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« Weekly Roundup -- Week Ending 10/16/11 | Main | When a lesson in dog bites becomes a lesson in discrimination »

October 19, 2011



If she gets this fustrated on hold she is not ready for a pet. If money for the care of the pet is a problem she is not ready for a pet. While animals need homes they also need good homes where they will be loved and vetted. I think she is being unreasonalbe and wish she and the shelters could have worked out a resolution but if they had a red flag then it may not have been in the animals best interest to go home with her. Some shelters put alot of money into the rehalitation of the animals they often find in bad health and neglect while they do not always get that money back they do have adoption fees to offset some of the cot.

Lori S.

Wow. Being frustrated by being put on hold is a reason to exclude someone from owning a pet? Then I know a LOT of people who need to turn in their pets to a shelter so a more suitable home can be found for them.



I'm fascinated that anyone could:

a) read this letter and blame the writer for not being willing to accept the shelter's failures in customer service and

b) not realize that customer service failures and things like arbitrary fencing requirements are costing pets the opportunities for homes and

c) not want to improve these customer service issues and frustrating requirements so that more animals can be adopted into homes and thus fewer killed in our local shelters.

It doesn't seem to me that Ms. McGee is the problem here.


I think a five minute recording and requiring a person to build a fence before adopting is ridiculous, but I don't see an adoption fee of $100 to be terribly out of line. As for the heartworm treatment, were they asking her to pay for treatment they already gave the dog, or treatment the dog would need after she adopted it? If it was treatment the dog was going to need, I don't see the problem with wanting someone to pay for veterinary treatment for their own dog (although most rescues I know finish the treatment they started even after adoption). If the rescue/shelter wanted her to reimburse them for what they already spent on treatment, than yeah, that's a bit stupid.

I think a big issue here is that when people complain about hoops they have to jump through to get a dog, the immediate reaction in a lot of rescue people is "why isn't this dog WORTH IT to you to do that?" When people say "why do I have to do all this for that dog." some people in rescue hear "Its JUST a dog, why should I have to pay money for it? Why should anyone care where it goes or what I do to it once its mine?" and indeed some people do think that way.

The majority, however, do value their pets a great deal, and just because somebody wants something to be easy and affordable (or even free!) doesn't mean they will value it any less.


I've got two dogs and a four-week-old daughter, and I get frustrated being on hold. Am I not ready for pets and kids? I also hate waiting in line at the DMV. Am I not fit to have a drivers' license?

Most people would jump through hoops for their pets. That doesn't mean that shelters and rescues should set up obstacles for them, and act like they're doing the adopter a favor by making life difficult for them.

Most people need a car more than they need a pet, but is that a rationale for a car dealership to set up a poor customer experience? Good luck to any dealer who uses that approach.

The fence requirement is particularly galling. You need a plan, not a fence. I've had two 55-lb. dogs for seven years now and I've never had a fenced yard. I walk them about four miles a day.

Judy Liese

Fencing is RIDICULOUS but these shelters would be HORRIBLY remiss in their duties to not have these rescue dogs vetted (and I'm specifically speaking about spay/neuter) to keep a MYRIAD of unwanted dogs coming back through. $100 is NOT unreasonable AT ALL for a fully vetted pet!! And Ms. McGee can also look at all the special adoptions prices going on by various shelters -- some as low as $45!!!

Dianne R.

Wow. All of the shelters in the DC area are competing for an ASPCA grant to who adopts out the most pets (between August and October). Both WHS and WARL have had adopt-a-thons to empty out the shelter and are doing same day adoptions. WARL waived adoption fees, but the average paid was $75 and as much as $500. No one cares if you have a fence unless it is "invisible."


I don't think she was complaining about the $100, but the additional money spent to fence in a yard when she didn't feel the need for it (and the heartworm meds -- I would prefer to get those from my vet, not the shelter). Blanket requirements are always ridiculous. I want a border collie someday (and currently have a BC mix). My partner and I take long walks, go hiking, take the dog on vacations with us and I do agility with my current dog, as well as trick training and a lot of play time. But I don't have a fence and so our local BC rescue won't even look at me when I'm ready to adopt another dog. I'll have to go to one much further away or luck out and find a BC agility prospect in a shelter that doesn't have the same blanket requirement.

As for the 5 minute recording? I get frustrated by that too. Being on HOLD 5 minutes isn't TOO terribly bad, but listening to some long recording would be torturous. Just let me talk to a person! I guess I shouldn't have a dog either?

