Ethical Pet Adoption versus Saving a Life
This article asks the question whether it is ethical for a person to adopt a companion animal, who is on death row at a shelter, to then advertise the animal on Craigslist as a freebie, without the shelter being involved. This happened and it enraged the world of animal advocates.
The woman who adopted this dog (the Craigslist add was finally taken down April 17) stated she knew what she was doing (saving the dog’s life?) – she wasn’t trying to endanger the dog. She considers her critics as childish. However, this is one of those topics where a lot of variables come into play.
I wanted to do this story because it could concern a dog or a cat. The case in point is happening in upstate South Carolina at this time. I won’t name names because I don’t want to defame anyone’s character, even though this person is doing that quite well on her own. The case concerns a dog rescued in the nick of time from death row. A kind animal lover paid the fee so the adopter didn’t have to pay a penny out of pocket.
Almost immediately after taking the dog from the shelter under the premise of “adoption”, the dog ended up on Craigslist as a “freebie.” The person placing the add said a vet reference would be required before handing over the dog.
This has started an all-out war as to what’s right and wrong. For one thing, Craigslist is a very dangerous place to advertise a free pet. The vet reference clause is a good one. It’s what any reputable rescue would do. Rescues, however, are more strict on who they place a cherished animal with, and usually have stipulations. Most rescue’s have the legal right in writing to come to the home to check on the adopted pet, and the authority to remove it, should the home turn out to be a less than safe place. Rescues also usually ask that the adopter return the pet to them if they’re no longer able to keep it.
Animal lovers who are acting out of concern believe the shelter this dog was adopted from should step in and take back this dog. There are several reasons, including that it hurts a rescue when someone gives away a pet without charging a rehoming fee. Many pets have to undergo expensive medical treatment to be healthy enough for adoption. The fee never covers the amount spent on the cat or dog, but it does help in preventing abusers getting their hands on a free pet. To do what this person is doing is like a slap in the face to legitimate rescues.
It’s tricky to say the shelter should be able to step in and take back the animal. I know my hometown shelter used to require a contract be signed saying the shelter could visit the home at any time and had the legal right to remove the animal, should the adopter not follow their rules. I recall one rule on cats was they had to be kept indoors at all times. I’m not sure whether shelter’s still require this type of contract or not. Should a shelter have this much control over an animal no longer in their care? Where is the line crossed between animal welfare and returning a pet to the shelter against the wishes of the new owner?
The fact that a life was saved also comes into play. This dog now has the chance for a happy life, IF and only IF the person running the ad on Craigslist is very careful about who she adopts the dog out to. On the other hand, this dog may have bonded with her, whether or not she feels the same way about the dog. A few people have stated the dog was better off in the shelter than with this woman. They’ve most likely contacted the shelter asking this woman be removed from their rescue/adoption list.
What do the readers think? Should a shelter have the right to demand back an adopted animal? Please leave a comment below.
Original photo by Mendocino County Animal Care Services