Main Line Animal Rescue Refuses to Return Lost Pet to Owners

Many people looking to add a pet to the family are open to the idea of getting one from a rescue group.  It’s got a built-in feel good that people enjoy.  And a satisfied customer is likely to refer friends and family in future.  In these ways, rescue groups have got a good thing going.  In fact, they would have to work hard in order to negate the positivity inherent in their work and turn it into disdain.

Unfortunately, there are too many rescue groups doing exactly that.  They discourage people from adopting by employing restrictive screening protocols, shut poor people out of the opportunity to rescue by selling pets for large amounts of money and/or sell lost pets whose owners want them back because the rescue deems the owners unworthy.  That’s a lot of effort to shoot oneself in the foot.  And it’s widely accepted that unsatisfied customers tell many more people about their bad experiences than satisfied customers.  Homeless pets continue to be homeless and so-called shelters continue to kill, citing the long debunked “not enough homes” reason for the killing.

When a PA family’s beagle accidentally escaped his home last week, the owners immediately began searching for him.  The Kreksteins left their contact information with both the police and the local SPCA.  Their dog Flash was microchipped and they were reassured that if any animal group scanned that chip, they would receive a phone call.  And they did – from Main Line Animal Rescue, the place where they’d adopted Flash two years ago. But it wasn’t about getting their dog back:

The Kreksteins say the organization’s executive director, Bill Smith, then sent them an email letting them know that Flash would not be returned to their care because the family violated the adoption agreement. The message said the family failed to call the animal rescue and notify them the dog was missing and said they were not properly caring for him.

The Kreksteins are understandably outraged. They love Flash and consider him a member of the family. And they want their family member back home with them. Main Line Animal Rescue is refusing to reunite Flash with his family because the owners have been deemed unworthy due to the failure to contact Main Line to advise Flash was lost.

Rob Krekstein says the family technically broke the adoption contract, but that he doesn’t consider his dog “a contract.”

“I didn’t rent the dog. The dog lives in my home. It’s a member of my family,” Rob Krekstein said.

Smith said The Kreksteins know what they agreed to when they signed the contract.

Apparently what they agreed to was to make a homeless pet a part of their family, to love and cherish him, and to allow Main Line Animal Rescue to abruptly tear their family apart if the group ever determined the contract hadn’t been followed to the letter, regardless of circumstances. Now everyone knows. If you adopt from Main Line Animal Rescue, don’t get too attached, don’t fall in love with the pet and definitely don’t consider him a member of your family because one mistake and Main Line will smash that bond to bits. Tell all your friends.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

On-Call KY ACO Charged with DUI

Take a look at the And-For-My-Next-Trick-I’ll-Jump-Through-These Rings-of-Fire adoption application required to save a pet from being killed by the Scott Co pound in KY.  The last question on the form is:

Would you allow a home visit by a representative of the Scott County Animal Shelter?

See, the Scott Co ACO must judge you. To see if you are good enough to save a homeless pet from going to the landfill.

Scott Co ACO Leitha Burton was on-call Monday night when she took the county AC truck home with her.  But instead of responding to emergency animal calls that night, ACO Burton allegedly got drunk and her truck smashed into two vehicles and a house on her street, causing over $30,000 in damages.

When police arrived at the crash scene, they reportedly found ACO Burton alone:

Police say Burton was charged with DUI because she admitted to drinking and driving, and because she smelled of an alcoholic beverage and was unsteady on her feet.

While ACO Burton reportedly admitted to drinking and driving the county truck shortly before the crash, she claimed another woman had been driving at the time of the crash and that the driver had run away before police arrived.  Police are investigating.  Meantime, it’s business as usual in Scott Co:

Scott County Judge-Executive George Lusby says Burton won’t be disciplined without a conviction and her use of county property will be examined.

Any adoption applicants volunteering to have ACO Burton drive over to their house to pass judgement on them?

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

Karma Rescue in CA Sells Lost Pet While Ignoring Owner’s Pleas

When a CA family’s 8 month old puppy got lost last month, owner Rosa Torres began looking for her right away.  She visited her local shelter repeatedly but never saw her puppy, called Raffiki.

