Sunday, August 7, 2011

Why You Wouldn't Adopt To Me

July was a stupid-busy month for me, which is why I haven't been around the blog-o-world much lately. I'm a bit late to the party in the talking about the No-Kill Conference that so many awesome people are talking about.

I get jazzed talking/reading about animal rescue. I have a lot to say on the subject, but tonight my eye was caught by one subject in particular. Adopting (or not) to "imperfect" homes.

Yesbiscuit has the best commentary on it, I think. You should go read her blog post. And the comments. Although, I had to stop when I got to this comment:

"But I will be damned if I will knowingly see any of our dogs go to live on a chain. No way ... And perhaps the “adopter” will just go get another dog someplace else. But the “education” that keeps being mentioned here starts with letting the public know that we don’t feel that every situation is OK."

This attitude, this zero-tolerance policy for this thing, or that thing that some (many!) pet owners practice, is a large reason why "backyard breeders"/Walmart puppies/Craigslist rescues are so popular. There are quite a few blogs/forums I've quit reading because of this attitude.

Why You Wouldn't Adopt To Me:
1) I live in an apartment.
2) My husband and I both work full time.
3) I feed my dogs Science Diet Adult dry kibble.

Somehow I manage two border collies (at least one of which of pure working cowdog breeding), two cats, usually a foster dog of some kind, and sometimes some rats. By any measure that any reasonable person could use, my pets are healthy and happy. Furthermore, the cowdog for sure, and probably the other dog and both cats, and some of the rats, would be dead if I hadn't taken them in.

My home isn't good enough to adopt YOUR animals, though.

Why You Wouldn't Adopt To My Parents:
1) They both work full time.
2) They chain their dog in the yard while they're gone.
3) They allow their cat outdoors.

When I was growing up, pets used to only be allowed indoors if they were recovering from injury, or during lightning storms. As we grew, and got more educated as pet owners (from the vet, from friends, from the media) our dogs and cats were then allowed into the kitchen, and now have the run of the house. When I was a kid, the dog was lucky to go to the vet every few years to get shots, and the cat probably not at all; now my parents take their current pets in for all kinds of things that would have been unthinkable 20 years ago (for them): teeth cleanings, cruciate ligament surgery, arthritis evaluations, treatment for skin conditions.

But my parents keep their dog chained in the yard during the day while they're at work. So their home isn't good enough. The end. Many rescuers would tear up their adoption application right then. It's ridiculous. My parents live in the country, on a long private drive away from busy roads or harassing children. All the arguments against chaining don't apply to him. Context? Matters.

Why You Wouldn't Adopt To Most Of My Friends, Co-workers, Bosses, Clients, and Acquaintances:
1) They keep their dogs chained/penned during the day; or they work full time; or they don't allow dogs indoors at all; or they feed cheap food; or they previously gave up a dog for adoption for one reason or another; or they don't have a fenced yard; or they're over 60 years old; or they have small children; or ...

When even Nathan Winograd is rejected from adopting a dog because he didn't have a frickin' doggy door, you know it's bad.

Perspective. Get some.

It cannot be stated enough: the alternative for these pets is DEATH.

If my parents can make chaining their dog during the day work, then others can, too.

If I can make having two high-energy, high-drive dogs in an apartment work, others can, too.

If my friend's dog lives a happy, loved life even though she's never allowed indoors, others can, too.

If another friend can have two small children and two large dogs in the same house, others can, too.

There are a few black and white issues in animal rescue. These are not. And I get more and more peeved when those in the rescue community treat them as such.

Condo Collies out in the wild


Dave said...

I am always surprised people are so anti-tether. We had our Shiba on a tether because he was notorious for running off and escaping until we secured a few grands to put about 2 feet concrete in the ground and 8' feet tall worth of planks. Anything less would had resulted in him climbing over or digging under.

And that was with a Shiba Inu. What are you suppose to do with a dog that has a tendency to roam? Foxhounds, coonhounds and huskies are notorious for escaping pens.

So it does depend on context.

Many tethered dogs have their own doghouse, water and food bowl as well-- something that is a bit of a hassle to deal with in an outdoor run, especially with multiple dogs.

jen said...

I couldn't do leave a dog tethered outside, and I probably wouldn't adopt a dog to someone who planned on doing that.

And I'll tell you why
1. Growing up my dad always kept our beagle tied to a tree. He was attacked by a bear because he couldn't get away. There wasn't a reason he couldn't be inside, my dad thought the dog liked being outside tied to that tree. I never really like to think about Nipper, and how he died. This more than anything solidified my personal decision to never leave a dog outside without a fence, unattended.

2. I've taken in fosters who were kept tethered outside 24/7. They have extreme fear of weather, flies, other dogs - things they couldn't escape being outside.

Maybe the people against adopting out dogs to those open about plans to tether have just as good a reason as those who do the tethering. I do not judge, but I make adoption decisions based on my life experience and what I believe.

Dave said...

There are just as many dogs that never leave the apartment and are psychotic because they don't know how to handle the outside world. These are the dogs that bark at everything that move outside their windows-- because they are afraid of strange things. Does that means people shouldn't adopt dogs out to apartment dwellers because there are folks who never walk their dogs?

We had a dog that was mauled by a Golden Eagle when we let it out into the backyard. Also, in some part of the country, sometimes cougars will go into people's yards to eat the dogs. Does that means people with fenced yards shouldn't be adopting dogs?

At some point, people have to realize-- bad things will happen, no matter what one tries to do to prevent them.

Dave said...

Forgot one more example:

It's not uncommon for coyotes and wolves to attack dogs while people are walking their dogs. They completely IGNORE the humans. Does that means all dogs must be off-leashed so they have a chance of getting away from the attacker?

Jess said...

Suzanne said...

Jen, by refusing to see tethering as a gray area, you are excluding potential homes that may be wonderful.

There are risks to tethering (though I would argue "bear attack" isn't one that most dogs would face), but like most things there are benefits as well, and ways to mitigate risks. If a potential adopter, similar to my parents, for example, came to you with a reasonable plan for a dog that also including some tethering, would you really say no to them, no matter what? Would you say no if the dog they wanted would otherwise be killed?

Suzanne said...

I'd also like to note that I've avoided disclaimers on my post on purpose. It should be obvious that people like me and Shirley of Yesbiscuit and Nathan Winograd don't want dogs going to go animal abusers or a life of loveless neglect. The huffy exaggeration and righteous indignation that some in the rescue community spew when this subject comes up irritates me. I refuse to pander to it with so much as a "don't worry, I'd never tether MY dog, but..."