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#41 terrecar

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 07:34 PM

I'm sure Ancient_Dog didn't mean to give that impression, but the following remark is a good example: "Whether you agree with the adoption application or not, Ms Yoffe indirectly suggests that you should tailor your answers to what you think the rescue wants to hear. In some circles that would be called fraud."

It's hard to articulate what bothers me about this remark. Misrepresenting yourself *is* fraud. But, well...


Having said allllll I said about managing perceptions.... I do not find Ancient_Dog's comments hostile at all. Here's why. There is a real possibility that people will fill out an adoption application with what they know the rescue wants to hear, even if it's not true. So, throwing out these questions isn't really fraud IMO, and I don't think it's misrepresenting yourself. Withholding information isn't necessarily misrepresenting yourself. Why would I tip my hand? If I'm asking a question to get an honest answer, why would I "coach" the applicant with the correct answer? Unfortunately some people ruin it for others, making these types of questions necessary. There are adopters out there who will misrepresent themselves (spelled lie), so I don't think it is at all fraud to throw out a "fishing" type question. Consider it a pop quiz :)

With all of that in mind, I think AD's criticism of Ms. Yoffe is valid.

#42 geonni banner

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 09:41 PM

Replying to P Smitty

I said "...I think that most of the regular posters here on the Boards are good dog owners, yet there is strident disagreement among them as to how to handle various issues of canine management. Many of them would be refused a dog at many rescues."

How on Earth do you know that? :blink:


Because I know of at least three rescues that will not place dogs with people with children, of several which won't place with someone who rents and some that won't place a dog with you unless you agree to keep it on a leash at all times unless it is in a fenced area. One I know of will not place dogs in a home with a "bully" breed. There are people on these Boards who have one or more of these disqualifications.


I said "I might be refused on the grounds of low income or my handkerchief-sized yard or the fact that I rent."

At least you said "might" here. Still, a pretty big assumption to make. Granted, I only have a small sample, but none of the 4 rescues I work(ed) with would reject your application based on either of those facts alone. (emphasis mine.)

Not at all. I myself have been refused adoptions from rescues on two of the three grounds. (Interestingly, I have never been refused a rescue on grounds of low income, when to me it seems a more worrisome thing - will a low income person be able to provide for proper veterinary care should the dog develop a serious but treatable problem? What about when the dog starts having higher vet bills that often come with aged dogs?)
I have had people who could not pay their own utility bills come to apply for a rescue dog from me. (I knew the people in question) I refused to let them adopt the dog, because I felt that if they couldn't pay their utility bills how could they meet the expenses that a dog brings?

Edited to add:
I don't have any problem with any rescue group setting the bar for adopters at whatever height they wish. But it is undeniably frustrating to think that so many dogs miss out on good homes and so many homes miss out on good dogs because some rescues will not carefully consider bending rules on a case by case basis. Not all dogs, situations and homes fit "in the box."
I get why rescues have criteria. But if there is no flexibility in these then both the rescues and the applicants lose - not to mention the dogs.


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#43 Root Beer

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 11:05 PM

Edited to add:
I don't have any problem with any rescue group setting the bar for adopters at whatever height they wish. But it is undeniably frustrating to think that so many dogs miss out on good homes and so many homes miss out on good dogs because some rescues will not carefully consider bending rules on a case by case basis. Not all dogs, situations and homes fit "in the box."
I get why rescues have criteria. But if there is no flexibility in these then both the rescues and the applicants lose - not to mention the dogs.


I'd be willing to wager that every rescue that strictly enforces the rules has bent those rules a number of times only to have it bite them in the rear in a big way.

While it is unfortunate that such a lesson learned rots for those who would provide an excellent home but are not trusted because other people proved that not everyone can be, the lines do have to be drawn somewhere.

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#44 juliepoudrier

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 11:17 PM

Re: These last couple of posts, ISTM that in past discussions regarding rescue, many of the rescuers here say that they will and do bend the rules. I seem to remember people repeatedly being encouraged to go ahead and fill out an application even if they don't meet all the criteria, because at least some of the time the rescues will consider individuals and not just apply blanket rules. How this actually works in practice, I don't know, but if the rescuers on this list are an indication of the larger world of rescue, then it sounds like most rules are not always hard and fast. That said, I can understand why someone might be reluctant to take the time to fill out a long/detailed application not knowing if a rescue might be willing to bend the rules. I don't know what the answer to that is, but maybe one of our rescuers can comment.

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#45 terrecar

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 12:38 AM

Re: Burnout

Compassion fatigue is very real.


Maybe that helps to explain the cynicism of some rescuers.


ETA: I had to edit the maudlin parts. Good grief I must need more sun or something.

#46 mbc1963

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 05:51 AM

Bottom line is, no matter how weary we get of the public, perceptions do matter and need to be managed, albeit without compromising adoption standards. If we know potential adopters are a) likely to be offended (regardless of the lack of justification for it) or b ) likely to contribute to negative perceptions of rescue, why not bite our respective tongues and soften the blow; ...The holier-than-thou approach may be understandable and in response to a sometimes ignorant public, but we're not doing the animals any favors by using it.