In fact, Raffiki had been found running loose and was taken to a neighboring shelter – not the one the owner kept searching.  An area group called Karma Rescue pulled Raffiki from that shelter and listed her online as an adoptable pet.  That’s how Ms. Torres found out where her puppy was.  The owner immediately tried to reach Karma Rescue by phone but had to leave a frantic message explaining she wanted to get her lost pet back.  She then went to the group’s website and filled out an adoption application for Raffiki.

“The application form says why do you want this particular dog. I said because she belongs to me,” Torres said. “I said we love her and we miss her and we want her back home with us.”

But no one from Karma Rescue got back to Ms. Torres.  Instead, they sold Raffiki for $300 to another owner.  In a statement to the L.A. Times, Karma Rescue said Ms. Torres’s application “did not meet the qualifications that Karma looks for when adopting a dog to a home.” The L.A. Times writer explains:

As someone who’s worked with animal rescue, let me translate that: Torres is young; she and her son live with her parents in a small rental home in a not-so-great part of town. Her dog wasn’t microchipped, spayed or wearing ID tags. If she couldn’t manage to find the dog in a week, she doesn’t deserve to get her back.

Worse:

“Had [Ms. Torres] been a little more diligent, we would have spoken with her,” acknowledged Karma Rescue’s lawyer Susan Willis.

Karma Rescue decided that Raffiki’s owner wasn’t even worth talking to, never mind considering the return of her family member to her.  Not everyone agreed with the decision:

“You’ve got groups that help people and their pets, through education and support, versus people who just focus on the animals and tend to demonize owners,” said Jessica Gary, who spent the last year volunteering with Karma Rescue and considered the group one of the city’s best.

She resigned last week because this case revealed an elitism that’s shocked and disappointed her.
[...]
“If they’d returned this dog to the original owner, this new family could have adopted another dog, one that might die in the shelter now because it doesn’t have a home.”

Affirmative.

As we’ve discussed numerous times on this blog, rescue groups have no right to act like they are the 1%, trickling down animals upon the unwashed masses as they see fit. Poor people love their pets too. If rescues are truly wanting to save as many lives as possible, returning a lost pet to an owner should be a no-brainer under normal circumstances. It’s a way to put another one in the WIN column while reallocating resources to save the next animal on the local pound’s kill list. Instead Karma Rescue appears to have been determined to break up Raffiki’s family, because they deemed Ms. Torres unworthy.

On its website, Karma Rescue claims that the human-animal bond is sacred and must be respected:

“Unfortunately, your pet does not have a voice,” the Karma Rescue website reminds pet owners considering giving up their pets. “He can’t tell you he would rather stay with the family he has known and loved all his life.”
“Dogs and cats … go through psychological torment when they lose their family. Your pet deserves to stay with the family he/she loves.”

Apparently Karma Rescue neglected to include a giant asterisk there.

The owner who bought Raffiki is refusing to return her and it’s unclear to me whether Karma Rescue would send her home to Ms. Torres even if the puppy was returned. Ms. Torres and her 4 year old son are heartbroken that their family member will not be coming home. And you can probably guess what Ms. Torres’s opinion of rescue groups is at this point:

“My image for a rescue was always kind people who wanted homes for animals that need rescuing,” she told me. “I was really in shock that they weren’t trying to help me get my dog back.”

Instead of putting one in the WIN column and saving another pet in Raffiki’s place, Karma Rescue has broken up a family and needlessly given other rescue groups a bad name. It’s not lost on me that the group chose the name Karma. In Buddhism, there is no one to deem you unworthy like this group did Ms. Torres, but bad karma must be worked off, no matter how many lifetimes it takes. They might want to get started on that now. Ending their discriminatory practices and focusing on lifesaving would be a step in the right direction.

(Thanks Anne and Davyd for sending me this story.)

Seven People Apply to Save “VERY FRIENDLY!” Pitbull from Memphis Pound

Dog #259497 as pictured on the Memphis Pets Alive page on Facebook, October 8, 2013.

Dog #259497 as pictured on the Memphis Pets Alive page on Facebook, October 8, 2013.

