided it was fun to bark/snap at and chase my horses. We had several frustrating conversations about it and she never really seemed all that concerned until earlier this month when one of the dogs got its head kicked in.
posted by the_artificer at 10:25 AM on January 30, 2012


Cats shouldn't be outside because they wreak havoc on the environment.
posted by slkinsey at 10:26 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


You just skimmed a lot of the comments in this thread, didn't you?

Actually, no, I've been following this since it was posted and read every comment. But please, keep throwing out baseless accusations without actually adding anything useful.
posted by tocts at 10:27 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


If someone gives me the ludicrous and incorrect notion that cats should be "indoor only" pets, I'll show them some lovely pictures of my dear departed kitty Merlin, a well loved Siamese who lived 19 wonderful years with ample time to play outside to the point she learned how to knock on the window when she wanted to come inside, a list of a few of the books I've read on cat ownership, and then I would go somewhere to get a cat from someone who actually knows something about cats.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:27 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did anyone mention what a bad idea Bernese Mountain Dogs are to buy from a breeder? That's like a recipe for disappointment for your kids when they die from cancer in 4 years. Does any other dog breed have a genome project to try and correct their inbred deficiencies or disease clusters?

No one has ever reprimanded a child for writing in the dirt with a stick, saying "the dog expects you to throw it." Don't you find it awfully convenient that this person is not actually named? Or that it's a "friend" of Ms. Yoffe's? It's fucking made-up. No question.

I could easily see that scenario playing out like this. Kid waves stick around. Shelter volunteer notices dog on other side of enclosure starting to fixate on stick. Shelter volunteer has vivid mental image of dog jumping all over said child clacking jaws together trying to get the awesome stick while child screams shrilly in fear and flops backward on ground trying to avoid dog while every other dog in the enclosure runs towards the excitement and dog piles onto the squealing child. Shelter volunteer awkwardly babbles something along the lines of "don't do that" while moving to interpose in the sight line between dog and stick. Parents hear a different emphasis than intended.

Personally, I know a lot of dog people who can not communicate well with people, or who don't appear to communicate well until you understand that their attention is always divided between you and the dogs around while they read the body language of the dogs.

The article and thread reinforces so much of what I experienced throughout most of my petless adult life: pets make way too many people irrational assholes. All out of such deep concern for the animals, of course.

Passion makes way too many people into irrational assholes. Whether it be pets, children, vintage cars, or HOAs. When certain personality types truly become passionate about something, it seems like they treat any ignorance of the subject of their passion as a personal betrayal or moral sin.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:32 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: they treat any ignorance of the subject of their passion as a personal betrayal or moral sin.
posted by jquinby at 10:34 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


The impression I got was that the world is awash in cats

Yeah, I confess I'm a little surprised to think about shelters being overly picky about finding homes for cats. I got my childhood cat at the local kill shelter after years of patient nagging - the interview took about five minutes (although they did require us to go home and get Mom to agree before they released the cat, which was wise.) My current pair were both direct adoptions from acquaintances - Dottie's mother was a barn cat in Oklahoma, and Mags was born to a feral cat that condescended to give birth on a co-worker's porch. When at some point in the future I am ready to get another, I'll either wait for news of a litter to cross my Facebook feed or I'll tell my vet to keep an ear out, or both.

outside cats only live a few years

I'd also love to see better data on that. Mine have always been indoors (Dottie is both incredibly fearless and incredibly dumb, and Mags is exactly the opposite and flees an open front door,) and I doubt I'd ever feel really good about letting them out, but I've known more than one 18-year-old indoor-outdoor. I find the argument about slaughtered wildlife a lot more compelling.

Dogs, now, those are trickier. I have met far more appalling dog owners than cat owners, and far, far more genuinely problematic dogs that required special treatment. I have a friend who has a lovely, sweet rescue mutt that was used as a bait dog when she was much younger and she will never be ok with other dogs. I also have a neighbor with a homicidal chihuahua that they can't let off-leash (or, more typically, out of their arms) or he'll attack the nearest human stranger. But I have another neighbor with an elderly Golden who lounges in our courtyard off-leash and only poops on command, doesn't wander, and rarely even barks, and a Shih Tzu on perfect voice control that goes everywhere with her owner. It really seems to be all about the dog and the owner and much, much less about the surroundings.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:35 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


@katemonster Being a UK person, I'm always reverse-shocked that Americans think cats should be kept indoors.

Opinions seem to be totally different between the US/UK.
posted by curious_yellow at 10:35 AM on January 30, 2012


I recently had...interesting...experiences with a couple local rescue groups.

All of my furry kids are rescues. The 12 year-old cat was a "free kitten" - his Mama's owner was going to drown him if no one took him by the end of the day. He was the runt, scrawny, had a broken tail and mange, and was kind of ugly. I took him anyway, and he rapidly turned into the most gorgeous creature. Mellow and sweet, too, and a little slow, mentally. It's like he's perpetually stoned. The 5 year-old cat is a Humane Society alum, adopted after my much beloved black, Siamese mix succumbed to cancer at the age of 20. She was a hot mess, traumatized by horrific abuse. She's now Miss Bossy Britches, and everyone bows to The Empress Lulu. And there's the 8 year-old Lab/Pitbull mix, adopted a few months after I lost my sweet Lab/Aussie pound rescue to a vicious course of epilepsy. He was also a hot mess, timid, neurotic, terrified of everyone and everything. He's still kind of a fraidy-cat five years later, but he's loving and sweet and only wants to make people like him. Give him cheese, and he'll be your BFF.

We recently decided that Jack would benefit from more canine companionship. He has playmates in the neighborhood, and likes other dogs, and we felt he should have a full time brother or sister. We wanted a younger dog, so that it would be clear that Jack was still Head Dog. I started with some of the smaller rescue groups.

One rejected me outright because Jack is part Pitbull. Didn't matter that when The Empress Lulu meowed, he obeyed. Didn't matter that the perpetually stoned Bailey thought Jack was the best bed ever. Can't trust Pitbulls with other animals, they said. (Wait, he's Lab, too! Argh.) OK, fine. Onward.

The next one rejected me because in my pet history, two animals had been listed as euthanized. Well, yes, what do you do with the 20 year-old cat whose cancer has progressed to the point that the poor thing cries in pain, can't get up from his blanket, and can't even eat any more? And the dog who has been locked in a status epilepticus for two days, unresponsive to any medication, and the vet says he'll never recover? Sheesh.

The next one wanted to do a lengthy phone interview before I could come out and visit with the dogs. The woman halted the interview abruptly when I mentioned that Jack sleeps in my bed. Their organization doesn't think it's appropriate for the animals to not have their own beds. (Well, he has one, but he'd rather sleep with me, and I prefer it that way, too!) So.

This was Summer. We gave up for a bit, figuring we'd keep an eye at the pound and the Humane Society, and maybe we'd get a dog about the right age. The first weekend in October, Younger Monster and I were out and about, and saw that the pet supply store was having an adoption event with the Humane Society. I was looking at a couple dogs that were about a year old, but Younger Monster sat down to play with an adorable 8 week-old puppy that was romping around in an enclosure. Want to make a teenaged boy cry? Put him in front of a shelter puppy. "Please, Mom? Please?" He was a very rompy, very kissy puppy, and after about 15 minutes of playing with him, we knew we had found our match.

I filled out the questionnaire, agreed to home visits, agreed not to sell him or give him away, laughed when the volunteer said "OH! You already have two of our kids! Great!", wrote my check...and that was that. We took the puppy into the store to buy a leash and collar for him, bought treats for all of the critters, and took him home. He's now 6 months old, taller than Jack, bell trained (he rings bells to go outside), and he sleeps in my bed, too. He's spoilt rotten, just like his brothers and sister, he doesn't seem to mind when Sis bosses him around, and he showers kisses on everything that moves. (The rabbit's reaction to this was one of hilarious confusion.)

I've had and spoiled pets my whole life, so the reactions of the smaller rescue groups completely confounded me. I'm unfit because I let my pets sleep in my bed? Whatevs. Next time, I'll just start at the Humane Society, and save everyone the hassle.
posted by MissySedai at 10:37 AM on January 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


Can we focus more on the adoption issue and less on the outdoor cat issue, which has been done to death here for years?

This thread will get a lot smarter if everyone takes a few minutes to read muddgirl's "Good Homes Need Not Apply" link by Nathan Winograd, who's worked in this field for decades. It's very good and directly relevant - a much more nuanced and reasonable take than Slate's - with sharp pokes at the culture of mistrust of the public he says is embedded in organizations like the Humane Society:

Unfortunately, too many shelters go too far with fixed, arbitrary rules—dictated by national organizations—that turn away good homes under the theory that people aren’t trustworthy, that few people are good enough, and that animals are better off dead. Unfortunately, rescue groups all-too-often share this mindset. But the motivations of rescue groups differ from those of the bureaucrat I ended up firing in Tompkins County. People who do rescue love animals, but they have been schooled by HSUS to be unreasonably—indeed, absurdly—suspicious of the public. Consequently, they make it difficult, if not downright impossible, to adopt their rescued animals.

And, unlike Yoffe, Winograd gives specific details about his own troubles with rescue groups and names names. It's a really sharp, detailed read from someone who's worked in this area for decades. Thanks, muddgirl.
posted by mediareport at 10:42 AM on January 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


outside cats only live a few years

Feral cats, sure, but that's not what's under discussion at all. The reason that this statement is "controversial" (to be polite), is that it goes counter to the experience of many, many indoor/outdoor cat owners. The average lifespan of indoor/outdoor cats my immediate family has adopted in the past 30 years (n~20), exceeds fifteen years.

I'm prepared to be convinced otherwise, but show me, don't just repeat opinions.
posted by bonehead at 10:43 AM on January 30, 2012


"Opinions seem to be totally different between the US/UK."

Outdoor cats are hell on the environment in the U.S., it's a much more car-centric culture with many more car-pet accidents, even downtown Chicago has coyotes (among other larger predators in the U.S. not found in the U.K.), and the U.S. is not even a little bit rabies-free. There are also various pathogens found in the soil in the U.S. that are harmful to cats, whereas in Europe cats developed resistance to similar common bugs, having been in Europe much longer than the, what, five centuries they've been in North America now. In much of North America, weather is also more extreme than in much of the U.K. Pets left outdoors die from both the summer heat and the winter cold where I live.

That said, I live in a small city surrounded by a rural area, where lots of people still have "barn cats" who actively chase rodents to earn their keep, and while I think it's irresponsible to allow your cats outdoors in the U.S., I'm not sure it makes sense to restrict adoptions at the kill shelter to indoor-only cats, since the cats will be killed at the shelter and the denied adopters just go adopt unfixed animals from a local farm. Also a lot of my neighbors grew up on farms, with "working pets," and I think it's an education problem, not a "you can't have a cat you horrible person" problem. My vet tells me in our county the average lifespan for an indoor-only pet cat is 15 years, while for an indoor-outdoor PET cat it's around 5 years, mostly due to cars. These are pets with rabies vaccinations that are tracked by the county; pets who are not vaxed aren't tracked, obviously. A lot of people once they're educated about the dangers of the outdoors to cats and the dangers of the cats to the outdoors decide to be indoor-only, and in a lot of ways it's a generational issue.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:44 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]




What happens to all the extant Cavalier King Charles Spaniels if everyone stops buying them, as they should? Bonfire? Melee?


Protectorate?
posted by thivaia at 10:45 AM on January 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Well, if you don't want to go through the inquisition, all you have to do is drive to a rural area, where you can pick up some animals, no questions asked, through rural newspaper ads or craigslist. My family got most of our wonderful pets that way. Rural areas have a lot of problems with abandoned dogs and farm cats.
posted by melissam at 10:46 AM on January 30, 2012


Next time, I'll just start at the Humane Society, and save everyone the hassle.

Interesting, MissySedai; in that article muddgirl linked, Winograd lays much of the blame for small shelters' rigidness on "traditional sheltering dogma" they learned from the Humane Society of the US. Scroll down to see the hilariously forbidding poster the HSUS just put out, and Winograd's commentary:

Recently, HSUS launched a campaign to help shelters “educate the public” about adoption policies by creating a poster for shelters to hang in their lobbies. The poster features a chair beneath a light in a cement room. The tagline reads: “What’s with all the questions?” and it tells you not to take it personally. Rather than ask shelters to reexamine their own assumptions, HSUS produces a poster of what looks like an interrogation room at Abu Ghraib, instructing potential adopters to simply put up with it. In the process, adopters are turned away. Cats like Billy wait years for a home. And animals are needlessly killed: three million adoptable ones, while shelters peddle the fiction that there aren’t enough homes.
posted by mediareport at 10:47 AM on January 30, 2012


mediareport: HSUS != local humane society.
posted by mcwetboy at 10:49 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Rather than ask shelters to reexamine their own assumptions, HSUS produces a poster of what looks like an interrogation room at Abu Ghraib, instructing potential adopters to simply put up with it. In the process, adopters are turned away.

I suspect that the questions Winograd is talking about are actually fewer in number than at private shelters, though, and the posters are meant to be a message to people that think adopting from a shelter is simply a matter of walking in and plunking down your money and then walking out with a puppy ten minutes later. To those people, questions about the size of your house might indeed feel accusatory.

The Slate article is talking about a more extreme stance than that -- MissySedai has a series of good examples where a private shelter maybe went a bit far. (Turning down a potential pet owner because they have current pets who sometimes sleep on their bed? Have you ever tried to get a pet off your bed when it really didn't want to get off?...Do these shelter owners actually own....pets?)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:55 AM on January 30, 2012


I have another neighbor with an elderly Golden who lounges in our courtyard off-leash and only poops on command, doesn't wander, and rarely even barks

Goldens are ludicrously good-natured creatures, aren't they? I used to mind my Dad's boss's Golden when she was on vacation. This dog had been acquired from a rescue shelter because he used to belong to one of those dog-hoarders and was basically feral for the first few years of his life. I was told he had a few "behavioural problems" as a result, which apparently for a Golden means he was excitable and might not do exactly what you say the first time you say it, lied to chase after water shooting out of sprinklers, and did not want to leave your side when you were home. He would sit on the floor next to me when I was lying on the sofa watching TV and put his head on my lap for pats. That dog was the best. Except for the farting.

I've always wanted a dog of my own, and I haven't had one since I was a kid. I love dogs. I was the designated dog-sitter for many years, and would jump at the chance to take care of someone's dog while they were on vacation or away for some reason. But I think the thing that's going to keep me from getting one is the necessity of dealing with insufferable busybody "pet parents" at the dog park.
posted by Hoopo at 10:55 AM on January 30, 2012


Yeah, I don't know how the organization works, or if local "Humane Society" chapters are linked to the national group. If they are, it's a hopeful sign that someone had a good adoption experience at a local chapter. I just thought it was worth highlighting that part of Winograd's critique.
posted by mediareport at 10:56 AM on January 30, 2012


There's a lot of crap out there. Cats shouldn't be outside.

