Good Homes Need Not Apply

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By Nathan J. Winograd

I’ve devoted the last [20] years of my life to reforming animal shelters in the United States (far longer doing rescue). I’ve worked at two shelters that have the highest rates of lifesaving in the nation: one as its Director of Operations and the other as the Executive Director. I’ve also worked and consulted with dozens of shelters nationwide. Currently, I run the national No Kill Advocacy Center, which is dedicated to ending the systematic killing of animals in shelters.

In my work to reform antiquated shelter practices, I often face traditional sheltering dogma that is a roadblock to lifesaving innovation. Too many shelters operate under false assumptions that cause animals to be killed. If shelter directors reevaluated, rather than hid behind conventional wisdom, they would more be more successful at saving lives.

One of the most enduring of these traditional dogmas is that animal shelters must kill because the public cannot be trusted with animals. I faced this attitude when I arrived as the new executive director of the Tompkins County SPCA in upstate New York. Other than prohibiting killing, I had planned to quietly observe the agency for the first couple of days on the job: I wanted a sense of how the agency was run. An elderly gentleman and his wife came in as I was standing behind the counter observing our adoption process. After looking at the animals for some time, they came to the front counter to adopt a cat. The man told the adoption counselor how he adopted a cat from us 15 years ago. “She died one year ago today,” he said. As much as they missed having a cat, he explained, he and his wife waited one year to get a new cat because they wanted to mourn her appropriately. As he told the story, he began to cry and walked away. His wife explained that her husband loved their cat very much, but they were indeed ready to love another one. Because they found a great cat here 15 years ago, they came back to us.

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”? I overruled the counselor and gave them the cat. No fees, no more paperwork: “Let’s go get your kitty,” I said. I put her in their carrier and told them we’d see them in another 15 years. They thanked me and left.

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.


So I continued: “Outdoor cats may face risks, but so do indoor cats. They are just different ones and we don’t always see the causal connections, such as obesity and boredom. Fat and bored cats are at risk for diabetes, heart problems, and even behavior problems.” Still nothing. My then shelter manager stepped in and said that they were following the policies of the Humane Society of the United States. And HSUS says that people—and therefore shelter adoption policies—must keep cats indoors.

Over forty years ago, the late Phyllis Wright of HSUS, the matriarch of today’s killing paradigm, wrote in HSUS News,

I’ve put 70,000 dogs and cats to sleep… But I tell you one thing: I don’t worry about one of those animals that were put to sleep… Being dead is not cruelty to animals.

She then described how she does worry about the animals she found homes for. From that disturbing view, HSUS coined a maxim that says we should worry about saving lives but not about ending them and successfully propagated this viewpoint to shelters across the country. For many agencies, the HSUS standard is the gold standard. It is not uncommon for shelters to state they are “run in line with HSUS policies.” Consequently, it’s very easy to surrender an animal to a shelter and very hard to adopt one because of a distrust of the public. And after turning away adopters, these shelters often turn around and kill the same animals.

In reality, most people care deeply about animals and can be trusted with them. Evidence of this love of animals is all around us: we spend $48 billion a year on our companions, dog parks are filled with people, veterinary medicine is thriving, and books and movies about animals are all blockbusters because the stories touch people very deeply. Nonetheless, HSUS blames the public and because it has significant influence over shelter policies, promotes this view through shelter assessments, national conferences, and local advocacy. Consequently, it has failed to educate shelters to take more responsibility for the animals entrusted to their care. As a result, HSUS has impeded innovation and modernization in shelters. The result: unregulated, regressive shelters slavishly following the protocols of HSUS based on an idea that no one can be trusted. The employee at Tompkins County’s SPCA embodied this attitude. Such people are not really worried about the remote possibility that the adopted cat would one day get hit by a car and killed; they kill cats every day—obviously, killing is not the concern. Instead, staff at the Tompkins County SPCA at that time—like many shelters—can simply say they are operating “by the book,” even though that meant unnecessarily killing animals every year in the process. In other words, I came face to face with mindless bureaucracy.

