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Pet Parenting Articles

Rescue Rejection Turns Happy Tail

By Natalie Lester, Brand Marketing Specialist

If you don’t have a pet when you start working at PetSafe, people start taking bets as to how long it will take before you find your furry forever friend. I always wanted a dog but just wasn’t in a position to give one the time and attention they need until I started working at PetSafe. I thought long and hard about the financial and time commitment associated with owning a pet.

Within a few months, all bets were off and I decided I was definitely ready for pet ownership. I was excited and committed to giving a good dog a great home. I started by filling out a lengthy application with a local rescue group and it was followed by a 45 minute phone interview. The interview felt a little like an interrogation, but I knew I would be a great pet parent so I didn’t think too much about it.

While I was picking out names for my future new addition, the rescue conducted a home visit. The representative visited and toured my townhome and peppered me with more questions, many of which were too personal for my comfort. By the end of the visit, I actually felt like I was doing the wrong thing and I wasn’t good enough to adopt a dog.

Two days later, the organization told me they did not think I was right for a puppy and I was crushed. The rescue told me I was turned down because I do not work from home and they didn’t feel I would be spending enough time with her, even though the dog would be coming to work with me every day. They were also concerned that, because this would me my first dog, I did not have another dog to show the new puppy “the ropes”.

In this day and age, I wondered to myself, how many people fit their stringent criteria? How many people never leave their homes, and how many people who adopt puppies have a “veteran” dog at home to teach the newcomer proper behavior? And, how many veteran dogs have the slightest interest in taking on an “apprentice” in the first place? Whenever a Charlie Brown character cries on the cartoon, they tilt their head back and tears squirt out the sides. That was me, along with a mix of total surprise.

I was convinced I had gone about getting a pet the right way, but obviously something was missing. Since I work at PetSafe, I am lucky to be surrounded by pet owners who have been through similar experiences and this brought me some comfort. They all have happy healthy dogs now and seem like awesome pet owners. Turns out many people are rejected by rescues for similar reasons, usually because the potential adopters hadn’t owned the specific breeds before.

Certainly rescues are working hard to find homes for dogs, but my experience and those of my fellow associates forced me to beg the question, are rescues going about adoption the right way or is their system so rigid that they are passing up great homes for puppies and dogs and forcing those people to purchase dogs instead of saving lives? What should really be the criteria for adoption? If they are really committed to placing animals in homes and saving lives, are they being so selective that they are keeping dogs from finding great homes?

Natalie was already in love with Emma after day one. This picture was taken the day after she got her.

I didn’t let my experience discourage me from becoming a pet owner. A friend had a litter of Boykin Spaniel puppies and let me adopt one. Emma Lou has already stolen my heart. She is currently 10 weeks old and we are settling into a nice routine together. She comes to work with me, spends her mornings snoozing and afternoons playing with the other office dogs, who are also showing her “the ropes”. 

So, while my story ends happily for me, what about the rescue puppy I wasn’t allowed to adopt? I’m sure she’ll find a good home eventually, but I am pretty certain it won’t be any better than the one I would have gladly provided. You’ll definitely be hearing a lot from Emma Lou and me through this blog in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I’d like to hear from you about your thoughts on the rescue adoption process and whether you think their process for selection is right or needs revamping? Have you had a similar experience? Or maybe you work for a rescue and can shed more light on the process?


ABOUT NATALIE As the PetSafe Brand Marketing Specialist, Natalie manages The Paw Print blog and generates other brand related content including public relations and promotions. Before PetSafe, Natalie worked in the local media covering politics, education, and religion. Natalie’s puppy, Emma, spends almost as much time in the office as she does.

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We had the same experience with 2 different rescue groups and ended up adopting one puppy from the humane society and another from an individual.

Barbara, I am sure you were just as broken hearted as I was! I’m glad you found a happy ending, too! :) Thanks for reading!

I haven’t ever adopted a dog from a rescue group for those very reasons. I think that most rescue groups are too cautious about who they adopt to. It’s really sad because people aren’t going to go through their long and hard processes to get a dog, when they could easily get one from a BYB who could care less where the puppies end up. You were obviously a perfect candidate to rescue a dog from them and instead they made you feel horrible. They need to step back and evaluate their program because that just isn’t the right way to go about it! P.S. Little Emma Lou is adorable :)

Thanks, Emma! I’ll tell her you said that. :) We believe rescues have the right intention, but some may set their expectations too high. What do you think should be the criteria for adopting a pet? Hope you continue reading.