This.

If there were one rare complaint about this topic from the occasional crackpot, I'd say, "Keep doing what you're doing! Hooray!" But when this subject comes up and many, many non-crackpot people can quote situations where good homes were denied to dogs because rescues have standards more rigid than those of child services... then perception is a problem, and I start to believe that there might be a problem beyond mere perception.

I live alone, didn't have a fenced yard 7 years ago (when I got my dog) and occasionally have to work 12-hour days. A poor candidate to adopt from many rescues. And yet, I wake at 5:00 to give my dog an hour-long walk in the morning, and I drive him to local parks where he can get an hour-long, off-leash run in the afternoons. I haven't taken a vacation in 7 years, because my dog is reactive and I don't want to leave him in a kennel, and can't leave him in homes of my siblings, who have dogs of their own.

At any rate, the public's perception of the work of rescue is the business of rescue. When the public states its perception, it does rescue no good to get angry and start insulting the public. If rescue can't make its points in a positive way - having learned to deal with and perhaps correct sometimes-inaccurate perceptions - then it shoots itself in the foot.

When I hear rescue workers complain about the no-goods who apply for their dogs, I think about my own life "on paper" and honestly, sometimes I feel like rescue workers are complaining about me. And I breathe a sigh of relief that I got my dog from a shelter, because he might have missed the chance to have this pretty damned good life he's had with me, and I would have missed the time I've had with him.

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#47 Pippin's person

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 07:50 AM

People, including my own mother, perceive that I work 6 hours a week since that's how many hours I spend in a classroom. I've told my mom for over a decade what my job entails; that doesn't seem to have changed her (or others') perceptions.

The fact that people involved in rescue continually present an alternative picture to the one presented in the Slate article doesn't seem to have much bearing on changing perceptions, either.

I'm not involved in rescue anymore because, honestly, the craziness of the humans involved got overwhelming to me. I'm also not discounting that people have negative experiences, are treated unfairly or in ways that don't make sense to them.

But, people who have no experience of what they are talking about other than indirect hearsay, supposition and anecdote (positive and negative) should do some self-reflecting of their own.

In terms of bending the rules--I just looked at three websites of BC rescues. Not one stated any rigid, blanket, unbreakable requirement. In fact, each was pretty inviting, full of information concerning border collies, etc. Individual dogs had specific requirements.

So, the question I have for those of you who have never tried to adopt a dog with a rescue organization but who are certain that you wouldn't have a positive experience because of things you've heard and read, what should the members of the rescue organizations who do not have the problems so frequently mentioned do about the organizations that do (how's that for a convoluted sentence)?

Eileen's answer was "self-reflection" and considering if there are turn-offs on the organization's website. Check, these organizations seem to have done that. What now?

There is no "rescue"--there are hundreds of mom and pop type shops--some of them do a great job; some of them are disasters. Seems to me that all the ones that do a good job can do is keep doing a good job.
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#48 alligande

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 08:33 AM

I have never seen Lewis Moon start a topic to inflame, he has fostered and supported rescue so to immediately accuse him of pot stirring seems defensive. I read both articles linked, and although the first is not a thoughtful article, it does express the frustration that I have heard people address.

I have felt the same way about many of the questions on an application for adoption, to an intelligent dog owning person, the right answer is obvious and the questions have made me laugh. When I got my first dog our local shelter had one of these long applications, when we went back 2.5 years later to get our next dog, the form was shorter and to the point, so I asked why the change. They felt that chatting to the person and checking the references was really the most important thing, learning about the family and what they needed in a dog etc so they could place the right dog with the right people, it was also the time to educate new pet owners and set them on the path to successful pet ownership (same applies to cats). This was 15 years ago.

I agree with Eileen, that perception is important and that is why the article in Slate is worth reading, there is a belief out there in the general pet owning world that it can be harder to adopt a dog than a child. Among our friends I am the only person who is involved deeply with dogs, yet they nearly all have a dog or 2, these are the people who end up buying a dog as the bureaucracy seems to be overwhelming.

Okay, but why should a rescue's immediate perception be that it's pot stirring? When I post an article, it's usually because I want to hear and consider what opinions and reactions people have to it -- not because I want to see them squabble and flail around at each other. I don't know why you wouldn't assume that someone else's motives in posting were equally genuine (unless they had a posting history that made them suspect, and I don't see that here).

It wouldn't be. But that's not my impression of what happens. I can recall only a very few threads where rescue people reacted that way. In the overwhelming majority of threads they seem to just assume the worst about anyone raising the question, lash out at the presumptuousness of voicing a criticism, say that rescue has every right to set whatever conditions it wants and if you don't like it, tough, and in general not concede or even consider that there could be any merit to the criticism.