I challenged the Tompkins County SPCA shelter manager on this score, asking her how it made sense to kill cats today in order to save them from possibly being killed at some time in the future. “HSUS says,” she responded, “that in order to increase the number of adoptions, we have to reduce the quality of homes”—we must, as a staff member of HSUS once later quipped, basically “adopt Pit Bulls to dog fighters.” And that, she stated, is something we should not do.

Tragically, this is a commonly held misperception in the culture of animal sheltering, but the facts prove otherwise. 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.

Moreover, successful high-volume adoption shelters have proved that the idea that one must reduce quality of homes in order to increase quantity is merely the anachronism of old-guard, “catch and kill” shelters that must justify high kill rates and low adoptions. Quality and quantity are not, and have never been, mutually exclusive. As one progressive shelter noted:

The best adoption programs are designed to ensure that each animal is placed with a responsible person, one prepared to make a lifelong commitment, and to avoid the kinds of problems that may have caused the animal to be brought to the shelter.

I agree. I have long been a proponent of adoption screening because I, too, want animals to get good homes. But truth be told, in shelters where animals are being killed by the thousands, I’d rather they do “open adoptions” (little to no screening) because I trust the general public far more than those who run many animal control shelters—those who have become complacent about killing and willfully refuse to implement common-sense lifesaving alternatives. In fact, I recently assessed a municipal shelter with poor care and a high kill rate in one of the largest cities in the country. They practice open adoptions and volunteers have long clamored for adoption screening. My recommendation was as follows:

This is an area where volunteers have repeatedly suggested some form of screening to make sure animals are not just going into homes, but “good” homes. This suggestion has some appeal. And while it should ultimately be the agency’s goal, in the immediate cost-benefit analysis, I think it would be a mistake to do so at this time. While the shelter should ensure potential adopters do not have a history of cruelty, the shelter is not capable of thoughtful adoption screening and the end result will mean the needless loss of animal life.


At this point in the shelter’s history, the goal must be to get animals out of the shelter where they are continually under the threat of a death sentence. And given the problems with procedure implementation at the shelter, the process will become arbitrary depending on who is in charge of adoptions. There is simply too much at stake for the staff I observed to hold even more power over life and death.


In addition, several high-volume, high-kill shelters have realized that denying people for criteria other than cruelty, would lead them to get animals (likely unsterilized and unvaccinated) from other sources, with no information or guidance on proper care, which the shelter can still provide.


When the shelter has high quality staff, is consistent in applying sound policies and procedures, and has achieved a higher save rate—when shelter animals do not face certain death—it can revisit the issue of a more thoughtful screening to provide homes more suitable for particular shelter animals.

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.

I recently read the newsletter from a local cat rescue group. There was a story about two cats, Ruby and Alex, in their “happy endings” section. Under the title, “Good things come to those who wait,” the story explained that Ruby and Alex were in foster care for 7½ years before they found the “right” home. I wondered what was wrong with the cats. If it took seven years to find them a home, surely they must have had some serious impediments to adoption. But I couldn’t find anything in the story. Under another section in the newsletter listing the cats in their care that still needed to find “loving homes,” I found the answer.

The first one I looked at was Billy. Billy was a kitten when he was rescued in 2001. He is still in a “foster” home. Does it really take 8 years to find the “right” home? Surely, I thought again, something is wrong with this cat. But Billy is described as “easy going, playful, bouncy.” It goes on to say that “Billy loves attention and loves to be with his person. Mild-mannered and gentle with new people, he’s also a drop-and-roll kitty who will throw himself at your feet to be petted.” They also note that he likes dogs. In other words, Billy is perfect.

Clearly, the pertinent question wasn’t: “What’s wrong with the cats?” The real question was: “What’s wrong with these people?” Not surprisingly, the rescue group does not believe families with young children should adopt. They claim that if you have children who are under six years old, you should wait a few years. In reality, this rule is very common in animal sheltering. But it is a mistake nonetheless. Families with children are generally more stable, so they are a highly desirable adoption demographic. They also provide animals with plenty of stimulation, which the animals crave. Children and pets are a match made in heaven.