The same could be said for children.

Quality of life also counts for something, and animals like the outdoors. I've grown up with all indoor/outdoor cats, and every one of them lived to at least 17, and were the happiest cats I've ever seen. Cats aren't just dolls for you to play with and pamper.
posted by chundo at 10:58 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Okay, I finally had time to read the "Good Homes Need Not Apply" article and...."Cohabitating couples who have not married need not apply to adopt our pets"? Are you kidding me? And, as he notes, that's in a state without same-sex marriage or civil unions, so bonus discrimination points for the rescue society.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:03 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thread appears to be mostly from a US perspective, but it happens in the UK too. We have two rescue centres near the city where we live in a quiet semi-rural suburb.

We went to one and saw a beautiful and friendly cat we fell in love with on sight. My wife liked him so much that she cried when they turned Cat Nazi and said we couldn't home him because we were too near a road (despite our being on a pedestrian side street, having kept cats here for years without mishap, and many of our neighbours having cats).

The other let us have one straight away with the briefest of home checks, and we've had three more from them since.
posted by raygirvan at 11:07 AM on January 30, 2012


mediareport: Yeah, what mcwetboy said. The HSUS is...well, they're nuts. But my local Humane Society has been nothing but terrific, and they go out of their way to make sure the community is aware that they are not affiliated with or funded by any national humane organization.

They DO come to visit the critters once or twice in the first year after adoption, but I don't mind. It seems to make the volunteers happy to be reassured that the critters they've placed are happy and well.
posted by MissySedai at 11:08 AM on January 30, 2012


It's regrettable that Yoffe seems (though I'm not an expert) to have made such a controversial decision herself, because in a personal-voice piece like this, it really ratchets up the effect of her own individual outcome, when really, the value of something like this just lies in bringing it up, so that people can talk about it, just like this.

I'm very sympathetic to the idea that rescues love animals and want them to have great homes, but I'm also very sympathetic to the idea that rarely is anyone's life perfect -- person or pet -- and most people and pets nevertheless manage to have happy lives. I understand, for instance, that most rescues believe cats should never be outside, but having had indoor-outdoor cats all through my childhood, it's very hard for me to think of it as an unavoidably miserable life full of sickness and injury and violent death. Our cats were adored and cuddled and cared for and taken to the vet, and while I understand about the environmental consequences (not as well-publicized when I was a kid, I don't think), there's a difference between "we suggest people keep cats inside as much as they can, because it's better for the environment" and "we won't give anyone a cat who will ever let it outside, because IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHY THEN YOU DON'T DESERVE A CAT," which is sort of the way some of this can come across to me. When you say a cat is better off euthanized than living as an indoor-outdoor cat with a loving family that loves it and feeds it and takes it to the vet until it dies as a very old kitty who brought a lot of happiness to the family, that begins to just not sound sensible to me, respectfully.

Similarly, my parents had dogs for many years when they both worked, and the dogs were home alone during the day, and if the dogs were miserable, you couldn't tell from the happy, healthy, long-living, incredibly bonded-to-my-parents dogs. Saying, in retrospect, "Well, they weren't appropriately loving pet owners because the dog was alone during the day; that dog would have been better euthanized" is the kind of thing nobody would ever say who had ever met them and seen them with their dog. It just isn't sensible.

Oh, and I would never -- never, ever -- adopt from a place that reserved the right to come to my house at any time and reclaim the animal at any time in its life. Absolutely not. I would do nothing but worry about the heartbreak, precisely because I get so attached to pets, so how is that helping anyone? Does that mean if you have to get a job with longer hours, they can come and take your dog? That's horrifying; how can you expect anyone to live like that?

Someone mentioned the perfect becoming the enemy of the good, and that's my concern here. If there were an endless supply of people who wanted cats and dogs and could offer perfect homes, such that we had far more perfect adopting homes than animals to adopt them, I would say yes, seek out the best *possible* situation for every single animal. But my fear here is that because it's so easy to get pets in other ways, rescues don't actually keep a prospective owner from having a dog or a cat; they just (as some of the Slate stories suggest) drive the person to another place. Until pets are actually a scarce resource, then treating the pets at *an individual shelter* like an incredibly scarce resource may give that individual shelter the pleasure of allotting the pets according to its philosophies, but it doesn't affect the overall pet economy, if that makes sense.

I just believe there are a lot of ways to have a happy life as a pet, just like there are a lot of ways to have a happy life as a person, and I hope that rescues can keep that in mind.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 11:14 AM on January 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


When one of my two cats escalated his political campaign against our 18 month old daughter to the point where he was spraying her with pee while she was playing on the floor, I went to my vet in desperation. I was willing to deal with him peeing in her crib, I spent the money on the Feliway, I believe that when you get a cat you get them for life, but this was over my personal line.

The vet told me to start letting the cat outside. "Yes, it will shorten his lifespan," he said. "But the cat is peeing on the baby. You can't privilege the cat's comfort and safety above your daughter's. And rehoming him is incredibly unlikely; nobody wants a ten year old cat with peeing issues. This is the best of a series of bad options."

We started letting him outside, and 90% of the problem peeing went away overnight. That cat left us two years later, but our remaining cat continues to be an indoor-outdoor cat at the age of 14. I'm not going to say "Enh, having cats outside is fine," but I think having a blanket ban on cats going out is insensitive to the nuance of life.
posted by KathrynT at 11:21 AM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


That an indoor/outdoor cat may live a shorter but more exciting life is less troubling to me than that. It's just as much about the cat as it is about the animals it would be hunting.
posted by wondermouse

I'll bet it is troubling, I'll bet it is . . .
posted by resurrexit at 11:21 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've just posted the following Askme: What is the state of knowledge for the lifespans of domestic cats?. Perhaps we could reroute the cat lifetime side-discussion to there.
posted by bonehead at 11:22 AM on January 30, 2012


I know a number of people involved in animal rescue, and I think they are all emotionally involved in what they do. It seems natural, and they got involved because they love animals. It is not surprising to me that some folks who work in animal rescue would be too emotionally involved to realize that they are overzealous and possibly undermining the well-being of the animals they want to help.
posted by snofoam at 11:24 AM on January 30, 2012


Quality of life also counts for something, and animals like the outdoors.

Yup. My two go outside with the dogs, elsewise they howl indignantly until someone lets them out. They like to hang out in the back yard, sit in the sun, and chew on the grass. If we light a fire in the pit, they demand to come out to lie next to it.

Neither of them has ever left the yard. They just like being out in the fresh air and sunshine (or fresh air and firelight, as the case may be), and I'm hard pressed to find a reason to deny them time in their own yard.
posted by MissySedai at 11:26 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


My cat's breath smells like cat food.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:26 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Most of my family's indoor-outdoor cats were terrible at hunting (it's partially instinct and partially learned). The ones that could do it wore bells on their collars. Cat adoption groups which care about such things could give out free bell collars.

Many cities/counties have laws against even cats being outdoors off their own property, although they are loosely enforced. I don't know what the best solution is for domestic cat predation (although bell collars seemed very effective), but surely educating owners is better than preventing them from getting cats through rescue organzations if they say they will let their cats go outside from time to time.
posted by muddgirl at 11:30 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds"--Ralph Waldo Emerson

tryniti, the problem is not in having guidelines for pet adoption, but in having "no exceptions" rules. We are arguing against black/white mentalities here. If you are reasonable and willing to work with potential adoptees, great!

I personally don't like that you have 15 applications a week and turn down 10, though, honestly. If you only have that many applications, seems to me you could sit down with each of them, have a discussion and decide whether the adoption will work on a case-by-case basis, rather than having the guidelines anyway. But even if you just go by the paperwork, if you are turning away 2/3 of the people who want to adopt, and went to the trouble of visiting a shelter to do so responsibly, you are dooming more animals to longer time in shelters, and my own experience suggests that's a worse option than being adopted by the people your organization excludes by default.

My cat, Fancy, was a shelter rescue. All of my cats have been. When I got her, she was already over 4 years old and so stressed out from being in a cage in the shelter that her fur was falling out and she had a respiratory infection that leaves her with an occasional wheeze even today, in my pampered household where she wants for nothing. Fancy is a sweet, sociable and affectionate black cat who was left behind when her younger companion, still in a cute kitten stage, was adopted (despite the previous owner's plea, hastily written across her medical records, that they not be separated if possible).

All of these factors: full-grown black cat, not pretty to look at because of her thinning fur, and the respiratory infection that left her with a oozing eyes and nose (she needed daily pills, eye drops and someone willing to suction her nose, which they weren't doing in the shelter; she was basically starving as well as being sick, because she couldn't smell her food and so wouldn't eat) made her very unlikely to be adopted by anyone.

I was in the shelter making a sizable donation (I'd raised over $250 in a fundraising drive for them), and I took Fancy home because I fell in love with her sweet disposition. I simply could not leave her there. I cannot agree that even one day in the shelter would be better for this cat than, for example, living even as an outdoor cat (which she had, actually, clearly been before, as she meows at the doors and even knows how to open them if we leave them unlocked, and likes to sit on the screened porch out in the sun for most of the day before coming in and cuddling with us on the couch or in bed).

Incidentally, that same shelter--the one I'd raised money for, and rescued three animals from--made me feel like total shit when I had to take one of my rescues back, after working with him for many months, because he clearly wanted to be an outdoor cat and was endangering my family and the other two cats. He would tear holes in the screened porch so he could go out hunting moles and rats (which he then dropped in our swimming pool to drown), get in fights with raccoons(!) that then came onto the porch through the hole in the screen after our other cats.

Even though I offered to pay the adoption fees for anyone who took a chance on this cat, as I loved him dearly despite all this, and even though he was adopted less than two weeks later (my son volunteered at the shelter and was able to verify this), the day I brought him back they kept me crying in the main adoption area, surrounded by employees and potential adoptees, making me explain over and over again why I was bringing him back as I agreed to do in their contract rather than give the cat away or let him run loose.

So now I will not rescue any more cats from that shelter. I just can't bear to go back there. Not exactly a win for the cats, the shelter, or me, and I am a FANTASTIC pet owner.

mcwetboy: I'm more concerned with the effect outdoor cats have on the native bird population

So, because the birds are in danger, we should limit the cats? I also think this isn't our call, and I'll tell you why: when people try to force a balance in nature, they just end up screwing it all up.

See rabbits in Australia (TL; DR version: Rabbits, brought over by Europeans, reproduced all over the place as rabbits are wont to do, and became a plague on the continent. In trying to control them fences were built which took so long to construct that the rabbits were already on both sides when they were done anyway, and viruses introduced which the rabbits then developed antibodies to. Rabbits 1, Humans, O).

Also see wolves in Yellowstone (TL;DR version: Hey, too many wolves let's kill them all. Wait, the deer are decimating the plants? Hey let's bring back wolves again! Oh, we don't have the same ones? We'll just get some from Canada, what could possibly go wrong? Wolves overpopulate and take down surprising prey, including coyotes. Wolves 1, Humans 0. We now get even by hunting the wolves and killing them. Wolves 0, Humans 0. Everyone loses.).

Evolution and natural selection exist to protect species from dangers such as predators like this. If cats are, as a result of being kept by humans, now healthier and abler to hunt birds down and kill them, the various bird species affected will deal with this as nature intended, by evolving or dying out because they are not able to evolve.

That's what's SUPPOSED to happen. We are arrogant to believe we should, let alone could, do anything to improve upon the situation with unnatural restrictions.
posted by misha at 11:31 AM on January 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


Cat adoption groups which care about such things could give out free bell collars.

My understanding is that this doesn't save actually birds, as birds don't recognize a bell as a warning. Not saying that cats should as a result always be indoors as a result, but I understand that cats do kill a lot of birds each year.
posted by Dasein at 11:39 AM on January 30, 2012


I'd also point out that a seemingly large group of people here have personal experience with overzealous rescue workers turning them away. Now, you can rule some of them as psychotic crazies that shouldn't have a pet (did jonmc post in this thread yet? - just kidding, mate), but there obviously is a systemic problem with the process of screening people for pet adoption, and the significant bias and subjectivity that is used by (perhaps well-meaning, but misguided) rescue workers.

Of course, it seems the majority of people who did have an issue with an organization were able to find a different organization that was more accomodating, but if people have to go through 4 or 5 different shelters to find one that is reasonable - well, that's a problem. And regardles of the article, you have personal experiences *right here* with a group of people that I would say are probably pre-screenable as being excellent pet owner candidates.
posted by rich at 11:39 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


a_girl_irl: ""My friend M., who looked into getting a family dog when her children were 6 and 9, had a similarly vexing experience. After she and her husband decided rescue was the right thing to do, they looked online and found a mutt named Rusty. Rusty’s rescue group was having an adoption day and the family made the long drive to see him. Adopters were told not to mingle with the animals, but that specific dogs would be brought to them. While Rusty was otherwise engaged, M. asked if they could look at some of the other dogs but almost all were declared not suitable for children. As the family waited, the children sat on the ground and started writing in the dirt with sticks. A volunteer came over, alarmed. He reprimanded them, saying that if a dog sees a stick in a person’s hand it will expect that stick to be thrown, and it’s not fair to frustrate a dog."

This is 100% fake. I can't believe Slate published this.
"

I can believe it in the sense that we are increasingly becoming a society of "zero tolerance" and it seems that people are increasingly incapable of making nuanced decisions based on context. Worst of all is that we are raising children in this setup so they themselves will be even worse. One side effect of rapid turnover in employment, I think, is that people are treated more as automatons than thinking beings, and so are encouraged to follow a script or rulebook rather than making intelligent decisions.

Given that, I can totally see how something that was once as simple as "If a dog sees someone playing with a stick, they might think someone is going to throw it to them" gets transformed into "Play with a stick around a dog always upsets them" to "Playing with a stick in the presence of a dog is an inappropriate behavior" and then "If someone is observed performing any inappropriate behavior around a pet, they are not allowed to adopt".

That I can totally believe, unfortunately.
posted by Deathalicious at 11:50 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


misha: That was me quoting madajb, but whatever, I'll respond.

Domestic cats are not native to North America (for example), and certainly not in their present numbers. Conversely, species native to North America, with few exceptions, have seen their numbers decline due to human contact; predation by both feral and outdoor cats can and has caused a significant impact on small-animal populations (1, 2). This is to explain why we keep our cats indoors; I can try to convince you, but in the end it's your cats, and your specific situation, and your call. I have my opinions, but I'm not an absolutist on animal care.

