Friday, January 8, 2016

Is it too hard to adopt an animal from a shelter?

Bosca has been living the dream since he was adopted from a rescue organisation.

It’s probably a safe assumption that everyone working with companion animals strives for one ideal: to ensure that those animals find happy, safe, “furever” homes. Most shelters and rescue groups don’t adopt animals to anyone who simply rocks up: most have “vetting” processes where potential owners are asked about their lifestyle, and occasionally even have their homes inspected to ensure they are suitable.

On the whole this is a good thing. It means that animals are matched to the right homes. But there is a side-effect that I am hearing about increasingly: people who are suitable owners are being rejected, sometimes for ridiculous reasons. I had a client who told me recently that she was not allowed to adopt a dog she absolutely loved from a rescue group because she worked full time.
Hold on a second. I know plenty of people who work in shelters and for rescue groups who live alone, work full time and take excellent care of animals. It’s a topic I’ve discussed before.

So I was very interested in this post, shared by my friend and dog expert Eileen. You can read it here.

This is a heartfelt, honest reflection on the way habit, compassion fatigue and righteousness can conflict with our desired outcomes. I have heard from loads of clients, “I didn’t want to adopt from a pet shop but in the end it was too hard to get an animal anywhere else.”

Depending on how it is carried out, vetting and grilling applicants can rule out really great potential companion animal owners.

It does not suggest that shelters and rescue groups should adopt out animals to whoever, whenever. It does suggest the need to assess these cases individually, in case good homes and good owners are overlooked.  And it’s a great reminder that no matter how we work with animals, there is value in regularly questioning our own attitudes and approaches.

What are your thoughts?