So if families with children shouldn’t adopt, who does that leave? Unfortunately, this group also states that kittens ‘require constant supervision like human babies do.’ My family frequently fosters kittens for our local shelter. When fostering, we live our lives like we always do: we visit friends, take walks, dine out. We often leave home for hours at a time. Obviously, I would have never done that with my kids when they were babies. That isn’t a statement on loving children more than animals. A kitten can sleep, eat, drink, use the litter box, play with a toy, and more at only six weeks of age. A human baby would starve to death surrounded by food if left alone at that age. Kittens are not “like human babies.” They are more advanced, skilled, smarter, and cleaner. But that’s not the point. The point is that the “constant supervision” rule eliminates potential adopters who go to work, too, but would otherwise provide excellent, loving, nurturing homes. That leaves the two minority extremes: unemployed people and millionaires—although my guess is the former would be ruled out, too.

Having eliminated the two most important adopter demographics (working people and families with children), is it any wonder that Billy—an easy going, playful, cuddly, gentle, drop-and-roll kitty—has been in foster care for eight years?

A Pennsylvania rescue group, operating in a community where animal control kills most animals entering that facility, should be working feverishly to adopt out as many animals as possible so they can open up space to pull more animals from the shelter. Instead, they put up ridiculous roadblocks stating that “Cohabitating couples who have not married need not apply to adopt our pets.” Apparently, people have tried because they follow up by noting on their website that you should not waste your time trying because “there are no exceptions.” This eliminates many committed couples and, for those who live in states without marriage equality, most gay people.

And a rescue group from Louisiana, a state with some of the highest killing rates in the nation, pummels you with 47 reasons not to adopt an animal on their application, including the warnings that animals will “damage your belongings, soil your furniture and/or flooring, scratch furniture, chew and tear up items, knock down breakable heirlooms, and/or dig up your yard.”

When I visited the humane society in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania a number of years ago, I was presented with a list of breeds considered not appropriate for homes with children under ten years old: Chihuahuas, Collies, Toy Breeds, and all small terriers.

Several years ago, this mentality really hit home—literally, my home. We decided to add another dog to our family. Having worked at two of the most successful shelters in the country, having performed rescue my whole adult life, having consulted with some of the largest and best known animal protection groups in the country, owning my own home, working from home, and allowing our dogs the run of the house, I thought adoption would be easy.

Adopting from our local shelter was not possible because we wanted a bigger dog which was against their rules because we had young children. Instead, we searched the online websites, and found a seven-year-old black Labrador Retriever with a rescue group about an hour south of us. I called about the dog and asked if we could meet him. They wanted to know if we had a “doggy door” leading to the backyard. We did not, but I told them happily—and naively—that I work from home and that we homeschool the kids, so the dog will be with us all the time. One of us will just let him out when he wants to go like we do for the resident dogs and then he can come back in. We have a fenced backyard. I housetrained every dog we ever had. No problem, I told them.

But that was not good enough. Apparently, the dog should be able to go in and out whenever he wants without having to ask. No doggy door, no adoption. “But,” I started to stammer: seven years old, larger black dog, sleep on the bed, with us all the time, fenced yard…. DENIED.

We then found another dog, a Lab-cross, with a different rescue group. About five years old, “a couch potato” according to the website. Perfect, I thought. I haven’t exercised since I was 18! I’ll take the dog for a walk around the block twice a day, but mostly will hang out, 24/7!

“We’d like to meet him,” I said when I called.

“There’s a $25 charge to be considered above and beyond the adoption fee,” they replied.

“No problem. If he likes our dogs, we’ll pay whatever it costs.”

“No,” I was told. “You have to pay the non-refundable fee before you can meet any dog and before we review your application.”

“What are your rules for adoption?” I said, not wanting to sink $25 if I was going to be denied because of the age of my kids, because I have brown eyes, or because I am balding.