It is a very valid point that I'm talking only about the posts made here by rescue operators and volunteers, and I don't presume to know what is said in intra-rescue discussions. But I'm not surprised -- I would expect -- that they struggle with balancing the needs and wants of adopters with the needs of the dogs. I presume their goodwill and their desire to do what's best for the dogs. But my impression is that the perception of their policies and practices by would-be adopters is given no weight whatsoever in any deliberations like this. The impression I get is that those people are automatically written off as disgruntled, ignorant and unreasonable -- "Oh well, you can't please everyone." And I think that's a mistake, because I think there's a cost to it.


Julie's example below has also puzzled me about private groups, I am one of those who read the rules, and if my particular situation does not fit the rules then I will not bother to apply. The only exception to this was Glen Highland farm who said you needed 6ft fences, 3/4 of my yard is, the front is 4ft so I thought this might be close enough, especially as a border collie had already lived there. It was. There is a GHF dog living next door to a wood that we walk in, she has an invisible fence. So why even list the policy if it not a rule?

Re: These last couple of posts, ISTM that in past discussions regarding rescue, many of the rescuers here say that they will and do bend the rules. I seem to remember people repeatedly being encouraged to go ahead and fill out an application even if they don't meet all the criteria, because at least some of the time the rescues will consider individuals and not just apply blannket rules. How this actually works in practice, I don't know, but if the rescuers on this list are an indication of the larger world of rescue, then it sounds like most rules are not always hard and fast. That said, I can understand why someone might be reluctant to take the time to fill out a long/detailed application not knowing if a rescue might be willing to bend the rules. I don't know what the answer to that is, but maybe one of our rescuers can comment.

J.


I fully understand the rescue organizations opinions on this but it does not change the fact there is a perception among the general public that getting a dog through rescue is a challenge. To me this is a huge problem for rescue in general, we all want the dogs to end up in good homes but how many good homes are turned off by the stories like the one is Slate and the stories that friends tell friends.

#49 PSmitty

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 09:42 AM

People, including my own mother, perceive that I work 6 hours a week since that's how many hours I spend in a classroom. I've told my mom for over a decade what my job entails; that doesn't seem to have changed her (or others') perceptions.

The fact that people involved in rescue continually present an alternative picture to the one presented in the Slate article doesn't seem to have much bearing on changing perceptions, either.

I'm not involved in rescue anymore because, honestly, the craziness of the humans involved got overwhelming to me. I'm also not discounting that people have negative experiences, are treated unfairly or in ways that don't make sense to them.

But, people who have no experience of what they are talking about other than indirect hearsay, supposition and anecdote (positive and negative) should do some self-reflecting of their own.

In terms of bending the rules--I just looked at three websites of BC rescues. Not one stated any rigid, blanket, unbreakable requirement. In fact, each was pretty inviting, full of information concerning border collies, etc. Individual dogs had specific requirements.

So, the question I have for those of you who have never tried to adopt a dog with a rescue organization but who are certain that you wouldn't have a positive experience because of things you've heard and read, what should the members of the rescue organizations who do not have the problems so frequently mentioned do about the organizations that do (how's that for a convoluted sentence)?

Eileen's answer was "self-reflection" and considering if there are turn-offs on the organization's website. Check, these organizations seem to have done that. What now?

There is no "rescue"--there are hundreds of mom and pop type shops--some of them do a great job; some of them are disasters. Seems to me that all the ones that do a good job can do is keep doing a good job.


YES! Exactly. Thank you, Robin. Very well said. I added some emphasis on two sections I specifically wanted to "ditto". What do you all expect rescues that are good, reputable, not rigid or run by whack jobs to DO in order the change the so called public's bad perception? (I still think it's a small part of the public, most certainly not all of it). They can't go out there and grab all the problem rescues and MAKE them change their policies or practices. All they can do is just keep on keepin' on with the good work that they're doing. Their happy adopters will spread the word, more dogs will get saved and really, what else can they do? What do you guys think they should do differently?

As Robin said, good rescues are continually presenting an alternative perception to the questionable ones. If you're not involved in rescue, how are you going to see it? Does that mean it's not happening?

I guess because I actually am involved in rescue, and I see the many, many happy endings and satisfied adopters, I don't see this big perception you all talk about on any kind of large scale. It seems to come up semi frequently, so I'm not discounting it happens. There are bound to be bad apples in any bunch, meaning that I believe there are some questionable rescue practices. I also firmly believe that some of the public wants what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. And since rescues don't always bend to the potential adopters, some leave disgruntled and frustrated. So, a vocal minority is born of people from those two groups.

Let's just switch rescues for breeders. There are plenty of horror stories on the 'net about bad experiences with breeders, and let's say someone writes articles online about it and encourages people to stay away from ALL breeders because they are some bad ones out there. As a breeder (and I know there are some here), what do YOU do? You know that your breeding program is a good one, you're making all the right decisions, selling to the right kind of homes, etc. If the public expects YOU to do something to fix the perception that all breeders=bad, what could a good breeder do, other than keep on with their good breeding program?

