Thursday, May 6, 2010

Even Before the Ink is Dry

(Picture Left: "Sugarbear." Despite having inspired dozens of Adoption calls, I have just removed Sugarbear from Adoption Sites. Hopefully, his adoption is pending and/or already in motion.)

I have often wondered, in recent months, where all the good adopters have gone?

There might be an answer now.

They are simply waiting for that perfect, tiny, young, beautiful, healthy, purebred, and affectionate "magazine cover dog."

Last week, a former adopter and friend rescued (and is fostering) an adorable (neutered) Pomeranian from a home where he was no longer wanted and banished to a yard.

Barbara requested help from me in finding the little dog a great home.

"Bobby" (now named, "Sugarbear") is a super cute, 9 lb, 2-year-old, purebred Pom who resembles a stuffed toy. Indeed he is handsome enough to appear on a Dog Fancy magazine cover!

But, not only is Sugarbear adorable, he also has a personality to match. Wonderful and affectionate little dog who loves being picked up and held and is great around other dogs and people.

I took pictures of Sugarbear when Barbara and I took him to my vet for an exam and shots earlier in the week.

I then posted them to Petfinders and Adopt-A-Pet along with a bio on the dog.

In the last few days, I have been swamped with dozens of calls to adopt Sugarbear, at least a few of which have been qualified in terms of meeting the criteria we have to adopt the little dog. (I have referred the qualified people to Barbara, Sugarbear's rescuer and foster person.)

Unfortunately, we can't divide Sugarbear into five or more parts.

When I try to suggest to some of the callers another wonderful Pomeranian we have for adoption ("Buddy") who is black in color and just a little bigger than Sugarbear, I suddenly am told that they can't take such a "big" dog (Buddy is only 20 lbs) or they don't like black dogs.

Apparently, racism is alive and well -- at least in the field of animal adoptions.

Although Buddy was posted and advertised on adoption sites at least a week before Sugarbear, I have yet to receive one decent inquiry on him.

Granted, black dogs generally don't photograph as well as the blonde and red ones, but still....

I have to wonder if the entire process of adopting an animal has become so shallow that the only things that seem to matter these days are picture, size, breed and color?

Apparently, so.

Although a hand-full of the calls represent truly qualified potential adopters for Sugarbear most of the inquiries have just been frustrating.

The worst was from a family who somehow felt entitled to Sugarbear based upon their claims of "loving dogs."

Yet, they brought their last dog (an Amerian Eskimo) to the pound when they moved to a "no pet" condo. When I told the husband that we don't normally adopt to people who have dropped off former pets at shelters, he became extremely agitated.

"But, we LOVE dogs!" he yelled passionately into the phone. "Its not my fault! I got transferred at my job and we had to suddenly move. I had no choice!"

"Why couldn't you look for a place that allowed dogs?" I asked. "It doesn't seem finances were a problem."

"There was no time! Look, we love dogs and I have never been without a dog."

"But, you told me a few minutes ago, its been five years since you had your last dog. That is a contradiction to what you are saying now."

"Are you calling me a liar?" the man yelled.

In fact, the conversation was filled with inconsistencies and contradictions. There was no way in helll we were adopting out Sugarbear to these people. But, I simply couldn't rudely hang up the phone.

It was a totally frustrating conversation from the standpoint it was so hard to end. These people did not want to take "no" for an answer no matter how many times I said it.

And that is one of the most aggravating and time-wasting aspects of animal adoptions. The people who feel "entitled" to animals even when their previous history with cats or dogs has been shoddy, neglectful, non-committal or non-existent. Many people seem to have the attitude that when moving, the "normal" thing to do is drop their pet off at a shelter or give the pet away. Yet, they will still tell us how much they "love" animals.

What good is "love" if it lacks any kind of commitment, bond or sense of responsibility?

I recall one young woman (who gave three past dogs away when she moved three times), telling me, "But, I WAS committed to my dogs during the times that I had them!"

That's like saying someone is "committed" during the few hours of a one-night-stand.

Apparently, there are people who don't know what the word, "commitment" means.

Other frustrating calls of the week:

The stay-at-home Mom with three kids under three years of age with no plans whatsoever to see that a dog would get walked.

"I figure I can let the dog out in the yard," she told me.

"But, your yard is not fenced in," I replied.

"Well, we plan to get a fence."

Yeah -- and I plan to have a house one day in the Bahamas.

If I am skeptical of those agencies or shelters who brag about "high volume adoptions," this is why.

Sadly, tragically, I am forced to reject most of the people who call us.

Many times (in fact, probably most) its not because the people themselves are bad animal owners. -- Its because their situations are bad or unstable:

For examples:

The nice, twenty-year old, living in a Manhattan apartment with three roommates. (Sorry, but that is not a situation that is in any way, stable. Six months from now or even sooner, it is likely to change.)

The Mother with small toddlers (still in strollers) who cannot leave the babies alone to walk a dog two or three times a day or try to handle a young, lively dog while also steering the strollers and caring for the babies.

The woman who tells me her landlord gave permission to have one dog for "therapy" (which she already has), but now wants a second dog. How is the landlord going to OK TWO dogs for "therapy?"

And of course the homes where it is primarily one person in the home who wants a dog, but the other household members are not necessarily on board, but rather yielding to pressure. These are the kind of situations that usually end up in "Its me or the dog!" scenarios or the dog eventually becoming too attached and/or protective of the tending (or even doting) family member.

We have to be sure that all the adults in the home want the dog (or cat) and are prepared to help care for the animal rather than just household member or worse, a small child. Children cannot assume all responsibilities for caring for a pet (as many people seem to think.) Its the parents who have to WANT -- and are willing to care for the dog. Teenagers especially "want" a dog this week and next week are cramming for SATS, busy texting their friends or too engulfed in Facebook or "My Space" to think about feeding or walking a dog.

As said many times in this journal, animal adoptions are much more complex than what first might appear.

It is not a matter of just handing out animals to people who say they "love" them, but in many cases, have not given full thought and consideration to either their situations or the challenges and responsibility of actually having and caring for animals.

Then there are the cases where the dog may be right and the people may be right, but the timing is all wrong. -- For example, upcoming plans for a major move or life-altering event.

"Moving" is one of the top five stressors in human lives. Why would one want to stick a newly adopted pet in the middle of all that?

The smart thing to do is wait until one has moved and unpacked everything and THEN adopt. Newly acquired animals should be brought into calm, relaxed and stable environments -- not a chaotic situation where people are running around trying to pack up their kids, their good china and their electrical equipment.

Then there are the people who, while on vacation in New York City seek to adopt a dog here to take back to Toronto or Ohio in their car.

"Why not just adopt a dog in Toronto?" I asked a young man yesterday. He hung up on me saying, "It sounds like you don't want to adopt!"

I don't know. Maybe he is right.

Its certainly true that I "don't want to adopt" to situations where the animals are almost certain to be returned even before the ink is dry on the Adoption contract. --PCA



Shadowlight said...
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Shadowlight said...
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Shadowlight said...

That is so very sad. I'm just wondering, though. Have you asked any of the various "qualified" people interested in specifically Sugarbear about Buddy as well? Maybe the real test for how qualified they are in adopting Sugarbear lies in how they respond to that question. The most qualified would probably respond they would be just as willing to adopt Buddy as Sugarbear...