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« More places discussing BSL Repeals, and more on Tom Skeldon's Future | Main | Post Veterans Day Post »

November 11, 2009


Saving Pets

You totally nailed it. I <3 Seth.

Everywhere people are asking questions. Transperancy in organisational performance is no longer just a 'optional extra' it's a given.

Our public are going to demand people who are more dynamic, more driven and more compassionate take over our organisations if we can't keep pace.

And in many cases it won't be before time.


I have no health insurance and can't afford a "worst case" medical scenario (or significantly less than that even) for MYSELF. So if a shelter doesn't want to adopt a dog to me on that basis, that's preventing a dog from getting into what I think is a pretty good home. Sad.



In particular, those apartment prohibitions bother me a lot. As long as someone has permission from the landlord, dogs living in apartments are FAR more likely to get walks and attention those that go to homes with fenced yards. I live in a suburb, and the vast majority of dogs with fenced yards seem to rarely if ever get out for a walk. There are a ton of lonely unsocialized dogs just living out their lives in back yards like lawn ornaments. The dogs that live in apartments and in retirement homes, though, are out every day, rain or shine. They have to be.

They live indoors in close proximity with their families and get out to explore the neighborhood several times a day, so they're generally pretty happy and well socialized. They're more closely supervised too, so they're less likely to get out the way so many yard dogs do. Sounds like a pretty good life to me.

But I think the real core of the problem is that so many people working in animal welfare end up developing a seriously hostile attitude toward people. Many of them actually seem to enjoy rejecting potential adopters, even for the most trivial and fixable of reasons. Instead of rejecting people for providing the 'wrong' answers on questionnaires, they should at least try educating them instead. Maybe that way, they could actually help cultivate good homes for shelter dogs, rather than just sending potential adopters to backyard breeders and puppy mills.


I read Godin's post, and it does posit a very meaningful activity for organizations, especially in the arena of strategic planning.

You are right on in your critique of shelter adoptions. What it really boils down to is making sure those animals are going to get a good home, and a set of fixed policies are never going to insure this without leaving good homes by the wayside. I do understand why they exist - watching good dogs leave and then be returned because the apartment mgr discovered them is no fun, nor is seeing a dog that was adopted be on a tie-out or hit by a care because the people had no fence. But there are ways around this. A shelter employee here called every complex in the yellow pages and made a spreadsheet of their requirements. When people give them the address, they simply check against that for restrictions. It has kept a number of pets from being returned, and sometimes gives the potential adopter a heads-up which allows them to be proactive with the apartment complex. We found a fence company that donated the materials to build a fence for a family, and the family and friends provided the labor. I spoke with a lady who was having a problem with a barking dog in her complex. I found a neighbor, a jogger, who could take him on long runs with her dogs for the owner, who was in a wheelchair. After awhile, no more barking.

But Godin's post really leads to a larger question. The answer to the "why" in the examples he gave weren't how to make the existing products of these companies better, but how they could transform to become something they are not today. Why are we in the business of adoption? Why aren't the animal control officers in college level classes on negotiation and communication? Why aren't we doing more to keep the pets from getting to the shelter in the first place?

I printed two quotes from Chief Animal Control officer Bill Bruce in Calgary and hung them on my wall. The first is "Any animal that ends up in a shelter is there because the human end of the relationship failed", and “We don’t have a pet problem. We have a people problem.”

Look at his work. He is not pointing fingers - his work lives this philosophy. He is saying that EVERYONE has a responsibility here; the shelter, the owners, the community. If we are having discussions about adoption rules it is because we failed to act before the unwanted litter of puppies was born. The conversation ought to be about how the community could prevent the cats from getting to the shelter in the first place, maybe by funding TNR for feral cat caretakers for less money than it costs to take care of the cats in the shelter. Maybe animal control officers ought to be approaching homes with dogs on tie-outs and educating them about the liabilities, maybe inviting the owner out for coffee with their dog at a private dog park. Add ordinances which back them up in SMART ways - (not just take the dog and kill it if you don't do what we say. They can't do this if they spend all their time catching strays and responding to barking complaints, btw). We have to be aware that there will be a price to pay as we move to being proactive, but it is not a reason that would keep things from changing. If the shelters don't want to play, reduce the population until they have no choice but to come to the table. We know how.

I think most people's thinking on this is quite narrow, and bounded (without our realizing it) by a hundred years of animal control which has left our shelters full to overflowing and leading to a disrespect of our pets, and our community. I think we are better than that, and have the potential to end this. But people keep looking for excuses...


The vet told me they found something wrapped around my dog's paw. Me.

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