When we last left this topic…
I wrote to Mike Arms after the whole ‘terror at the podium‘ thing, to ask him for his ideas about how we bloggers could help in the bigger picture to improve animal welfare. He was gracious enough to invite me to Helen Woodward for a tour, and then he got me lunch AND a drink.
I mention that last part only because some of you were keeping tabs, so I had to make sure I let you all know he kept his word. 😉 I didn’t have to read the letter again, though he did show me a picture from a shelter in Louisiana that I can only describe as shocking- a reminder why we continue to get up every day and work for change.
I’m not quite sure how to explain Helen Woodward to someone who hasn’t been, because I haven’t seen anything like it- even when I went once in the early 2000’s when it was still in a metamorphosis.
There are animals for adoption (average time at the center: 2 days). There is also therapeutic riding, a state of the art equine hospital, a small animal hospital, a huge boarding facility, a center that educates school kids, a Mommy and Me program, rabbits for therapy, a food pantry, an on-site trainer…I’m sure I’m missing something, but it really is incredible.
More than anything, it is a community destination that is constantly placing itself smack in the center of the community limelight in a positive way, and that is why people come to them when they are looking for a new pet.
Eric Goebelbecker, the great trainer over at Dog Spelled Forward, wrote a post on Wednesday about all the chatter he’s been seeing about the Mike Arms Blog Paws presentation, saying, to paraphrase: “I hope he said more than ‘just rename shelters to centers and all will be well.’ ”
A bunch of people (cough cough) responded, but he did go on in the post to make some really great points about what shelters need to do in order to be better and up their adoptions, showing how Mike and Eric are basically in agreement. It’s a good post and how I learned about the PetSmart Charities research into this very topic.
Some of the core concepts aimed at making adoption rates go up are:
1. Make it convenient. Our local shelter is closed Sundays and Mondays, and when they are open it’s only until 5:30. I actually had a client with a new pet from Helen Woodward just last week. “I went to a poodle rescue event on Sunday,” she told me, “but they canceled it. So I went to Helen Woodward instead, and here we are,” she with a new German shepherd blend.
2. Don’t make it too complicated. Last year I was looking at a Frenchie at another local shelter. I made the 45 minute drive, filled out an application, and met the dog. While thinking about it, the shelter- who knew my job and background- wanted me to come back with my husband, who works past 7 every night, both kids, and my other dog before they would even consider it. Oh, and I only had one day to make that happen. So it didn’t.
I understand wanting to make the right match, but there does have to be some concession to the fact that while we would like every owner to be 100% perfect, there are some really fantastic families out there that are maybe only 80% perfect and can’t do every little bit the way we want them to.
3. Help people make it work. I asked Mike what Helen Woodward’s return rate was, and he said 3%. I don’t know how that compares to other places, but I am guessing that is pretty good. Helen Woodward has an on-site trainer that works with the pets before they are adopted and helps people with the transition, which may play a role in that number.
Let’s face it- EVERY dog, no matter how old they are or where they came from, is going to have some sort of behavior need to address. Some are more challenging than others, but no pet is perfect. Accepting it as part of pet ownership and giving owners the tools to confidently address them goes a long, long way in forging successful bonding.
Obviously that is a gross, gross oversimplication of a complicated situation (read this and this for a better summary), but forgive me as I’m new to this arena. I’m breaking the concepts down into chunks to try and get a better grasp of the complexities: how pets get into shelters, how they get out, and how to make outs = ins.
So let’s begin!
It’s so vast a situation that I wonder what I can possibly accomplish, little old me sitting here with my keyboard. But, you know what, I care. I care about what I saw and what I know to be happening, and if I understand the situation better then I have more to offer the shelters who need help getting the word out. So here I am, wide eyed pupil. And I get to use this graphic which I dearly love.
Task one for me is to learn as much as possible about the various ways in which pets get connected with owners- via breeders, shelters, rescues, and the like, and their reasoning. I’m going to start here.
In the meantime, as a non-representative sampling I’m really interested in hearing how you came about your pets, and why you went the route you did. I hope by getting a better feel about how people make their decisions we can as a blogging community come up with strategies to help more pets find homes.
I’m interested in everyone’s stories, so in order to make this a discussion open to all I’m saying from the get-go, please no flaming or arguing. Even if someone came by a pet in a way you don’t agree with it’s helpful to know why they did, right? How else will you ever change things?Photo credit: “My Little Dog” by -=RoBeE=- on Flickr
my two feline children came to me as rescues. I let one of the local vet clinics that I was looking to adopt kittens and they took my name and number. they called me two days later to say that they had a litter of five kittens that had been living with a semi feral mother under a house and would I like to have a look at them? I was there five minutes later and paying thirty minutes after that.
when I eventually get enough space to have more animals it will probably be by a similar route. I plan on adopting a senior dog or two when I have a yard for them and I will most likely end up with more rescue cats.
I volunteered at a shelter for 3 years and I got to meet so many wonderful animals that I am now dedicated to rescue pets. I don’t think I’ll ever buy from a breeder.
#*let one of the local vet clinics *know* that I was looking to adopt.
I need to proofread before I click submit.
Lisa W says
I found Bailey through a newspaper ad (she was a Lab/Golden mix) in 1997. Sophie and Oscar were located via Petfinder. I had to fill out an application for both, but Oscar’s app was like 8 pages long and involved a home visit. Keep in mind I’m in NC and he was in IN. That being said, the group (Indy Great Pyrenees Rescue) was awesome to deal with, and obviously they care a great deal about putting their dogs in the right homes.
Sadie our lab/shephard we got because the woman who rescued her and other dogs was at a market that I went to when I was looking for a dog. Then I was looking for a rescue for a family of dogs that got picked up by the pound and I was a day late getting to them. Then I vowed to foster with them to make a difference for the dogs. That’s when we got Bama our shephard/pyrenees except we kept him:) The director of our pound is a vet and is very adoption friendly and they do alot to try and get animals adopted.
