Do you think animal shelters are too picky with potential adopters?

I never imagined it. I thought that volunteers and staff workers at animal shelters chose potential adopters wisely but straightforwardly. I thought they ticked all the boxes and just got on with the job. Apparently this is not the case.

Vera Lawlor writing on the website states that she has heard from numerous people who were disappointed with their experience when trying to adopt from an animal shelter. Potential adopters have become frustrated at being denied the chance to adopt an animal because they are not a perfect fit.

It would seem that shelter staff have in the past become too critical, too demanding of potential adopters. As a consequence animals remain in shelters longer which makes them less adoptable and exposed for longer to the potential of illness and stress. Vera even says that shelter clients have experienced rudeness from shelter staff and, in addition, not received a response to emails.

I wonder whether this attitude comes from the individuals, volunteers and paid staffers, who work at shelters or whether it is a culture at shelters generated by management. Perhaps also being surrounded by the difficult task of looking after unwanted cats and dogs and seeing some unpleasant sights and listening to unpleasant stories that people working at shelters become hardened to irresponsible companion animal ownership and therefore become too critical of people who want to be pet owners.

As a consequence I now understand what an open adoption policy means. It means that shelters are more open to the less than perfect adopter who has arrived at their shelter because of a commitment to adopt a shelter animal which should be respected.

In addition to being more amenable to potential adopters the open adoption policy is meant to incorporate the education of potential adopters rather than being judgemental of them. The idea is to build a partnership with shelter clients so once they return home with their adopted cat or dog there is still a connection between them and the shelter which promotes successful adoptions. Call it aftercare.

The concept of “open adoption policies” has led, in part, to a 45% reduction in the euthanasia of animals in shelters over the period 2011 to 2016. We can see that it is a successful concept.

I wonder whether any visitor to this website, on reading this page, has experienced rudeness or an obstructive approach by shelter staff when trying to adopt a cat or dog.

P.S. I have also used the as a source.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

6 thoughts on “Do you think animal shelters are too picky with potential adopters?”

  1. Michael, I’ve been seeing comments for years about how adoption places made it hard for people to adopt animals. Almost as if they don’t want to give up “their” animals.

    I had to fill out an onerous and lengthy application form for Tootsie, provided by the rescue place. I also had to agree to a “home visit” to inspect my place. That never happened, thankfully. I don’t know how often they actually follow through- maybe that’s just there to scare people off. Or, I got off easy b/c I offered up my “credentials” as a cat blogger, as I then was.

    And, when I finally went to adopt Tootsie from “Fancy Felines”….

    I’m copying a rant from a flickr post:
    As I have related before, Ms. Cat has only recently ventured outdoors. She’s been really well behaved during the adventure. Previously she would bolt upstairs whenever I opened the patio door. I know it’s probably safer to have a cat completely indoors.

    Plus, when I adopted her 2 years ago (she’s 8 now), I had to sign papers saying I would keep her as an indoor cat. However, after all the paperwork was done, and I was ready to take Ms. Cat home, the adoption person said, “oh, by the way, we didn’t actually test her for FeLV/ FIV, because she’s always been an indoor cat.” Which was NOT what was said on the petfinder ad online.

    The adoption person added “but when you have her tested by the vet, if it turns out that she is positive, we will take her back.” I can’t tell you how gobsmacked I was. Uh, totally pissed off. Like I would just return her as if she were a faulty lampshade?

    Well, Tootsie’s not FeLV/ FIV positive. But, I figure that the rescue agency’s contract had no merit, given the lie in the ad they placed. So, Ms. Cat gets to go outdoors. Very occasionally, and under my strict supervision.

    And, sorry for the rant, but I guess it’s been brewing in my subconscious for a while. *g*

    1. There is a lot of discussion on this. There are stories of rescue centers having massively successful adoption days as soon as they loosen their adoption standards which begs the question why not do it all the time. I think the shelter people lose sight of the context: a cat will die unless adopted therefore it is better to take a small risk and adopt out to someone who might not look perfect. I might do something on this today.

  2. Absolutely! We were rejected by 3 different organizations…here were their reasons:
    1. We have a cat
    2. We have two children (8 & 13)
    3. The organization asked for a DMV report…to see if we owned a truck.
    4. Organization wanted to make 3 separate home visits.
    My family lives on an Air Force Base, there was no way my husband was going to vouch for a total stranger coming on the federal land.
    It was so frustrating, all we wanted was a dog to spoil. We homeschool are children, so basically, the time the dog would be left alone would be minimal. And did I mention my parents live 2 doors down from us?!

    Our cat has been with us for 8years & is use to dogs & basically keeps to herself. My son and I did a mission trip to Costa Rica last summer working with animal rescue…we entered up finding a dog, less than 3lbs, missing half his hair, wondering down a busy street in La Fortuna. He spent 5 days at the vet in Costa Rica before we could bring him home. Costa Rica does not have rabies so there is no quarantine period. We named him Tito and literally nurse him back from the brink of death.

    He has brought so much joy into our family. Last month, when we had him neutered, I brought him home, fed him turkey jerky by hand while he laid next to me on a heating pad on my bed. My point being….seriously, my family rejected? My sister said, “It’d be easier to adopt a Chinese baby!” Unfortunately, I’d have to agree with her.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Alysa. You dog is very lucky to have been rescued by you. What you say is almost shocking. I don’t understand the mentality of these rescue organisations.

  3. Okay now about the rudeness and obstructing, yes & yes. Almost every time I’ve gone to the local shelter here in California, I have encountered this. I’ve had poor interactions with them going back over 20 years. I think it’s a culture passed on from the veteran management to the staff. Maybe not right away else they sour them too quickly and spook. I have talked to staff at the counter who were pleasant, which also spooked me because I wasn’t expecting that. Once they sour though, it gets pretty bad. Here anyway. The first rotten encounter I had with this shelter was a long time ago when I brought them a stray. I mentioned he accidentally broke the skin to which they announced they’d kill him. I protested and they only got indignant about it. I proffered a solution which I was sure would satisfy them, I’d adopt him to which, you guessed it, they refused! I argued so long and hard about that that they relented and “Danny” became my first bromance with a cat. We had a great life together but I’ll never forget those people. They don’t want to learn either because I reported back to them that he turned out great but they didn’t care. And yes, Danny’s eyes looked outward (so funny).

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