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#1 Lewis Moon

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 02:13 PM

I saw this article and really wondered where to put it; rescue or politics. Since it's rather pointed I thought I'd put it here with the thick skinned folks....

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#2 MaryP

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 02:23 PM

Well, I guess the trend here lately is to bring up every tired, old, polarizing topic. I didn't read the whole article. I don't need to. I've heard it all before. And not to sound like a broken record, but if you don't like a particular rescue or shelter's policies, go somewhere else. That's the thing. There's way more homeless dogs and cats out there then there are people willing to adopt them. So, the supply is there and I'm sure just about anyone is going to find someone willing to adopt a dog to them.
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#3 Lewis Moon

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 02:31 PM

Well, I guess the trend here lately is to bring up every tired, old, polarizing topic. I didn't read the whole article. I don't need to. I've heard it all before. And not to sound like a broken record, but if you don't like a particular rescue or shelter's policies, go somewhere else. That's the thing. There's way more homeless dogs and cats out there then there are people willing to adopt them. So, the supply is there and I'm sure just about anyone is going to find someone willing to adopt a dog to them.


Don't shoot the messenger. Simply pointing out an article on a very well traveled website.

#4 MaryP

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 02:37 PM

Don't shoot the messenger. Simply pointing out an article on a very well traveled website.


But, for what purpose? This topic has been beaten to death on this board more times than I can count.
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#5 Lewis Moon

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 02:49 PM

But, for what purpose? This topic has been beaten to death on this board more times than I can count.


Obviously, since you seem to be ascribing some ulterior motive, I surely must have done it just to piss people off. :rolleyes:

Really, I must have seriously miscalculated the thickness of skin. I'll aggressively self edit to account for everyone's sensabilities in the future.

#6 grenzehund

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 03:24 PM

Well, this quote from the writer seems a fair indication of the article's value: "Fed up, we decided to buy a puppy and found a lovely breeder, and our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Lily, has made us all ecstatic."

Jon Katz writes for Slate. Quite some standard they have there.

#7 MaryP

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 03:35 PM

My skin is plenty thick. I just don't see the point of posting these pot-stirring (and IMO, extreme-case scenario) topics over and over again. Yet, I'm seeing it a lot [more] lately here. What's next, raw vs. kibble? And the only reason that I singled you out is because it seems that when the "positive only" vs. correction training thread was finally about to wither on the vine, here comes another tired old topic that never gets anywhere. .
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#8 PSmitty

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 03:46 PM

It's ridiculous, really, that rescue groups have standards, policies and actually care about where their animals end up! How dare they expect people to fill out lengthy applications, provide references, pay adoption fees, or subject themselves to a home visit. Heaven forbid! That's just crazy talk.

Obviously, it is much, much better to go to a pet store or any old breeder, with little to no questions asked, for your next pet. And then, let's put an article up on Slate, stating just that, with all kinds of adoption horror stories to further our cause! :wacko:
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#9 PSmitty

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 03:50 PM

But, for what purpose? This topic has been beaten to death on this board more times than I can count.


Yep, that horse is dead already. (I probably shouldn't have posted my last comment, but the snark is strong with this one.)

ETA: OK, now I actually read the whole article. Good thing you didn't, Mary. Now I'm all stabby. :angry:
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#10 Eileen Stein

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 04:03 PM

I agree with Lewis Moon that this public perception of rescue is an important issue, especially when it receives this kind of widespread exposure. (Slate may publish Jon Katz, but it publishes high-quality essayists as well, and is widely read and influential.) Perhaps LM thought that the topic might provoke more dispassionate, constructive discussion when it wasn't raised by one person (easily dismissible as a spoiled ignoramus with a huge sense of entitlement who never really wanted to rescue in the first place) complaining about one rescue, as is usually the way the threads Mary is talking about originate.

I'm sorry to see the knee-jerk reaction that the article has to be ill-motivated trash. I read it all the way through, with some care, and found it to be pretty thoughtful [ETA: Wish I'd said "thought-provoking," which is more what I meant]. OTOH, I understand the frustration of rescues at being brought face to face yet again with this perception. "What can I do about it? We're doing our best, and get nothing but criticism from people who are doing nothing to help and have no clue about what we face," is a natural automatic reaction.