Georgia Jewel says
My kitties came from county shelters in part because they were less expensive and less trouble than the private rescue groups. We rent our home and didn’t to be hassled about home visits, landlords, etc. We knew pets were in our lease, we just didn’t feel like explaining it.
My beloved Shorty dog came from a wildlife rehabber who also takes in dogs. He was the last of his litter to be adopted, but I think he was just waiting for me. He was extrememly well cared for and we were assured that had we not come along, he would have lived a wonderful life with her.
I found my best friend half thanks to my brother and half thanks to Petfinder. I had been looking for the right dog, mostly looking at small breeds (chihuahuas, boston terriers and the like) while my brother was volunteering at a boxer rescue. He was telling me about how adorable the boxer pups were, so I logged onto Petfinder and found a furry face with big eyes.
Me: “Omg this dog, she’s adorable”
Bro: “No, look at the puppies”
Me: “Wait, it this dog still at the rescue?”
Bro: “Yeah…she’s there…she’s been there six months.”
Me: “Why has she been there so long?”
Bro: “…because everyone wants a puppy.” (She was 4.5 at the time.)
Me: “Call and see if I can come with you to meet her tomorrow.”
So the next day I went, played with boxer puppies and to meet the diva dog. I was in the middle of moving and transitioning jobs so I couldn’t take her immediately, but I visited frequently with toys and treats. Six weeks after the initial meeting she came home with me and that’s where she’s been for the past 2.5 years!
Tabitha W says
Wow, I feel like the bad guy.
Magoo came from a breeder that lived next door to my parents. I would often go over there to visit the cats and play with them. When I moved out and was looking for a cat I asked her if she had any adults who were done breeding and she said she had a fixed male looking for a home because he was a bully to the other male cats. I met him and fell in love. He was 2 when we got him
Mini we also got from the breeder however her story is a bit sad. She was being attacked by the other females in the home. It was so bad that they had ripped out most of the fur on her sides and also ripped open her stomach at one point. Mini was living in a bathroom by herself and very scared. When we started to look for a playmate for Magoo the breeder offered Mini. She was an angry, growling ball of half fur half skin. She hissed and grrrr-ed, peed everywhere. We eventually gained her trust and now is she a sweet kind cat who is still quite timid.
George came from my former work (a foster home for adolescent girls with abuse and mental health histories). When foster mother retired she was unable to take George our therapy cat with her so I took him home. He is a pure breed tabby (ha ha, just kidding!) and loves belly rubs. He has the most beautiful eyes. We are so lucky to have our fur babies.
Dr. V says
No bad guys here. I love that you took in older pets!
Thanks. I would like to add that we did not pay anything for our cats either. The breeder gave them to us. we love that all the cats were adults. He have decided that we will only take in older cats, just like we only take in older kids!
Jenn D. says
We adopted Tucker through a local rescue group. They bring their adoptable dogs to PetSmart every Saturday, and after spending about 5 minutes with him we filled out the application for him right then and there :-). Amazingly – maybe because I’m a trainer? – there were no holdups or even home visits. We picked him up from his foster home about a week later.
Of course, the rescue group told us he was 6 months old and a lab/beagle mix. Turns out he was closer to 4 months (per our vet) and a lab/greyhound mix. Needless to say, he grew to be much bigger than we expected, but that’s okay. He’s been with us for almost 4 years now and is a wonderful addition to our family.
Jenn D. says
I should have added that I was a bit shocked we were able to adopt so easily. My kids were very young (3 yr and 1 yr) and we didn’t have a fenced-in yard (not a problem for *us* because we wanted a 100% indoor dog). I had heard that these were the kind of things that would get us turned down as an adoptive family. But, like I said above, there were no problems and he joined our family pretty darn quickly.
I found my cat, Alley, at my local shelter. I wasn’t actively looking for a cat at the time. The one we had before her had passed away a few months before of old age, and I wasn’t sure I was ready for another. But I saw Alley on one of those public service ads on TV and knew I needed to go get her. She was 5 years old and had been in the shelter for a couple of months. I went the next morning to meet her and fill out the application, and I brought her home 4 days later after they checked my references, etc.
I found Clyde, the lab, on Petfinder. He was in a shelter 2 hours away. I actually made the drive to look at another black lab (from Petfinder) at that shelter and decided to look at Clyde while I was there. I had faxed my application down the day before made the drive so they could start checking on me, and they said if I decided on one, I would be able to take him home that afternoon. I think I would have chosen to adopt from someplace closer to home if the adoption would have required more than one 4-hour roundtrip. Once I made my decision, Clyde and I were in the car driving home within 10 minutes! Very easy process there (given the fact that I had handled all of the paperwork ahead of time).
My husband and I were looking for a Persian. He googled “Persian Rescue Ohio” and found a rescue down the road from his work! We perused the adoptable pets and made an appointment. We ultimately adopted our two sweet babies from there. This is why I feel it is SO IMPORTANT that rescues/shelters have good, searchable Web sites.
We have 8 cats. (Yes, 8.) My husband bought our oldest cat at a pet shop for his ex-girlfriend. He is, the story goes, the offspring of a barn cat belonging to a friend of the pet shop owner. He’s the only one who wasn’t feral or stray.
We have one cat who was a shy stray on the campus I was working at in North Carolina in 2000, 3 cats who were ferals on the campus I was working at in Nebraska in ’01-’02, one who was a friendly stray we met at a festival we were volunteering at 4 years ago, another friendly stray who turned up on the campus I work at now, and one feral-born but friendly young guy who spent the first 10 months of his life outdoors on campus and is nonetheless turning out to be a great pet.
