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« Weekly Roundup - Week Ending 8/7/11 | Main | Las Vegas Mandatory Spay/Neuter -- Year 1 »

August 08, 2011



Nichole -- the '1 in 600 pit bulls' thing is a myth - -and mathematically impossible.

No doubt too many are getting killed, but the 1 in 600 thing needs to go away.

Clara Miller

I have been part of an all breed dog/cat rescue organization since 2006 and we too have seen many rescue groups with some outdated and rigid adoption requirements. I've seen others that take weeks to return phone calls & emails. I've seen others that will adopt any animal to any person without even asking any questions at all (off the truck adoptions).

We have always used a case management approach to our adoptions and requirements are on a case by case basis. We have the foster homes make the decision on the adoption of their foster animal. We do this for two reasons - first, the foster home knows the animal best and can make a better placement decision; second, we want to keep our foster homes (our life blood) so we want them to feel good about where their foster animal is going thus making fostering a rewarding experience.

I also have to say that we have had only 10 or 15 denials in all our years of doing this with over 2000 applications. We might have said no to a family for a particular dog, but we always try to engage them and help them find a better match, even if it is not within our rescue, but another.

It is, however, easy to get jaded, especially if you run through a rough patch where some animals are returned, so it is important to look at the big picture. This recently happened to our group. In the space of a few months, we have 6 dog adoptions returned to our group. A discussion amongst our foster families was talking about increased requirements, etc. But when I went back and pulled the numbers, we found our return adoption rate using our current requirements was only 5%, much lower. Then I sited examples where people who looked bad on paper, turned out to be some of our best adopters - a grad student living in an apartment in the city; a young married couple with a new baby; a single woman living in a condo. One of our worse placements was a well-to-do family with a fenced yard and a stay-at-home mom. That dog was returned by animal control because he had been relegated to the yard when he went through his chewing phase and was so bored that he was constantly hoping their 6'fence.


With Troy's lack of response I can only hope she took my advice...

Marjorie Mullan

Excellent post!! Definitely sharing!


I was actually denied a puppy from the private rescue I WORKED for because my husband and I weren't home enough to have a puppy. We both had full time jobs and they wouldn't adopt puppies out unless one partner was part-time. Seriously. A friend found a puppy that same week and she became our dog. The puppy that we wanted to adopt from my shelter? Back at the shelter six months later. Even though the wife worked from home, that puppy never got training - and surprise! she grew into a large dog that jumped on everyone and was no longer welcome in that home. I no longer work for that shelter. We still have our puppy almost four years later and I use her in the classroom for my own non-profit.

I volunteered for a rescue once that turned people down for feeding Alpo. Forget educating them on better nutrition, they just flat out turned them down. They wouldn't show "jumpers" to anyone that didn't have a fence, effectively ruling out anyone in a condo or apartment. A backyard doesn't exercise your dog, you do. So who cares if you have a fence???

This is a blog post that needs to be shared. I don't know how any of these "rescues" can defend themselves.


It seems to me that there are simply too many damn dogs being bred.


Yes, I do believe a dog is better off humanely killed that chained up, lonely, alone, as someone's yard ornament for up to 15 years!! Yes, I do. And why is it that the 'general public" is suddenly trustworthy when it comes to animals? In what other issue does anybody trust the " general public" to do anything right?


Kay -- by most calculations, there are about 17 million pets that come into homes each year. Only about 4 million of them are adopted. If we could change that, so that a larger percent are adopted (part of which includes making sure that people that seek to adopt are not denied from doing so) we could save every animal in a shelter.

Kathy -- no one is implying that those are the only two options. And in places around the country they are saving every animal in their shelter -- and it is the public that is adopting them.


Kathy...I will say the same thing to you that I told Troy. An attitude that assumes you know better how to care for animals than the majority of the public hurts and hinders the whole process of getting animals into homes. You have likely seen some horrible cases of sheer neglect and unbelievable ignorance, but those cases do not represent the public as a whole.

If we followed your thought process (the public can't be trusted to do anything right) we would need to stop people from having children, not allow cars on the streets and forbid pet ownership all together.

