Recently a friend of mine adopted a dog. She has had animals all her life. She is caring and adores all animals. She was looking for an older animal that desperately needed a home and was not highly adoptable, an animal that really needed her.
Yet, while searching for her new companion, she found many rescue groups were not interested in adopting to her.
Upset and losing hope, she asked me why any such group would turn her away. To me, someone who’s been in the rescue world for years, the answers were obvious.
My friend is a single woman with a single income. She works long hours and is gone most of the day. She has an active social life and she rents her suite. Other than the fact that she has a heart of gold, she raises every other red flag for an animal shelter that is considering adopting to her.
Shortly after my talk with her, I went online and found some chat rooms that discussed just this subject – disgruntled people swearing off adoption after being turned away for one reason or another by a reputable rescue group. I found many people who said they would never again go to a rescue to adopt an animal because the process was just too difficult and the requirements too harsh.
What many people obviously do not realize is that most of the animals in shelters are there for reasons which directly relate to the questions we ask of potential adopters. We ask the tough questions because we want to avoid adopting to the wrong home and have the animal come back to us or be dumped on another rescue group. We want to be certain that the new home is a forever home.
It is our duty to ensure that the animal does not have to go through the heartbreak of another loss.
Most of the animals in our care are there because the right questions were not asked when that animal was first adopted or purchased. We hear it all the time:
“Muffy is great but I just can’t afford the food and vet bills. I am on a limited income and Muffy is just one extra expense.”
“I would love to keep Dexter but we are moving into a new apartment and we are not allowed pets.”
“Mable is great and I would love to keep her ,but I have too many animals and the new place I am moving to is just too small.”
These are all things people should have considered before adopting a new family member, but many didn’t.
So when we end up with these animals and a new potential home comes along, we need to make sure that they do in fact consider these things.
We are not trying to judge.
We do not want you to feel unworthy.
We don’t mean to pry into your personal life or your financial situation, but we have to make sure that Muffy, Dexter and Mable will not be returned for the same reasons they were dumped on us in the first place.
Animals are a lifetime commitment – a concept many humans have not yet grasped.
Just recently our shelter had a cat returned to us after nine years. The people who had adopted him were moving into a new apartment and it was too small for him and his litter box. Obviously nine years ago we did not ask all the right questions, otherwise this poor soul would not be back in our care, devastated and depressed.
We will not make that mistake again.
Magda Szulc is a volunteer with Katie’s Place animal shelter.