I volunteer at a shelter (Lollypop Farm in Fairport, NY) but I haven’t adopted a shelter pet in years – I take in cats who would otherwise go to the shelter.
Linda Edwards says
I got my first dog (Airedale) and second dog (Irish Terrier) from responsible hobby breeders after extensive research about breeds and some initial contacts with a couple of local breeders. I found a listing for the Airedale in the classifieds (in the days before Internet) and contacted the breeder for more information, etc. Once a decision was reached, the breeder and I both drove a couple of hours to meet for the puppy exchange. The Irish Terrier is an uncommon breed so I contacted someone with an Irish Terrier organization who gave me some breeder referrals and, after several phone calls and “interviewing” by a breeder and periodic updates on the litter of puppies, I made an overnight trip to meet the breeder to pick up the puppy. My third dog, a Border Collie-Spaniel mix whom I still have, I got as a companion-playmate for my Irish Terrier. I found her listed in the classifieds as a “need to rehome” due to due aggressive behavior toward her by the family’s other dogs — she had been left on the family’s doorstep as a puppy. The owner and I talked by phone and then the Irish and I went out to meet the 7-month-old puppy and see whether it was a good fit. The two dogs hit it off immediately, and the family provided me with immunization information, etc., and we took her home and never had a moment’s regret. The Airedale and the Irish were “heart” dogs for me as I love the terrier personality. When I am ready for another dog, I will be looking for an adult Airedale or Irish from a breed-specific rescue organization.
We got Viva adopted from our local shelter 6 months ago. She is a dog from the Hovawart breed. They have a bad rep in Denmark because most come from puppymills and therefore a lot of Hovawarts around have health and mental issues.
Also Viva had these issues. She got adopted, but the new familiy returned her to the shelter after 3 months.
Me and my wife were not on the look out, but knew things were looking very bad for Viva, thats we decided to visit the shelter and apply for her.
Basically the shelter was so happy, because I am an experienced Hovawart owner, that they let us have Viva the same day.
Viva is doing great, we made remarkable improvements with her health, and also mentally she is getting a lot better.
The “moral” of my story would be, when you have a “difficult” breed, give them to somebody that knows about the breed, even if other things are maybe not 100% perfect.
We got our cat, Henry, through our vet. We had recently lost our last kitty (the last of three) and were not quite ready to think about another; BUT, she called and said the animal hospital had a cat that had been found in a box in a parking lot and the local animal control thought he was so nice she didn’t want to take him to a shelter, so she took him to the local animal hospital. My vet said, “don’t come look at him unless you want a cat, because you’ll want him.” So of couse we have him, he’s 9 now.
Our two dogs are also rescues – both through Pet Finder. Rufus was the first. He’s and American Pit Bull Terrier, most likely full blood. He came through an inner city Human Society that usually destroys all Pit Bulls, but they kept him because he was only 6 months old and was found as a stray and was still on a 14 day hold – we got him 5 days before he was to be put down. Our second dog, Lulu came through Waggin Train Rescue, they pull bully breeds, shepards and other large, difficult to place, but adoptable dogs from the NYC Shelters. Lulu came from the Bronx and is a Pittie Mix (with a lot of other terrier). She had clearly been terrorized, but has bonded well with Rufus and loves the family. She wants desperatley to play with the cat, who will have none of it.
The adoption process with all of them was rather smooth, so long as you know how to fill out paperwork. The first shelter didn’t want to hear that the dog might be crate trained, but just told me to change the application. Waggin Train Rescue was awesome. I had had a previous very BAD experience with a very uppity rescue that rejected an application, wouldn’t say why and told me to never contact them again. (Was it because I work?) Who knows?
I got my best friend Toby from a friend of my sister’s. She has a lot of horses and her barn dog got pregnant by accident (which is why we don’t really know what kind of dog he is…his father is unknown, lol) But of course she had 8 puppies and they were looking for homes. I had wanted to get a puppy for a few years, because who doesn’t love puppies?? But was finally in a house with a good sized backyard and felt i was ready! Plus my sister was all “let’s just go look at them!” needless to say, i fell in love with the little black and brown puppy with 4 white paws and the rest is history 🙂 And actually had i known he was only going to get to be the 55 pounds that he is, i would have gotten 2!
Frosty & Keifer (English Springer Spaniels) came to me thru Mid-Atlantic English Springer Spaniel Rescue that I volunteer with. Frosty was a mere pup when she came to me to foster, she was 4 months old. She came from an “oopsy” litter. Frosty was such a loving, comical and devoted pup and fit so well within my pack, that I ended up adopting her. She is now 3 yrs old! Keifer also came to me as a foster, he was thrown out of his owner’s car at night on a busy highway, but luckily someone saw this and picked him up and took him to a local shelter where he came into MAESSR’s care and I brought him home to foster. Guessing, he was about 13 yrs old. As a Christmas gift to him & myself I adopted him. He was a great ole boy and such a love. Goes to show how loving and grateful seniors are! Sadly though I only had him 7 1/2 months, but that time was priceless. Now he romps happily & waiting for me across the Rainbow Bridge. Meko, my white German Shepherd came from a backyard breeder, try to pick one out when all are white, but she chose me and home she went. Meko is now 8 yrs old and still doing great. Nestle, my 4 yr old English Springer Spaniel & Smoky, my 9 yr old American Cocker Spaniel came to me as pups, from a pet shop, when I was quite ignorant about puppy mills. They are both great, loving dogs! Now I believe in adopt, don’t shop, once I became fully aware of puppy mills. And last but not least, are Chloe & Zoey. Chloe & Zoey are sisters from the same litter, my friend’s cat had. They are now 7 yrs old and wonderful kitties! All of them are wonderful, loving companions! They are my furbabies!!