And this is getting too long, but I can't stress enough that those people who are making judgements about rescue in general, deciding that all rescues will turn them down, or that on paper, they're a bad home, etc. It just makes no sense to base a decision on things you read online, or hear from Joe Schmo. Get out there and see for yourself, then make an informed decision based on your own experiences.
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#50 Maralynn

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 10:44 AM

Let's just switch rescues for breeders. There are plenty of horror stories on the 'net about bad experiences with breeders, and let's say someone writes articles online about it and encourages people to stay away from ALL breeders because they are some bad ones out there. As a breeder (and I know there are some here), what do YOU do? You know that your breeding program is a good one, you're making all the right decisions, selling to the right kind of homes, etc. If the public expects YOU to do something to fix the perception that all breeders=bad, what could a good breeder do, other than keep on with their good breeding program?


It's still just an article on the internet. But other than that you either ignore it or find a platform to refute it with facts (honestly that article/author left lots of room to refute). But a good breeding program speaks for itself.

But honestly these days it seems to be much more socially acceptable/promoted to rescue a dog than buy one. Even on the boards here the first thing people hear when they come here looking for a pup from a breeder is to try out rescue. Sometimes it almost seems like finding a good breeder is kind of hush-hush because we stress rescue and very rarely point people towards breeders.

FWIW, I had a very good experience with rescue. I'll probably go that route again someday and recommend it to anyone. They worked with me and bent rules because they thought I'd give a dog a great home. But I had also been around long enough to know that I could sell myself to them.

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#51 alligande

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 10:54 AM

Paula, all my dogs have been rescues, I occasionally foster for a small Border Collie rescue and I maintain their website, so I do have some insight into rescue. Yet I still have this perception of fussy applications, rules that are bent for those in the know, or just inconsistent application of the rules, friends that feel that is harder to get a dog than a child.

My own slightly odd experience was with an all breed rescue, we were looking to adopt either a young dog, or we would have given an old one a home. In fact we were leaning towards giving an old dog a home, just seemed a good thing to do. There was a 10 year Border Collie 20 miles from my house, I asked about her and was told that she did not get on well with the a male aussie so she would not be going to a house with a male dog. My response was to suggest she meet Brody who gets on well with most dogs, see what she thought, and I got a very curt reply. I just could not see why her dislike of an aussie could relate to a completely different dog, if the dog was happy in its foster home do not post a sob story posting on petfinder about how an old lady really needs a home, then not even see if it could be a match.

I have no suggestions as to what well run rescues can or even should do to over come this perception but I do see this as a problem. When I got my first dogs I had no idea what a rescue was, if you did not get a puppy you went to the shelter which is what we did. I learned about breed rescues and that is where my current dogs came from as we wanted border collies, and found all three that I communicated with were well run. With petfinder there seems to have been a growth of all breed rescues who charge what seems like an enormous amount of money for dogs you can not meet as they are still down south, I might be wrong but I think it is these rescues that are big source of these issues.

#52 mbc1963

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 10:55 AM

Regarding those of us who haven't actually tried to adopt via rescue, but are being told our understanding of the actual process is based on a flawed understanding:

I've just visited the site of a phenomenally successful rescue group I admire, which does wonderful work. But, when I click on "adoption application," I find this:

"1. Do you have a 5 foot or higher fenced-in yard or an electronic fence? No _______ Yes _____
If you have a LARGE unfenced property, pls describe details below.
We do make some exceptions to the fencing requirement but the property must be large and
more rural."

I have a 4-foot fence. I live in the city on 1/4 acre. I have never, ever owned a dog who had any desire to jump or climb a fence, nor do I believe any dog I ever owned could have climbed this fence if they had wanted to. I suspect that surely, there are many dogs at this rescue who lack climbing and jumping ability and/or desire? Wouldn't I be an appropriate home for one of those lazier or less nimble dogs?

As a person in the general population, when I open that application, I see the very first question, and immediately shut down the application and proceed to seek my dog elsewhere. If I am indeed a potentially "good" dog owner (and I challenge you to find anyone who knows me who doesn't think I'm over the top about caring for my dog), why close the door to me right there on the very first page? As a dedicated dog owner, my reaction is more or less an irritated shrug - and I don't think it's an unjustified irritation.

Some folks may have incorrect perceptions about rescue - but it's also true that some of us are basing our perceptions on the hurdles that rescues set up in their own literature. I would strongly argue that this particular misconception (if it is a misconception that I need not apply to this rescue) sits on the shoulders of the rescue group who wrote the application, and not on my shoulders. If a 5' fence isn't necessary, don't tell me on the very first page that it's necessary.

I'm not damning rescue or this particular rescue - as I said, I admire their work. However, if there is to be any progress made regarding the public's perception that adopting is too difficult, there's got to be a discussion that doesn't immediately de-evolve into defensiveness and the need to write me and my perception off as "ignorant." Some of the perception is based in reality.

