Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Vent Session: Animal Adoptions

As most of you know, I volunteer my Saturday afternoons as an Adoption Counselor at Atlanta Pet Rescue & Adoption. I work with potential adopters to fit them with the right dog for their lifestyle and family, or in some cases, I send them home without a dog if I see they are unfit owners. While I absolutely hate having to deny certain people, I do it knowing I have the dogs' best interest at heart.

I also volunteer my time as the admin for Atlanta Pet Rescue's Facebook fan page. In the past two days, I have had to share two very sad circumstances with two animals who were, in one way or another, abused or neglected. While it is hard to write about these situations, it helps to educate people on why we can be categorized as "strict" when it comes to adopting from us.

I have a number of families with small children who come to the shelter to look to adopt a small dog because they are considered "cute." Yes, Chihuahuas and Toy Poodles are very cute, but they are also very fragile. So your three year old child who cannot be disciplined is practically a death wish for any of these tiny dogs.

Point in case:
We currently have a 4 month old Toy Poodle named Roscoe at the shelter who was surrendered by his previous owners who had purchased him (either from a breeder or pet store, this information is unknown) for their small children to have as a pet. Unfortunately, one of their kids dropped poor Roscoe, which caused his front leg to break at the ankle. We did not get Roscoe in our possession until 10 days after the incident, and the only option we now have to help him is to amputate his front leg.

Roscoe in pain with a broken front leg
 This is one of the many cases we have had to deal with because of ignorant people who buy a dog because they think it's cute, yet when something tragic happens as a result of their own negligence, they magically don't have the money or time to treat the dog and get it healthy and safe. So yes potential adopter with a really well behaved kid - I understand your child is a good kid, but that does not mean that their friends will act this way when they come to the house or that an accident won't happen at the dog's expense while you aren't monitoring play time with little Fido.

We had two (now one) adorable 1 year old Maltipoo males who came from a puppy mill situation. These two dogs were unsocialized and very shy. Over time, they have learned to trust humans through the examples set by other dogs at the shelter. While they have come a long way since their initial intake, the only way to set them up for success and continue with their progress is to go to a home without small children and also with another dog. It is nothing against people with young kids or who only want to have one dog, but rather it is what we feel is best for this dog to thrive and have a happy life. I can't tell you how many people I have had to tell they cannot adopt these dogs because they don't fit the qualifications.

While most people do understand, I did have one woman who kept telling me that she had saved all of her money to adopt one of the Maltipoos from us. When I told her that because she doesn't have another dog she would not be the right home for him, she decided to tell me that her sister has a dog. Clearly, she didn't get it. She then tried to persuade me that she would give the dog so much love that he would be happy. Loving an animal is great, but there are other needs for these pups that she could not provide. She then tried to ask me about adopting two dogs, which I asked her how she was able to afford two since she had only saved up for one? Busted! The next question almost made me laugh - she asked me how much it would cost for her to go to a breeder and purchase a Maltipoo. I love when people ask rescue groups about buying dogs from breeders. We wouldn't be in this industry if it weren't for the overpopulation of dogs and cats made possible by irresponsible breeders and puppy mills who are in the business just to make a quick buck. Of course there are reputable breeders who are doing it to better the breed. When I told the woman who only had enough money to adopt one dog from us at $275 that a breeder would charge close to $2,000 for a Maltipoo, I thought she was going to faint. Needless to say, she left without a dog.

I always try my best to educate people on why we are saying no to a specific dog that doesn't fit their current lifestyle, and instead recommend a dog that would fit in seamlessly and set them up for success. I will continue to do what is in the best interest of the dogs since they don't have a voice of their own. I just wish people would be logical and understand where APRA and I am coming from.

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