I bought my two Welsh Terriers from two different breeders, I’ve found a big divide between “Show breeders” and “Backyard Breeders”. I should have seen the clues at the backyard breeder…large litter, over bred young mother dog. It was the puppy thing, she was so cute I over looked the red flags. Yes, I brought her home, she’s sweet and we love her but she’s obviously ADHD with OCD issues. The show breeder off the AKC website was a totally opposite experience. She will take the dog back if at any time in his life we no longer want him…which will be NEVER…he’s our baby. She also likes updates to how he’s doing and he’s almost two now. He’s calm and the complete opposite of his sister. I know dogs have personality quirks, but his sister’s are definitely a result of a bad breeder. We love them both for all their strange habits: chasing flies, obsessed with water, toy obsession, one loves our cows , the other chases them, one loves car rides the other not so much.
In years gone by we purchased two other dogs from breeders, and two were rescued from a pet store window (poor things…they had some issues, but someone had to get them out of there!).
I have 3 kitties that all came rescued pretty much straight from outside. One I decided to get through a friend, after a failed attempt to adopt an adult kitty from the local humane society. Two more came with my boyfriend. First the kitty I had to leave behind at the humane society. I was a college student in an apartment at the time, I went to the humane society and met this wonderful adult black cat that just melted into my lap and heart. They required proof that cats were ok at my apartment, so I actually went and paid the very expensive pet deposit and got the letter that I could have a cat in my apartment and went back the next day to adopt the kitty. Well, I was all the way in the adoption room, filling out the paperwork and they decided they had to call my parents for some reason. Nevermind I was over 18. My mom said no (yes, we had a *discussion* about that later). Anyway, I was heartbroken and this adult, black cat didn’t get a wonderful home due to some stupid rules that they thought I may not be 100% suited to getting an animal. They had no clue how low key my life was (and is) and how much that at would have been loved.
Ok, now on to the happier stories. Shortly after that attempt at getting a cat, a friend of a friend had a litter of kittens that needed homes. That person had been trying to feed and then trap a stray cat in their yard so they could get him/her fixed. Well, before they managed that, she had kittens. They wondered where the cat had gone when they hadn’t seen her for a couple days until we had some torrential rain and flash floods in the area. Well, their garage was open and mamacat brought in all her cats from a little hole in the yard that they found later. I guess they were getting flooded out. The people closed the garage door and cared for mom and kittens. I chose one of those kittens and she is now my black, super fuzzy Natasha. I still keep in touch and share pictures with the people that adopted Natasha’s siblings and mom.
My boyfriend’s cats that now all live more or less happily in one house were also found outside. The siamese-mix calico was found with all her litter mates killed by some evil person. She still has trust issues and is just a little off, but we love her as much as she loves the laps of at least a few chosen people. The huge orange tabby was found by one of my boyfriend’s neighbors trying to eat bugs in a gas station. This neighbor was allergic to cats but couldn’t leave him there so the neighbor let him live in her yard and fed him. My boyfriend then took him in. He’s been enjoying every real food meal since then.
I also have 2 foster cats currently that were found abandoned in a nearby apartment complex.
That’s just the animals I currently have. I also grew up with a few dogs. One of which was hit by a truck in front of my parents on their way to vacation. They stopped and took her to a vet and she lived a good, long 19 years with us after that. I got a puppy that was a somewhat rescue too – she was an accidental breeding and was going to go to a shelter if she didn’t find a home before my Dad brought her home to me.
My two fur babies both came to me as kittens of different mama cats rescued by friends (both mamas are now spayed with forever homes).
I hear you about making the process a bit easier. I don’t get why a lot of shelters do a normal 9-5 type of thing. You’ll get more volunteers on the weekends and evenings. People may be willing to take a lower wage from a shelter if it means they can work a 9-5 job and work at the shelter in the evenings.
My husband adopted The Cat from a rescue. He had a friend who did fostering and he agreed to foster a kitten as she couldn’t take in any more. It was just a random decision that led to him eventually just keeping The Cat (as we affectionately call him) for himself.
How we came to adopt Shiva our mix of everything dog is a longer story. Originally we were looking to get a pure-bred Toller puppy. After looking at many different breeds, we’d decided it would be the best for us and our lifestyle. However, the waiting lists at all the acceptable (by our standards) breeders are years long. Since I really really wanted a dog, like now, I checked out Petfinder. My brother-in-law got his dog from a local shelter and I thought it may be a good place for us, with no long waiting period! After we were pre-approved, I just kept checking the website for a dog that would match what we could handle. When Shiva’s spotted face and skinny little frame appeared on the screen, I knew we would have to get down and meet her. Fortunately, the SPCA was open the next day (Saturday) and we were able to get down there in time before someone else swooped her up.
I will add, while we love Shiva to death and couldn’t imagine life without her, the volunteers at the shelter were incredibly vague about her behavioural issues. They said she would be fine with a cat (she wasn’t, not really) and that her only issue was running through open doors. Open doors proved very quickly to be the least of our problems. With less stubborn owners, and owners with less patient neighbours, Shiva may have been making a return trip to the shelter.
Susan Montgomery says
Over the last 32 years I have had many pets. (I only count the ones since I have been out on my own).
Cats: 5 feral, a litter I trapped in a horse stall and tamed. 8 from barn litters, including our current cat, 13 year old Katana. Two I purchased from breeders. One from a reputable Abyssinian breeder. Loved that cat, he was a real character! One pity purchase from a backyard kitten mill, a sad, undersized Siamese kitten, who only lived a few short days with me before passing. (I knew she wasn’t going to make it, but I had to get her out of that cage.)