Don't let the minority of people who haven't been educated taint your view of people in general. For the most part, people want to have a pet that can be part of the family, that they can love (and receive affection back from the pet) and they want to do the right thing for the pet. Sometimes money and other situations prevent that from happening 100% of the time, but that does not make everyone unworthy of owning a pet.

My suggestion...if you have the knowledge that will help people take better care of their pets, SHARE IT...don't pigeon hole every person without a fence or all single moms as bad risks for owning a pet. Take the time to get to know the individual/family and HELP THEM find the pet that fits their needs and desires.


I've been looking to adopt a dog for a while now. I have so many things against me but I still hope that I can get one, I live in an apt. I'm under 21, I have a small child, I have cats,I have a job where I am gone most of the day (but my fiancee is home all day sleeping.) People don't take me ver serious but I still hope.

As the World Turns in KCKS

The Humane Society of Greater KC is one of the shelters that receives National recognition for their partnership with the local Kansas City, KS Animal Control department and handles all the transfers/ adoptions of the municipal pound's animals.

They have very low adoption numbers, and yes they have a fence requirement. Most of the dogs are transferred to rescue groups. The hours are very limited M-F 9am-4pm, Sat 9am - 4pm.
Here are their adoption numbers for the past two years and then you can see the problem.

2010 - Adopted - 351 / Transferred to rescue - 1,415
2009 - Adopted 503 / Transferred to rescue - 1,550.

Yet this group is being touted by Animal Welfare groups locally and Nationally for being the way to operate a "No Kill" shelter.



GREAT, GREAT post that I definitely shared with others. You not only talked about the issue, stringent and outdated adoption guidelines, but talked about what happens when this happens, people still get a pet elsewhere possibly even fueling demand for backyard breeders, which is an argument that many don't think about...


I live in a condo w/a multi-cat & 2 bird household. I won't let my animals go outside because too many things can happen, but they are actually content to stay indoors. My pets veterinarians (cats have their own doctor & the birds have a different one) have both told me that I take very good care of my pets and that they are all very healthy. Again, we live in a condo & single...a place that a shelter may never allow an adopted animal to reside. I am the perfect example that it doesn't matter whether you are single & live in a condo, I am still perfectly capable of taking care of animals. I love my animals to death too, but in a much healthier way.


Great blog, Brent.

A friend of mine that lives on a ranch, has lots of acreage and fences, and has owned pit bulls for MANY years including multiple breed champions, performance titled dogs, and therapy dogs tried to adopt a pit bull puppy from a rescue. She saw the picture, thought it was cute, and filled out an application.

She was turned down. Why? She was an "evil breeder". She hadn't bred a litter in a number of years and had no problem with altering the puppy. She was looking for a dog to train for obedience and agility.

So she bred her own darned litter. We have one of those pups here. She's now almost seven years old.

telling this woman she wasn't a suitable home for a pit bull was like telling the Pope he isn't fit to lead mass!


Thank you so much for posting this! This has been a pet peeve of mine for YEARS after experiencing this personally and watching others experience it as well. Often times when I get into conversations regarding rescues being overly picky about who they adopt to, *I* am turned into the bad guy by "rescue nazis" who insist they are only doing what is best for the animals. How is languishing in a shelter (if they aren't lucky enough to have a caring foster home that knows its limits) better than finding a good home where they will be given individual love, attention and care?

Personally - I have been lucky to even hear back from rescues. Most have just ignored my applications and requests for information. Others have denied me because I'm not "experienced" or "educated" enough, even though I've lived with dogs all my life and been in charge of caring for and training the dogs in my family for at least 10 years before moving out on my own! In the same breath, they would rather deny me than to offer me ANY kind of educational material to help make me become a better candidate, if I were truly not educated enough...