And they have a point. "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. So I think the most each rescue could do in the face of this is to be open-minded enough to reflect on whether IT might have a problem in the way it's operating that contributes to this perception. For example, is it realistic to list blanket disqualifications on our website, and then blame applicants for taking them at face value rather than persisting and trying to prove to us that they are the exception for whom an exception should be made? Are all the things our rescue is requiring really essential for the well-being of a placed dog, or do they just reflect my views of what's best for dogs (when that may actually be only one among many ways a dog could be happy and well-cared-for)? Are there ways that we could change a perception that we are unreasonable, but we just don't have time/people to implement them, and if so, is there a way we could enlist these critics to help us?

If these questions make any rescue reading them bristle with resentment, I think that's unfortunate. It's true that there's a plentiful supply of unwanted dogs out there, and it may be true that "just about anyone is going to find someone willing to adopt a dog to them," but if they are really turned off and made to feel despised by a rescue they may be reluctant to risk the same treatment by trying another rescue. It wouldn't be unreasonable for them to assume that it would be the same story at another rescue. You can say "too bad about them" then, they've proved their unworthiness by turning to a breeder or a pet shop, and it's their fault, not rescue's. But I think that's a comfortable position only if you you think homeless dogs -- not necessarily dogs you've taken into your particular rescue, but dogs in need generally -- are not losing out when that happens.

I understand that if you don't see this growing public perception as a problem, and at least potentially an obstacle to achieving the ultimate goals of rescue, you would feel no need to do anything but disparage anyone who articulates it. But I do wish, wistfully, that we could discuss it without rancor.

#11 terrecar

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 05:03 PM

I saw this article and really wondered where to put it; rescue or politics. Since it's rather pointed I thought I'd put it here with the thick skinned folks....

Slate Article


That thick skinned comment rather reminds me of a Borzoi I used to know that would stick his head under the kitchen table so nobody could see him and make him go out with the rest of the dogs. :P

I do on occasion read Slate, but haven't in a long while, so I would have missed this. I've only had a chance to skim it at this point, since I SHOULD be doing some work, but since it gets into the specifics of what potential adopters consider unreasonable, I will definitely bookmark it for a closer read later.

#12 Eileen Stein

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 06:04 PM

And the only reason that I singled you out is because it seems that when the "positive only" vs. correction training thread was finally about to wither on the vine, here comes another tired old topic that never gets anywhere.


I don't understand this explanation for singling Lewis Moon out. In all fairness, he did not post to -- and may not even have seen -- the correction training thread.

#13 grenzehund

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 06:10 PM

You know, I read it all the way through several times, and really hesitate to call it thoughtful. Well-written, yes. It is driven by a single point of view, exemplified by the title "No Pet For You. Want to adopt a dog or cat? Prepare for an inquisition at the animal rescue." Yoffe is very consistent, offering endless support for that perspective.

The author notes that in recent years "new organizations take potentially adoptable pets out of the shelters and foster them, usually in private homes, until the right owner comes along. ... Groups like these have high standards for who gets to adopt. Applicants are sometimes subjected to an interrogation that would befit Michael Vick." She then offers lots of anecdotal evidence of perceived irrational treatment of would-be adopters from those individuals (mostly via online comments).

At another stage of her argument she writes of how Petfinder has greatly facilitated adoptions. "This would be unmitigated good news for the four-legged were it not for the problems of the two-legged. Letís posit that many people who are drawn to humane work donít have a particularly positive view of humanity." Well, let's not.

I've read some good articles about issues rescue work. I've been involved in some thoughtful, intense discussions about how to improve adoption/placement policies with the rescue group I've worked with. Questions are good, self-reflection is good, awareness of public perception is good. And in an era when "fair and balanced" means anything but, I hesitate to criticize a writer for expressing her deeply felt opinion. But Yoffe is in a position of power, and her "article" is an irresponsible, belittling, blanket disparagement of rescue.

Susan

#14 MaryP

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 06:34 PM

I don't understand this explanation for singling Lewis Moon out. In all fairness, he did not post to -- and may not even have seen -- the correction training thread.