Dog #259497 was impounded as a stray by the Memphis pound on September 25, 2013. A note appears on his cage card: VERY FRIENDLY!

259497 MAS cage card

MAS records for the dog, obtained via FOIA request, indicate a member of the public expressed an interest in adopting this dog on September 28 and gave his name and phone number. Records state that a few months prior, the potential adopter had passed the background check and fence inspection required by MAS. I assume he was not allowed to take the dog home that day because the holding period had not expired.

On October 1st, both a member of an approved rescue group and a second member of the public placed their names on this dog.  MAS conducted the background check on October 2 for this second potential adopter but the yard check had still not been completed by October 8 when the applicant informed MAS he had found another pet.  There are no notes indicating why the dog was not released to the first applicant or the rescuer, both pre-approved, after the holding period expired on October 1st.  For whatever reason, the dog was forced to continue living in a cage at the pet killing facility.  And people continued to fall in love with him.

On October 12, a third member of the public applied to adopt this dog.  MAS completed the background check for that potential adopter on October 15 – the same day a fourth person submitted her information in hopes of taking this dog home.  The background check was completed for the fourth applicant on October 16.  MAS never conducted the fence inspections for either of these applicants according to the records even though both passed the background check.    There are no notes indicating why the dog was not released to the first applicant or the rescuer, both pre-approved, after the holding period expired on October 1st.  For whatever reason, the dog was forced to continue living in a cage at the pet killing facility.  And people continued to meet him and fall in love.

On October 19, a fifth person submitted information in hopes of adopting this dog.  MAS completed this applicant’s background check on October 22.  MAS never conducted the fence inspection for this applicant according to the records even though he passed the background check.    There are no notes indicating why the dog was not released to the first applicant or the rescuer, both pre-approved, after the holding period expired on October 1st.  For whatever reason, the dog was forced to continue living in a cage at the pet killing facility while MAS staff did nothing to get him out alive.  Meanwhile, this note appears in the dog’s records on October 21:

mas note 10 21 13

To the best of my knowledge, Dr. Coleman is not a behaviorist.  There are no notes indicating a behaviorist ever saw this dog.  There are no notes indicating this dog was ever walked and no behavioral notes beyond the one above.  The dog who was “VERY FRIENDLY!” may have started going kennel crazy inside the pet killing facility, I don’t know.  With two pre-approved safe places to go and several other applicants just waiting for MAS to complete the fence inspection, this dog could have been released long before this date.  Meanwhile,the dog continued to be housed in an area visible to the public and people continued to meet and fall in love with him.

On October 24th, a sixth person applied to adopt this pet.  There are no notes indicating MAS conducted either the background check or the fence inspection for this applicant.  On October 25th, the records contain this note:

mas very friendly

Despite having 6 members of the public plus an approved rescuer who each offered to save this “VERY FRIENDLY!” dog, MAS killed him on October 26, 2013.

MAS dog #259497 as pictured on the Memphis Pets Alive page on Facebook, October 22, 2013.

MAS dog #259497 as pictured on the Memphis Pets Alive page on Facebook, October 22, 2013.

Adoption applicant #1 was pre-approved.  The rescuer was also pre-approved.  Why didn’t MAS send this dog home with either one of these people as soon as the hold period expired?

Applicant #2 waited for MAS to do a fence check for more than a week and finally adopted another pet.  Another missed opportunity to save this dog’s life.

Applicants #3, 4 and 5 each passed a background check but MAS could not be bothered to perform the fence checks for any of them.  Three more opportunities wasted.

Applicant #6 did not have either check performed by staff and MAS killed the dog two days after the applicant’s information was submitted.

The Memphis pound requires Pitbull adopters to jump through special hoops in order to save pets from their kill room.  But MAS can’t be bothered to perform the inspections they themselves require.  Even when a pre-approved applicant and a pre-approved rescuer were willing to save this dog, MAS couldn’t be bothered to release him.  Why?

