Monday, August 15, 2011

Stop Fighting the Good Adoptions!!

Recently, I was approached by a friend who lives several states away. She is looking to adopt (woohoo!) a young dog from a shelter. Her only criteria is that she wants a medium energy dog that can keep up with her on her morning & evening jogs but one that can relax and be a well-rounded pup when in the house. She understands that no dog is perfect all of the time. She isn't a breed freak, she knows and loves dogs for being dogs and is a VERY experienced pet owner who just last year lost her 10 year old Labrador.

Sounds like the perfect pet parent candidate to me! I believe every rescue that I work with here would be thrilled to have a pet adopted into a family like hers!

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Jenny* was turned down by not 1 but 3 rescue groups in the last month. (!!!) She even mentioned that she might need to look into finding a responsible breeder. 

The reasons for her denial (in order):

  • 'She has a 7 year old daughter.'
  • 'She lives in an apartment.' (Which does NOT have breed restrictions or tough rules on pets, she even has a letter from the landlord allowing pets, signed and dated!).
  • 'She has a young daughter.'

So often I hear that the rescues were far too strict. People have made comments that 'adopting a child is easier than adopting a dog'. While that might be an exaggeration, I see many rescues that fight great adoptions because they are so worried that it won't work out.

I understand (more than most probably) the need to protect our 'adoptables'. The animals in our care have already been let down by previous owners, lived through abuse and survived a rough life on the streets.

As the rescuer of these animals, we want the very best for the pets in our care and as a Rescue, we do NOT want to let them down again. We work hard to ensure their safety and happiness, and do everything we can to give them a good life from the moment they walk into our lives.

Unfortunately, sometimes this concern for their well-being actually stops them from seeing that happy ending. 

In the rescue community we fight stereotypes. We ask that the public stop stereotyping shelter pets as 'unwanted' or 'unloved'. We ask that all breeds of dogs are treated fairly and given the chance at life based on individual qualities, not generalized as a breed. We ask that each pet is given the chance to be valued and loved, not looked down upon because they might have a little hair loss or be a bit skinny.

By stopping adoptions based on general assumptions about a family, aren't the rescue organizations just as guilty of stereotyping?

Families living in an apartment provide love and warmth just as a family with a 5 acre fenced yard. (I personally have a backyard, but my pets are indoor 99% of the time. When I lived in an apartment, my pets received the same care that they do now though.)

Families with children make great homes! Pets teach children compassion just as the children teach pets social skills. 
Personally, I think the absolute WORST excuse for stopping an adoption is that a family has children. I grew up with pets of all sorts (Dogs, Cats, Rabbits, Mice, & even rehabilitated a Duck when I was about 7) as I am sure almost every person involved in animal rescue did. Why should we deny that chance to the children of this generation?

By denying a family an adoption, you aren't just saying NO to the person in front of you. You are saying NO to the pets in your care. You are saying NO to saving a life. 

When it comes to adoptions, each family is unique. Each pet has different needs. As a Rescue, it is your job to look into the individual adoption, not the generalizations of the family.

There will, of course, be times to say 'no', I am not denying that! The word 'NO' should be reserved for the truly undeserving. There are so many wonderful families out there just itching to bring a new pet into their life, embrace those potential adoptions and stop fighting the good families.


Stephanie Conrad
The Pet Studio | Owner | Artist

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'Haylie' | 30in x 40in | Adopted into a great family with 2 children after surviving severe neglect and abuse.
Haylie loves her family to pieces and has been a beloved family member since her adoption!

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*Names changed.