“We can’t discuss that until after you pay the $25.”

Exasperated, I hung up.

We finally found a dog—a seven year old, lab-mix with a rescue group two hours from us by car. The fee was $250 to adopt, a pricey sum, but we were approved over the telephone because she was familiar with my work.

I could have given up. Lots of people do. When I tell people what I do for a living, that my work takes me all over the country trying to reform antiquated shelter practices, people constantly tell me how they tried to adopt from a shelter or rescue group, but were denied for entirely illogical reasons. One woman told me of her own failed attempt to adopt a dog and save a life. She owned an art gallery and wanted a dog who would come to work with her every day, just like her previous one who had recently died. The new dog would also have the run of both the house and office. She went to several shelters to adopt, but all of them denied her: she had really young kids and she wanted a large dog, and that was against the rules. She ended up at a breeder because she really wanted a dog, she said sheepishly, thinking I would judge her as having failed. “But I tried…” she trailed off. “The shelters failed you,” I replied.

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.

In fact, there are plenty of homes. The experience of successful No Kill communities proves it; No Kill communities now thrive across the United States. The data also proves it. Approximately three million dogs and cats that need a home are killed every year. Simultaneously, [of the 23 million people] looking to get a new dog or cat, [17 million] can be persuaded to adopt from a shelter. And, the number of people shelters turn away because of some arbitrary and bureaucratic process proves it. Like this experience shared with me a few years ago:

I tried to adopt from my local shelter…  I found this scared, skinny cat hiding in the back of his cage and I filled out an application. I was turned down because I didn’t turn in the paperwork on time, which meant a half hour before closing, but I couldn’t get there from work in time to do that. I tried to leave work early the next day, but I called and found out they had already killed the poor cat. I will never go back.

Shelter animals already face formidable obstacles to getting out alive: customer service is often poor, a shelter’s location may be remote, adoption hours may be limited, policies may limit the number of days they are held, they can get sick in a shelter, and shelter directors often reject common-sense alternatives to killing. One-third to one-half of all dogs and roughly 60 percent of cats are killed because of these obstacles. Since the animals already face enormous problems, including the constant threat of execution, shelters and rescue groups shouldn’t add arbitrary roadblocks. When kind hearted people come to help, shelter bureaucrats shouldn’t start out with a presumption that they can’t be trusted.

In fact, most of the evidence suggests that the public can be trusted. While roughly eight million dogs and cats enter shelters every year, that is a small fraction compared to the 165 million thriving in people’s homes. Of those entering shelters, only four percent are seized because of cruelty and neglect. Some people surrender their animals because they are irresponsible, but others do so because they have nowhere else to turn—a person dies, they lose their job, their home is foreclosed. In theory, that is why shelters exist—to be a safety net for animals whose caretakers no longer can or want to care for them.

When people decide to adopt from a shelter—despite having more convenient options such as buying from a pet store or responding to a newspaper ad—they should be rewarded. We are a nation of animal lovers, and we should be treated with gratitude, not suspicion. More importantly, the animals facing death deserve the second chance that many well intentioned Americans are eager to give them, but in too many cases, are senselessly prevented from doing so.


This essay first appeared in Irreconcilable Differences: The Battle for the Heart & Soul of America’s Animal Shelters. To learn more and/or purchase a copy, click here.

20 thoughts on “Good Homes Need Not Apply”

  1. I actually believe that your average person that goes to a shelter is probably more likely to be a good home than not. They do have other options. Most shelters are not much if any cheaper than other options. They are usually out of the way (at least where I live), The animals they are looking at may have issues already from their prior homes, and there is the adoption process itself. I think most people go to shelters because they really do want to do the right thing. They want to save a life at the same time as they are improving their own by adding a new friend. These are the people that you want adopting animals. Assuming there is not a GOOD reason, we should not assume they are terrible people.