This pet had seven chances to get out of MAS alive and MAS dropped the ball seven times.  And instead of finally doing right by the dog, they sent him to the kill room where he was probably tortured in the squeeze device on the wall before ultimately being dropped in a garbage bag.  Seven people fell in love with this dog while one vet with a notorious track record made one negative behavioral note and that trumps everything?  Nobody WANTS to kill animals?  Seriously MAS, you people are creeping me the math out.

Discussion: Yay or Nay on a National Animal Abuse Database?

Regular readers know that I have long supported the idea of having a national database of animal abusers as a tool for shelters (as well as rescues, breeders and everyone else who gives or sells pets to strangers) to help protect animals.  I believe a brief adoption application, a photo ID (verifying the applicant’s name, address and date of birth) and a check for animal cruelty convictions should be the only screening methods used by any facility which kills animals.

In the absence of an official national database, we have use of the internet to search for animal cruelty convictions.  But a well organized and monitored database containing reliable criminal conviction data from state records would be superior.  Such a tool may be available soon:

An animal rights group out of California is creating a national database of convicted animal abusers. The Animal Legal Defense Fund of Cotati, California is asking states to provide public data in hopes of alerting adoption centers of convicted animal abusers.

HSUS however issued the following statement of opposition:

“Animal cruelty—like other crimes—must be reported, classified, and analyzed in a comprehensive manner that results in swift and efficient enforcement of the law and the general improvement of society. It is not clear that the current round of proposals to create a public registry database would materially advance these goals. In fact, it probably does nothing to help these people learn a new way of viewing and treating animals. Strengthening the human-animal bond is our ultimate goal, not deepening the break. We must utilize what energy and resources we can muster on the most effective approaches to the scourge of cruelty.”

Civil liberties groups also object to the registry on the grounds that it will be used to publicly shame individuals.

I asked several animal advocates for their thoughts on the cruelty database.  They raise some interesting points.

Nathan Winograd, director of the No Kill Advocacy Center:

I would rather this be in the hands of accountable public officials, but in the absence of that, giving people with animals access to legally accurate information so that they can protect the animals in their care is important. As I wrote previously, “By knowing the right lies to tell and which truths to omit, convicted animal abusers can potentially acquire animals even from those who are dedicated to their protection but are currently forced to operate in a state of ignorance simply because they lack access to valuable information that would help them make better, more informed choices about the animals in their care.” Although this was written to support a model law, the proposed database likewise would “strip abusers of this advantage and prevent future animal abuse with nothing more than a few simple strokes of a keyboard.” As to HSUS, this is another example of their putting abusers before animals.

Christie Keith, journalist and shelter pet advocate:

In general, I oppose anything that reinforces the widely held and false idea that there is an army of animal abusers lining up to adopt pets from shelters and rescue groups. The hysterical aversion to Craigslist, draconian adoption policies, and onerous screening and application processes are hindrances, not helps, to finding good homes. I also have a concern that this registry would simply reflect the unfairness of our criminal justice system, with its heavy bias against the poor and people of color.

All that said, as a journalist, I believe in the right of the public to be able to easily obtain public information. To say that public information should be available, just hard to find, is hypocritical.

If civil liberties groups like the ACLU — an organization I normally support — want to end the public availability of criminal convictions and trial records after a sentence is served, they can advocate for that. But to oppose putting this public information in a searchable database so citizens can access it seems contrary to the ACLU’s own beliefs.

Ann Brownell, board vice president at UPAWS:

In my personal opinion I think it is a good idea. We have a “Do Not Adopt” list that we check for every adoption we do, but personally I think to have a larger database to check would be a benefit. The bottom line for shelter and rescues is protecting the pets they are finding new homes for. It would not be the intent to shame anyone. I am all for people getting help and being rehabilitated. But if they are habitual and convicted animal abusers, shelters and rescues should be able to get that information for the sake of the lives they are saving, rescuing and protecting.

Denice Ryan Martin, Wisconsin Voters for Companion Animals:

I think that all the major animal welfare groups (ALDF, Best Friends, No Kill Advocacy, HSUS, ASPCA, American Humane Assocation) should collaborate on this critical issue. They should start a healthy dialogue with each other and settle on a model that makes sense for all fifty states and that legislators will embrace on fiscal, practical, policy and emotional levels.