So far I have had good experiences with the local shelters. While rescues have denied me, the local shelters have been far more reasonable, probably because they actually care about finding their animals homes rather than having to euthanize them within 2 or 3 days. If the rescue groups I have tried to adopt from were actually reasonable, they would know and understand that I have NEVER had to give up a dog, that I have actually CHANGED homeowners insurance companies even though it meant paying more because I would rather support a company that has no breed bans than to risk another company terminating or denying my coverage because of the dog I chose to adopt is on their "banned list", that if I had to rent I would do EVERYTHING in my power to find a place that allows pets instead of giving up my pets, that I am willing to spend hundreds and even thousands on vet appropriate vet care (and in fact did so this year 2 days after adopting a puppy from the local shelter, INSTEAD of taking her back to "exchange" her for a healthier model), that I put countless hours into researching anything and everything that comes up whether it be the latest nutritional information or health concerns, that as a field biologist I actually take my dogs with me to work on a regular basis which means they aren't sitting at home all day becoming destructive monsters due to boredom... Need I go on? Despite all of this, I am not "good enough" for all of the rescue groups I have tried to contact....

My husband's family has had similar experiences. Found what they thought was the perfect dog. Filled out the application, had a home inspection, everything seemed great. Until they found out they were denied. Why? Because the foster home thought the dog would be better suited for a home with younger children... That's right. My husband's sister was 12 or 13 years old at the time. THAT particular rescue group would rather place a young, energetic dog in a family with children UNDER the age of 12 years? That sounds like an adoption failure waiting to happen when the dog gets tires of having its ears and tail pulled, tired of getting fallen on or ridden like a horse, or becomes too aggravated from insufficient exercise or over stimulated from yelling shrieking toddlers and bites someone....


Wow, Brent, I've been reading through the posts here and you really struck a nerve with this column!

A member of our pit bull club tried to adopt a dog from a local rescue and they wouldn't let him adopt the dog, even though he and his wife have property and plenty of room, fences, kennel runs, etc. Why? Because he had intact dogs! He told them he had no problem with the rescue being altered, but nope, sorry!


I intended to commment on Kay and Kathy's amusing comments.

"Too damn(ed) many dogs being bred"???? Really?

Then why are shelters in certain parts of the country importing dogs from overseas if there are "too damn(ed) many dogs being bred"?

Why were private shelters and rescues lining up and offering to take dogs from commercial breeders that were potentially going to be displaced by the 50 dog limit for kennels (due to Prop B) in Missouri if there are "too damn(ed) many dogs being bred"? Why were they practially drooling to get their hands on those "unhealthy, poorly socialized, disease-ridden puppy mill dogs" (their words)? Why were they sending letters to the licensed auction barns, trying to get their hands on those dogs?

Licensed rescues are some of the biggest clients at the auction barns here in Missouri. Why do rescues go to auctions here in Missouri and buy pregnant bitches and sell the pups for $600-$800 if there are "too damn(ed) many dogs"?


Nathan and Brent both did a fine job of addressing the "the public is the source of all evil" contingent here.

One thing is for sure - the public needs an education. I recently met with a city councilmember who told me they thought that there were just "too many dogs". I told her we were even, because I thought there were WAY too many politicians! ;-) Nice person, though. Just needs a bit of guidance.


Mandatory spay and neuter laws would also drop the shelter kill percentage.


Actually Anna, no it wouldn't.

PAMM - People Against Mad Mothers

Sure it would Brent! Make everyone alter their dog and for people that don't, round their dogs up and kill them. With enough enforcement we'll render the damn things extinct and whalah! No more dogs in shelters....Of course, that would INCREASE shelter killing but eventually Anna would be happy that there were no dogs in the shelter - or ANYWHERE.



What that breeder did is actually standard procedure. FYI many people track parvo into a kennel which not only results in the loss of entire litters but unborn pups as well. A few are undercover PETA sympathizers, thieves or what have you. She should have screened her breeding animals, offered a health warranty against life-threatening genetic defects and talked about problems that the breed can have. Unless it is a very specific type of cancer running in that line however, that cannot not be considered a heritable problem. Some dogs die of cancer while their littermates live well into their late teens. There are always two sides to every issue and many potential buyers are woefully ignorant. Case in point, I have a friend who shows Shelties and potential buyers will ask to look at the Dam. Once she shows them the dog they look disappointed and make up some excuse to not buy a puppy. This from a breeder who does everything by the book! The dam looks great in her show photos but virtually NO dam is in tip top condition post-whelping. Furthermore some dams panic and start yelping etc. at the thought of the pups being handled and taken away by strangers. People who have never bred dogs at a professional level have no way of knowing this.