  2. I enjoyed reading this, Mr. Winograd, and appreciate your work greatly. I would like to add that I agree with MMTW that the average person going to a shelter is probably more likely than not to be a good home because it (usually) demonstrates a commitment to rehome a homeless animal and do the right thing.

    I would like to add that a local no-kill shelter changed its policies only a couple of years ago about adoptions; previously, they required that the person(s) adopting had a house with a fully fenced yard – no apartment dwellers even for small dogs; they required that a person be at home with the dog 24/7 – no being gone for a job, so only rich people without the need to be employed outside the home could adopt; no seniors because they “might die” and the shelter would get the animal back, and similar “requirements.” They have ramped up their outreach and by and large their outreach activities and fundraisers are really good ones, with one exception: they have several twenty-somethings who “present” the dogs on local TV stations but they don’t prepare them with solid information about the (usually) dog – even at times dogs and cats are sent on cameral sneezing, coughing, with ungroomed coats and gook in their eyes or skin/fur issues that are blatantly apparent, or the presenters for lack of anything constructive to say start saying negative things about the dog. I would bet due to lack of volunteers or staff that not much thought is actually given at many shelters to how a prospective pet is presented on local “Pet of the Week” type TV programming, usually the morning news hour. I could say the same about some of these often dirty, unkempt presenters some of whom are shockingly inappropriately dressed as in showing too much of things they shouldn’t ought to be showing – the animal should be the focus of the camera’s attention. I think every shelter animal deserves to have every possible available chance to be adopted into a loving forever home, and more thought needs to be put into how these animals are presented to the public especially in broadcast media, though I did see a nearly starved pittie who was brought to an actual adoption event at a local big box store – no one adopted him, he looked like he was at death’s door – I think people are turned away if they feel that the dog is sick or maybe dying because they will either have to pay a fortune in vet bills right off the bat, or they will lose that animal just as bonding is happening – neither scenario a happy one.

  3. When I was looking for a dog, the fenced-in yard requirement was the main factor in my being denied and eventually refusing to fill out adoption forms. Then I walked into my local Petsmart while they had one of they’re weekend adoption events going on (I went for cat food and had no idea about the event). I saw a big, brown, quiet puppy sitting in a pen with his hyper-active, boisterous, rottweiler and shepherd marked sisters. Love at first sight.

    I’m so thankful the humane society approved my adoption form right there. Sure, my yard isn’t fenced in. I’d have to landscape it and the roads around it to be less hilly (it’s awful to try and mow, borderline dangerous). So instead he and I walk two miles every day, depending on how his hips feel (he was born with dysplasia). For the first three months, I woke up every two hours to walk him outside (this was the middle of winter). He sleeps with me every night and eats breakfast beside me. He snuggles with me whenever I read or am online (I’ve put my computer on a foot stool so I can sit on the floor with him). When I changed jobs, I was so happy to find work in a pet store so I could buy him the things he needs (and the cutesy stuff I want). I had to get rid of my car, but was just happy I still had him (and now had more money to spend on him!).

    Point being, sure, my yard’s not fenced, I’m in my early-twenties (I got the “you’re not responsible enough” reason quite a bit as well), and I work regularly, but I spend more time and money on my pets than I do on myself. I’d hate to think what I’d be like without my pup and where he’d be now if I hadn’t adopted him. I have to imagine that this is most people who go to a shelter seeking to adopt, that they want to provide a good home and a second chance for a great animal.

  4. People will never get it! Contrary to popular belief, “any home” is not better than “no home”. I knew that I wasn’t going to like this article when she referred to being able to trust the public. Coming from someone who has had her pets stolen three times by caretakers, and who has run a rescue org for over a decade, and who has a houseful of pets who all came from situations created by people who never should have had pets to begin with – I can tell you with certainty, that many, many people should not be trusted. I certainly would never risk an animal having a potentially long life of suffering by placing him without sceening, just to avoid euthanasia, which is a quick and painless way to prevent that. I may be in the minority, but I do believe that due to the situation that the “trustworthy public” has created by overproducing and neglecting pets, humane euthanasia is often times the best alternative to placing pets with “just anyone” who walks in the door. If people don’t like this reality, they need to stop the breeding, buying from pet stores and BYBs, etc – Without a market, they’d crumble, and this in itself would go a LONG way toward reducing pet overpopulation! I am so tired of hearing people complain about how horrible animal shelters are for euthanizing pets, and this article brings the absurdity to new levels. People need to wake up and see that they are the ones who have created the problem – The shelters and rescues are the ones left to clean it up, and they receive all the criticism.