If the ALDF model, or a version of it, makes sense, then all the groups should endorse it. If we all present a united force against animal abusers, then perhaps positive change will take place.

What are your thoughts on a national database of animal abusers? As an adopter, would you object to having your name searched in the database by an organization from which you wanted to obtain a pet? As someone giving or selling pets to strangers, would you make use of such a national registry in screening applicants? What potential benefits and/or downsides might an animal abuse registry offer that currently do not exist?

U.S. Government Reports on Our Pet Expenditures

On the subject of how much money we spend on our pets, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published “‘Tails’ from the Consumer Expenditure Survey” on its website and the Hartford Courant breaks down the information:

The average amount each household spent on pets in 2011 was $502.

Households tended to spend 1 percent of income, no matter how much or how little they earned.

The release tracked spending from 2007 to 2011, and it didn’t show any trends of households trading down to cheaper food brands during the recession, or surrendering dogs due to foreclosure.

Additional tidbits from the government:

In 2011, households spent more on their pets annually than they spent on alcohol ($456), residential landline phone bills ($381), or men and boys clothing ($404).

Average household spending on pet food alone was $183 in 2011. This was more than the amount spent on candy ($87), bread ($107), chicken ($124), cereal ($175), or reading materials ($115).

Even when spending at restaurants dropped during the recent recession (December 2007–June 2009), spending on pet food stayed constant.

From 2007 to 2011, spending on pets stayed close to 1 percent of total expenditures per household, despite the recession that occurred during this time.

The main takeaways for me:

Shelters and rescues that discriminate against poor people who want to adopt pets based on the assumption that middle/upper class adopters will spend a greater portion of their income on the pet are not only behaving unethically, their assumption is baseless. Poor people spend about 1% of their income on their pets, just like other pet owners. While it’s true poor people have less to spend overall, it’s noteworthy that everyone is on the same level when percentages are calculated.  In other words, those who can afford to spend more generously on their pets, don’t.

The survey did not find any increase in surrendering dogs (presumably to shelters) due to foreclosure.  This “increased surrenders due to foreclosures” is a claim I’ve heard countless times in recent years from shelters all over the country.  Is there a disconnect here?

The recession does not appear to have impacted pet expenditures.  To my mind, there is a simple explanation for that:  Pets are family.

People want to save pets’ lives. Let them.

I am revisiting a topic today in order to reiterate my position and address the most common responses I receive whenever I post about it.  The issue is this:

So long as there are pets being needlessly killed in shelters, I favor giving shelter pets to anyone who wants them, provided the person hasn’t been convicted of animal cruelty. We may not like all aspects of the home environment but if they are willing to save a life (and freeing up a space at a rescue in order to allow another life to be saved qualifies), let them.

Some shelters and rescue groups judge potential adopters negatively based on things such as physical appearance, income level or desire for privacy in their own home.  As long as the adopter hasn’t been convicted of animal cruelty, fills out a basic adoption application and provides photo ID, I see no reason not to approve them for adoption.  There are a wide variety of people in this world who love pets. If they want to rescue a pet, they are the “right” kind of people.  By adopting to them, you are not obligated to go on vacation with them or spend holidays at their house.  You are saving a pet’s life.

But there’s more.  You are establishing a relationship with the adopter, thus giving you the opportunity to provide education and assistance if needed.  You are leaving them with the impression that saving a pet’s life is a positive experience.  They’ll tell their friends and family members.  You can’t buy that kind of publicity.

On the flip side, when animal organizations make adopters feel judged and turn them down, they drive those adopters to other sources for pets.  Pet stores don’t judge.  Flea markets don’t turn people away.  Irresponsible breeders make all comers feel welcome.  In addition, the would-be adopter is left with a bad taste in his mouth about saving a pet’s life.  He’ll tell his friends and family members.  That kind of publicity hurts shelter pets.

Many of the responses I receive whenever I raise this issue are from well-intentioned people who truly care about the well being of shelter pets.  I’d like to address some of those here.  (Note:  These are my summaries of typical responses I’ve received in the past.  They are not directly attributable to any person or persons.)