Dogs: 2 many years ago from backyard breeders. The dogs were healthy, couldn’t tell you if they were good examples of their breeds. (Cocker Spaniel and GSD) Currently I have Finnegan, an Irish Wolfhound, who we got through the local IW club rescue. Fabulous dog, love the breed. If in the future I think I will have time to show, I may buy from a breeder, but I will be pretty picky about where I get my pup. Until then, my door is open for another rescue, if needed.
Horses: I think I counted up once there are 45+ horses that are now happy, healthy and in good homes because I pulled them from an auction, a meat dealer, or a bad home situation. Currently I have one Freisian/Morgan cross who I got from a dealer in PA (she was on her way to Canada to be slaughtered) one 24 yr old TWH mare whom I bred, trained, showed and will keep for the rest of her days. a SSH gelding from a bad home situation, and two TWH mares I purchased for me.
I have no problem buying from a reputable breeder if I want a specific type or breed of pet. But unless I want to show, crossbreds or ‘mutts’ are often healthier, and more needy of a good home.
My current oldest dog I found with her littermates in the middle of nowhere. Best guess they were ~6wks old. I took the female and left the males with the closest house. A few weeks later I learned that one of the males died and the other two were still there. When I tried to find her a friend from the shelter and local rescue groups I would have to echo the typical issues…these issues led me down the path towards finding a reputable breeder even though I just wanted to find another 50-70 lbs mutt. Shelter hours are very odd. Home visits are a gamble since some people come themselves or they send someone else. They generally make you feel like you are worse than pond scum. They don’t seem to appreciate that you are trying to bring home a companion. If you call them too much you are being pushy. If you don’t call them back then you are unreliable. I don’t have a yard. I would be away from home 8.5 hrs a day. It didn’t matter that I live 1 mile from work or that I have a dog walker come by in the middle of the day. Approaching specific breed rescue groups seemed to be variable also. Some would employ very odd tactics like requiring monthly hair analysis? Some required that you would only feed brand X or scowl if you reported that you feed Y. Others would have an extensive questionaire with situations and summaries that would scare any adult with nightmares about college exams.
I would say that after 8mos of searching I stumbled upon a really nice rescue person who was willing to give me a chance….and I’ve gotten two rescues from her over the last 7 years. I have seen her deal with a huge range of people looking for rescues. I’m not sure how she can ignore all of the people issues and keep saving dogs. She has had people steal dogs, leave bad checks, abandon the dogs, call incessantly and complain about X behaviours or X medical issues. She has a big heart and says that the dogs don’t stomp on hers just some people do.
Yes not everyone is not a perfect 100 but even the perfect 100 match may still not work out. No one can predict the red flags but sometimes when we try to insulate ourselves from all the potential or presumed red flags people will walk away and walk right into pet store. thank you for bringing this topic up.
Barbara and Daisy says
All my previous dogs were from the SPCA, adopted as adults. When Jessie died, I went to the SPCA again, but all the dogs they had were larger breeds and my mobility has deteriorated with age. I’m also finding that the atmosphere at this SPCA has changed and it’s not a place that seems to welcome people. I then checked out rescue groups through the internet and contacted the two closest to me. I’m most impressed with Furever After (http://www.fureverafter.net/) which is all volunteer. These folks do a great job of screening without making it burdensome for the potential “adopt-er”. They did a great job of matching me with Daisy who has lived with me for two years, after spending the first 8 yrs as a breeder dog in a puppy mill.
Annette Frey says
Lambchop was transferred to the husband on the street after a couple of kids’ mother found out he was locked in a room, banging his head on the wall and told them to get him out.
Starr came several months after Lambchop died (of old age) when a friend on the board at a shelter 3 hours away relentlessly sent me her photos and stories because she “knew” she was my dog. I resisted her e-mails for a bit…..
…..before we got to the shelter, Ana warned me she was afraid of new people so not to take it personally. When Ana opened the door, I knelt down to let Starr sniff me, she came right over to me, put her paws on my chest, knocked me back to the ground, stood on my chest and wouldn’t stop kissing me (I have the video!). Ana was shocked. But Lambchop used to do that to me so I guess he came along for the ride and gave his stamp of approval!
Our 2 older cats, Amy and Luna, we got from adoption day at Petsmart when they were 8 & 10 weeks. They are not littermates, but get along well enough (ie, the ignore each other). We couldn’t choose between the 2 so we got both!
Our 2 white cats, Sugar and Loki, their mom adopted us 2 days after we moved into our new home (she did not belong to the previous owners). We took her in, and she thanked us by having a litter. We were going to keep mom (Grace) and find homes for all the kittens, but Grace needed to be the only cat in a house. We found homes for her and 2 of her kittens. Sugar adopted me. As soon as she learned to walk, she crawled into my lap, looked into my eyes, and fell asleep. How could I not keep her? Loki is a rare boy, so we had to keep him. He’s all white, one blue eye and one yellow (so, genetically, he really should be a girl) and can hear and see perfectly.
Spice belonged to my in-laws neighbors, who lost their home. They’d had a pit bull who liked to chase cats, not for fun, but to kill, so Spice was a bit traumatized. My in-laws tried to take her, but they also have dogs (albeit very small ones) so all she ever did was hide. She’s been here a month, and has opened up a lot. There is a bit of hissing in the household, but, given time, I think she’ll settle down and fit in quite nicely.
Megan Haskins says
The first dog we had I bought at a yard sale for $50.00. An AKC registered pekingese. Well no one warned me dogs are like chips and you can’t have just one! Over the years I’ve acquired many more. All rescues, mostly from people I know who can no longer care for their fur children and they need a new home. Some from what I would consider borderline abusive, one was blatant abuse and she came to me that night. I got two of my pugs from Pug Partners Nebraska which is a fantastic organization that I would recommend to anyone.
