Tails: To Save Them All, the Antiquated Rules of Rescue Must Change

To the rescue who just denied my friends adopting a dog: shame on you! Not only did you break my friends’ hearts, you broke mine because you ruined it for so many other rescues by degrading my friends and making them feel like criminals.

You denied them based on a background check and charges you found from 13 to over 26 years ago! You never even met my friends. You didn’t even call their reference checks. You based your decision on something that happened decades ago. I think, Duke, the dog they wanted to adopt, cared more about who they are today.

They are a good family. They live in a nice neighborhood. They both have fantastic jobs. Duke would have lived a life of luxury filled with love. Kids to play with, doggie daycare to socialize at, and training whenever needed. They are actually an ideal family. Even the Animal Control officer WHO MET THEM gave her approval.

I have spent the last 10 years of my life entrenched in animal welfare. I have worked as a kennel tech in a county shelter holding the heads of dogs as they were euthanized. I have pulled dogs out of Amish puppy mills. Dogs so broken, they broke my very soul. I have lobbied in front of legislators begging for change. I have publicly spoke in hall meetings to improve the lives of shelter dogs in Chicago. I pull dogs from the shelter for my rescue and foster them. I spend every single day of my life educating people on the horrors of pet stores and encouraging everyone to adopt their next dog.

When rescues do what you did, it ruins everything we all work so hard for. Now my friends, feeling like criminals, believe the only way to get a dog is to buy one. Isn’t that what we, in rescue, fight so hard against? Yet, you have taught them that their only hope is to go to Petland or order a dog on-line. Rescues like yours infuriate me. You enjoy playing God and judging people and yet, your actions only make things worse for animals everywhere.

There are hundreds of thousands of pits who will be killed this year simply because of space, and yet, you deny people like my friends the opportunity to adopt one? I get that a few bar fights might persuade you to think my friend is dangerous, but that was 25 years ago when he was 20 years old? Do you really feel people don’t change? Do you really believe people should have a perfect record to adopt a dog?

Why wouldn’t you at least take the time to meet them and see where they live? Why couldn’t you call their references? Why was it so easy for you to hit the DENY button, when so many dogs are being killed? My friends want to save a dog and YOU didn’t let them.

The Kansas City Pet Project founder spoke at a Best Friends conference in July and said something to this effect:” “Imagine you are walking by a pond and you see a thousand dogs drowning. You jump in the pond and you just start throwing the dogs out of the water to ANYONE who will help save them. You don’t ask a lot of questions or worry about who the people you are. You just want to save the dogs. Well, people that is where we are right now. There are thousands of dogs drowning and we need to start acting like it.”

Your rescue is NOT looking at the whole adopter nor are you looking at the whole picture. We have millions of dogs to save, denying good people solely on background checks is never going to save them all.

Rescues like yours should be held responsible for euthanasia rates and the number of dogs bought in stores and on-line because you can’t see the forest from the trees. Sure, you might think you “saved” Duke, but your actions have now led to consequences that will do more damage. My friends will tell other friends never to bother adopting because of their horrific experience.

Their experience was horrible. It took your rescue two weeks to even get back to them on their original application. Two weeks. When will rescues learn that they are running a business and people should be treated like customers? And, after you denied them, it took your rescue another THREE days to tell them why.

If we really want people to think of rescue and adoption as a positive experience, we have to make it one. My rescue does. I wish I could say the same about yours.

I work too hard in this field to ignore what you did. I spend too much time and give too much of myself to let you off the hook. Rescues like yours are not making a positive impact on animal welfare today. I am sure you have a long list of the dogs you have saved and if that is enough for you, so be it. But, people like me are truly out to save them all – and to do that takes initiative and creative thinking. It means not judging people from behind a computer screen or with a generic point sheet. If we want to find homes for the million dogs who will be killed this year, the antiquated rules of rescues like yours must change.

2 thoughts on “Tails: To Save Them All, the Antiquated Rules of Rescue Must Change

  1. Sara Branch

    Definitely agree. My parents are trying to adopt a new Golden Retriever after they had to euthanize their 14 yr old due to stroke last year (they purchased him as a puppy from a reputable breeder who has since stopped breeding). All the local Golden rescues require a fee to just put in an application for a dog. My parents finally bit the bullet, paid the fee and sent in their paperwork to adopt a dog from one of them and they heard *nothing* for a couple of weeks. They finally emailed the rescue only to be told that they are required to have a home visit by the rescue. “When can we schedule it?” my parents asked. Well, the rescue replied, no one’s willing to drive that far to do one for you (parents are located 40 mins from a major city and within the stated area the rescue will adopt to). So now, my parents are upset and frustrated with the idea of adoption and they haven’t even done anything wrong, except want a water-loving breed because they live on a lake! I’ve assured them that not all rescues are like that and given them the names of some wonderful local organizations that are definitely more adopter-friendly, but they don’t have any Goldens available. Thanks, Golden rescue, for making the process painful and difficult when it doesn’t have to be and souring some great potential adopters on the idea of adoption.

  2. connie ray

    Hell yes…there are so many animals needing homed and so many people wanting to give and some rescues including some spca either don’t go outside the box when trying to save these animals by either charging too much…it should be for spay neuter if not already done and a lot are…and shots… as a fee…. it should not be baded on popularity of the breed only necessity to find a home.. for animals that have health issues if someone wants to step up and adopt this animal there should be no fee as they are taking on a huge….bless them….responsibility both financial and physical…as for forms..animal abuse is public record ..if my name isnt on there ..you have no reason to deny me..or anyone… prisoners rehabilitate and train animals and service dogs…if i have no record of animal abuse you have no right to even ask for a background check…if you have concerns do a house inspection. ..but do not deny an animal the love they deserve in a forever home because of a mistake made over 10 yrs ago….the laws need to change for animal rights and all facilities in canada at least need to be made no kill… im embarrassed that they aren’t. .. keep doing what you do ladies..we ll keep supporting you and trying to change the rules


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