  • If we don’t visit the home and/or require a background check and/or [insert your arbitrary adoption requirement here], the pet is likely to end up being abused.  There are fates worse than death.

There are no fates worse than death.  Where there’s life, there’s hope.  The overwhelming majority of pet owners – I would go so far as to say nearly all pet owners – try to do right by their pets.  They do not beat, starve or otherwise intentionally harm them.  While there are people who may be able to provide a better quality of life for a pet if they received some non-judgmental education on the subject, that does not make them bad people.  And if you establish a positive relationship with them from the outset, you position yourself to be a source for that education.  If you drive them away to an alternate source by making them feel judged, how will they ever benefit from your experience?  Do we want to rely on the pet store to provide them with support for the lifetime of the pet?  Do we want them to have an intact, unvaccinated pet from an alternate source or a neutered, vaccinated pet from a shelter/rescue?

  • If they can’t afford a high adoption fee, they will never be able to pay for vet care if the pet breaks a leg or has some other emergency.

Just because the adopter can’t come up with hundreds of dollars to buy a pet from your animal organization, it does not mean he would not work a miracle to pay for a vet emergency for a pet he developed a bond with at some future time.  And that’s if an expensive emergency ever arose.  I have owned many pets who lived their entire lives never suffering a broken leg or bloat or anything similar.  There is no reasonable basis for the assumption that the pet will require expensive emergency vet care and that the owner will be unable to pay for it when it occurs.

But for the sake of argument, let’s assume the pet will break a leg at some point and the owner will be unable to pay for vet care.  I go back to the premise that if you establish a positive relationship with them from the outset, you position yourself to be the group the adopter turns to in a crisis.  You – who has a network of advocates, who knows how to fundraise, who has a reasonable vet your group has a good relationship with – you would be in a position to assist.  Or did you expect the flea market vendor to help out this pet in need?

  • Not everyone should be allowed to have a pet.  Why should my organization spend resources helping someone become a better pet owner when we can just decline their application and wait for someone else to apply?

While it may be your belief that not everyone should have a pet just because they want one, the fact is they are going to get a pet somewhere.  We try so hard to turn people on to the idea of adopting shelter/rescue pets, trying to get them in the door as it were, we need to think very hard before turning away someone who comes to us wanting to save a pet.  The reason your organization should offer people a hand up when needed is because you are dedicated to animal welfare.  You are performing a community service.  By saying yes to more adopters, you are freeing up space to help more pets.  And because you don’t honestly believe that an irresponsible breeder is going to support your community in the way you will.

  • So you’re saying we should give pets to Michael Vick?  After all, he wasn’t convicted of animal cruelty.

No.  Again, most everyone who applies to save a pet’s life is going to try to do right by that pet.  The Michael Vicks of the world are the rare exception, not the rule, and policies should be geared toward reasonable expectations.  But to answer the question, if someone who has publicly confessed to torturing dogs and whose confession has been corroborated by testimony from multiple witnesses in federal court applies to adopt a pet from you, turn him down.  We do not want to supply additional victims to people we know for certain are sadistic animal freaks, regardless of whether they have an animal cruelty conviction on their record.  But this would be a very unlikely application to come across and there is no need to make a policy specifically to weed out Michael Vick.

  • Are you talking about my shelter/rescue group?

If your shelter kills pets or your rescue group pulls pets off death row as space becomes available in your facility or foster network, yes.  If your group is narrow in scope, such as a breed rescue which typically handles a small number of pets with none at risk of being killed, no.

  • So we shouldn’t bother trying to match the pet to the adopter?  Just give any pet to anyone, even if a 90 pound elderly woman with a walker wants a 120 pound dog-aggressive Mastiff with no leash training?

Continue trying to make the best possible match between adopter and pet while bearing in mind that the pet someone falls in love with may be the right match, even if it doesn’t strike you that way at first.  I can not stress enough the value of establishing a positive relationship from the outset so that the adopter is open to hearing your suggestions.  When adopters understand you have both their best interests and the pet’s best interests in mind, they will be far more receptive to your input.  If they feel they are being deemed unworthy, they will seek a pet from a source which does not make them feel that way.