    BTW – I don’t buy the excuse either, that people “can’t” adopt from shelters or rescues, and therefore, are “forced” to resort to pet stores and breeders. Yes, these organizations have standards – and they have them for good reason. If a person can’t meet them, the first thing s/he needs to do is consider the possibility that maybe something needs to be changed or improved before getting a pet..or maybe even that “now” is not the right time. I do agree that certain policies such as no kids, fenced yard only, upfront “application fee”, etc can be unfair – so if you encounter an org like that – Look elsewhere! Too many people are lazy when it comes to searching for pets. They decide to rescue, which is great, but don’t want to put the effort into it that’s needed. You may not find an animal that is suitable for you in your town, city or even state – but that does not mean that one isn’t available elsewhere! Services like Petfinder and Petango and Adopt a Pet connect people with THOUSANDS of organizations around the US – I do not believe for one moment that people who have “given up” on shelter or rescue adoption have explored all possibilities open to him/her. If anyone reading this article feels that s/he is unable to adopt a pet from a rescue or shelter, and is truly considering a pet store or BYB as an alternative – get in touch with me, I will be happy to help!

    • It isn’t either/or. The issue is that too may shelters and adoption agencies have restrictions that are unrealistic. Of course potential adopters should be screened! For example, the fenced yard thing in this day and age of a) many people live in rentals where the landlord may not allow a fence, b) apartment dwellers don’t have yards TO fence and c) if you are a homeowner in a neighborhood governed by an HOA, fences may simply not be allowed per the CCRs running with the land. Shelters and humane societies probably have their hearts in the right place about diligently screening potential adopters but fail to look at the bigger picture. For example I would rather see some screening for previous animal abuse arrests/convictions than holding firm on the fenced yard thing. There are animal hoarders who simpy cross a county or state line and start their activities all over again, that is well documented in animal abuse reporting sites on the internet; if there was a section in the national crime computer for crimes against animals that legitimate rescues and shelters and humane societies could check for names of applicants, that might stop some of that nonsense. But to rule out apartment dwellers as an entire class of potential adopters because they don’t have a fenced yard? Well, that would pretty much rule out about half the civilized world, wouldn’t it!

    • You are an absolute idiot. What you are saying is “I’d rather kill these animals than let them go to a home that cannot be GUARANTEED PERFECT.” There are no guarantees in life. People who come to shelters to adopt will do the best for their animals that they can. I wouldn’t be approved to adopt for a variety of silly reasons, and I can assure you, there is no better animal owner than I. My pets are a beloved part of my family. My 3 children have grown up with cats, small dogs, big dogs, bunnies, etc. One got hit by a car, we cried, we buried her, and marked her grave with a stone. One died from leukemia, we cried, we buried him, and marked his grave with a stone. One broke his neck in an accident, we spent thousands of dollars on medical care trying to fix him, and then we put him down, and we cried, and we buried him, and marked his grave with a stone. These animals were LOVED and HAPPY until the day they died. That is so much better than being UNHAPPY at a shelter until they die, unloved and unremembered. For God’s sake, LET PEOPLE ADOPT PETS!!!!

    • I am all for screeening too but some of those rules are just idiotic. Sooo what we should do is fence in our yards, quit our jobs and live happily ever after with our pets… REALLY??? It’s nice to know you are looking out for the good of the animals.

    • I’ve been involved in rescue for years and years and the fact is, too many rescue groups do put foolish restrictions on adoptions. I have yet to meet a founder of a rescue group or any foster parent who has any training in animal behavior or certifications that enable them to actually know what they are doing.