I have two cats that I’ve had most of their lives. My oldest is 16 this year and I’ve had her since she was about 2. She was adopted by my sister (who is a horrible pet owner whose pets have a 2-4 year lifespan most of the time) but wouldn’t eat or come out from under the bed for 2 weeks. She asked me if I wanted her, and it was love at first sight 🙂
My second cat is 11 and I’ve had her since she was 9 weeks old. She was born feral. I found her in the possession of an animal ‘rescuer’ who was extremely overwhelmed with 54 cats and whose behavior really classifies more as hoarding, I fear. I did not want another cat, but this one just kept grabbing at me while I waited for a friend to choose a new kitten. Mine was the only still-healthy kitten in the entire house and I took her (and paid for her) only because I feared I was her only chance. It turns out I was correct, as the woman’s house burned to the ground 2 weeks later and any kittens that hadn’t already died were killed in the fire. It was really dreadful! I always say Miss Emma has used up at least 6 of her nine lives 🙂 She’s been quite a challenge, but she’s my girl and always will be.
I consider both cats ‘rescued,’ because of the difficult circumstances they came from 🙂
My first cat (after moving out on my own) came via a friend who couldn’t keep her due to her sister’s ‘allergies’. Diesel was originally adopted from North Shore Animal League at 5 months old. She’s still with me 21 years later, deaf and going blind but happy as a clam!
I personally adopted a pair of 2.5 month olds, Ako & Tetsuo, from North Shore to be playmates for Diesel. Wasn’t impressed with North Shore to be honest. I had to take both kittens even tho I only wanted the one. They also made us wait 3 months before they spayed Diesel until their records showed she was 5 months old even tho she was in heat!
Moogie came to me from the street, approx 2yrs old, with a scraped chin and broken tooth. Either she was tossed or fell out a window. No one claimed her so she stayed.
I admit to buying Flinx from a store that sold purebred cats from hobby breeders. He was an ‘oops’, maine coon mother but unknown persian or coon father. It was honest-to-goodness love at first sight and he was my heart companion until his passing at 16. I still cry for him.
Flinx made me fall in love with the maine coon breed (I grew up with siamese) and I ended up getting a show bred girl, Ashura, and we showed for 2 years. In the end, neither of us cared for it so we quit.
Lastly came the twins, Belle and Calamity, silver tabby DSH kitties. They literally walked into my apartment and stayed. They belonged to a neighbor who put them outside to play unsupervised, at 2 months old! They had gotten them from a man with kittens in a cardboard box. They both had upper respiratory infections and Belle had an eye infection. I offered to keep them until they were healthy since I had more experience giving meds and applying eye cream but when I went to give an update to the family, I found they’d skipped out and were gone. Belle has passed but Calamity is with me still at 16yrs old, hyperthyroid and going deaf. (She’s sleeping with her head on the keyboard.)
I am looking for another cat, preparing for the inevitable considering the ages of my two. What surprises me is that while I’m firm about wanting an older cat (I’m talking 6-8-10+ years, not 2-3!) and my willingness to take an ‘imperfect’ cat, even to taking an FIV+, no one is jumping at the chance to place with me.
Aside from my cats which I just posted about, I also worked for a number of years with ferret rescue, adopting from and fostering for existing shelters. The only ferret that came directly to me came via a referral from the local humane society. They aren’t set up to take in ferrets so they gave my number to a woman who was turning in her son’s ferret. It’d been bought for the boy as a consolation gift after the parents divorced. The boy lost interest after a while and the ferret had to go. What showed up at my house was the only obese ferret I have ever seen! So fat he didn’t walk. Sam was also the funniest, sweetest, most ticklish ferrets I had. I got him trimmed down and healthy and loved his little giggly heart.
Shelley @ Green Eggs & Hamlet says
As a child, we had two dogs (one at my mom’s house, another at my dad’s). Mom’s house dog was a female black lab/greyhound mix and was adopted through an ad in the newspaper (“free to a good home”). Dad’s house dog was a male purebred yellow lab purchased from a breeder.
As an adult, I decided that I wanted to rescue a dog and didn’t want to purchase from a breeder. My boyfriend and I knew we wanted a Boston Terrier so researched BT rescue groups online and settled with MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue. We adopted Hamlet in July 2009 and have lived happily ever after.
I would love to help in any way I can with your efforts; this is such an important part of animal welfare.
Tiffany S says
My 13 year-old cat came from a pet store. I was 9 and didn’t know about pet stores yet and neither did my parents. Of course, I can’t possibly regret it though because my cat is wonderful and I’m so blessed to have him in my life.
My dog came from my in-laws, who got him from a shelter. They had been trying to re-home him for some time, and they knew how much I loved him so I brought him to live with me (and my husband) when I moved into an apartment. I would have taken him sooner, but I lived in a different state and in a dorm room, so I wasn’t able to.
We’re probably going to take another dog from my in-laws as well, as soon as we can afford a third pet. Otherwise, I plan on adopting from shelters in the future.
All three of our animals came to us different ways. My first cat, Earl, was a stray…I was on my way to my boyfriend’s house when a kitten ran across the road, and I stopped because he was too young to be on his own. Cutest little guy I’d ever seen, he’s still ruler of the roost. When we moved into our house we wanted to get a dog, and my husband wanted a basset hound so we worked with a couple of basset rescue groups to try and find one. I don’t remember exactly why we never adopted one, I think we were approved…maybe we just never found one that fit with us. In any case, a cousin’s beagle was impregnated by a neighborhood dog, and we ended up adopting the runt of the litter. She’s been a handful! Our other cat was adopted from an area shelter who was showcasing their animals at our local PetSmart. We weren’t really going in to GET a cat, but I was all set to beg my husband for one of the older kitties when they brought a kitten in that someone had spoken for but never came back and got, and he was the spitting image of my cat growing up so it was love at first sight.