  • I adopted from a group that charged $450 for the pet, visited my home, conducted a background check, had me fill out a 20 page application and sign a contract stating that they can take the pet back at any time if they feel it’s warranted.  I’m fine with all of that.  It shows me they care.

Good for you.  Not everyone feels the same way you do.  Many people, including me, would be turned off by these policies and would be unable and/or unwilling to pursue the adoption.  And since shelter pets are being killed, purportedly for lack of space to house them, I want everyone to feel included in the adoption pool.

Last I checked, there are not mile long lines of potential adopters leading to the front door of every shelter and rescue in this country.  Let’s value the ones we have, even if they are different from us in some ways.  Let’s embrace the community we have and work towards making it the community we want it to be.

The Long Arm of Restrictive Shelter Policies

The Humane Society of Marshall County in Benton, KY (aka The Benton Marshall HS, as listed on Facebook) says on its website it is a private, limited admission shelter in need of donations.  A reader recently sent me a list of the group’s requirements for accepting dogs and cats:

  • We can ONLY ACCEPT animals from Marshall County
  • We can ONLY ACCEPT owner surrenders which means we CANNOT accept strays
  • Bring ALL vet records when surrendering an animal
  • DOGS:
  • MUST HAVE PROOF: Current rabies, Negative heartworm test and a negative fecal test.
  • CANNOT ACCEPT: Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Chows, Dobermans, Akita or Mastiff
  • PUPPIES:
  • MUST HAVE at least one set of puppy shots and negative fecal test
  • Parents CANNOT be related

When accepting dogs, the staff will look at the adult dogs skin conditions, sores, behavior problems, eye or ear problems. Accepting puppies the staff will look for vomitting, diarrhea, nasal, eye discharge, skin condition, itching and umbilical hernia.

  • CATS:
  • MUST HAVE PROOF:  Negative Leukemia FIV test, negative fecal test and rabies
  • KITTENS:
  • MUST HAVE PROOF:  At least one set of kitten shots, Negative Leukemia FIV test and negative fecal test

When accepting cats, the staff will look for skin problems, eye discharge, nasal discharge, ears, sneezing, and diarrhea.

***

Shorter:  Vetted white & fluffies only.

I was curious, since the HS clearly doesn’t intend to spend much in the way of veterinary care for its pets and since they adopt out intact pets with a $50 refundable deposit (so they are not paying for neutering themselves), how much do they sell dogs and cats for?

The website states cats are $65 (plus the $50 refundable neuter deposit) and dogs are $75 – $200 (plus the $50 refundable neuter deposit).  The adoption application states that after you buy the pet, if you fail to have him neutered by a certain date, the HS has the right to take your pet back.  In addition, there are a list of annual expenses for which the adopter is expected to be prepared to pay for 20 years, including $30 – $100 a year for neutering.  Dang, I guess neutering doesn’t last as long as it usta.

At any rate, having recently read through a bunch of different shelter and rescue policies, I find too many of them failing to effectively fulfill the stated mission of getting homeless pets adopted.  Picking out the vetted white and fluffies from the community and selling them intact for up to $200 creates another problem too:  resentment on the part of the municipal facility.  The Marshall Co pound accepts all the unvetted Pitbulls and goopy-eyed cats.  Naturally this is going to cause some bad blood, as was evident last year when the county voted not to accept the Humane Society’s offer to merge:

The county shelter and Humane Society used to be competitors of sorts and for years, county leaders and Humane Society leaders haven’t always agreed.

[...]

After big changes from new leadership at the county shelter, the number of adoptions soared, euthanasia rates subsequently went down and the price to adopt went down, too.

[...]

Due to low euthanasia rates and high adoption rates, the county shelter is operating with a surplus.

Meanwhile, the Humane Society is losing business. Their adoption fees are higher and more people are taking animals and donations to the county shelter.

Look at how well the county shelter was doing in February 2012 (pdf).  Increased lifesaving=decreased expenses.  I was unable to find any more recent stats but hopefully the shelter is continuing to succeed in its mission.