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#53 G. Festerling

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 11:05 AM

^^
Very legit point. My personal belief is that ones (as in an entity not just one person) considerate but yet knowledgable and focused conduct will in the end speak for itself.
Word of mouth is never to be underestimated.
I suppose in a sense it is a free economy where customer service, taking the time to educate (not talking down on), honest effort to provide the best match and an overal straightforward way of dealing even with some less than perfect situations, will stand out and draw the kind of folks that value such ethics.
My last adoption was to a gentleman in his seventies. The dog had some special needs and is about 4-5 years old. His main concern after loosing his canine companion of over a decade was his age. After all, despite the fact that he seems healthy as a horse, at his age things can happen in a hurry. I know this, he sure does as does his daughter. I never want to see the dog here again because they are a perfect match. They adore each other. But at some point I might (although the daughter says she would call dibbs). To me, this little dog would have missed out on a good home if I refused to entertain the idea to adopt to him. Sure, this may not be a lifelong home for her, and if something happens she will be uprooted, but she does have two safe places to land and in the meantime she is enjoying undivided attention. Right or wrong choice? I suppose we will find out. All I can say is that I believe that in this particular case being a bit flexible might be the answer.
The adoption before that one I had covered all the bases as well and it failed horribly. Known adopter, knowledge of the breed all should have been good. Had all the bases covered others than a huge character flaw of the person that I never expected. You live and learn.
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#54 PSmitty

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 12:04 PM

Mary, that was ONE rescue. The fact that one rescue feels the need for a fence requirement doesn't mean they all do. What if the next rescue you decided to try has no fence requirement?

ETA: I think I know the group you're talking about. But just to go a little further, here's a direct quote from another rescue's website (NEBCR):

A NOTE REGARDING FENCES:
WE DO *NOT* HAVE A BLANKET POLICY FOR FENCES ON ALL OUR DOGS. Fences are required on a CASE-BY-CASE BASIS, depending on your living situation and most importantly, the individual dog. Those that DO require a fence, will be noted as such in their bios.


So, back to the question from earlier: Let's pretend I run my own rescue. Other than making it clear on my application and website that I have no fencing requirement, what can I do to change the public's perception that all rescues have a fencing requirement and someone with a 4 ft fence will never be able to adopt from rescue?

Alligande, I'm sorry, but I understand why rescues make those kind of decisions for their foster dogs. They're just trying to make the best match possible, that they feel will result in long term adoption success. Sure, maybe she would have done fine with your male when they got together, but what happens at an initial meet and greet is one thing, living with another male long term is another.

Let's pretend again: say the meet and greet went fine and against the initial feelings, they went ahead and adopted her out to you. It would have been hard on *everyone* if after a month of living together, Brody and she started fighting. By that time, the foster has another foster dog, they've got to find a place for her when you bring her back. It'd been hard on the dog being bounced around, it's been hard on Brody for the past month, it's been hard on you and your family. If they could have found her a home with either no other dogs, or only females, why not place her where they truly feel the odds of success are in her favor and save everyone the trouble?

I understand your and Mary's frustration, but I can see it from the rescue's side as well.

And now I'm just avoiding chores I should be doing! I think it's time to bow out. :)
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#55 Ancient_Dog

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 12:23 PM

I am asking: what should Rescues do to change the negative “perceptions”? Should we have no screening, no qualifications for adoption? Should it be first come, first serve…the first person who shows up with cash gets the dog? Our rescue has the motto: It‘s always all about the dogs. As far as I know, our rescue has no hard and fast adoption requirements. We have an application and home visit as part of our decision making process. The dogs we rescue are our responsibility and first priority. What we strive to be is inclusive not exclusive. We are trying to find a good home for the dog, matching the right dog with the right person. Being flexible is just part of it.

I submit that when a person decides to apply for whatever (a dog?), they already have a preconceived notion that they are a qualified applicant. It doesn’t matter whether the application is for a car loan, college entrance, the DAR , or a friend on Facebook. Any reason for rejection at this point causes that person to be upset. A few will think something is wrong with the process and feel like they were slighted. They will think change is in order and, if they are so inclined, they will tell anybody and everybody how unfair the system is. Generally speaking, this pervades every aspect of life. No matter what you do there will always be those who would have/could have done it differently or better.

To modify an old adage:

You can make some of the people happy all of the time
and you can make all of the people happy some of the time
but you can’t make all of the people happy all of the time!

#56 Eileen Stein

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 12:29 PM

I wasn't going to post to this thread anymore. After one of the most likeable and respected rescue operators on these Boards put up posts that said (paraphrased, and this of course is only my perception) "The PROBLEM is shitty owners, and in all likelihood this applicant would be one, and is only looking for clues to what I want them to say so that they can lie and trick me into giving them an animal that will later die because of it" -- to a chorus of "Hear, hear" and "Like, like, LIKE" -- I felt the thread was not likely to do a lot to help with the growing public perception problem that I (mistakenly, maybe?) thought I saw. So I regretted that I had prolonged it, after the OP was sent packing, and kinda hoped it would die quickly. But after reading mbc1963's and alligande's posts, I thought I might give it another try.