Obviously the stray is the easiest to adopt, if you find one, but you never know what you’re going to get. Local shelters tend to have standards but they aren’t usually ridiculously hard to meet. Rescue groups are probably the most difficult to work with because they have very high standards, plus the COST of adopting one of those animals is usually significantly higher than a shelter.
First cat was part of an accidental litter. The woman whose cat had kittens took them to the county shelter and dropped them off. Fifteen minutes later, she came back and reclaimed them – she just couldn’t leave them there to an uncertain fate – and found all of them homes herself. I got the least adoptable one! 🙂 She was a handful always but was the love of my young years. I used to run into that woman for a few years after I adopted Gandy and she still worried about whether they wound up in good homes.
First dog was adopted by my husband and his daughter from a city pound and after a very rough start with health problems, he went on to live a long and very happy life.
Cats we have now were found in a field by a local large animal vet who would do some TNR and also adopt out some. We were associated with a student who worked with her and so heard she had a couple of kittens available for adoption. I was looking to adopt two cats at once.
Our tortie was offered up “for free” by somebody in a park I think, also adopted by my husband’s daughter on impulse by her grandmother.
Dog we have now was offered up “for free” as a puppy on Craig’s List because of a family break-up and the local rescue organization, YCSPCA, asked to take him so he would find a good home instead of just any home. We were looking for a new dog to adopt and were perusing the rescue’s adoption list. Although he had no known health issues at the time, he did have some behavioral ones that made him fall down the list of adoptable dogs. We are members of the rescue organization so they knew us fairly well and knew the kind of care we would provide.
All pets in our house are or were neutered. No accidental or intentional litters. I wish more people would stop producing puppies and kittens and go out and adopt some of the ones already in the world.
Gut instinct combined with luck brought me to my 3 adopted rescues. 1 was from a veterinarian who found an abandoned kitten on his doorstep; 1 from a local animal rescue; and the 3rd, from my work at a veterinarian’s office after a complicated set of circumstances brought us together. I would’ve gone to a humane society or a rescue organization for each of my 3 had I planned ahead to actually adopt them. That’s where the “gut instinct” kicked in and they adopted me…
I have 2 shelter cats & a shelter dog. My 3rd cat was an “unplanned” adoption (he was abandoned by the neighbors at the beginning of winter, so I took him in).
The Pupper came eight years ago from the local SPCA. The adoption was pretty easy; they did ask if we rented or owned, and about not leaving the dog in the backyard, etc., but it wasn’t overly long or punitive. No home visit, either, which was a good thing, since there was a hole in the gate (which the Pupper never took advantage of; she is quite the homebody). They did a follow-up call a few weeks later, and when the Pupper showed fear-aggressive behavior, the SPCA trainer gave us some advice (must say that he did not have the best people skills). We were newbie dog owners, and having someone check back with us, and being able to call somebody about problems was very reassuring.
After adopting the Pupper, I wanted to give back and ended up volunteering at our local city shelter, where we got Mr. Kitty. Despite being a handsome orange tabby who was friendly and playful, he had been there for five months because a) he was not a kitten; b) he developed a ‘rodent ulcer’ which was unsightly (the local city shelter doesn’t have money for anything but the most severe medical emergencies). After adoption, he got a shot (cortisone?) and has been quite healthy since. We don’t know how old he was; the vet guesses 8 or 10 years old. I love having an older cat; the thought of the indoor energies of a younger one wears me out.
I think we will get our next dog from a foster situation. I’d like to train our next dog for therapy work, and it’s so hard to judge a dog’s true personality in the stress of a shelter. I’d love to have a therapy cat as well, but not quite sure how one goes about finding one.
I have to absolutely agree with the marketing the shelter like a business. I’m a civil servant, but I work two evenings a week and alternate Saturdays. I think its terrible that our local shelter is open no evenings. They can’t even take credit cards.
Both of my fur kids, my cat Bo and my dog Jessie were rescue kids. Bo picked me out at a PetSmart adoption event. I found Jessie on Petfinder.com, read her story (she’s a toy poodle and was a puppy mill mom), went to meet her and knew she was the one.
I agree with what you wrote above about some rescues/shelters making it nearly impossible to adopt a pet. The majority of adoption groups require potential owners to have a fenced yard. I don’t happen to have a fence, but that by no means implies I wouldn’t be a good pet parent. I’ve had several people tell me they had the same experience and left without a pet, and were frustrated by the whole experience.
I adopted my cat Harry from a local shelter. Even though there are two shelters that are close to where I live, I usually always go to one in particular (not naming names) because the staff is warm, incredibly friendly, and they are very enthusiastic about getting the animals in their care adopted. The other shelter is very cold and impersonal and, on the one time I thought about adopting a cat from that shelter, they pretty much asked for everything short of a blood and urine sample. I understand being careful and wanting to find a right match, but they kind of take it to the extreme.
Anyway, Gracie Lynn was about to be surrendered to a shelter but I scooped her up before she made it there. Prudence a breeder that was close to a puppy mill. Though pro-shelter, I had been keeping an eye on the two local shelters (and another that was 2 hours away) to see if any small breed dogs came up for adoption (I was given a weight restriction by my landlord) but I either struck out or they smaller dogs were scooped up before I heard of their arrival (something that also happens a lot in my area). A coworker of my mother’s suggested the breeder that we got Pru from and of course they didn’t mention the complete sketch factor. If I had known about Petfinder back then I would have most likely checked it out.. but hey.. I have Prudence.
1. I got my little lover boy Chi Chi, from Coast to Coast Dauchund (sp?) Rescue and he was 6 years old, His owner had died and I was looking for a house trained little man that would get along with my 3 cats. He did and taught me alot about love before he died 6 years later. He had been injured in one of the “rescue homes” and was unable to close his jaw so he “tounged” everything including the floor, cats, me, the walls..! Alot of paperwork and a home visit but wonderful people and it worked out very well for all.