The impact of restrictive shelter policies reaches well into the community – potential adopters, donors and officials are all affected.  As are the pets, sadly.  Why not consider throwing off the shackles and offering a hand to the county in a meaningful way – not just a oh-gee-you-guys-have-a-surplus-and-we-are-in-the-red-let’s-be-friends kind of way?  There is a potential win-win situation in Marshall Co but not as things stand.  Will the private and the public sectors ever be able to work together for the benefit of the community’s pets?

 

Petsmart Charities/Ipsos Study: The Where and Why of Adoption

Ipsos Marketing conducted studies for Petsmart Charities on a variety of issues related to pet adoption in 2009 and 2011.  In this post, I am going to look at some of the survey results indicative of why people want to adopt, where they are getting their pets and why more people aren’t getting them from rescues/shelters.

Unsurprisingly, the reason most people want to adopt is to rescue a pet.  (pages 18 – 20)  And yet we see so many invasive and outrageous adoption requirements from rescues and shelters, purportedly because they feel obligated to protect pets from dogfighters, hoarders, and animal abusers.  Put another way, the study found that most adopters are driven by compassion.  Shouldn’t we operate on the assumption that all applicants are kind-hearted unless we find out differently?

Some rescues and shelters are driving potential adopters away.  Where are people getting pets instead?  (page 11)  The primary source for cats is the neighborhood.  More cat owners acquired their most recent pet as a stray than any other source.  More dog owners got their last dog from a family member or friend.  What ties these sources together?  The adoption process is super easy, there are no up front costs to obtain the pet, and in the case of stray cats, the adopter feels they are rescuing the pet.

About 25% of recent pet owners surveyed for the study researched online before acquiring a pet.  (page 12)  Shelters and rescues should ask themselves:

  • Is our website user friendly and up to date?
  • Are our photos and bios of available pets uplifting?
  • Do we have a contact e-mail easily visible on the site and are we checking it regularly and replying promptly to inquiries?

Regarding perceptions of the local pound (page 16):

  • 38% of respondents believe the facility has limited hours – This is an easy fix.
  • 44% believe the pound is against animal cruelty – Wow, the fact that this isn’t close to 100% should be a wake up call for animal control units.
  • 23% think the pets there are well cared for – I interpret this to indicate that most people believe pets are being neglected, abused or otherwise subjected to substandard treatment at their local pound.
  • 32% flat out don’t want to visit the pound because it’s too depressing – No kidding.

There is a lot of useful information here for rescues and shelters. Remember that the math shows us we only need to increase adoptions of shelter pets by a little bit nationwide in order to get every healthy/treatable animal into a home.  It seems like many of our rescues and shelters could do a little bit better simply by applying the Petsmart Charities research to their marketing and protocols.

Petsmart Charities/Ipsos Study: Why People Aren’t Adopting

Ipsos Marketing conducted studies for Petsmart Charities on a variety of issues related to pet adoption in 2009 and 2011.  The results contain a lot of interesting information which I will look at in upcoming posts.  In this post, I am going to focus on page 14 of the report which asked the question:  What were the reasons you chose not to adopt your cat or dog?

The base for the respondents to this question were owners who had acquired a pet within the past 12 months from a source other than a shelter or rescue group.  Petsmart Charities draws attention on the page to the most common answers given which basically amount to people wanting a purebred pet and/or one with a known history.  But what caught my eye were several of the less popular responses which, to my mind, all fall under the same category and could be combined to reflect more significance:

  • Adoption process too difficult
  • Organization too depressing
  • Inconvenient hours
  • Poor customer service

These were all obstacles to adoption for the respondents that shelters and rescues could address today:

  •  Streamline the adoption process.  Most owners try to do right by their pets and most adopters can be trusted.
  • Don’t threaten to kill pets.  Don’t make assumptions that the pet was abused in the absence of clear evidence.
  • Open up the facility when most people can get there – evenings and weekends.
  • Answer the phone.  Reply to e-mail and social media inquiries.  Treat potential adopters like they are celebrities.

In short, a significant reason people didn’t adopt their last pet was suckage on the part of the shelter or rescue.  Fixable suckage.  Take heed.

(Thank you Joni for bringing this study to my attention.)

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