Is there a problem? The purpose of border collie rescue is to re-home abandoned or unwanted border collies. If there are not a lot of border collies in need of re-homing, then it doesn't matter how rescues operate. It doesn't matter if they're unrealistic, rigid and hostile, because they'll still get enough applicants to deal with the small number of dogs needing help. But if there are a lot of border collies in need of re-homing -- if the denial of a dog to a person who would give it a good home means that dog's slot in rescue does not open up to take in another needy dog, and as a result that other needy dog dies -- then it seems to me there IS a problem. Likewise, if the public perception that rescues are unrealistic, rigid and hostile grows to the point where a lot of people decide not to apply to rescue (which I agree is currently much approved of as a way to get a dog), then that would be a problem too, it seems to me.

I get the impression rescues think this negative perception is either held just by a few disgruntled individuals and so it's not big enough to matter, or that it's inevitably going to be held by everyone who's turned away so nothing can be done about it. But while I really don't know whether it will ever reach critical mass, I have to say that I'm seeing it more and more and more, and I can't think that's a good thing. And it seems to me that telling someone they have no right to feel that way because they're just going by what they've heard from friends and acquaintances, or they're just going by what they've read, or they're just going by the rescue's application materials, or they're just going by their experience with one rescue, or they're just going by their experience with two rescues, or if they ended up going to a breeder they must have really wanted to do that all along and are just blaming rescue for their own moral failings, etc., is an exercise in futility. It seems to me that somebody like Hiker is simply giving you info s/he feels might be helpful for you to know. S/he's not going to change his/her reaction/conclusion because you say s/he doesn't have a good basis for it; s/he's just going to think "Well, I tried to tell them what's happening" and go away.

So, the question I have for those of you who have never tried to adopt a dog with a rescue organization but who are certain that you wouldn't have a positive experience because of things you've heard and read, what should the members of the rescue organizations who do not have the problems so frequently mentioned do about the organizations that do (how's that for a convoluted sentence)?

Eileen's answer was "self-reflection" and considering if there are turn-offs on the organization's website. Check, these organizations seem to have done that. What now?

There is no "rescue"--there are hundreds of mom and pop type shops--some of them do a great job; some of them are disasters. Seems to me that all the ones that do a good job can do is keep doing a good job.


But Ruth, you only looked at three rescue websites! How can you draw conclusions from that? :)

Seriously, I'm not surprised that my suggesting self-reflection did not go over well. I was afraid that would be so. But I still believe it would be a good idea for a lot of rescues. It's hard to look critically at your own policies, procedures, and projected attitudes, and really see them from the point of view of an ordinary person who may know much less about dogs than you do but who would nevertheless give a dog a good home. But it could prove valuable if done with an open mind.

But okay, what if your rescue is as good as it could possibly be in all these respects? What could you do about all this? I think that's a tough question. I can't claim I know the answer, because I don't. I understand that many people may think there's no point even to try to think about answers, because there couldn't be any. I realize, as I said back in my first post, that "'Rescue' is not a single entity. Each rescue has its own policies, and even if one rescue thinks another is misguided, there's really no way to change the misguided one's policies."

But in reading the Winograd article, I reflected on the influence he says HSUS has had on shelter policies. HSUS publishes standards for shelter adoption policies (one of them being that cats may not be adopted to those who will let them go outdoors), and it's easy for shelters to simply adopt those policies and say that their shelter is run in accordance with HSUS policies (which makes them look good in the eyes of the general public, if not in the eyes of most on these Boards). According to Winograd, their overly rigid policies have had the effect of diminishing shelter adoptions to good homes. But what if the idea of model policies could be used in a beneficial way? Is there any way that a few well-regarded rescues in a state or region could collaborate on model policies and practices that might come to be seen as a consensus or "standard of care" for rescues generally? They might influence other rescues toward self-reflection and change, and they might give the public the idea that these issues are taken seriously by at least some rescues, and that rescues are addressing them.

I recognize that this is probably not a great idea, and I can see many objections to it: we are too busy helping dogs to do something like this, it would deteriorate into inter-group politics, it is not worth it for the miserable worthless people who are finding fault with us, etc. I agree that my earlier suggestion of a sticky was probably lame too. But I can't help thinking that those who know more about rescue than I do might well be able to come up with better ones, if they came to believe this was a problem.