But comparing this to the introduction of rabbits to Australia is dumb; it's the equivalent of saying that we can't do anything about rabbits (or cane toads) in Australia because that would be mucking with nature. As opposed to, you know, trying to un-muck nature.
posted by mcwetboy at 11:52 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I admit that when I adopted George, they wanted me to promise I would never let him out on the balcony, and I did promise but had no intention of keeping it (he can't fit through the slats anyhow), but they were pretty normal about it. I wanted a cat who was fiveish and male, like Conrad, and who was big and fluffy, and who would get along well with Conrad and not excessively annoy Tilda, and they thought that was an excellent reason, and didn't call my vet to check up on me or even come to my apartment to see if it was okay for cats.

But you know, I volunteered (at a different shelter) and I got to read the reasons people gave up pets and I got to see these poor animals and I got to see people try to adopt rabbits as meals (surprisingly common, though I have no idea if it's cost-effective), and so a lot of these stories are extreme, yes, but some of them just sound like shelter people having different lines. Oh, was there fury when all adults had to be present to adopt, or when kittens under 6 or 8 months weren't adopted to families with kids under 6 (or something), or when you couldn't adopt a boy/girl pair of kittens if they were too young to be neutered or whatever other change they made.

So funny, PhoBWanKenobi: when I went to grad school, I went with my cats Til and Sammy (he lives with my parents because my apartment makes him neurotic). Good names.
posted by jeather at 11:54 AM on January 30, 2012


I'd also point out that a seemingly large group of people here have personal experience with overzealous rescue workers turning them away.

This. I also have the impression, perhaps wrongly, that the average MeFite is probably going to be better candidate for adoption than the average person off the street. If people here are having trouble or being blocked altogether, what does that imply for the average, well meaning, non-internet researching joe blow off the street?

My experience, we have 2 furry, pitbull-mix kids, one stray that I saved from the papermill I was working at and one rescue from the local county shelter. Jack and Coke (hehe) are fine and dandy and we had little/no trouble adopting her besides maybe a page of questions and a (very reasonable) $50 fee to cover he being fixed. Maybe this problem is a big city/northern issue? I say that because my parents in a semi-distant city have adopted with zero issues as well and would have been blocked by several of the above 'rules' even though their dog is more child than dog to them.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:55 AM on January 30, 2012


I had an indoor/outdoor cat out of ignorance. I'd never do it again. He got mystery illnesses from eating something bad; a few years after he moved out with the ex-girlfriend, I found a dead cat on my doorstep that looked like he'd gotten into something poisonous (weird foam in mouth).

But the main reason I don't want to do the indoor/outdoor thing is that if I can't control where the cat goes, I'm effectively distributing cat shit to my neighbors' yards. That's the kind of really irresponsible thing that I thought was OK in my twenties but don't now. Added to that, if the cat has toxoplasma gondii, then it will spread through the local streams to the bay and affect the otter population which can't deal with it as effectively as cats can.

I'm not judging the people above who've had legitimate medical reasons for letting their cats out, or who know their cats stay in the backyard.

Using that logic, every wild animal on earth would be better off euthanized.

Every wild animal outside of the niche that it's evolved for probably would be better off euthanized.

Effectively in the US there are an infinite supply of cats. I'm all for shelters being picky with their resources, and I'm for them euthanizing when they feel like it. Their mission as I see it is to take care of the cats in their purview and conserve their resources, not to satisfy some strange moral calculus or somehow solve all the world's pet problems. They'll never have the resources for that mandate even if it were possible. They are the ones volunteering the time and soliciting the funds, they can make the decisions they want for whatever mandate they decide. Sometimes it won't be the best decisions for the cats, but the ones for the morale of the shell-shocked volunteers who have to put up with seeing the cats who come back in. I'm big on protecting cats from torture and sickness, not protecting them from death. They are all going to die eventually anyway, and we are so much more responsible for their circumstances than any wild animal. At my more cynical moments I feel like we've bred slaves for our amusement, and I question whether even the concept of having a pet is humane, fair or moral.

I would like to see a larger nationwide organization step in and offer some kind of seal(s) of approval to rescue and shelter organizations. If they made transparent the intake / adoption / euthanization rates for various shelters, I'm sure the donations would flow accordingly, and the problem of the occasional zealot being over-critical would self-correct to some extent.

It sounds like maybe the rescue organizations could probably benefit from better expectation management. Adopters being told flat out as soon as they come in that no dogs can be held for them while their application is being processed, and specific dogs may be adopted before they are through with the process. Transparent scoring criteria for dogs special needs regarding energy levels, need for companionship, fearfulness, strength. Adopters being scored more transparently as well so that they can see for themselves which dogs are a bad fit for them. Hey, you can only run 4 miles an hour and don't have the grip strength to hold a dog over 40 pounds, so our current dogs are to large for you, but we can notify you of any incoming dogs that fit your needs as they come in.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:56 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


My understanding is that this doesn't save actually birds, as birds don't recognize a bell as a warning.

Yeah, reportedly they work on rodents but not for birds.

I don't dispute the fact that domestic feline predation is a problem (although in my experience it is a greater problem with the offspring of feral or freeroaming cats), but again I don't think it is the responsibility of the local shelter to 'solve' that problem by euthanizing cats.
posted by muddgirl at 11:58 AM on January 30, 2012


Misha, I'm disappointed with your argument for not worrying about bird populations. The amount of bird deaths caused by cats is staggering, and in no way should we ignore that just because its commonplace. I could apply your argument to any habitat encroachment or loss...we should let all species die if they can't adapt to our destructive habits on their environment? So long, rainforest species, you should get used to deforestation. Keeping cats indoors is far easier and actionable than saving most species. I don't understand why it gets so much pushback.
posted by agregoli at 11:58 AM on January 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


When my parents were in the market for a rescued border collie puppy, the questions included things like, "Do you have at least a few acres of property?" and "Do you have sheep for the puppy to herd? Would you maybe consider GETTING some sheep?" so eventually they said "Screw it" and adopted an Alaskan malamute puppy instead (they've already got experience with that breed).
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:59 AM on January 30, 2012


My understanding is that this doesn't save actually birds, as birds don't recognize a bell as a warning.

How is it the cat's problem that birds are stupid?

Sorry, that's not how I actually feel; my cat got on the keyboard and typed that.
posted by infinitywaltz at 12:00 PM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Would you maybe consider GETTING some sheep?

Sure. Just don't have a fit when they eventually disappear one by one and land on my dinner plate.

Mint jelly?
posted by MissySedai at 12:02 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Do you have sheep for the puppy to herd? Would you maybe consider GETTING some sheep?"

And if you think dog adoption counselors are bad, try adopting sheep!

Our balcony is totally big enough for livestock.
posted by chundo at 12:02 PM on January 30, 2012


I don't care what the Humane Society says, I am not putting in a sheep flap.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:03 PM on January 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


Sheep make great natural lawnmowers. Everyone should have them. Save the gasoline from your power mower, save the environment.
posted by Melismata at 12:04 PM on January 30, 2012


The problem is that outdoor cats prey on animals some people like (like birds), while ignoring the giant rats that live in the alley behind my house. There's an obvious solution for this, namely we need people to start letting their terriers run wild in the neighborhood, but it hasn't happened. Also, no one in the city government will act on my "feral packs of terriers" suggestion.

It's all so obvious.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:05 PM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Every wild animal outside of the niche that it's evolved for probably would be better off euthanized.

Does this include humans? And all livestock? And all pets?

Do you realize evolution works partially by lifeforms moving into new niches? A fantastic paper that anyone should read is Don't Judge Species by Their Origins.
posted by melissam at 12:06 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


The problem is that outdoor cats prey on animals some people like (like birds), while ignoring the giant rats that live in the alley behind my house. There's an obvious solution for this, namely we need people to start letting their terriers run wild in the neighborhood, but it hasn't happened. Also, no one in the city government will act on my "feral packs of terriers" suggestion.

In Brooklyn they tried bring in possums to deal with the rats. Didn't work out so great. IMHO the only good way to get rid of rats is by changing the way the city deals with trash.
posted by melissam at 12:07 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I can't disagree with the anecdotes in the article, but I thought she could have done some research to back it up. The tone was unforgivable in the way it painted this as a widespread problem without acknowledging the possibility that it was a sprinkling of zealots and a very, very defensive over-reaction to being judged on the part of the adopters. I also agree that it appears she made no effort to interview rescue operations.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:07 PM on January 30, 2012


but again I don't think it is the responsibility of the local shelter to 'solve' that problem by euthanizing cats.

...which they won't do if you agree to keep the cat indoors, which (among other things) mitigates the harm the cat will do to the environment. You seem to be bending over backwards to demonize shelters for encouraging behaviour that is, on the whole, entirely sane. Or you really, really hate songbirds. Not sure which.
posted by Shepherd at 12:09 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


We have two cats, ages 5 and 11, who were both shelter adoptees. On both occasions we just went to the shelter and let us play with the kitties to see how we interacted together and which were the best fits for us personality-wise. When we went to adopt the now-5 year-old after our older cat's sister died, my youngest sister was 2. This didn't seem to concern the shelter volunteers beyond "let's make sure you take home a pet who isn't scared of your crazy toddler". So we ended up going home with a very sweet 6mo kitten who'd already been returned once to the shelter (we don't know why but we assume it was because of her need to compulsively lick people on the face at three in the morning) and who was perfectly okay walking up to the crazy toddler in the shelter's play room and being petted backwards.

Our dog was a foster whose mom had been rescued while she was pregnant. We had to give the rescue organization a description of our house and who lived in it, including a little paragraph about "other current pets". Apparently that part met approval, because they invited us out for an open house to look at the puppies. We met them in a little play-penned-off area and were watched like hawks by the lady who was fostering while we played with them. And apparently we met approval there, too, since we got to take home our puppy, who is now almost 3 and undeniably the baby of the house (she gets mopey and jealous when my sister brings her kitten to visit, because she is an attention hound).

TL;DR I've had experiences with shelters and rescue organizations that were great. I'm sure there are some that have awful, hidebound rules but you get that in all kinds of organizations. If you find one that you can work with or that doesn't want to work with you, look for another. There's certainly no dearth of rescued animals who need loving homes.

Also, I want to punch this woman for going to a breeder to buy a dog that is notorious for its health problems. Not that I've ever been a fan of getting pets from a breeder, but god. Could've been part of the solution, ran wildly in the other direction.
posted by clavier at 12:09 PM on January 30, 2012


Incidentally, that same shelter--the one I'd raised money for, and rescued three animals from--made me feel like total shit when I had to take one of my rescues back, after working with him for many months, because he clearly wanted to be an outdoor cat and was endangering my family and the other two cats. He would tear holes in the screened porch so he could go out hunting moles and rats (which he then dropped in our swimming pool to drown), get in fights with raccoons(!) that then came onto the porch through the hole in the screen after our other cats.

Yes, this too. I've written about it in metafilter several times, but before Tilly, my mother and I adopted Lucy--a lab mix who was a facial biter. We got her from a no-kill shelter (thinking, yay, no kill!), and when she bit me in the face after only 4 months of ownership, they initially refused to take her back--because, of course, that would mean euthanasia. Sure they offered free sessions with their behaviorist, but we were in over our heads and she bit someone else in the face only a few months later and we continued to struggle with keeping her for another 2-3 miserable, heart-rending months because the shelter employees made us feel like we were really, really awful people for even entertaining the idea of giving her back to the shelter. We later learned that they hadn't disclosed that she was aggressive with other dogs before we adopted her (which they knew--she was in a separate kennel from the other dogs--but we hadn't even thought to ask). It was a bad, bad experience, and really soured me toward no-kill shelters, though I really wish I didn't feel that way.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:10 PM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Melissam, the key modifier was wild, but my rebuttal was admittedly over broad as a generalization. Evolving into a new niche is a little different than being displaced into a new niche that the species can't compete or thrive in (I'm picturing a penguin with a parasol in the Sahara here), but point taken.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:11 PM on January 30, 2012


In Brooklyn they tried bring in possums to deal with the rats. Didn't work out so great. IMHO the only good way to get rid of rats is by changing the way the city deals with trash.

I'd try to keep knowledge of this story from spreading outside the cities because thinking that more possums is the answer to any problem pretty much confirms the opinion most people I grew up with had about city folk.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:12 PM on January 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


I give no extra credit to no-kill shelters who I feel are offloading the hard moral choices on other shelters. I'd feel differently if they had no exclusion criteria for intake, but I doubt I'll ever hear about a shelter like that.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:13 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


We have two cats, ages 5 and 11, who were both shelter adoptees. On both occasions we just went to the shelter and let us play with the kitties to see how we interacted together and which were the best fits for us personality-wise.

At the Toronto Humane Society, I wasn't allowed to touch a cat until after I'd adopted and left with it. Also they shamed me because my "donation" wasn't as high as the "suggested donation" amount.
posted by orange swan at 12:14 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your donation of awesome posts and comments is well above the suggested amount for Metafilter if it makes you feel any better.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:16 PM on January 30, 2012


So, because the birds are in danger, we should limit the cats?

Yes.
posted by madajb at 12:17 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]



But the main reason I don't want to do the indoor/outdoor thing is that if I can't control where the cat goes, I'm effectively distributing cat shit to my neighbors' yards. That's the kind of really irresponsible thing that I thought was OK in my twenties but don't now.


If more people were like you, this whole article would be moot.
thank you.
posted by madajb at 12:17 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you're being careless, sometimes pets will go to homes that shouldn't have them. If you're being over-exacting, sometimes pets will not go to homes that should have them.

I'd rather have the latter problem than the former, considering that over-exacting processes are more likely to be used at shelters that take good care of the animals in their possession.
posted by davejay at 12:20 PM on January 30, 2012


I personally don't like that you have 15 applications a week and turn down 10, though, honestly.

I don't like it either. But you would be AMAZED at the applications we get. I would say roughly half of the rejected apps are turned down on the spot, usually because they include requests such as "I want a really mean dog to tie up at my shop and scare burglers", or "Please do not spay her before I adopt, I would like to breed her to my male", or "I only want a puppy under 6 weeks old, please contact me when you get one". The other half usually fail in the vet check - their dog hasn't been to the vet in 4 years or they don't believe in buying heartworm prevention. It really takes wading through a LOT of crap to find decent homes, trust me.

I think the overall picture is, as a rescuer deep in the trenches of what we do, you learn to expect the worst of people. It's sad, but when most of the dogs you bring into your program have had really, really awful lives at the hands of people, you just get jaded. I've seen it all - dogs with mysterious lumps that ended up being old gunshot wounds (seen that at least 4 times), dogs that have been tossed out of cars, dogs used as bait for fighting rings, dogs whose ears have been "cropped" with scissors, dogs so scared of being hit that any hand movement will make them pee themselves. These cases are the NORM and not the exception, unfortunately. It's hard not to look at these animals that have so obviously been failed and want nothing but the best for them.