2. Brownie, seal point siamese came from the local shelter. the forms were simple and I had made sure that my vet know that I was out “looking” and could expect a call. Brownie and I are now registered Pet Partners thru the Delta Society. Love in brown fur!
3. Olivia-de-purrs-a-lot, Lynx Point Siamese, came from Siamese Rescue. Alot of forms and a long phone interview but well worth the investment of time and energy. She is very shy but pure sweetness.
4. Scooter, blue point wedge head siamese is my only “breeder cat”. I saw her mother at a cat show and against everything that I thought before, went and saw her at home. she was a 2 year old “retired breeder”. was told that she had had only 2 litters but later found her paperwork from the orginal vet said she had had 6 and only 2 kittens lived. I got her after a horrific spay and infection. she had NO idea as to how to play and just be a cat. I had her 3 years before she developed kidney renal failure. She is now going on 2 years of sub-q fluids and full of life and love. she has made up for those years of “working” and is the love of my life.
Love comes from all places, I just have to be open to it.
My current three cats are all from shelters. I say current because my first cat (Oscar) has, we assume, died since he never came back from an outting. Oscar was brought home by my then-boyfriend, a cat lover. One of his coworker’s cat had a litter, and he kept bringing Oscar to the office to hang out. Then-bf fell in love and voila, we had a furkid. I have to admit I was not crazy about the idea because i had always considered myself a dog lover. Well, it didn’t take too long until i wanted to add another cat to keep Oscar company. We went to a local Petco where a rescue org was hosting adoption day. Penny, my crazy torbie, picked me by walking up to me from her corner of the cage as soon as we locked eyes. The other two furkids came by the way of the hubby. He initiated the adoption! I volunteered at a local cat shelter doing meds, and became familiar with the residents, and always went home pining for one or another, but he never agreed to add to our feline population of one. But one day, he said “I think we need another cat.” So we went to the shelter, he looked around and played with all the cats, but we thought it would be best to get a kitten because we wanted to get Penny to be more active. So off he went to the kitten room where he found one he liked. The adoption counselor then got him to agree to another cat because one kitten and an older cat would not work out too well. He reluctantly agreed and we found another kitten. That was one of the happiest days of my life. Not because my husband is the one who actually opened up his heart and our home to two new furkids, but because we got to provide a loving home to them.
Eric Goebelbecker Goebelbecker says
Thnaks for continuing the conversation on this subject, and clearing/reinforcing a few things. My blog is going to be pretty low volume for the next few weeks and it’s good to see this get more coverage.
In the past 2 weeks I have spoken to three different families that had similar, in 2 cases worse, experiences to what you had with the Frenchie. It’s tough to reconcile the difficulty in adopting with the constant cries for help sometimes.
We’re the bad guys. We got Henry, our Wheaten Terrier, from a… pet store. (I thought really hard about whether or not to post a comment – and hope the “no flaming” warning holds.)
Mommy grew up with dogs – all of whom came from North Shore Animal League, so she knew the benefits of adoption. She had also heard about the horrors of puppy mills and pet shop puppies, so she did ask the pet store where there animals came from – and they assured her they were from reputable breeders that they had close ties to. (This was probably a big lie, seeing as Henry’s papers say he was born 1,500 miles away – not only does she not see how there is much of a “personal relationship,” we do not know of many reputable breeders who would ship puppies to pet stores so far away, without knowing anything about the home they were going to.) Mommy is horrified at her ignorance – Henry is an AMAZING dog and we do love him as a member of our family, but his nickname is “lemon dog” for a reason. He racked up over $3,000 in vet bills for the first 6 months he lived with us. He is healthy now, but he had multiple parasites and there was something wrong with his esophagus, so he had trouble eating without throwing up. Daddy complained to the store where we got him and they offered a 10% discount for life on food/toys/etc, but we do not give them our business.
The reason Mommy and Daddy went to a store instead of a rescue to begin with was that Daddy has allergies. The Wheaten rescue groups that Mommy had found didn’t have much background information on many of their dogs, so there was concern that a so-called “Wheatable” (Wheaten mix) would cause more of an allergic reaction. It’s important to us that Daddy be able to breathe, so we wanted a pure breed that he could interact with to be sure he’d be okay.
Helen Woodward Animal Center says
We’re so glad you came to visit, Dr. V. Thank you for waking up and consciously making a decision to help animals! You’re welcome out here any time. I’m glad you finally got that drink. 😉
P.S. I came by my kitty at a local organization. His name is Moby. He’s a black cat with a plethora of health issues, but he has a winning personality I wouldn’t trade for a million bucks!
I found my 2 kitties on Petfinder. I knew what I wanted: 2 cats who already knew each other & were between 2-5 years old. I figured that it’d be easier to find them online than going to the shelter. It took a couple weeks & a couple false starts, but I found the perfect cats. They were being fostered by Kitten Rescue & I’ve become a big supporter of theirs ever since.
We adopted our Schnauzer mix and Yorkie mix at an event called “Petapalooza” in Tampa. We went because several of the dogs I had been looking at on Petfinder were going to be there. We noticed Ziggy (yorkie) first and had taken him outside and really liked him. I looked down and saw Shadow in a cage and melted. The rescue group (unnamed because they are more like hoarders) gave us both dogs for the price of one. No checking or anything. They told us they were 2 and 3 years old. We got them on Sunday and I was at the vet on Wednesday. Both of them were infested with fleas and my vet said Ziggy had had them for months. Poor babies are all fixed now. Oh, when I registered the microchips it turns out they were 8 and 9 years old. The sponser of the event offered to get our money back but no way would I let any dog go back to that rescue group. I even offered to make calls for the group to the microchip companies but never heard from them. Watch out for this kind of group, or rescue more to get the dogs out of that kind of situation!!