      Reasonable, responsible adults know that you don’t punish a prospective adopter because of something done by past pet owners or imagined by future owners. Sadly too many in rescue start to believe their own hype.

      Go back and read this article. You really need to read it until you actually own the knowledge. People who have not commited abuse should not have to spend days, weeks or months trying to find a shelter or rescue willing to adopt a pet to them. Rescues who refuse to adopt to dogs or cats to good homes for foolish reasons should lose their non-profit status and be penalized. Death is NOT preferable to adopting to a home with no fence or children under the age of 10!

  5. My husband and I rescued two dogs a Petsmart adoption day and we have had no trouble with our adoptions. One puppy came from a humane society org. and the other (two years later) came from a shelter who was showing their pups. One of our dogs is still with us twelve years later and the other died just four years ago. The adoption process was easy and we love that we helped save some lives. Although it could be argued that theses little creatures actually saved us from having boring lives. I do think that adoption agencies should be careful but not to point of ruling out common sense and leaving more animals homeless. Good luck little creatures and may all of you find loving homes soon.

  6. When I moved to here 8 years ago, I volunteered for the local HSUS shelter. I helped with very pregnant cats/new litters by bringing them to my home and letting them be in a normal environment, and it was a wonderful experience. I have 5 bedrooms, 3 of them unused.
    Then the staff and rules at the shelter changed, and I didn’t like dealing with the attitude of the new management. Suddenly it was a privelege to open my home to animals who didn’t need to be in a cage 24/7, and I was supposed to fill out a long application form, then PAY to have my application to help them for free. I wasn’t feeling this.
    Instead, I helped the rescue effort in general (NOT HSUS) by dog-sitting for a friend who could afford to do long dog-rescue runs, and by making short legs of dog rescue runs in my area.
    “The best home possible” may not have a fenced yard – ask my 4 rescue dogs. Three of the 4 are at least 8 years old. The “best home possible” may not be huge or fancy, and I may be typing this sitting in my pajamas. In fact, I am in my pajamas. I’m also helping raise the 2-year-old child of a single friend who can’t afford to pay daycare AND rent, but whose income keeps her from getting substantial state funding – because she has a job. I love this little boy like my own, She pays me nothing, but the intrinsic rewards, just as with pet rescue, are immeasurable.
    I am college-educated, speak 3 languages, and had a lucrative career with a national communications company. I chose to leave this and refocus my life – on the things that will truly make a difference.
    I will not apologize for the less-than-perfect appearance of my house, my 10 extra pounds, my rusty Jeep, and the lack of a high-priced wardrobe. I have the important things, and the ability to give what matters most – love and time. I work from home online as time permits. The pay isn’t great, but I’m doing what matters – taking care of and loving 4 dogs who would be dead by now if not for me, and helping to raise a wonderful, compassionate little boy.
    It is utterly impossible for me to separate the “you are unworthy of a pet” nonsense of elitists who never missed a meal so a pet could eat instead, or gave up a night of sleep to care for a sick toddler they didn’t give birth to (i was up most of last night), because it’s the right thing, from simple snobbery – “You wouldn’t understand. Your family did not come from Nob Hill and didn’t cross over on the Mayflower.” Thank goodness.

    • Laurie, HSUS stands for the Humane Society of the United States. HSUS IS NOT affiliated with local shelters. Money donated to them is NOT spent to help your local shelter. In fact even with the millions received from donations, HSUS charges a shelter $25 -30,000. if the shelter wants an evaluation and recommendations from them.