I sympathize with folks who really would provide a great home for an animal and are turned down by overzealous rescuers, I really really do. The system isn't perfect and I hope that the community as a whole can find a balance that benefits adopters and dogs more.
posted by tryniti at 12:22 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


considering that over-exacting processes are more likely to be used at shelters that take good care of the animals in their possession.

This is not necessarily true. I have first hand experience with a family member who moved VERY far up the ladder in one of the bigger rescue organizations in a large metropolitan area: she had the best of intentions and loved animals more than I can imagine and was also a far cry from taking "good care" of the animals in her possession as foster critters simply because she was spread thin taking care of too many animals for far too long.

Perspective must be maintained for a realistic solution to be obtained.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:25 PM on January 30, 2012


I was turned down to adopt from a no-kill shelter, for a very good reason that I feel like was misapplied in a letter-of-the-law way. My husband and I had two pet rabbits. I have allergies. It got to the point where my allergies were so bad that no amount of medication was helping - I was hurting my liver overdosing on antihistimines and using my emergency inhaler as a daily medication and still spent a significant amount of time miserably ill, and we thought it just had to be the rabbits, which we know I'm allergic to, because I wasn't reacting anywhere but at home. So we very regretfully gave them to the local no-kill shelter and explained why. We donated their cages and all of their toys.

My allergies didn't improve. We obsessively cleaned the apartment, nothing. About two months later we moved, and instantly my allergies went back to the level they'd been at a few years previously. We didn't know that we were living in a sick apartment. We still don't know what I was reacting to (mold maybe?). Anyway, it had only been a few months and one of our rabbits was sort of grouchy and hated to be picked up, so we thought it was possible that he hadn't been adopted yet. I called them to find out, and they wouldn't tell me if he was still there or not. I explained about the allergies, and that we'd made a mistake and the rabbits weren't the problem, and they hung up on me. So I went to see them in person and they told us that we would never be allowed to adopt any pet from them because we had given up our pets. I explained again, I understand why they would have such a rule, but surely an exception can be made given that it was a serious health issue that had resolved, but they said it didn't matter why.

I completely understand why they have these rules, but I do think a slavish devotion to the rules with no allowance for exceptional circumstances is wrong. We're great pet owners, and the rabbits we have now are very happy and healthy and well-cared-for.
posted by joannemerriam at 12:28 PM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


But you would be AMAZED at the applications we get.

I'm sure. No one is questioning the existence of some sort of screening process, nor the refusal to adopt to the sort of applicants you describe.

I think the overall picture is, as a rescuer deep in the trenches of what we do, you learn to expect the worst of people. It's sad, but when most of the dogs you bring into your program have had really, really awful lives at the hands of people, you just get jaded.

I understand that, I really do. I have worked in emergency veterinary medicine, and I have seen more than my share of irresponsible, reprehensible pet owners. For the sake of the animals, though, I urge you to fight against that prejudice and jaded attitude. Why not expect the best? Surely a simple screening process will filter out the worst owners, and leave you with at least potentially good owners. Surely there is room for some case-by-case analysis and not blanket application of rules?
posted by Rock Steady at 12:35 PM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I give no extra credit to no-kill shelters who I feel are offloading the hard moral choices on other shelters. I'd feel differently if they had no exclusion criteria for intake, but I doubt I'll ever hear about a shelter like that.

BrotherCain - I am moderately involved in San Antonio's effort to become a no-kill city. Simply put, if there is not a city-wide mechanism in place to prevent breeding, there is no way to have an open-admission no-kill shelter. A single shelter on it's own has to make a decision between no-kill and turning pets away, or taking all pets but euthanizing after a certain period of time. More and more cities are starting to move towards a no-kill system, and each one has to accept that it is done through a system of partnerships. San Antonio is focusing on three areas:

(1) Decrease breeding: Spay/Neuter outreach (not just 'low cost' clinics, but physically going door to door offering spay/neuter services),
(2) Increase the rate of stray pets returned to owners: Pet registration/microchipping (again, not just low-cost microchipping, but door-to-door campaigns), and
(3) Increase adoption rate: increasing the number of facilities (through partnerships with rescue groups), decreasing the barriers to adoption.
posted by muddgirl at 12:37 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


My friend once adopted a cat from a foster-type situation. The woman insisted that my friend bring the cat to her (the foster lady's) vet and that she never,ever change the cat's name.

Our newest cat came to us by way of my mom's friend who volunteers at a local rescue league. She found him wandering around hungry and took him in. Put up posters, facebook etc, nobody claimed him. My mom offered to get him ( and pay all attendant costs) as a present for our kids' birthdays. So I guess the friend surrendered the cat to the shelter who then adopted the cat to my mom, in my name. When I brought him back to be neutered I corrected any wonky paperwork and now I have my crazy little Milo. Easy peasy.
posted by Biblio at 12:38 PM on January 30, 2012


I explained again, I understand why they would have such a rule, but surely an exception can be made given that it was a serious health issue that had resolved, but they said it didn't matter why.

I imagine it's not so much a slavish devotion to the rule as the fact they've had so many irresponsible people use the old "I developed allergies" (or "my child has developed allergies" or "my new spouse has developed allergies") line as a lame excuse to quickly unload a devoted pet. I can easily imagine how they'd get cynical or even hostile about it. You have to understand you're the tiny exception to the usual situation.
posted by aught at 12:44 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're being careless, sometimes pets will go to homes that shouldn't have them. If you're being over-exacting, sometimes pets will not go to homes that should have them.

Those aren't really the alternatives, though.

If you're being careless, sometimes pets will go to homes that shouldn't have them. If you're being over-exacting, those pets (or other pets that the rescue would have been able to take once they'd adopted these ones out) will be killed.

I'm not saying no questions asked adoptions are the way to go, but other than filtering out the total whack jobs, making this difficult is just going to drive them to buy pets because that process, while it does still tend to involve answering a few questions, seems a lot less onerous. And forcing people into buying animals helps the situation not at all.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:54 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lots of hate here over the adoption process. If only there were other places where people could find pets...
posted by coolguymichael at 12:54 PM on January 30, 2012


I can easily imagine how they'd get cynical or even hostile about it. You have to understand you're the tiny exception to the usual situation.

I understand the tendency to become really cynical, but it has some pretty sad results. On the breed-specific forum I read, sometimes longstanding members will shamefully post that they had to return an animal to an adoption group for one reason or another. It's really sad to see these clearly-loving people bend head-over-feet to assure other volunteers that they're not bad people. Every time, I want to point out that no one married the poor creature, and that maybe in the future we'll have more compassion for the so-called 'bad people' who surrender a dog without a big sob story.
posted by muddgirl at 12:55 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


They are the ones volunteering the time and soliciting the funds, they can make the decisions they want for whatever mandate they decide.

This. What a lot of people are missing here is that shelters are just a tiny part of the equation. I'm going to pull a number out of my ass and say that probably 90% of all rescued animals are being fostered by a shelter-less rescue in someone's home. When I rehabilitate a concussed kitten, with a broken femur, crushed foot, and a gutload of parasites that involves three wormings and gallons of explosive diarrhea, I've got a huge stake in that kitten's future. I care deeply about who that cat will go to, because the only reason I can give the cat up is knowing that there is another cat who needs the same care, who won't get that care unless someone like me makes space.

You might look great on paper, and the rescue may have approved your adoption application, but when you come over to meet my foster, I get the final say in whether you can adopt or not, and sometimes the reasons someone is rejected just cannot be captured in an application. Sometimes you meet people, and you get an instantly creepy vibe. I've seen that at our adoption fairs, although it's never happened with one of my fosters. Sometimes we just know that someone is right or wrong for a particular animal. Call us crazy cat ladies. Go ahead. 'sokay. I'm at peace with it.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 1:14 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


(Maybe "gallons" of diarrhea was an exagerration. It was a lot though.)
posted by ereshkigal45 at 1:17 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, having known well-intentioned but overzealous rescuers, I do have sympathy for average folks trying to adopt a dog and getting shot down, but I, like others here, am pretty disgusted the writer bought a Cavalier.

Did she not do any research about this breed AT ALL? Out of all breeds, this is probably the one dog I can't fucking believe people are still allowed to breed. A heart that won't let it live after a certain age, and a skull too small for its brain. Serious health issues, folks. And not just for a minority of Cavaliers...it's prevalent throughout the breed.

And she decided to choose THIS ONE?!

I want to strangle this writer. She might have had a good point somewhere to discuss, but she really lost her credibility when for me by purchasing a Cavalier. Either she absolutely did zero research before buying the dog, or I guess having a cute-looking purebred trumps all other concerns.

In either case, she has shown herself to be a dog owner that is unworthy of a dog, IMHO.

If anybody who has bought (not rescued) a Cavalier has a different perspective, please feel free to chime in. I seriously don't understand why people keep breeding these dogs in their current form.

Oh yeah, it's because people like the writer of the article. Fuck.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 1:18 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rescue animals are special-needs animals. I have friends who've done rescue, and I have not ever seen nor met a rescue animal who did not have special needs of some sort due to the facts of the situation the animal was rescued from.

Reading through the thread, I can see many people have had experiences with rescue organizations that were overly strict - or who adopted out animals who never should have been placed (like the facial biter - the rescuers I know WOULD NOT have placed that animal with a family under any circumstances) and that is truly regrettable. But in the light of the fact that virtually all rescue animals have been abandoned, neglected or abused in some way... it becomes a lot easier to understand the caution, I would imagine. Nobody wants to save an animal only to see it return to the same or similar situation from which it was rescued.
posted by mie at 1:18 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


This. What a lot of people are missing here is that shelters are just a tiny part of the equation. I'm going to pull a number out of my ass and say that probably 90% of all rescued animals are being fostered by a shelter-less rescue in someone's home.

This is probably highly location-dependent, but I wish this were true in San Antonio. In Q1 2011, Animal Care Services (the pound, essentially) transferred 10% of their intake to rescue organizations. This includes our local Human Society. 5% were fostered directly from ACS. 7% were returned, and 15% were adopted to new owners.

It's possible that there's some huge population of animals out there that aren't coming through ACS, but considering ACS gets close to 30,000 animals per year, I doubt there are another 33,000 stray animals bypassing the system (at least, when I took in a lost mutt off the street, there was not a single non-breed-specific rescue organization willing to take the dog - they all pull from ACS when they happen to have a space free).
posted by muddgirl at 1:32 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


First of all, not every baby, nor every parent, nor every pet is the same. For that matter, the potential parents and/or pet can change a lot in 10 years. And no one can know exactly how well they'll be able to handle having a child, no matter how much preparation you go through. A child with physical or mental health problems is going to be harder to deal with than a child without. A job could go from stress-free to stressful in no time, and in this economy, 10 months was enough to change people's fortunes, let alone 10 years. What was easy at 25 is harder later (and vice versa), or a pet who was mild-mannered at 2 could be cranky and violent at 12....
posted by zombieflanders at 12:08 PM on January 30



Of course one can't always predict life changes. But you can always count on the addition of an infant to add turmoil to one's life.

If a rescue organization is asking whether or not you're planning to have a baby, I'm willing to bet that it's because they've heard "we're bringing back (or got rid of) the pet we adopted from you because we couldn't balance having a baby and a pet" enough times to be concerned.


...in the end there's simply no comparison between a human life that is completely and totally unable to care for itself in basic ways for several months (and mostly so for many more months afterward) and that of an animal. You can give an animal food and take it for walks (if applicable) and love on it more or less by a loose mix of your schedule and your pet's. That's impossible with a baby, and very very difficult with infants and toddlers. Whenever possible, these issues should be reconciled, but that's not always possible.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:08 PM on January 30



No one's comparing a human life with a pet's. What I'm saying that because people will tend to prioritize a human life over an animal's, that explains why some rescue organizations ask if you plan to have kids.

They know that it's not always possible to mix babies and pets, and that if it comes down to a choice, they already know that the pet will always lose. The rescues are hoping to place the pet in home where the chances of that choice even being made will be reduced.

That's gonna mean that at least some people planning on becoming parents won't be considered for adoption (and later, when their baby comes along, are probably silently grateful for that). Asking such a question probably isn't the best predictor of a pet remaining in a home (I imagine divorce has quite an effect), but at least the rescue organizations are trying.
posted by magstheaxe at 1:57 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


The idea of full-time employment being a negative for rescue organizations astounds me. When I got my rescue kitties, I was asked about employment because they wanted to know that I could afford to care for my cats. Full-time employment means that you can buy good food, vet visits and litter.
posted by Kurichina at 2:07 PM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


The rescues are hoping to place the pet in home where the chances of that choice even being made will be reduced.

But again, by saying "Any person who wants to have a kid in the next 10 years is disqualified from having a pet," however well-meaning, they are significantly reducing their acceptable adoption population. Basically that is any person between the ages of 20 and 40.

Here are there choices:
(1) Adopt animals out more liberally. They will adopt more animals out, but some percentage will return (is that percentage 100% of course not - most estimates are that the return rate is 10-40%).

(2) Maintain strict adoption guidelines. A much, much smaller percentage of animals are going to be adopted out. People like Yoffe will go elsewhere to get a dog, possibly a breeder. The 10-40% which will surrender the dog in the first case will surrender the dog in the second case. Now the total population of dogs the breed-specific rescue has to deal with has increased by at least 10%.

These numbers are obviously made up, but I think they're illustrative.
posted by muddgirl at 2:08 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


OK, the 10-40% number isn't really made up, but the 10% increase is back-of-the-envelope.
posted by muddgirl at 2:09 PM on January 30, 2012


Reading through all of this makes me really glad that my first cat I adopted was simply a stray. I moved to New York, my roommates had a cat, so I couldn't bring her. So she lives with my parents.

I wonder if the fact that I gave a cat to two animal lovers will prevent me from adopting from an organization in the future. Which I guess just means watching for more strays.
posted by Hactar at 2:57 PM on January 30, 2012


After reading Good Homes Need Not Apply, I was reminded of how Mr epersonae & I got our first cat...

We were cohabitating, had been dating for about six months total, lived in a tiny horrible apartment. Going to the shelter was seriously a whim (I think after making up from a fight for crying out loud), we both sorta missed owning cats, and then got there and this kitten had just come in, and she was so adorable climbing around on his shoulders.... So she came home with us that afternoon wrapped in a towel. This is her, not long after.