And I noticed someone DID offer to help her in a later comment. I hope she takes that person up on her offer.


Does the fenced yard requirement mean that apartment dwellers can't adopt?


That seems like the logical conclusion.


That would be my conclusion Joel. I haven't contacted any rescue with that requirement to find out but as a duplex dweller (living in the bottom of a 2-family home) with no yard, much less a fenced in one, I'm assuming we're not welcome to apply.

Lori Hoffman

There are a bunch of rescues who place ridiculous demands on adopters. Let's find these animals homes and help each other out if they are sick and/or need help with their pets. Rescuers thinking they are the only ones who are good enough to take care of animals are part of the reason good animals are being killed. They refuse to believe the truth, which is that the majority of American pet owners do have their pets best interest at heart and know how to take care of them, as evidenced by the gazillions of bucks americans spend on pet care, vetting, etc.


Let's put this in perspective... this letter is written by someone who thinks it is so outrageous that she was put on hold for five minutes or that the one rescue she looked at required a fenced yard that she wrote to the local paper about it. Can we say "self-righteous"? What do you think her attitude is going to be if the vet says the dog needs some medication? I would imagine there'll be some sternly-worded missives making their way to the Kansas City Star about vet prices nowadays and how it's no wonder that people are surrendering animals to shelters. And god help her if she ever has a phone or an electrical appliance go wrong...


Sal - as I recall she wasn't put on hold for five minutes. She was listening to a five-minute recorded message. She wrote that the recording was still going when she hung up. I'd hang up as well! I guess that makes me an unfit pet owner - even though I've had ten dogs in the last 30 years (three of which are still here).

the fenced yard requirement is ridiculous if someone is looking for a Toy or small breed that isn't going to be spending any appreciable amounts of time outdoors and can be hand-walked. Not to mention large breeds that are escape artists, like Labs, Siberians, and some bird dogs. They belong in homes with people that like to walk or jog a lot. What good is a fenced yard if that's how the dog ended up in a shelter in the first place?

The writer complained about the cost of a required fence (that she doesn't need). One shelter was going to require her to purchase three months of heartworm preventative in advance - also an unnecessary expense.

Why is the commercial industry in existence? Oh, I think I know.

@Dianne R - there is at least one municipal shelter competing for the ASPCA award but most of the private shelters and rescues are way too picky to be in the running.

Jb Dean

My take on all of this is that too little info has come from the perspective adopter to really draw conclusion. Was it really a 5 min hold or did it just seem that long? Was the fence really an in-writing requirement of a preference of the shelter? We're only hearing one person's side and there is always at least 2 sides to every story. Maybe the dog she wanted to adopt had a history of running, taking off, hence the desire of a fenced yard. Maybe the message while on hold contained vital info that if she had listened would have saved the live person valuable time in not wasting time answering questions already answered in the recording, and thereby allowing for more time for a live person to speak with another perspective adopter to hopefully get another animal adopted. Did she try to get around the fence request? Or did she just think it silly and hang up? See, there's much more info needed for anyone to draw a true conclusion.


I got the impression she just wanted to adopt a small dog. She should just save her money and go to Petland if that's the case. I actually have training club members that bought small breeds at pet stores because it was easier. the club members that "adopted" a Papillon from rescue had to fill out a 24 page form and provide references. I know that for a fact because I was one of the references and it was a rather lengthy call.


"She should just save her money and go to Petland if that's the case. I actually have training club members that bought small breeds at pet stores because it was easier. "



@mikken - ouch indeed! It's just too difficult to get small and Toy breeds from show breeders. You can typically get an adult dog that didn't quite turn out for the show ring but getting a puppy is a whole different story.

There's an excellent Blue Ribbon commercial breeder not too far away that breeds Yorkies, Maltese, Shih-Tzu, and some other little breed. (Blue Ribbon is the highest level of licensing by the Missouri Dept. of Ag - it basically means you're going above and beyond what's required by law). I do not hesitate to recommend her - she has a lovely facility and lovely puppies.


We purchased an intact female from a rescue. Our vet refused to spay her right away because she was too thin, too wormy and too sick. The week before her spay date she went into heat. When we refused to have her spayed while she was in heat, the rescue demanded that we return her to them. Even with a letter from our vet at the conclusion of her heat, that he did not recommend she be spayed for 6-8 weeks, the rescue continued to demand her return.