  7. As for the people who don’t “make the cut” due to the lack of a perfect house, or the presence of toddlers, where should THEY obtain pets? Are they unfit pet parents? Usually, they’re the best pet parents. A very close friend of mine, who is responsible
    for my involvement in rescue, went from owning her own home to renting half a house with a big yard so she could house her 5 large rescue Labs. Now she lives in a one-bedroom apartment with the last surviving elderly Lab. She misses meals because she pays for his medical care. Her job is hellish, but she stays there so she can take care of her dog. She also umpires softball games to help make ends (barely) meet. This woman could make far more money if she’d give up rescue, and live in far more comfort. This woman doesn’t have children – instead, she chose to help unfortunate animals.
    I am saddened and appalled when I realize how many people wouldn’t consider adopting an animal to her – even thought she walks him in 100-degree heat and in the middle of the night, and he eats premium food while she misses meals.
    To those people who believe only people of a certain social and financial status should have the right to be pet parents, doG help you. Pray that you never find your fortunes reversed. This side of the coin isn’t nearly as pretty.

    • Let’s not forget the holier-than-thou types who – beyond the shelter adoption world – feel that only the wealthy should have animals. I have horses and you would NOT believe how very bad the vet cost has become and it started with the whole Barbaro thing, Barbaro’s owners paid over a million dollars to the university vet school that tried to save Barbaro’s life. Now all vets seem to think (based on what comes out of their mouths) that if you aren’t willing or able to pay giNORmous sums of money to them for possibly a not-so-great outcome anyway and which might even prolong the animal’s suffering while they work their expensive bag of tricks – well then you are a bad pet parent. I heard a vet say to someone in a clinic where I had gone to pick up flea prevention stuff, the pet parents had a Golden that was apparently having allergic skin reactions to something, that if the pet parents weren’t able or willing to pay for having ultra ultra ultra diagnostics then they “shouldn’t be allowed to have a dog and the idea that nutrition has anything to do with dogs itching is completely ridiculous.” Even my own horse vet says he looks at what people are driving and what their house looks like and “charges them accordingly and if they care about their animal they will fine a way to pay.” I am finally getting it into my head that in the USA, money is all and everything, it transcends common sense, it transcends good character, it transcends caring and compassion. Instead the “worth” of a person and their potential as an adopter or pet parent is based solely on their appearance and their balance sheet.

      • I have to disagree with some of your comments. I have three smooth collies, and I am a member of two collie clubs, who do collie rescue. We do not refuse to adopt a collie to a home that has unaltered pets. We do expect they will spay/neuter the collie they are adopting. And as for your comments about veterinarians only caring about making money, while it may be true of some vets, it is certainly not true of all veterinarians. I don’t earn a lot of money, but I do make sure my animals are cared for. Unfortunately I have been hit with a lot of unexpected veterinary expenses over the last year when two of my dogs got sick. So far I have paid $5,000 for these emergency treatments. And as one of the dogs has cancer, I’m sure there will be more expenses down the line. I explained to my veterinarian that money was an issue, and I could not afford to pay another $10,000 for surgery, radiation and chemotherapy for our dog, when it was likely his cancer would return. His cancer is extremely aggressive and has spread. So putting him through the stress of a third surgery and then sending him away for three weeks for radiation, followed by chemotherapy which would make him feel worse – on top of being outrageously expensive, just didn’t make sense. Knowing we wanted to keep him comfortable and happy for whatever time he has left, our veterinarian admitted him to her animal hospital. She kept him there for 5 days while they worked to get his bladder functioning again. And both her and the other veterinarians in her practice did this free of charge. They only charged us for the supplies and the medications. Then she found a drug study, for a new anti-cancer drug, that was free. She recommended our boy for the study, and he was accepted. We don’t know if this drug will work, or at least slow down the growth of the cancer, but it’s a chance he wouldn’t have had with out the compassion of our veterinarian and the oncology group who admitted him into the study. So there are good, kind, compassionate veterinarians out there. I’m sorry your experiences have been with vets who were only concerned with making money.

        • The point, Kathleen, is that there are far far too many people including those purveying professional services as well as shelters and humane associations that make their decisions based on money, not the worth of the person insofar as commitment and caring of the animal.

          If you visit many forums or blogs relating to animals you will see an increasing number of people worried about the fact that in the eyes of many only the wealthy should have animals.


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