That was more than 14 years ago, she's still climbing on his shoulders. :) We had a bad scare with her health earlier this year, but she had a miraculous recovery. This is her during the recovery. She's a bit more delicate than she used to be, but she's still lively and loving (and totally crazy) and she's been a huge part of our life together.

Now I totally want to go home and snuggle ALL THE KITTIES!
posted by epersonae at 3:08 PM on January 30, 2012


tryniti: "You don't have a fenced yard."

Screw that. I live in the suburbs. 10 years ago I had a Siberian Husky who loved to run. I didn't have a fenced yard. I never let her off-leash. Never. Nor was she ever once tied outside. My next-door neighbor used to work for my vet and will vouch for me, that I never let her out of the house off-leash. If someone would deny me an adoption because they assume I am a liar, then they are wrong. Why should I be judged on the actions of bad pet owners?
posted by IndigoRain at 3:13 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


After reading the article's highly-suspec anedotes and some of the 1-st hand denials in the threat, I'm kinda surprised adopting my two cats, Megatron and Optimus Prime was such a breeze at SF SPCA.

A short questionnaire about your lifestyle, and general questions about your household. And that's mostly for them to recommend a personality that best fits you. No probing questions about previous experience, income, warnings and lectures about costs, food issues. Nada.

My only complaint was they volunteers 'neglected' to mention minor health problems until both cats were already boxed and we were signing forms. "So the volunteer told you about the teeth issues right?..." "uh...no." "Bah... a crack incisors. We removed one, other one is still in, but it doesn't seem to bother her. Probably won't be a big issue. Or it will be and cost LOTS of money. You want the cat?" When I played with her in her glass cube, she cried and watched me after I left. The cat was on the counter in the box ready for a new home, what was I going to do? "Cracked tooth?! BAH! Send this overcooked feline back and bring me your freshest cat!"

Bastards, sure knew when to drop the unpleasant news.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:14 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had a coworker who volunteers at a local animal rescue. She used to frequently describe the intrusive questions and strange reasons for turning down prospective pet owners- the "will you have kids in the next 10 years?" apparently was an issue often. She genuinely thought they were doing the right thing by keeping 'unworthies' from adopting animals.

As an aside, holy cow, caution live frogs- my cats' names are also Toby and Pete! So sorry to hear about your little guy passing on.
posted by shes_ajar at 3:34 PM on January 30, 2012


Honestly many of the "unreasonable" questions/requirements seem totally reasonable if they're 'disqualifiers' for specific animals or specific breeds of animals, and it sounds like most of them could very well be. Jen Doe might've wanted a border collie, but what if the specific border collie the shelter had was just really not fit to be off-leash in the Does' yard? (It could have had a history of running off, or nipping at sheep too hard.) In the same vein, some animals really shouldn't be outdoors, or near kids, or in a house with lots of stairs (arthritis).

I volunteered at a shelter for a couple years and it's amazing how upset some people get when you try to politely steer them away from animals that are clearly a bad match for their lifestyle, just because they like the look or the idea of that particular breed/mix. It's really frustrating to warn an adopter about a certain incompatibility, have them brush you off and adopt the animal anyway, and then see it get returned a few weeks later because of that same incompatibility. Pets were always so much worse off after a return than if they'd never left, stressed-out and withdrawn and miserable. Sometimes it would take them a few months to recover and sometimes they never recovered at all. When people came in and asked for an animal that would play well with kids, we were happy to point out the best options and offer to let them hang out for a bit so they could get to know each other. But many people would come in and demand, e.g., a tortie when our only tortie hated everyone under sixty and most people over. (She was later adopted by a patient old lady with a quiet home, and they lived happily ever after, thank goodness.) Unless a potential adopter was obviously mentally unbalanced or seriously unprepared to own a pet, it was about rejecting bad matches, not "bad people". Some adopters picked up their kitty stuff on their way to pick up the pet, and answered the vet question by asking the shelter staff which vets they recommended, and that was totally fine.

Some of the rules are pretty unambiguously silly of course -- IMO an approved adoption is an approved adoption, and the random spot checks and "Ellen Degeneres" clauses are not appropriate.
posted by purplecrackers at 3:51 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


We recently adopted a stray cat who was eating in our backyard. We took her to the vet (she was missing a tooth, has some kind of rear-leg or back injury, was starving and stunted) and found out she had been adopted at the SPCA four years before, a few miles across town--she had a chip in her--but that the phone was disconnected. Someone either died or dumped her.

So I'm all for some kind of screening. Either that or go ahead an take in a stray :)
posted by Peach at 4:03 PM on January 30, 2012


If the phone was disconnected, it's possible the owners just moved and forgot to update the registration.

I picked up a lost dog last month. He had a microchip inserted by ACS but they hadn't registered it to any owners. We took the dog back to ACS and they tracked down the owners who came and retrieved him.

Again, it's this issue where we assume people will treat their pets badly, and that every lost/stray animal was mistreated or 'dumped.'
posted by muddgirl at 4:05 PM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have to say that I would not readopt rabbits to someone who gave up their rabbits citing allergies, then came back a few months later saying "magic! allergies gone! more rabbits please!" In this specific case, sure, it's fine, but in a shelter that's pretty hard to trust.

(One of the volunteers at the shelter where I used to adopt had this thing about steering people away from tortoiseshells/calicos, and after a bunch of 'no, they're not all evil' conversations, I went to someone else to complain about her. Then she switched volunteering days, but I hope she also stopped dissing the calicos.)
posted by jeather at 4:13 PM on January 30, 2012



Here's an account of my adoption of my cat Trilby from the Toronto Humane Society.

Traditionally THS has a reputation of sometimes being rude to human clients... from personal experience. Maybe they have improved since then.

Can there not be some middle ground?

We adopted our companion critters a few years ago from Toronto Animal Services, run by the City of Toronto, based in the Horse Barn at The CNE. The staff were really excellent. They were respectful of us human adopters in our interview, and they loved the animals in their care. We left with warm and fuzzy feelings, and felines.

TAS rocks. If you live in Toronto, adopt your next pet there.
posted by ovvl at 4:58 PM on January 30, 2012


People. We're having this discussion about adopting pets and there's a certain huge lack of picture links.

When I adopted Lulu - the private shelter had me fill out a form, took my money, told me Lulu's tale of woe, and sent Lulu and me on our merry little way...without really informing me that Lulu hates children and strangers and is really territorial.

A year later when I adopted Binky from a different private shelter - I actually offered to give them a blood sample on the "additional information" area of the application. THERE WAS AN ESSAY PORTION on the application. I am not kidding.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 5:08 PM on January 30, 2012


I adopted Houdini from the Broward County Humane Society with a reasonable amount of questioning. They checked to make sure my apartment allowed pets, asked about previous pets (and accepted that my childhood cats died at ripe old ages), and asked to me to keep Houdini indoors only. Houdini was 10 months old then, and had already been brought back once.

The process besides the general questioning went like this: you walked around the cages and wrote down the names of animals you wanted to see. When a room opened, you would be placed in the room with animals to see how you interacted. Houdini jumped up on my lap and started purring, and I said, "Okay. I can see I've been chosen." His brother, whom I had originally been more interested in, was more interested in sniffing at the door, so I went home with Houdini.

The only issue I had with the shelter was that they really wanted me to take both Houdini and his brother home, and I wasn't sure I had enough room for two cats in my apartment. I sometimes think, "I could get another cat." But I'm not sure that there's enough "I need to be alone" space here for two cats.

I'm sure that the volunteers took a good look at how people interact with the cats in the rooms as part of the screening process. But the questions seemed really reasonable (and my apartment complex's pet policy was in their database).

I know my Mom went through a lot more scrupulous questioning when she adopted her cat. (Who is a special needs cat, with some behavioral problems.) The only condition she balked at with adopting Sgt. Pepper was the condition that if something happens to her that he be brought back to the rescue organization. Since this was before I adopted Houdini, she asked that Pepper come to me instead. The shelter was fine with that and changed the agreement.

I don't doubt that people have had crazy experiences, but I've only ever dealt with a reasonable amount of demands.

(Also, more pictures of adopted pets, please.)
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 5:35 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was shocked recently to learn that many UK pet shelters will not adopt cats to people who *won't* let them outside. Some will generously allow you to adopt an older or chronically ill cat to be kept inside at all times, but otherwise you must have a garden to allow the cat into.

Yeah, when I finally decided to look for a cat I checked out the websites of all the obvious places-- RSPCA, Cats Protection, Battersea-- and all of them required outdoor space for the vast majority of their cats, which I sadly don't have. Luckily there are myriad small shelters in London, and I found a great one.

I can see how people might be taken aback by a shelter's request to visit and assess their home, but I think it's fairly standard practice in the UK. In my case I was glad to have someone else's opinion on whether my place would be a good indoor home for cats. It turns out that Milo and Mystery approve, so that's good.
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:02 PM on January 30, 2012


(Also, more pictures of adopted pets, please.)

Happy to oblige.
posted by MissySedai at 6:33 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


"more pictures of adopted pets, please"

When my beloved old man black cat, Mr. LeRoi Brown, passed away, I couldn't bear being without a cat.

Less than a month later, I did the right thing and went to the local no-kill shelter, Cat Welfare. The SO and I promptly fell in love with a neurotic longhaired dilute calico with an upper respiratory infection. She was about 6 months, having been returned by the first family that adopted her for the crime of being "too shy." After about a year, she finally warmed up to us. I present to you, Kaja Ninja Assassin, also known as Princess Peapod.

Around the same time, I decided that I must have another black cat. I found one on Craigslist, and we went down to pick him up. He was the teenest little thing with the biggest pile of chutzpah I'd ever encountered in a cat. He makes my life hell daily, and I adore him. I present to you, Mr. Spider Kipling, or just Kipling!!! for short.

Around a week after getting the first two, I was at the vet with Kaja, and a lady walked in with a tiny grey kitten. She asked if they could find him a home, they explained why they could not, so she asked how much it would be to have him put down. I was done at that point. I walked over, said "Let me see that kitten" and he was mine. He had his FIV tests et al done that very hour, and I called the SO on the way home to say "I have, um, a surprise." I present to you, Mr. Otto "Chumley" Von Doppler. He and Kipling got along famously right from the first minute they met. I thank God that I came across him, because now the two boys roughhouse together - otherwise Kaja would have been miserable - as a girly cat, she prefers "chase."

I certainly didn't plan on having three cats, but I can't picture our little family any other way now.
posted by HopperFan at 6:38 PM on January 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


Kipling looks like a more svelte version of my Bailey! Bailey, however, was not nearly as cute as a baby as your Kipling was.
posted by MissySedai at 6:43 PM on January 30, 2012


What surprises me is that all these fussy rescue people are not offering dog care and dog training classes. A lot of 'bad dogs' I've met just needed their humans to be trained. If someone won't make the commitment to attend, say, 4 hours of pre-adoption orientation on dog ownership and 12 hours of training with the dog, then maybe they aren't ready for a dog.
posted by theora55 at 6:54 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I find all black cats irresistible and would snorfle the heck out of your Bailey if he would permit it. :)
posted by HopperFan at 6:54 PM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


The article linked in the post is dreadful, poorly researched, meanly written and touts the worst possible outcome as a solution. To anyone looking to adopt an animal, if you don't happen to click with an adoption group, individual or policies, keep looking -- there will be adoption options that will work with and for you.

There's another whole debate between the terms adoption and rescue that may not have a place here, but among the four companions I currently have in my home, only one was anything like a rescue. The others came from shelters and adoption groups where they were sheltered, fed and cared for. I have had other rescued cats, including one from a terrible situation who turned out to be the sweetest cat I've ever known, for anyone here who think all abused animals have baggage they can never overcome.

I volunteer with a couple of breed-specific adoption groups, and will say for the record that their application and interview processes are both fair and thorough, though there are differences between them. If having a companion cat or dog is important to you, please have the patience and humility to understand that the whole point of the process is to ensure that an individual animal is placed with a person or family with some degree of certainty that it will be a happy pairing for as long as the animal's natural life. When all is said and done, there is nothing very wrong with an adoption group or rescue looking out for the animals' best interest above all; they are the ones that do not have a choice or a voice to advocate for themselves. I know there are adoption groups with frankly bizarre policies, but that's what's wonderful about having several or many to choose from.

And sometimes failure finds us, even though we commit to an animal for life. You'll find one of my personal failures at the end of this post.

Handsome Rob has been with me nearly 16 years, and is as full of in-your-face-loving-life as ever. He wasn't planned or applied for; he walked into my house as a 6 week old kitten with just a flea collar on; never could find an owner, and so he stayed. He is a character, very gregarious, far too smart and "not like other cats". King of the house.

When my other two cats had to be euthanized, Handsome Rob was desperate without a cat companion. For him, I adopted four year old Chai from the local Humane Society; he had been turned in by neighbors after being left behind when his family moved. It was an entirely reasonable interview process. He's been good here since day one -- until the part with my failure.

It had been years since I had a dog, and finally there was time and space in my life for a dog again. Or dogs. In relatively quick order (seven months apart), I adopted Simba and Stella. The two groups I adopted from had very different approached but both were thorough and fully supportive, I've no idea what I did without these dogs before. I honestly appreciated the home visit before I adopted Simba, particularly since the adoption group actually brought a hound over to -- get this -- dog test my cats! I wanted to make sure that bringing in an extra-large dog would not upset my cats overmuch, and the group went above and beyond.

I mentioned failure above, and here is my confession; sometimes it just doesn't work out and that is why groups both have the return policy and why there should not be so much shame applied to returns. Animals have definite personalities, and not everyone gets along with everyone else every time. I picked up a cat off the street that had been dumped in our neighborhood, an incredibly good cat. Brought him home, made a safe room, had him fully vetted, intended to keep him though I certainly did not need another pet. Named him Duma. And my Chai wanted nothing more than to kill him, despite all the care taken with slow introductions. I had to re-home him. And when that failed too, I had to re-home him again. Now, two years on, I am quite certain he's in the right home, and if that ever changes, I will take him back once more. Like every companion animal should, he has a safety net.

So... this was longer than I intended. Intention is actually a powerful word; if someone intends to bring an animal into their home, do your due diligence, research, talk with other owners, listen to volunteers about individual temperaments, spend time with the animals, volunteer or foster if that helps. Gracefully allow the group to do their due diligence. The whole point of the process is to help and increase the chance of the best match and outcome possible.
posted by vers at 6:55 PM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


What surprises me is that all these fussy rescue people are not offering dog care and dog training classes. A lot of 'bad dogs' I've met just needed their humans to be trained. If someone won't make the commitment to attend, say, 4 hours of pre-adoption orientation on dog ownership and 12 hours of training with the dog, then maybe they aren't ready for a dog.

I have long maintained that there's no such thing as a bad dog, just shitty owners. Like you, I know a number of "bad dogs" who are actually GREAT dogs, but their people are clueless.