We recently adopted a dog from rescue that came with medical and behavioral issues. She's an adorable little thing that just needed socialization, guidance, and a great vet with a plan. We love her to death and have put hundreds of dollars into medical care to get her not only well, but thriving. I've enjoyed countless hours on both her socialization and her training. She is already a good dog and well on her way to being a great dog.

The fly in the ointment has been the rescue. Our girl was not yet spayed when she was adopted, and thank goodness for that because she was so sick and skinny and parasite ridden. We have supplied the rescue and the shelter they pulled her from with overlapping spay deferrals from our vet and from a specialist we consulted. The shelter was fine with that (and state law requires that all shelter dogs be spayed or have overlapping deferrals). The rescue was not.

The rescue is constantly sending out fundraising emails that they are in over their head numbers wise and money wise - they are desperate for foster homes. Despite their overcrowded state (I've seen it first hand) - despite the fact that she has a family that loves and cherishes her - they demanded that we return our girl to them so they could spay her. The ironic thing being that her spay was scheduled to take place in 3 weeks and they knew that. They absolutely refused to wait. We knew if we gave her back to "be spayed" we would never see her again. Worse, it would be horribly traumatizing for her to rip her from the only stable home she's ever known.

After speaking to a specialist medical center about spaying a dog with an active upper respiratory infection, versus the rescue forcing her to be spayed in less than ideal conditions at the shelter vet, we opted to risk having her spayed by the specialist 3 weeks earlier than anticipated. Fortunately she is doing well, unfortunately, despite being faxed a copy of the spay cert, the rescue refuses to respond. Is their demand that we return her still on the table? Will they be showing up at our door with a deputy demanding her return? We don't know because they refuse to respond to emails, faxes, or voice mails.

Our previous dog was a rescue dog. This is our second rescue. This will also be our last rescue. We are so stressed out right now, and have no idea what the rescues intent or next move is going to be.

Celine Brotherton

My biggest obstacle for adoption is getting the inquiring adopter to complete an application. Because of rise of dog theft, I'm not meeting any one I don't have info on. I tell them I must have application completed to do background & reference check first. They don't respond back. If that's too much red tape then I'll love my adoptables to death.


Just a few comments...

I found a pittie girl on the side of the road a couple years ago and snatched her up quick! I contacted the rescue we'd gotten our pittie boy from and they put her on Petfinder. A couple came along who technically had a few "black marks" (no fenced yard, had given up a dog in the past, lived in rental housing, not married) but we all agreed they still sounded like a great home. Two years later they still post photos of her on FB with captions like "She is my best friend and I love her so much."

I have lied (fibbed) to shelters in the past and omitted the fact that we have cats because I knew that would put us over the pet limit for the city we live in. At one point we had 3 dogs and 5 cats (indoor only) and they were all extremely well taken care of. Those pets have all crossed over the bridge now, but we still have 3 dogs and 1 cat. I won't license the cat because I'm afraid the city will tell me I have to give up one of my pets as there is a 3 pet limit.

There is a very large local shelter who refuses to adopt a pit bull out to someone who has a dog of the same sex. They refuse to even TEST the dogs together; you are flat out rejected. They don't do home visits, so if I ever got a dog from them I just would make sure it got along with other dogs and not even mention the one I already had at home.

The "fence rule" is the most absurd. To me it tells people that all the exercise your dog needs can be found in the back yard. I live in the city; my yard is the size of a postage stamp, but it is fenced. The yard is used for potty breaks, otherwise we go for walks in the park.


A friend of mine's dad applied for a 6-year-old German Shepherd from a rescue. He's had GSD's previously, is semi-retired so at home a lot, everything perfect....except....he was denied for having grandchildren because apparently the dog didn't like little kids. As if he were too inept to keep them apart during the (apparently rare) times the kids visited.

This man had taken two weeks off work to help the dog acclimate, and he'd sent out emails to everyone announcing his new baby. My friend said he was heartbroken.

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