#57 terrecar

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 01:38 PM

Eileen says:

Is there a problem? The purpose of border collie rescue is to re-home abandoned or unwanted border collies. If there are not a lot of border collies in need of re-homing, then it doesn't matter how rescues operate. It doesn't matter if they're unrealistic, rigid and hostile, because they'll still get enough applicants to deal with the small number of dogs needing help. But if there are a lot of border collies in need of re-homing -- if the denial of a dog to a person who would give it a good home means that dog's slot in rescue does not open up to take in another needy dog, and as a result that other needy dog dies -- then it seems to me there IS a problem. Likewise, if the public perception that rescues are unrealistic, rigid and hostile grows to the point where a lot of people decide not to apply to rescue (which I agree is currently much approved of as a way to get a dog), then that would be a problem too, it seems to me.


Bold, my emphasis.

That pretty much sums it up.

#58 Pippin's person

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 02:39 PM

Seriously, I'm not surprised that my suggesting self-reflection did not go over well. I was afraid that would be so. But I still believe it would be a good idea for a lot of rescues. It's hard to look critically at your own policies, procedures, and projected attitudes, and really see them from the point of view of an ordinary person who may know much less about dogs than you do but who would nevertheless give a dog a good home. But it could prove valuable if done with an open mind.


Eileen, my point was not that self-reflection is unnecessary or undesired. My point was that many of these organizations self-reflect frequently. Very frequently. I've made the same point in three separate posts and in response to each one you come back to saying that you knew some rescuer would object. I did not object to self-reflection. Many rescue organizations agonize over exactly the issues that have been raised here--do you not believe that to be true because you haven't seen evidence of it on these boards?

I have seen several people, you included, suggest that there was no reason for self-reflection on the part of those saying rescue organizations are the source of their own problems. I suppose I could also say that i was afraid that wouldn't go over well.

People believe what they believe and have every right to. I still don't get what the optimal response to these comments should be, though, in the opinions of those professing these beliefs about rescue. Several people, me included, have agreed that there are problems, often egregious ones. Agreement doesn't seem sufficient, however, as anything else that comes along from someone involved in rescue (or in my case, simply supportive) seems to be labeled as defensive, unrealistic, unwilling to acknowledge the perception problem, mean, etc. etc.

Your idea of a sticky wasn't lame. Getting a group of people together to come up with best practice guides isn't lame either.
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#59 geonni banner

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 03:11 PM

There seem to be a couple of sets of posts here. There are those who say, “Yeah, Boy! I’ve been to a couple of rescues, and it really IS tougher to adopt a dog than it is to adopt a kid!” And there are those who say, “Yeah, well, there’s a reason for that. It’s because the world is full of stupid, selfish people who only want to satisfy their whim-of-the-month, and we rescue people are the only thing between dogs and certain destruction!”

It seems to me that both of these sets of people have really good reasons for feeling the way they do. There is a growing perception of rescues as rigid, paranoid bunches of humaniacs who stand with their arms around their canine wards, bristling with suspicion and soured on humanity. And there is a stated opinion from many people who work in rescue that finding a good, permanent home for a dog is like walking through a minefield – one false step and the dog’s life is ruined, kerflooey!

Many of us grew up with the notion that if you wanted a pet dog and couldn’t afford to go to a fancy breeder, you went to the pound, put down a few bucks and got a mutt. You weren’t rescuing the dog; you were just going to the cheapest pet shop in town.

Now, if you go to the animal shelter, as often as not it looks like a hybrid between a bank and a Petsmart. You have to fill out more papers and be subject to greater scrutiny than if you were applying for a credit card. (And when was the last time you had to let the bank come see your house and back yard before issuing you a VISA card?

So what happened?

Well, a lot happened. The general climate of feeling toward animals underwent some huge changes. Pets became Companion Animals. “Just a dog” became a cherished family member. An annual rabies shot and an occasional dusting with flea-powder became veterinary pet insurance, regular checkups including blood-work and a raft of stuff like Frontline, Heartguard, Lymes vaccine, microchips and medicated shampoo. And all this stuff costs money.

Big business jumped on the band wagon. Pet foods, pet toys, grooming products, fancy dog-crates, and of course, puppy mills. Having a dog in the back yard suddenly got complicated.

But the fact is there are an awful lot of people out there who don’t spent large blocks of time thinking about the minutia of what a dog needs to live happily, safely and in perfect health. But they do like dogs. They want to have one. They are still somewhere nearer to the “go to the pound and throw down your 25 bucks” mindset. It doesn’t make them evil, it makes them uninformed.

So if I’m a person who works in animal rescue, what do I do? I have read everything I can lay my hands on about canine behavior, dog/human interaction, canine nutrition, socialization, training, and all things dog. I’ve seen things happen to dogs over and over that make my blood boil – things that the Geneva Convention would never allow. I’ve spent hours putting dogs with shattered health, both mental and physical back together into a semblance of wellness and sanity. It’s hard work, and it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes the best thing I can give a dog is a needleful of Euthanol. I work and worry and I feel hope and fear, and then I turn the creature I have poured all this into over to a stranger. Sometimes I never know how it works out.