Both our County Dog Warden and our local Humane Society offer obedience training. It isn't required to adopt, but it's "strongly encouraged", and it's open to the public. I can't help but wonder why the private rescues don't require a class, and instead choose to flip their shit over dog-shaped bed heaters.
posted by MissySedai at 7:07 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


(One of the volunteers at the shelter where I used to adopt had this thing about steering people away from tortoiseshells/calicos, and after a bunch of 'no, they're not all evil' conversations, I went to someone else to complain about her. Then she switched volunteering days, but I hope she also stopped dissing the calicos.)

How. Is. This. Even. Possible?

The three-color girls are the best! Six of my fosters have been tortie/calico bonded pairs. Sure they can be a little toppy, but not in a *bad* way. Blows my mind that anybody could think that they are evil. Actually, it boggles my mind that people can believe color has more of an impact on temperament than the zillion other nature/nurture factors that go into a cat's temperament. I'm not saying that color-linked personality traits don't exist - everyone knows that a the most mellow cats in the world are neutered orange males - but thinking that all torties or calicos are evil and bad-tempered is just crazy talk. (Although this is not the first time I've heard of this bad rap.)

And sometimes failure finds us, even though we commit to an animal for life. You'll find one of my personal failures at the end of this post.

That didn't sound like a failure to me at all. Sometimes the fit is just not right. What's important is that you remained committed to finding the right fit, and you ultimately did. It's a very unselfish thing to do, because you have to accept your "failure" and do what is best for the animal, even if it conflicts with your idea of what a good person should do. I recently rehomed my very first foster. Like many first time fosters, I ended up adopting him even though he was a bad fit for my resident cat, because he had already been through five foster and "permanent" homes and had an anxiety level that was off the charts (which is why he kept losing homes). We made it work for four years, but nobody was really happy. He wasn't happy, my other cat wasn't happy, and I had to live with two not-optimally-happy cats who had nightly, yowling, roiling fur ball fights. I felt like a failure when I let him go to live with my best friend. But they LOVED each other and whenever my friend visited, my anxious boy would just light up for him. I still feel guilty, and a little like a failure, but then I see how happy my friend and Anxiety Kitty are together and I know it was the right thing.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 7:54 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does Kaja Ninja Assassin actually read Frank O'Hara?
posted by ovvl at 8:01 PM on January 30, 2012


This is my puppy princess. She died two years ago.

She was a clever fiend who insisted on her royal right to eat whatever it was that I was eating, even when you would not think that a dog would want to eat it. It would always make me laugh when I got Indian takeout, because she would insist on having her share. She'd gulp down her chicken tikka masala, pausing occasionally to cough at the spice, then she would go to her water bucket and gulp half of it down at once. She liked asparagus, and sushi, and I could not bring any chocolate into the house because she would find it and eat it no matter how well I hid it. I brought home cakes for work once and left it on the counter for five minutes while I went out to get another bag from the car. When I came back she had gotten the box down off the counter, opened it (without destroying the box?!) and had devoured the whole box of cakes. She was loopy from the sugar high all the way on the nerve-wracking trip to the vet, smeared from ears to tail with chocolate, but she'd somehow not gotten a single drop on the carpet.

I still miss her, every day.
posted by winna at 9:23 PM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yes, owning an animal is a big commitment and yes, there are some people out there who really should not have pets, or shouldn't have a certain kind of pet, and they don't have the capacity to see this about themselves. That being said, rescue shelters, like all nonprofits, have to foster good will in the community to get support. That community includes people who may not qualify to adopt a pet. Even if I can't adopt an Irish Wolfhound because it would probably take up half of my teeny tiny SF apartment, I might still want to be involved with the Irish Wolfhound rescue organization. Who knows, I might even want to give that organization some of my hard earned money. I might tell my friend, who lives in the Irish Wolfhound version of Nirvana, how well I was treated by this organization, and recommend she go there to adopt. The point is, just because I don't qualify as an adopter doesn't mean I don't impact your organization, so be nice to me. Even when you are turning me down.
posted by firemonkey at 11:17 PM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


The author of the article said quite a bit about other people's bad experiences, but not much about her own, beyond "I felt it was my job to prove to the groups we contacted that I wasn’t a vivisectionist," and so she was "fed up." And then bought one of the most cruelly overbred breeds of all directly from a breeder, and wrote a one-sided anti-rescue article... which is really easy to read as ridiculously vindictive and spiteful. I hope this is not the case, but it just seems so bizarre. Especially the breeder bit.

I understand that some organizations and/or some individuals involved in rescue may definitely go too far, but I do regret that so many people reading this thread and the posted article will become convinced that they shouldn't try rescue organizations when so many of them do such good work, all at their own expense, effort, dedication, and time.

We have a rescue dog, and went through what I consider an okay amount of scrutiny: filled out a questionnaire that asked quite a lot of questions that I don't remember now, but many of the "how would you handle X," and similar, and asked specifics about the house, care, etc.; had a pre-adoption home visit, and the foster person also has visited us a couple of times since we adopted our dog – not drop-in visits, and not even "inspections," per se, plus not required, as far as I know. We told her to give us a call when she's downtown if she feels like dropping by and seeing Sky and having a glass of wine, and she's done that a couple of times in four years. Friendly.

The (different) person who did our home visit was charming, and brought one of her own dogs with her, and she had come on foot a pretty fair distance... I think I aced that one almost out of the bag by giving the dog water first thing. She didn't ask to see the entire house, and was very pleasant. We pretty much chatted for about a half-hour over tea, and she didn't ask any insulting or overly intrusive questions. They didn't demand vet info, references, or anything from our landlady (though the form we filled out required that info). In fact, my husband was out of town at the time of the home visit, so he didn't get interviewed at all beforehand.

The process was not entirely without frustration because it took quite a long time to get our dog initially, and I think the foster "mom" was reluctant to let her go, but she's very, very happy about it now. It turn out that yet another member of the organization is a neighbor, and we see her on walks with her own rescued dog... and there are a few more folks in the neighborhood who found their pets through the same group. We usually try to go to the rescue group's Christmas fundraiser and spend as much money as we can and touch base with people again. So no complaints here.

I also think that patience, perseverance, and flexibility are all qualities that will benefit any pet owner, but especially one who adopts a rescue animal. I could have flounced off in the early stages, all pissed off about the delays and "do they actually not want me to adopt this dog?" (which, I admit, I did wonder a few times) and feeling dissed or slighted, but I kept communicating and smothering them with calm persistence, which, perhaps, was viewed as a favorable indication. I also didn't approach it as a vendor situation or a client and service relationship, or feel like I was doing them a favor by allowing them to adopt to someone as obviously great as meeee... which is sort of a whiff I got from the author of the article.

When you negotiate the unexpected quirks, phobias, and personality markers of your dog or cat, you don't simply go with the proper approach and then throw up your hands or get angry and vengeful if that doesn't work out. You persevere, you try to see what they see, figure out what they are balking at or overreacting to and why, and come up with gentle and compassionate solutions to make things better for everyone. This takes not only skill (which can be acquired), and a certain kind of creativity or lateral thinking, but first and foremost the willingness to abandon your own expectations, rigidity, and convictions about about what is the proper or best way to do something, otherwise ain't nobody happy. Both potential owners and the volunteers who run rescues would do well to apply the same considerations to their interactions with each other, but if you are the one who hopes to adopt, just consider that it's the first of many trials of patience and commitment that you will exercise on behalf of your pet. If you are inflexible already, how will you deal with behavior when the correspondent can't even tell you what they are afraid of, or why they can't seem to do what you expect?

You can work with the people you feel are being unreasonable, you can be persistent, you can try other places, you can try many other places, you can possibly make some changes that might improve your situation, you can consider volunteering yourself to learn more. You can do a lot of things before you flounce off to a breeder in a big ol' huff.
posted by taz at 2:00 AM on January 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


Oh, I should add that I have nothing against ethical breeders who focus on the health and welfare of the animal, and I have nothing against people who want a particular breed and decide to buy from a responsible breeder. Rescues aren't for everyone, and that's perfectly fine. But to tout buying from a breeder who perpetuates inhumane breeding practices as a bitchslap against rescue organizations for not being compliant enough? Creepy.
posted by taz at 2:42 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I grew up in a house with too many cats. My mother wasn't a hoarder, just broke and with no way to deal with the problem, which got worse and worse all the time. The issues I had to deal with through junior high and high school are things I still deal with as an adult. I never thought I'd ever have a cat again.

Then, a couple years after moving to Japan, my girlfriend, who was heartbroken about being away from her cats (back home with her family in Canada), noticed an adorable kitten on her way home. The kitten lived behind a convenience store, and she would try to bring it food on her way to and from work. Things ended pretty horribly, and we were both heartbroken when she died (no, really, don't want to go into details, still hurts).

A couple months later, we noticed a shy little tabby with a white chest and feet hanging around our no pets apartment. We started feeding her, having food ready for her whenever she showed up, and it helped my girlfriend begin to move through the grief that she still felt. She was skittish as all hell, and at first, we couldn't get near her. She'd actually growl at us while eating (earning the name of Ungrateful Kitty, in comparison with the convenience store kitten, Grateful Kitty).

Over time, she started to come when we'd prop the front door open. She wouldn't spend the night, but she'd stay for awhile, and even let us pet her.

She got knocked up, and we fed the kittens, but by the time the kittens started to make their way up to apartment on the second floor from behind the building, there were only two left, Baby White and Jomo Jr. (My gf was pretty awesome, but not so strong in the pet naming department)

The two of them were very much strays, but they spent a lot of time with us, spending some nights. When we noticed they were losing hair on their faces, we took them to the vet, which for two people with limited language skills and no car was a bit of a challenge. The vet told us they had worms in their face, and after talking to us and finding out they were strays we were taking care of, he treated them for free. Later, when I took Baby to get fixed, he did the surgery at cost.

Later, after my gf had gone back home, Jomo went away, and never came back, though Baby was still there. She's over there, right now, on her pillow on top of the sofa. She's a house cat now, but she dearly hates it. She's the reason, indirectly, that my wife and I have a house. We wanted to move, but almost no landlord in Japan allows cats, so we quickly realized we'd need to buy something because there was no way Baby wasn't coming with us.

Gazpacho (because I'm awesome at pet names), who Baby loathes, is sitting across the room on the back of the easy chair. She's six months old, and we got her from our new vet (the old one is too far away) we take Baby to now. We wanted to get another cat because a) Baby seemed pretty lonely and b) because, well, Baby is incredibly skittish, and I'm pretty much the only person, Mrs. Ghidorah included, who doesn't freak out around. We asked the vet to let us know if they knew of any customers with knocked up cats. They got back to us over the summer, as someone had found a newborn litter abandoned behind a building. The vet kept Pacho for us until she was old enough to eat solid food, and gave us medicine for baby kitten snot eyes (ewww) and some food to get started.

It doesn't work for everyone, but if you have one pet, you've got, or should have a good relationship with a vet already. Talk to them, and let them know that you'd love to adopt any spares they end up with. They know how you take care of animals, they know you, and they'll do their best to help you.

Now if you'll pardon me, Baby needs her chin scratched.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:58 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Does Kaja Ninja Assassin actually read Frank O'Hara?"

Yes, along with her other hobbies, such as stealing q-tips and playing with them in the hallway, and staring up at shadows on the ceiling.
posted by HopperFan at 4:24 AM on January 31, 2012


Our most recent cat came from the supermarket. My housemate saw a new cat in the back parking lot (there's a feral colony there) and knelt down to take a look. He ran up to her and jumped into her arms. Upon examination, she saw he was half-starved and had been declawed in his front paws. So she took him home, kept him separate until we could get him to the vet, who said he seemed to have been neutered at the appropriate age, and had all his shots and had nothing wrong with him except for a couple weeks neglect and, poof, we had a new cat.

We've also had neighbors bring kittens to our door, on the assumption that we'd know what to do with them. (Feed them, keep them segregated from other pets until they've been cleared by a vet and shown to be socialized, network to find them a new home.)

Dogs, I gather, are a bit harder to accumulate that way.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:09 AM on January 31, 2012


My family lives in a semi-rural US city. Over the years we've has had at least thirteen cats, all of which lived outside (for allergy/asthma reasons) and all of which were ferals/strays that we adopted when they wandered up. All of them were ferocious hunters, preying mainly on sparrows, lizards, mice, and the occasional endangered hornytoad. Of those 13+ cats, two were tame kittens we gave away to live as indoor cats, two were wild kittens we gave away to live as farm barncats, and two died "natural" deaths: one from old age (around ten years old) and one cancer (around eight). The other cats (7+) died before their ninth birthdays from getting hit by cars, eaten by coyotes, or simply vanishing under sinister circumstances--we suspect a hawk got at least one kitten.

It's heartbreaking every time. The only way we've justified keeping cats outside is knowing that it's literally life-or-death to the cat-allergic person indoors; that many of the former ferals were too jumpy-wild to ever be comfortable indoors; and that all the cats sought us out, not vice versa, and our care kept them from starvation and some suffering. But we'd be nuts to approach a rescue for a cat. And a rescue would be nuts to give us one of their friendly adoptable cats, when there're always more twitchy ferals and abandoned strays around for us to be their next best thing to living on the street. So how much anecdata in this thread does my anecdata cancel out; are we doing a 1:1 dead/live cat ratio? Or can we agree that the reasons cats can be better off outdoors are met by equally good reasons why they're at much greater risk?
posted by nicebookrack at 7:35 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I understand the heartbreak of losing any cat, but as mentioned above it's really not a fair comparison to equate essentially semi-feral outdoor cats who wandered up because you are feeding outside to domesticated indoor/outdoor cats. As far as I can see no cat longevity study has been done which differentiates between outdoor-only cats, indoor/outdoor cats, and indoor-only cats.
posted by muddgirl at 7:49 AM on January 31, 2012


For example, my parents indoor-outdoor cats are only outside during the day - they come in at night, which is when coyotes typically hunt. An outdoor-only cat does not have that respite.
posted by muddgirl at 7:54 AM on January 31, 2012


She'd actually growl at us while eating (earning the name of Ungrateful Kitty, in comparison with the convenience store kitten, Grateful Kitty).

There is nothing more comical than seeing a food-aggressive kitten growl to protect her meal. I thought only dogs did that until I got my first pair of undernourished foster kittens.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 9:18 AM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


the most mellow cats in the world are neutered orange males

Is that actually a thing?! Because our Creamsicle was an insane semi-feral neighborhood stray (DREADLOCKS on a cat for crying out loud) who had to have a tube put in his head from a fight with something when we took him to the shelter, where he was so ill-mannered in the cage that they couldn't even put him in the adoption room.

