All Sales Final?
June 28, 2010
On the opinion page of a NY paper, the secretary of the Hi-Tor Animal Care Center Board of Directors writes:
Unlike some organizations, we are not selective as to admission based on age, breed or adoptability status. In fact, it is not unusual for Hi-Tor to receive animals adopted on impulse from other organizations that do not readily accept the animal back if the adoption is unsuccessful.
I wonder how often this happens. It’s hard to tell from the wording (it’s “not unusual” that it happens) but the fact that it’s mentioned perhaps indicates it takes place often enough to note.
I’m trying to picture the typical scenario at both ends – the shelter not “readily” accepting the pet and the intake at Hi-Tor. For example, how does Hi-Tor know the adoption was an impulsive decision – the owner tells them so? If Hi-Tor really is surrounded by shelters who regularly adopt out pets “on impulse” and then don’t “readily” take the pets back – well, that would sure suck being them.
But I guess I’m wondering what happens when the supposedly impulsive adopter comes to his senses and tries to bring the pet back to the shelter. Is the shelter offering advice to the owner on how to overcome whatever obstacles are preventing a harmonious home life? That’s not uncommon and I certainly have no problem with it as long as it’s made clear up front that yes, if you still decide after our talk that you want to return the pet, we’ll take her. After all, many people – especially first time pet owners – benefit from the voice of experience during those rocky, first weeks of pet ownership. It’s always worth a try to at least see what the problems are – if nothing else, the information will be useful in making the pet’s next placement.
The part I’m having trouble picturing is a shelter outright saying “No” to an adopter attempting to surrender a newly adopted pet – or at least the adopter having the impression that the shelter means “No, we won’t take her back”, regardless of whatever the verbiage used. Is this like the infamous “You break it, you bought it” Pottery Barn reference made by General Colin Powell?
I’m just not getting it. If you are an animal shelter and someone wants to bring back a pet they adopted from you, under what circumstances would you ever justifiably say no? I can’t think of any. Even if someone came back 5 minutes after leaving the shelter saying, “Fluffy doesn’t match my car upholstery like I thought she would”, I would expect the shelter to take Fluffy back. Actually, especially then, because that person really isn’t someone I’d trust to take good care of Fluffy.
My thinking is that, if this is a regular occurrence at Hi-Tor, it is possibly based on misinformation. Perhaps the adopters feel guilty about surrendering a pet so they make up a story they think reflects less poorly on them than whatever the real story is. Or maybe this isn’t something that happens often at Hi-Tor but rather it happened once, and sort of grew into a fish tale over time.
Maybe some of you can offer some additional insight. I can’t quite get my mind around the idea. I think the way the whole paragraph was worded just rubbed me the wrong way.