Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Adoption Blues

(Picture Left: Diamond. Loving, loyal and well behaved dog (even good with cats!). Returned from Adoption for failing to perform an impossible "job.")

The past few days continue to be frustrating.

Very few calls. And those we have been getting are almost all pleas for help:

Neglected cats and kittens in a store. Senior citizens who cannot care for their 7-year-old Pitbull anymore. A family moving to a place they cannot bring the family cats. These are just a few of the calls.

In every case, the people tell me they have called numerous no kill rescues and shelters and cannot get any help.

Unfortunately, I can't offer help either as we cannot place the animals we already have and I have no fosters to put any more dogs or cats into.

Currently, we have nine dogs in boarding.

Of the nine dogs, all but one have been returned from either foster or adoption.

Three dogs have now been in boarding almost a year.

I am extremely worried and distressed over this situation.

It makes me question our own adoption and foster contracts.

Like most reputable shelters and rescues, we guarantee that we will always take back an animal if an adoption or foster placement does not work out.

But, some people abuse that guarantee.

In recent months we have had dogs returned within a day or two of an adoption for things as minor as chasing a cat, or pulling on a leash.

If one imagines the dog returned for leash pulling was a powerful 100 lb Rottie or Pitbull, the reality is that the dog was a 27 lb Lhasa Apso.

Yes, before he finally found his forever home (two weeks ago) after being rescued three months before, our perfect and lovable Tiki had been formerly adopted and returned within 3 days for leash-pulling.

But, probably the craziest reason for a return was the woman who adopted Diamond (a lovable and wonderfully behaved Hound/Shepherd mix) to us three days following the adoption because the woman claimed she "wasn't really ready" for a dog.

Diamond had been perfect in the home. Good with the young woman's cat. Totally housebroken, quiet and loving.

But, the truth was, the woman adopted Diamond to try and fill an emotional void that was left after her Mother recently died.

In other words, Diamond had a job to do.

Unfortunately, a dog cannot "replace" a parent who dies, a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend who rejects or abandons or even another pet who has passed on.

People don't always tell us the more complex motivations for their decision to adopt a dog or cat.

We tend to learn these things when they return the animal a few days after an adoption.

Other "complications?"

Everyone in the household not being on the same page regarding the adoption.

In those cases where it is primarily the husband or wife who wants a dog and the partner is just tacitly going along, it usually doesn't work over the long (or even short) haul. Nor, does it work when it is primarily the "kids who want a dog." I always tell the parents in these situations that THEY have to want the dog because it is THEY who will end up with all the care of the animal, regardless of what their kids "promise" or don't promise. One simply cannot depend upon or dump on children, adult responsibilities.

But, no matter how careful one is in doing adoption screenings, there are the inevitable returns.

Some people presume that with the rescue group or shelter accepting responsibility for what ultimately happens to the animal, they (the adopters) don't have to accept any.

Not even that of giving an adoption more than 2 or 3 days to work itself out. -- PCA


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