I couldn't bear to think of him getting killed, because he'd always been nice to me and decent with our other cats, so we adopted him. And not too long after getting snipped, he became the sweetest, floppiest, goofiest cat ever.

Although CHRIST ON A CRACKER he cries at night when he wants food or to go outside or, I don't know, to get played with at 3am.

Yes, he goes outside. Our gang is all indoor-outdoor, with the exception of the girl who had quite enough of that, thank you, when she was abandoned by the neighbor. I know the downsides of outdoor cats, but it would drive all of us insane, cats and humans, to keep the outdoor cats indoors.
posted by epersonae at 10:09 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dasein: "My understanding is that this doesn't save actually birds, as birds don't recognize a bell as a warning. Not saying that cats should as a result always be indoors as a result, but I understand that cats do kill a lot of birds each year."

Not only that, but they fail to work for the primary method of hunting for cats, which is to sit quietly and wait for something to get close, then leap. The bird or whatever may hear the bell ring when the cat jumps, but at that point it's far too late.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:32 AM on January 31, 2012


I'm fostering a starving post-pregnant GSP since last night, she looks to have been malnourished her whole life, is at least 30% undersized for the breed, every rib can be counted even after fattening her up, and I've got to take her to the vet because her nose is bleeding right now. I'm not sure I'm emotionally tough enough to deal with this, but I feel like I've made a commitment to her that I can't give up upon. I understand hoarding a little better today (still crazy though), and I also understand feeling a responsibility not for all dogs, but for THIS DOG.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:32 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or can we agree that the reasons cats can be better off outdoors are met by equally good reasons why they're at much greater risk?

Personally, I don't understand the risks well enough to feel comfortable making a call either way at this point. There are a few studies on wild, feral and domestic cat life expectancies. These are, I think, sources of statistics like 5 years for an outside cat and 15 years for an indoor cat. In fact those appear to be life expectancies for (city) feral and cats who live (most? some? all?) indoors. The life expectancies for indoor/outdoor and indoor-only does not appear to have been subject to real study.

In contrast to your report, my immediate family has had over 20 cats in the past three decades---mom does Siamese rescue. Most of our cats have reached their mid- to late-teens. They all go outside daily. One has died in a car accident, all others from natural causes. By those numbers the elevation of risk to an outdoor/indoor cat is something less than 5% compared with your 50%.

I'm not suggesting that either of those figures is wrong (or right!). We do need more and better data to understand this better. Further, in the absence of this data, the risks to the cat seem to me to be greatly outweighed by the psychological benefits of being allowed outside.
posted by bonehead at 10:32 AM on January 31, 2012


Is that actually a thing?!

Anecdatally, yes, that is a thing. Neutered orange males do have a reputation for incredible mellowness, and being the neutral, non-threatening cat in a multi-cat environment. Perhaps this is related to the idea that intact orange toms are usually very dominant in a feral environment.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 11:15 AM on January 31, 2012


What these rescue shelters are doing is stupid not only because their demands are completely unreasonable, but also because they do not and never will have the monopoly on pet supply. As such, all they will accomplish is that when someone thinks of getting a pet, the first thing that comes to mind is not a shelter, but a puppy mill or a breeder. And all they will have left is a shelter full of unwanted animals that will have to be euthanized.
I too was told once I couldn't have a dog by some dickhead at the shelter. So I laughed, picked up a copy of a local paper that was sold at their entrance and bought myself a german shepherd. Have been happy with my decision for the last seven years....
posted by c13 at 11:23 AM on January 31, 2012


Here are there choices:
(1) Adopt animals out more liberally. They will adopt more animals out, but some percentage will return (is that percentage 100% of course not - most estimates are that the return rate is 10-40%).

(2) Maintain strict adoption guidelines. A much, much smaller percentage of animals are going to be adopted out. People like Yoffe will go elsewhere to get a dog, possibly a breeder. The 10-40% which will surrender the dog in the first case will surrender the dog in the second case. Now the total population of dogs the breed-specific rescue has to deal with has increased by at least 10%.

These numbers are obviously made up, but I think they're illustrative.
posted by muddgirl at 5:08 PM on January 30


(3) Ask questions that are breed-specific, so as to assure the best match. "Oh, you're planning on having kids? You should know that this breed doesn't get on well with babies, so for safety's sake you may want to consider this breed as a option instead---it LOVES children...."


I just don't think asking if you're having children is that ridiculous a question, given that the arrival of a child may have devastating consequences for the pet.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:39 AM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just don't think asking if you're having children is that ridiculous a question, given that the arrival of a child may have devastating consequences for the pet.

It's not ridiculous when put in the context that you present it: "Oh, hey, consider this breed, it's fab with the kiddos!" I'm even cool with the question, followed by "What do you intend to do with your pet once the child arrives?" If the answer is "Socialize them so they'll be BFFs!", great! If the answer is "Find the dog another home.", No Dog For You!

I just don't think that the plan to have children should be grounds for rejecting potential pet parents out of hand. In my experience, kids and pets benefit each other immensely.

(When I was pregnant with Elder Monster, people kept trying to convince me to give up my then four year-old cat. The usual nonsense about cats and babies, you understand. I held my ground, kept the cat I had hand-raised, and said cat took it upon himself to introduce himself to Elder Monster the day he came home from the hospital, and that was that. They very much were BFFs til the day Schiller kitty died.)
posted by MissySedai at 11:52 AM on January 31, 2012


We're looking at adopting a dog right now. Like a lot of responsible pet owners, we're agonizing over the situation and debating whether we have enough time as two young professionals who both have full-time jobs and live in an apartment in the city. We're cognizant of the fact that our situation may not ideal for all pets. But we're both willing to put in the time and effort to make the dog happy, and even look at smaller breeds even though we're both big dog people.

We've been to the city shelter and a few other rescues in the area, mostly visiting and checking out the animals. And it's incredibly frustrating having to navigate through all the rules, both our insane apartment's breed restrictions and the shelter's own restrictions, some of which include baby questions.

You know what? As young professionals moving up in our careers we worry enough about pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, we don't need to deal with that shit trying to give a home to a needy dog. Fuck that.

So much so that I've recommended we start looking through craigslist in addition to the shelters. Which is even more heartbreaking in some ways. Because every other post seems to be some extended lame excuse to dump an animal the owner doesn't want anymore. But still, we'd be giving a home to a dog that wasn't wanted elsewhere.

And just an anecdote to show we're not bad owners. We previously had two pet ferrets, who died from complications due to lymphosarcoma and insulinoma, both unfortunately common diseases for ferrets. We nursed them in their later years, hand feeding with liquid diets, multiple medications per day and for one of them even sub-q fluid injections, quite literally going into credit card debt on student incomes to pay for medication and vet service, which we've only recently paid off. So yeah, we're responsible pet owners.

Like others have said, since they don't have a monopoly on the supply of pets, this will only result in more people going to breeders and other less-than ideal sources. Their only option will be to pursue lobbying to enact more restrictive pet ownership laws. Which we may need more of, but it may not help their public perception.
posted by formless at 12:16 PM on January 31, 2012


the most mellow cats in the world are neutered orange males
Is that actually a thing?!


I would append that I certainly thought this was a thing, and still *mostly* think so, though I would add the criteria "furrier orange kitties." Every neutered, long-haired male orange cat I've had contact with,, including my sweet Maine Coon, Cheddar has been an absolute dream of a cat. Loveable and mellow.

Short-haired orange males...well, our demon tabby tomcat, Colby Jack*, was also orange. Nuff said.

Here's Fancy, my sweet rescue girl.

*That's a treasured rare pic of Colby sleeping. I think in this pic, he'd just come back after disappearing for three days. *sigh* I still miss my demon cat. I wish I could have made him happy.
posted by misha at 12:24 PM on January 31, 2012


c13: I too was told once I couldn't have a dog by some dickhead at the shelter.

Did it occur to you that the dickhead at the shelter had seen hundreds of dogs returned or dumped into shelters and might have legitimate concerns?

I'm friendly with a woman who works at a no-kill cat shelter in Chicago. Their policy is that if you can't keep a cat you adopted from them, they'll take it back. The sheer number of returns blows my mind, and the reasons for the returns are often frustratingly callous. And these are cats. Dogs take much more work. It's incredible to me how cavalier people can be about these animals' lives.

If you actually love dogs, a little sympathy and understanding would come across much better than namecalling and dismissal. I can't help wondering how you came across to the dickhead at the shelter.
posted by swerve at 12:24 PM on January 31, 2012


You should know that this breed doesn't get on well with babies

What breed of dog 'doesn't get along with babies' specifically?

There are some breeds of dog that are less adaptable than others. It has nothing to do with babies - they respond poorly to all life changes like (1) vacations, (2) changes in human schedule, (3) changes in house/apartment.

For every family in the US, at least one of those three things is guaranteed over a period of 10 years, and for 99% of families they take precedent over a pet.
posted by muddgirl at 12:27 PM on January 31, 2012


Did it occur to you that the dickhead at the shelter had seen hundreds of dogs returned or dumped into shelters and might have legitimate concerns?

You're missing my point. The dickhead is a dickhead not because he has concerns, but because he let his concerns sabotage his mission, indeed his whole reason for existing in the first place. What are shelters for? To take in pets from people who do not want them for various reasons, and to give them to people that do. Am I correct, or am I not? Am I also correct in saying that, in addition to shelters, there are plenty other places where people that want pets can get them, just as easily? So if you antagonize your potential rescuers by having batshit insane demands and expectations what, other than what I did, will you eventually achieve? Other than a shelter full of pets that you don't know what to do with and have to euthanize. How is it not cruel, in addition to being insanely stupid, to have to kill a dog because you denied someone who thinks that it is cruel to keep a dog on a leash *it's whole life*, or hasn't created a masterplan for a sleeping spot (for example) the opportunity to adopt it?
In Knoxville, where my adoption story happened, the shelter in question is within 20 minutes of a state animal control center, where you can go get a dog without any hassle.
What the dickhead in question does not understand is that a person that wants a dog (a pet), has no lack of supply. But he, the dickhead, has a real problem with supply of people willing to adopt, especially older pets with a bunch of problems. And that although beggars can be choosers to a degree, the envelope can be pushed only very little.
I wanted a dog, I have my own philosophy on having one and I see no reason why I should accept someone else's in order to be allowed to have one. I now have a healthy, happy (even though he sleeps on my bed sometimes, believe it or not) 7 year old German Shepherd. It could have been a healthy happy X year old halfbreed I wanted to adopt at the shelter, but thanks to the dickhead behind the counter it is not. I hope someone managed to save this dog, he was pretty damn cute..
As far as no-kill shelters, please work out the math for me. You have x number of spots. Initially, those spots are filled with unwanted pets from various sources. Later you get N number of returns. What happens to X-N pets?
posted by c13 at 1:32 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


What are shelters for? To take in pets from people who do not want them for various reasons, and to give them to people that do.

I'm sure there are some shelters where that is the mandate, but by no means all of them. Nor should it be. Some places could probably operate that way, but others would permanently lose volunteers and foster homes really fast every time they gave a dog to a family that subsequently mistreated it. Personally I'd rather see a dog euthanized than made to suffer by a Michael Vick type, or someone who leaves the dog chained up in the yard 24/7. Not just because those dogs are tortured, but also because irresponsible pet owners should be discouraged given that they tarnish the reputations of all pet owners and all pets with their misbehavior. I'm sure some rescue operations are arbitrary or overreaching in their criteria, and could benefit from better ways to gently screen their clients. Probably the best thing to do would be to have the ASPCA or some other nationwide organization standardize effective adopter qualification criteria for various breeds and needs and figure out some way to track returns against applications to refine the criteria so that it's more effective and less arbitrary. Even so, people will be rejected and they'll react badly especially when the rejection is for a legitimate reason. We live in a society where all rejection has become personal somehow, and one in which we expect all our choices can be indulged. At the same time, no matter how well we can generate an effective standardized criteria, there will always be holdouts for arbitrary decision making, because volunteers have some understandable baggage about specific mis-treatments they've seen, or adopters they've misjudged as being more capable than they are.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:49 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Again, no one is arguing that ever shelter should completely eliminate all screening.
posted by muddgirl at 2:06 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


someone who leaves the dog chained up in the yard 24/7

The example upthread was that the guy was denied an adoption of a Collie because he said he would allow it to run on his fenced farm.
Secondly, what you personally would do to a dog has absolutely no bearing on how anyone else should treat their pets. If you have a license from god saying you're an authority on pet care, I would like to see the original or at least a notarized copy. I, for example, personally think that if a dog is taken from a home where it's beaten senseless every day and given to a home where it's cared for, but the owners keep their full time jobs, is an improvement. But that's just my personal opinion.
Thirdly, we live in a society where a rejection by a dog shelter means absolutely nothing in terms of an ability of procuring a pet. It would behoove people running these shelters to realize this fact. On the other hand, if someone has the desire and the ability to take in all unwanted pets and take care of them until death - more power to them. My only request would be that they say so, so that I wouldn't waste my time with them and go get a pet from elsewhere.
posted by c13 at 2:08 PM on January 31, 2012


On leashless dogs and indoor/outdoor losing their lives to misadventure: At least they die free.
Pet owners are just jailers of animals.
posted by TheKM at 2:11 PM on January 31, 2012


"Pet owners are just jailers of animals."

Come on SHEEPETS fight the power AMIRITE
posted by HopperFan at 3:09 PM on January 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


My only request would be that they say so, so that I wouldn't waste my time with them and go get a pet from elsewhere.

Well, as I said up thread, I would like to see a lot more transparency (rates of adoption, %successful applications), credibility (no lying about the dogs condition), and expectation management from rescue organizations. I totally sympathize with how irritating it is to waste time on applications. I've been turned down multiple times on a truly laborious application for a service animal with absolutely no understanding of my likelihood of ever making it through the process. I know enough about the organization to believe they are acting in good faith fortunately, but it is frustrating. It helps that they manage expectations from the outset by telling everyone there are many, many more applications than dogs available. Some rescue organizations probably routinely mistreat adopters in their emphasis on the pets. I've done a little volunteer work, and I kind of understand why they get stuck doing things that way even when it's counter-productive. I have no doubt that there are people who are great owners who get turned down all the time. I also have no doubt that even if there were better metrics about who mistreats pets and we had some kind of statistically validated criteria there would still be great owners getting turned down, just like not everyone with a low FICO score is going to be irresponsible paying back their debts. Even if the criteria were valid, how would an adopter know they were being turned down for a good reason or an arbitrary whim? Wouldn't it be just as frustrating or more so?

Secondly, what you personally would do to a dog has absolutely no bearing on how anyone else should treat their pets.