This is a much loved house dog who has a family that is crazy about her. She has a forever home (just like every dog I've ever owned for as long as I can remember). When she isn't in heat she has lots of activities, 2 one-hour long walks a day and regular doggie playdates. Our vet tried to tell them that he had been our vet for over 20 years and we were very responsible dog owners. Didn't matter to this rescue one bit. They made our lives hell.

She was confined during her heat, did not become pregnant, and has since been spayed, but we are really turned off from rescue at this point because of the way these people treated us.


Most reputable AKC breed club-affiliated rescue organizations would not adopt out an intact bitch; they would spay her first and then adopt her out to a carefully screened home. And no reputable breed rescue organization would adopt out any dog who was 'wormy' and 'sick'. I have to wonder what kind of rescue group this was....


And no AKC breed club-affiliated rescue organization would "make your life a living Hell" over something of this nature.
Honestly, this is the direction we're taking in our society - it's becoming increasingly difficult to obtain and keep a pet.

So many alleged "animal lovers" don't want the commercial industry in operation, they don't want hobby breeders breeding animals unless they're inspected by everyone from Homeland Security on down, and then they don't want to adopt out animals to anyone. Many cities have passed mandatory speutering. It's illegal to sell dogs and cats out of the back of your pickup truck in the Wal-Mart parking lot - but so many cities are banning the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores, which would seeingly be far better than selling them out of the back of a truck in the Wal-mart parking lot.

Animal control officers spend their time in many cities reading the newspaper ads online and Craigslist looking for people selling puppies becasue they're in violation of local ordinances, like not having a "breeders permit". Give me a break! They're selling puppies and kittens, not AR-15s.

In the meantime, the main attraction in Theatre of the Absurd is the shelters and rescues that are importing dogs from overseas to meet demand and all the diseases and parasites that come with those animals.

Pretty soon we'll all be able to buy medical marijuana at Wal-Mart but buying a puppy will be nearly impossible.

Jennifer Dukin

I tried to adopt a kitten--- went to local shelters and resues. Was asked if I'd put the cat is my will. Need copies of my lease, every member of the household had to come down to the shelter to be approved..... Noone ever called me back when I filled out an application. the other shelter told me there was a several week waiting period first. It was such a huge run around, that I just adopted off craigslist- same day.

this woman had a right to be angry. I'm sure she was more mad about the fenced in yard-- and added the 5 minute phone wait just as an added detail to story.


I imagine the majority of individuals on here who have commented have not spent a week in a shelter. There is a reason shelters are picky. Is it better for a dog to go to just any home and come in, emaciated, frost bitten, diseased, injured, or abused? Because more often than people would like to admit, that is the REALITY. "They refuse to believe the truth, which is that the majority of American pet owners do have their pets best interest at heart and know how to take care of them, as evidenced by the gazillions of bucks americans spend on pet care, vetting, etc." -Umm, no. The majority of pet owners do not know how to properly take care of their pets- evidenced by so many who end up wormy, heartworm positive, as strays- and ultimately dead on the side of the road or in a shelter where they will be euthanized.
That said, there are a handful of rescues that do make some outrageous demands- I agree that the fencing requirement is unreasonable. But asking them to purchase heartworm medication that the pet will need to be on for the rest of its life? Not unreasonable.
And as far as things go about Petland? I pity the person who thinks that is a good option- go visit a puppy mill- look at a dog suffering from congenital disease because of piss-poor breeding practices. At a local shelter where I am from, the requirements are that any adopter's other pets be up to date on their vaccinations, and if they do not own their home, the shelter will call their landlord to verify that they are permitted to have a pet. That prevents animals from being returned to the shelter. Now is that unreasonable? I think not.

Lynne Van Luven

Fences would be a requirement in my mind - they keep pets safe - is she going to walk the dog on a leash everytime the dog needs to go out or just let it run - where it can be harmed by a car of poison, etc - fences for the most part keep dogs safe and I don t think there is anything wrong with that requirement at least a contained area for the dog to be when outside = you wouldn t put your child outside alone - would you?

Jennifer Dukin

to think this woman is going to let the dog run around the backyard so the dog can escape after wanting to ADOPT him? she obviously plans to simply walk him... or maybe she had a huge basement. who knows. when are fences yard a REQUIREMENT for dogs. and as for as the comment " you wouldnt put yor child alone"... is it a requirement to have a fenced in yard to have children? no. if she has a a home, understand the finacials, is willing to home a dog that is currently in a CAGE.... then she should be allowed.

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