And now here’s this guy giving me the fish-eye over an exhaustive questionnaire. How can we cooperate to get the dog what it needs, and we want? How can a rescue person avoid being seen as a nutball with fascist notions about who deserves a dog and who doesn’t, or a gooey little sentimentalist with no idea of what the real world is like? How do I find out whether the person who comes to me is a good bet to entrust with the dog he wants? How can I get the dogs I have charge of into good hands? Is the person filling out the rescue’s application a good choice as a permanent guardian for a dog, or someone who should never even own a dog?

In my experience, the best thing to do is to ask that person why they want a dog. I ask them what they imagine their life with the dog will be like. Their answers will tell me what other questions to ask. Many people who answer questions on a questionnaire have no idea to what the questions tend.

If a person comes into a rescue with an attitude that the rescue is something like the IRS that has to be outsmarted to get what he wants from it, little real communication can occur. For many of them the most basic question you could ask, such as ‘is your current/last dog microchipped’ is as incomprehensible as ‘what is the half-life of uranium 235?” It may seem obvious and absurdly simple to you, but it may put them into a lather of confusion. Why do you need to know all this? They don’t understand why you need to know, because they don’t realize that they need to know. Most people are not born knowing what a dog requires or what impact having a dog will have on their lives. People learn things about dogs that are wrong, outdated or hopelessly anthropomorphic. If this wrong information can be exchanged for more enlightened or correct notions without making the person feel like an idiot or a criminal, they will usually embrace the change happily and with gratitude. In some cases the person will realize that taking on a dog is biting off more than they can chew.

When I get to that stage, and the person is still game to try on a dog, then I tell that person what my idea of a good home is. I find that the dialog goes more smoothly if I have established myself as a possible mentor rather than a critical authority-figure or inquisitor.

This way of doing things does not lend itself to the internet adoption scenario. This is one reason I distrust Petfinders. I don’t feel that the placement of a dog should be settled on the strength of a form filled out online. (Or anywhere else) I want to have a face-to-face with the person. I want them to talk to me, probably more than once. Then I might see what it is they want and whether it fits with what I want for the dog. (Yes, I’m aware that many who post on Petfinders go way beyond this, but some don’t)


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#60 Jedismom

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 03:28 PM

First, let me respond to what I thought of the article itself. The article written by Emily Yoffe reads like something you'd see in an opinion column because that's what it is, her opinion. Well written, thoughtful news article presenting both sides? Nope. She wrote a book in 2005 (which I have read) called "What the Dog Did". In it, she talks about her experiences being a foster for beagle rescue. In this book, she had a heart for rescue, but even then, she disdained the process required of getting a rescue dog. There are several comments in the book that refer to that. However, she still had to go on home visits and approve or deny applications, which she did. Surprised? Didn't mention that in the article did she? So in my opinion, Emily Yoffe could have written a more balanced article, but she chose not to. She lost credibility with me because of that choice, so now it sounds like some disgruntled rant to me.

Is this opinion a growing trend that will negatively affect most rescues? No, I don't think so. Based on my conversations with people in general, other rescuers, and potential adopters, the vast majority think rescue is a great and somewhat noble endeavor. Even the ones that might question the home visit, thinking it a bit intrusive, once I explain the reasoning behind it, they're ok. I find that the folks that are committed to adopting from a rescue, will jump through a few hoops to get their new buddy. I believe that what affects rescues and shelters more, is the belief that all dogs in rescues/shelters are there because they have major problems, so it's not the place to get a dog. Must go to a breeder and get a puppy so I can raise him right!

Do I think that some rescues have rules that can be perceived as unreasonable? Yes. I've heard of one recently that I think is pretty darn stupid. But most of the time, those rules have some explanation behind them if you only care to ask. There will always be people though, that think they are the exception to the rule and will be offended if you don't think so. I have more respect for someone who, once they find out the requirement, strive to work it out so they can be approved. Yes, that takes more work, time, and commitment.

You can't please everyone, but somehow it seems we (rescues) are being asked to do so. Impossible task. Should we really post a description/rules/application that sounds like this?

1. Require a fenced yard. Unless of course, you don't have one and we happen to have a dog that would be ok without one, and if you do have one that is only 4 ft. high, we happen to have a dog that wouldn't/couldn't jump that.

2. Require that the dog be on leash. This particular breed will generally run off in search of new smells when off leash, but perhaps there may be a time we get one in that doesn't do that.

3. Require that it be an indoor dog. Well most of our dogs like it and do better when they can be indoors and a part of the family, but perhaps there may be a time we get one that prefers to be outdoors.

I think that if you're interested in a dog from a rescue and you think you can provide it a good home. Apply. Give reasons why you think it would work even if you don't meet every requirement. Listen to what the rescue says about the dog. They know him beyond the adorable picture you saw on the website. I know rejection feels like crap. It's hard not to take personally, and sometimes its preferable to avoid it if you can. You just won't know until you take a chance. If it works great. If it doesn't, then perhaps that just means the right dog is waiting for you elsewhere. That's all I'm sayin.

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