I make no claims to authority, but I will say there is definitely mistreatment that appears to be torture or neglect to me. Leaving a dog alone 24/7 is just as bad or worse than beating it as far as I'm concerned; they are social animals. I'm not talking about letting the dog run with other dogs, or roam around in the backyard unsupervised for a few hours (especially a typical border collie). I'm talking about what I'd put up with letting people do to the dogs who've been entrusted to my care and my decisions versus the decision to euthanize. Would I let a pair of full time employed people adopt a dog? Probably at least the first time it came up if I had to make the decision, but I'd try and get them to adopt two at once and/or agree to come home at lunch and let the dog out, or hire a dog walker to come in on weekdays. I suspect if I had a bunch of dogs come back in from that kind of adopter with problems: listless, depressed, unhealthy, neurotic, and requiring surgical intervention from bad habits that developed from being left alone too often or understimulated, then I might stop ever letting people with inflexible work schedules adopt. I think if that happened it'd be warranted even if their were a small percentage of people with inflexible work schedules who could come up with great workarounds. It takes a long time and a toll on the psyche to bring a dog back from poor health, and the ones with ingrained bad habits or bad socialization can quickly become un-adoptable by anyone. No one wants to adopt a depressed or neurotic dog for good reasons.

These aren't recycled consumer appliances, and no one has a right to mistreat them. I'm aware that people can go elsewhere, and make good or bad moral decisions. But that kind of logic is screwy, it's like justifying selling black market guns or drugs because you know there is a market out there. I'm responsible for the morality of my own decisions, not for the indirect things that people do badly because they disagree with me.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:14 PM on January 31, 2012


TheKM, it's brave of you to offer yourself as the target against which the whole thread can unite in an effort to bring peace, but I don't think you've thought that plan through...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:14 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


TheKM, people who initially domesticated pets were the jailers, we're just stuck with the moral fallout from creating species totally dependent on us.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:15 PM on January 31, 2012


It helps that they manage expectations from the outset by telling everyone there are many, many more applications than dogs available.

I mentioned above that, for example, greyhound-only adoption organizations can choose to be picky, because the supply is in line with the demand. But this simply isn't the case for general-breed adoption orgs like ASPCA or Humane Society or your local dog pound.

I'm talking about what I'd put up with letting people do to the dogs who've been entrusted to my care and my decisions versus the decision to euthanize.

But again, for kill shelters or general-breed no-kill animal rescue in towns that are not fully no-kill, the math boils down to: "I will euthanize 10 animals to prevent 1 animal from being mistreated." If that was stated up-front to ever adopter, don't you think animal rescue would start to develop an image problem?
posted by muddgirl at 3:31 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't really want to get too deeply into this, BrotherCaine, because that's not what we're talking about here, but I'm confused. You say you make no claims to authority, but at the same time seem to be willing to kill a dog rather than giving it to someone who does not share your opinions on dog care. Have you asked what the dog in question would prefer? I hope it's not the case, because otherwise it would seem that the dog's life is just a means for you to satisfy your principles.

then I might stop ever letting people with inflexible work schedules adopt.

See, that's the point. You never actually "stop letting people adopt". "Letting" is not your authority or decision. And most people want not so much as adopt a pet as to get one. You can only stop giving the pets that you own away. But in a case of a shelter, my question to you is: then what? So you stop letting people with busy schedules adopt your dogs. Then you stop people that don't have a designated sleeping spot adopt. Then you stop letting people that may eventually consider to have children to adopt. And the ones that refuse to give you the authority that even cops don't have -- come in unannounced and search their home. Who will you have left and what happens to all the other dogs that are unwanted but can't get into your shelter because it is full?
The shelter I walked out of kept their dogs in steel cages and had a tiny back yard, so I know for sure that the dogs were not receiving proper care. How long would you keep a dog locked up in a cage before you let someone with busy schedule to adopt?
Because that's really what we're talking about here. The choice these shelter people have to make is not between a dog heaven at the shelter and a dog heaven at someone's house. It's a choice between a steel cage for x amount of time before being killed and someone's house where they will hopefully be treated better. No kill shelters are a non-solution since you're preserving some dogs at the expense of others.
posted by c13 at 3:48 PM on January 31, 2012


Per wikipedia, "A no-kill shelter is most widely defined as an animal shelter where all "adoptable" and "treatable" animals are saved and where only "unadoptable" or "non-rehabilitatable" animals are euthanized".
Furthermore, among other things, ""Unadoptable" or "non-rehabilitatable" means animals that are neither adoptable or treatable. By way of exclusion, SB1785 defines "unadoptable":
Animals eight weeks of age or younger at or subsequent to the time the animal is impounded;..."

So what they really are doing is trying to rescue these animals from being killed by trying to find someone who will adopt them. Looks like the window of opportunity is about 8 weeks. By denying adoption because the potential adoptee does not meet some of their (however subjective and personal) requirements they're basically condemning that dog to death. One can only hope that they consult the dog on this matter...
posted by c13 at 4:20 PM on January 31, 2012


I don't make any decisions about who's allowed to adopt dogs, because I know I'm not emotionally tough enough to work in animal rescue and I've got my own windmills to tilt at. Personally, I'm pretty tolerant of a wide range of behaviors towards dogs that many of the dog people I've met would consider risky, abusive, or heretical (I don't even talk to some people about training methodology), and I suspect I'd have decided for the adopters in most of the cases referenced in the anecdotes (if the anecdotes accurately represent the real story).

As for consulting the dogs, I get the sense that a lot of the people who have these criteria (which I agree are currently unfortunately subjective), have them because they've allowed dogs to be adopted out, and had them come back so traumatized that they've had to be put down. I don't think most of them decide that lightly. I guess if I felt like torture + death later was better than death now, I'd totally agree with you that it's always worth the risk no matter how many red flags the applicant raises with the adoption coordinator. At the same time I can't judge the people who make mistakes after being emotionally burned over and over by seeing the way people horrifically abuse animals. A certain amount of decision paralysis is unavoidable. Especially when the objective criteria to judge who is or isn't mistreating dogs is thin on the ground, and when we can't even all agree what mistreatment consists of. But there's also some need for subjectivity in the placement of dogs with particular needs or fears. Some homes are great for a dog, but not that particular dog. I suspect shelters sometimes do a poor job of delivering that message, and applicants sometimes do a poor job of hearing it.

I don't know why you were turned down for a dog. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume it was for stupid reasons if you are calling the guy a dickhead. I don't even disagree with you that shelters occasionally make bad choices for the dogs, as I've said. I even think that no one person has the best answer for how a dog should be treated.

As for your I shouldn't have to adhere to their philosophy comment, I don't know what to say. It's a fact that if you take a dog out on an asphalt surface and don't touch it with your hand to check temperature their feet could burn. Is that a philosophy? Most of the people I know who have a 'philosophy' have it because they've seen how the decisions affect many dogs in their care. Sometimes they are wrong in general, more often they are wrong about a specific dog and adopter, but they've got to start with some kind of criteria. I suspect a lot of them just want to know you've put some thought into it and read at least a tiny bit on dog training, health, and behavior even if you do disagree with them.

Like I said, I think we should be developing more objective criteria at a national level on how to screen adopters. Do you disagree with that? Do you want me to assign more of the blame to shelters for the situation rather than ignorant or malicious dog owners/breeders? It doesn't really matter where I apportion the blame, the answer is always going to be better science, more education all around, and sometimes legislation.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:36 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Like I said, I think we should be developing more objective criteria at a national level on how to screen adopters.

We as a nation? I think we've got much, much more important problems. I also don't care enough to make pet welfare my life's work. I just wanted a dog, and I only care for that specific dog. He is not my best friend, I don't treat him as my child, I don't check the temperature of the asphalt since I'm pretty sure he'll let me know it's too warm or just run back onto the grass. Am I a horrible dog owner? I don't know. So far the only problems we've had were occasional fleas.
I agree with muddgirl, while you probably shouldn't give a dog to a guy that tells you he makes a living selling fur hats, killing a dog because you couldn't find anyone with proper schedule, a designated sleeping spot, an asphalt thermometer or a night call number of the vet is pretty counterproductive.
But again, that all depends on what your goals are.
posted by c13 at 6:22 PM on January 31, 2012


National level as in ASPCA rather than bunch of individual shelters burning up a lot more paid staff hours reinventing the wheel separately.

I think I'm somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between you and the dog hoarder types, but closer to agreeing with you. In any case, a line has to be drawn, and where it's drawn is arbitrary and subjective. You act like it's common sense or a simple decision and sometimes it probably is, but I suspect there is enough complexity to the situation that I don't feel comfortable second guessing the people in the trenches so to speak.

FWIW, I doubt I'd make the cut with some of the shelter people. My wife is the one with the experience.

As for why I'm overinvested in this subject today, I'm dealing with a dog I'm fostering who's grossly underweight and who I suspect came from a puppy mill.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:47 PM on January 31, 2012


Muddgirl, that's why I said up thread that some kind of ASPCA certification process that imposed reporting requirements/transparency would be a good thing.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:52 PM on January 31, 2012


You can work with the people you feel are being unreasonable, you can be persistent, you can try other places, you can try many other places, you can possibly make some changes that might improve your situation, you can consider volunteering yourself to learn more. You can do a lot of things before you flounce off to a breeder in a big ol' huff.

Great comment, taz. Thanks. You helped me rethink and adjust.
posted by mediareport at 6:59 PM on January 31, 2012


You act like it's common sense or a simple decision and sometimes it probably is,

Well, I come from a country where dogs and cats mostly are kept for a specific function. Guard a house, help on a hunt, catch mice, etc... You know, something they were bred to do. Like a cow or a goat, you'd love it, take care of it, but you wouldn't keep it just as a pet. Specialized dog and cat food were unknown until very recently and even now are considered something that only people with a lot of money and few brains would want. In the country dogs are kept outside year round.
The ones that are not abused appear pretty healthy and happy and live about as long as the ones in the US (IMHO). So while trying to save cats and dogs from euthanasia by finding people to adopt them seems perfectly reasonable to me, making outlandish demands, something that even cops or child adoption agencies wouldn't do is batshit insane in my view.
Anyways, getting a dog was an interesting experience...
posted by c13 at 7:10 PM on January 31, 2012


c13, people with your attitude towards pets are the reason shelters exist in the first place.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 9:00 PM on January 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


OK, if you think so. But usually we hear bitching and moaning of shelters about not being able to adopt all the pets they have, not of people complaining of not being able to get a pet....
posted by c13 at 9:28 PM on January 31, 2012


Just don't forget, dogs that are not adopted in 8 weeks are killed.
posted by c13 at 9:33 PM on January 31, 2012


Heh.. There is a current post about people pouring concrete for three days in a row into an ant colony. You all animal lovers may want to read the comments.
posted by c13 at 10:30 PM on January 31, 2012


Specialized dog and cat food were unknown until very recently and even now are considered something that only people with a lot of money and few brains would want.

Yeah, my butcher freezes scraps of meat from trimmings etc... to sell for pet food. I'm pretty sure it's cheaper and healthier than the gourmet specialty stuff. My dad grew up with working dogs in Pennsylvania, I can see how it would color your opinion.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:06 PM on January 31, 2012


I'm pretty sure it's cheaper and healthier than the gourmet specialty stuff.

Well, this is the difference in our views that I'm trying to illustrate. People in Russia feed them meat trimmings and other stuff not because it is cheaper and/or healthier, but because it never occurs to them to feed their livestock some extra special diet. Insert your russian jokes here if you will, but if, for example, my wife would feed her dogs Purina Puppy Chow instead of bread loafs boiled in chicken broth, her dogs wouldn't survive a single winter. She and her sister would be denied an adoption here in the states, yet they've raised several dogs pretty much by themselves.
posted by c13 at 11:41 PM on January 31, 2012


What breed of dog 'doesn't get along with babies' specifically?
posted by muddgirl at 3:27 PM


Chow chows are territorial, seem to enjoy bullying, are quick-tempered, and are resistant to a firm hand--all of which could be a bad mix with young children or babies.

I say again my last: it's not a ridiculous question.

It's not ridiculous when put in the context that you present it: "Oh, hey, consider this breed, it's fab with the kiddos!" I'm even cool with the question, followed by "What do you intend to do with your pet once the child arrives?" If the answer is "Socialize them so they'll be BFFs!", great! If the answer is "Find the dog another home.", No Dog For You!

I just don't think that the plan to have children should be grounds for rejecting potential pet parents out of hand. In my experience, kids and pets benefit each other immensely.
posted by MissySedai at 2:52 PM on January 31


I agree with this completely, MissySedai. Maybe I'm cutting the rescue places too much slack, but I just can't imagine any organization that would ask only about your plans to have kids and then deny you. I really think that question was taken out of context.
posted by magstheaxe at 5:50 AM on February 1, 2012


Maybe I'm cutting the rescue places too much slack, but I just can't imagine any organization that would ask only about your plans to have kids and then deny you. I really think that question was taken out of context.

It is not about the specific question or the specific reason for denial. We all agree that it is important for shelters to filter out people who should clearly not own a pet. What many people in this thread, and increasingly in the community, are saying is that shelters are erring too far on the side of caution, and that by keeping their animals from being adopted to people who are going to get a pet one way or another, they are contributing to the problem, by indirectly supporting breeders and other sources of new pets. It would be far better to have a much lower bar for people seeking to adopt, so that the average person can expect no difficulty in getting a pet from a shelter, which would greatly reduce the demand, especially among backyard breeders.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:32 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


...and I want to add that many shelters already adopt this philosophy.
posted by muddgirl at 7:37 AM on February 1, 2012


My friend's wife is animal-crazy. Like, she loves her animals so much it is insane. They are on their honeymoon right now, and in order to go on this trip, she made my friend (her husband) get insurance that would cover them to fly home immediately (they're gone for 11 days total) if one of the animals got sick. She required that her friend (a *vet*), who was watching the animals while they're gone, sign a legal agreement to do her utmost to protect the animals while she was gone. When her bunny got sick, she stayed up all night watching it to make sure it was ok.

She was *inconsolable* when her guinea pig died. Couldn't go to work. Cried for a week. And when she went to a rescue organization to get a new guinea pig, the rescue organization refused her because she didn't want to keep it the *specific* guinea pig "house" that the rescue organization required people to buy. The (pretty damn big, IMO, at *least* 10 sq ft) enclosure that she had kept her previous one in was not acceptable to them. This is a person who loves animals more than she loves most people, she would have loved the SHIT out of that guinea pig, but was forced to move on to another rescue group. I understand the need to send animals to safe, happy homes, but some of these groups get *so* set in their mindsets about the right ways to keep them happy, it's out of control.
posted by antifuse at 9:15 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


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