I am sure you were devastated at the rejection, and it amazes me to hear the story. I have two rescues from Little Victories near Huntington, WV and they did make a house visit after the application, but they brought the dog I wanted. I thought it was to see if she got along with my min pin, but after seeing a large, fenced yard, she left her with me. Therefore, not all shelters are the same, so please seek another should you decide to get a second dog. Hey, Huntington, WV isn’t that far from you! *hint, hint*

I think rescues are being judged too harshly. My home has been a foster home for several years for dogs in need.  We have seen it all! It is very hard to bring a beaten or neglected dog into your home and watch this poor thing quiver at the thought of being touched! It is this foster family that helps that dog become whole again and accept human love. A foster home gives their entire heart and soul to the dogs we bring into our homes! This makes the foster family and the rescue as a whole pretty protective and the people who give their time work very hard to find the best possible home…and sometimes feelings get hurt.  I am very glad that you have had a happy ending to your story…anyone willing to adopt a dog/puppy in need are winners in my book…regardless if the dog came from a shelter or rescue group!

It all depends on the rescue. What many people may not be aware of is that many rescues invest large sums of money, time and energy into dogs who they have taken from terrible situations. I am an artist (and former Petsafe employee btw) who works with shelter dogs and cats in my artwork. In doing so I have seen everything from adoptions to the euthanasia and I have seen too many times dogs dropped off at the shelter due to people who have no time for them.. or had a child.. or just can’t afford the pet anymore… sometimes the dogs dropped off are only a few months old and other times they have been with the family for years.  The questions that rescues ask are to help make sure that a pet they place will never again end up in a shelter due to any of those reasons. I used to think some rescues were to strict- but, having seen what I have seen - the huge numbers of dogs dumped and the mass numbers that die and how much work rescues put into saving them… I do not question their adoption procedures any longer. Not all rescues are strict though- city shelters are very easy to adopt from - one of my own dogs is from nearby you - a shelter in Newport TN.. there was no checking at all. To anyone who feels the questions and home checks are too much- go to a shelter—that is where the animals are dying in mass anyway—so you can very easily adopt and in doing so a life is saved. I hope that the dog you adopted was a rescue dog and you did not buy one.. and I hope the person who you adopted from has fixed their pets.. because when I take my camera into a shelter to take photos for my work I see hundreds of animals that can be easily adopted, but are too often not..

There’s a lot of injustice in the rescue system, for people and animals alike. My family is deeply involved in animal rescue organizations, and it seems there needs to be a happy medium between being too willing to adopt out to anyone and being too strict with adoption standards. Home visits and interviews are a positive way for rescue groups to get to know someone before giving them an animal they’ve invested hundreds of dollars into. Interviewing or “grilling” potential adopters about their personal lives is not a great idea. Each group is different too, and although no rescue group is perfect, I’ll still go to a shelter over a breeder any day.

Brenda, it’s great to hear you have rescued two dogs! I know you are giving them a loving home. Thanks for reading!

We know lots of rescues do great work, and we support them! We were just sharing my adoption story - stay tuned for a follow-up post as part of a three-part series. Thanks for reading!

Thanks for reading, Mary! We know lots of rescues do great work and we only wanted to share my experience. Stay tuned for a follow-up post!

Thanks for reading, Roslyn! We know so many rescues do great work, and we support them. Stay tuned for follow-up posts.

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I’m grateful to the person who left Sammy for us, but a beagle is NOT going to work in a mobile home wherre he cannot fun after things!

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I completely agree with you, Roslyn.  Until rescues are regulated—and I’m not advocating or expecting that!—they’re all so different.  Some are really good at finding wonderful homes, some not so much; some “grill” way too much.  Those that are too strident with their rules (like, what is the whole point of just adopting to someone who has a dog to show a puppy “the ropes”?) are doing a little bit of a disservice to the dogs in their charge, and rescue in general.  And taking a shelter dog over one from a breeder is the main thing, I think.  CONGRATULATIONS NATALIE, and way to rescue! :0)


Thanks for your sweet comments, Suzy! Emma turned one a few weeks ago and we’ll celebrate her adoption in March!

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z is my code name but i was wondering if the dog in the picture is up for adoption

Nope. Sorry, Z! He’s a cutie though, right? Thanks for reading!

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