Monday, February 16, 2015

Finding True Forever Homes vs Sending Adopters to a Breeder!

This morning, I read something that bothered me more than it truly should have. I responded in my normal, matter-of-fact way, but something about the post on Facebook really got under my skin. 

Let me preface by saying that I do admire this rescue organization for all of the great things they bring to our community, including a rescue adoption program as well as a wonderful education and training program for adopters as well as those that currently need help with their existing pets. I am not going to mention the rescue, because I definitely do not want to devalue the important work they do, rather I want to share my own thoughts on the post from this morning, blasting a potential adopter, who in my opinion was not necessarily deserving of the  negative post and made the rescue look petty in my opinion.

The original post went like this (I changed it slightly to remove names):

[Header] "When applying to adopt a purebred dog from a rescue that is so rarely found in the rescue world you might as well deem the dog a unicorn . . .and you are not even close to the first person who applied  . . .you probably shouldn't write letters like this to the people you attempted to adopt from: (name has been removed from email)"

First, this post was in regards to a Corgi - a dog that while somewhat rare to find in a rescue, is certainly not an impossible dog to fine, especially in Austin. Rather than berating the applicant, why not point them to a website like where there are currently 53 pages (15 dogs per page) of Corgi mixes waiting for their forever homes. Maybe they aren't all in Austin or purebred dogs, but they are within driving distance and for a serious adopter, a couple of hours might not be too far to drive. 

Letter from the potential adopter AFTER he sees that the dog he wants has been adopted:
"I see that [dog name] has been removed from the [rescue] site. I feel you looked at my age and immediately discounted my application.  I do want you too know that I highly resent that attitude.  I am the [job name] for the [business name].  In that position I maintain all the data for 157 highway systems in my 8 county area and make the detailed maps for my District.  I had my yearly evaluation yesterday and receives a superior rating.  I have a large fence yard, plant an 1800 sq foot garden each year, and I built a greenhouse last summer.  Please note I said I built, not had built.
Just wanted you to know how I felt when you did not even have the decency to call me or my reference.  I feel you have passed over an excellent home for Cowboy, just because you think people are to old. He would have had the best care and a loving home where he would never had to worry about being abandoned again.  By the way, my pups future are even covered in my will. Do hope when you each my age that you will have my health and not my discrimination."

Okay, so maybe he was a bit rash and jumped to conclusions, but at the same time, maybe he had already fallen in love with the pup in question and was devastated to find out that the pup had been adopted. I have had potential adopters with my foster kittens be unable to adopt simply because their application was last in line, not because they were a bad family. It's hard to hear that you can't have the pet that you thought you already loved. I agree that he comes across bragging, but to me, an outsider to the situation, I read this as a person who just really wanted to adopt the dog and is showcasing his side of the argument and why he deserved a chance. 

I will note, I don't think rescues should waste their time calling every applicant that doesn't get chosen, but if someone contacts you, I think basic customer service should politely explain the reasoning behind the decision and maybe help the potential adopter find a pet that would work well with his/her family! At the moment, this rescue has 11 other dogs that are in their foster program, why not offer to set up a meet and greet with another dog instead of responding like this:

"I must say that I am EXTREMELY disappointed in the email that I was forwarded earlier today in which you addressed the fact that you were not contacted concerning your application to adopt [dog], the 1 year old Corgi available for adoption through our rescue.  Your letter was unprofessional, petulant and lacking in tact to say the very least.  

Our organization is run by volunteers and for anyone to assume anything about our operations or our decisions without ever meeting or interacting with us is in the very least prejudicial.  It is also extremely self-righteous of you to ramble on about your employment reviews, size of yard, or outside hobbies in a manner that suggests these "accolades" should somehow be more relevant to our decision than how much this dog would be loved and cared for by his new family and in a way that suggests these accomplishments make you superior to the other forty applicants who also attempted to adopt [dog], twenty of which were superior to you in order of submission.

While your letter was meant to make us aware of the profound mistake you feel we made in not contacting you regarding [dog], it has actually served the exact opposite purpose and solidified my feelings regarding our selection for his new home and the fact that I was correct in not wasting my time contacting you regarding your application.  Your letter has also served to land you on our Do Not Adopt List regarding any future dogs you may be interested in through our organization as well as a spot on our rescue forum so that other rescue coordinators will be able to review your "concerns" and accusations and place you on their DNA lists according to their opinion regarding your actions.

Furthermore, since you feel your employment position and performance should so heavily affect our decision regarding adopting a pet to you, I will be sure to contact your employer to file a formal complaint and inform them of the way you felt it necessary to utilize your title in this situation and make your letter appear to be an official communication from your office by using your professional signature.  

Have a wonderful day, and the best of luck to you on your continued search for a new pet."

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I just don't understand how the rescue is justifying threats against this person for simply feeling upset that he lost out on a chance to adopt from them. Calling their work? Putting them on a Do Not Adopt list? Not at all necessary!! Why, instead, doesn't the rescue feel flattered that he cared so much? Why not treat him like a human, who maybe spoke a little out of turn because his feelings were hurt? 

It's not hard to offer a compassionate side when working in rescue and to understand that as much as we adore our dogs and cats that are available for adoption, the ultimate goal is to find them a forever home. This home sounded caring and I personally would have been thrilled to invite him to adopt a different dog from me. 

Rescue is a business, as much as people hate comparing animals to products (of course they are not simply products), the goal should be to find great homes. I believe the dog that was in question here ended up in a wonderful home, however, this individual should have been treated with respect and given an honest and respectful response instead of threats against his job and put on a Do Not Adopt list.

It's responses like this in the rescue world that encourage people to buy from breeders who will not judge them. Rather than belittle a person, why not offer to help them find another rescue that would suite their needs or help them get on a waiting list with a breed specific rescue?

My opinion piece for the month...

Stephanie Conrad
Pet Studio Art | Owner | Artist 

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