I simply meant that it was the first new post of a very old topic since the near death of one of the other very old topics that have circular discussions on this board. The topic itself was not of interest to me. It's the "pot stirring" with nothing new to offer that has grown tiresome to me. But, since reading the article, I would hardly call it thoughtful (or accurate, or fair, or representative of the majority of rescues or rescuers).

And, I'm done. You all have at it, though.
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#15 Eileen Stein

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 07:07 PM

But Yoffe is in a position of power, and her "article" is an irresponsible, belittling, blanket disparagement of rescue.

Susan


FWIW, I don't read it that way. She credits the growth of rescues with dramatically lowering the euthanasia rates of dogs in shelters, and speaks favorably of the growth and potential of Petfinders in facilitating the good work of rescues. But she sees a problem that could diminish the effectiveness of rescue in overzealous screening, and that is the subject of her article. Yes, she is highlighting that problem, but I don't see that as an irresponsible, belittling, blanket disparagement of rescue. She does not say that all rescues are overzealous, just that many are and that the feedback she's getting shows that this overzealousness frequently backfires. She writes understandingly about the probable reasons behind it, and quotes people of presumable expertise and good will who share her concern:

There are people in the rescue community who are aware that zealotry is damaging their cause. (The ASPCA sided with DeGeneres in her dispute). After all, since fewer than 20 percent of new pets come from rescue groups, driving down that proportion is self-defeating. Jane Hoffman is the president of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, the organization that transports potential pets from animal control to private groups and provides training and other services. “You have two ends of the spectrum,” she says. “Pet stores will sell to anyone with the money. And then there are rescue group who won’t adopt to anyone. We need a happy medium.”

Hoffman, whose organization works to smooth out the adoption process, acknowledges that the attitude of a lot of rescue groups is to “try to screen out people.” She understands the psychology of these wary rescuers. These are people, she points out, who save animals from dreadful situations: wandering lost on the street, facing euthanasia in a kill shelter, being removed from a “skank” owner. “They put in a lot of time and effort and love this dog or cat back to health,” she says. “Some get a little overcautious and are so afraid to make the wrong choice. So they err on the side of rejecting what would be a perfectly good home.”


Finally, the author gives some pretty good examples to explain what she's talking about. To take just a few:

a link to an over-the-top (IMO) application form
a link to an oppressive adoption contract that I would never sign or advise a client to sign
a policy that you can't adopt a rescue greyhound unless you already had an adopted greyhound
a policy against adopting a cat to a person older than 60
a policy against adopting a border collie to someone who would let it off-leash in a fenced field
a policy that refused a dog to someone who would let the dog sleep wherever in the house it pleased


Do you think none of this is true? Or do you think it is true, but it's irresponsible to write an article saying so? Or might it be a useful call for moderation -- an alert that the good light that the public has come to see rescue in is being undermined more and more in public opinion by policies that turn potentially good homes away, in ways the rescue may not be aware of, because they never get to the point of even having contact with these discouraged potential applicants. Those people share their experience with others, who are turned off as well. I get the feeling that most rescues don't even see this as a problem, and that baffles me.

The author sums up her concern in her last sentences: "Shafer’s analysis of the guinea pig saviors [whose refusal of a family applying to adopt, based on suspicion that the parents wanted them as pets for their daughters, resulted in the family's buying at a pet shop instead] is unfortunately true of many animal rescuers. 'They are trying to do something good,' he says, 'and they end up doing something bad.'"

To me this article highlights a problem that it would be well to heed. But I know how easy it is to resent or condemn or reject warnings that someone doesn't want to hear.

#16 PSmitty

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 07:20 PM

And in an era when "fair and balanced" means anything but, I hesitate to criticize a writer for expressing her deeply felt opinion. But Yoffe is in a position of power, and her "article" is an irresponsible, belittling, blanket disparagement of rescue.

Susan


Thank you, Susan. I also felt the article was anything but thoughtful. It was full of generalizations, assumptions, and derogatory comments that paint rescue in a very negative light. And I'm not just talking about a rescue's policies being questioned, but rather the implication she's trying to make about the motivation and possible mental health of rescuers. Very one-sided, based on a handful of people giving their version of what happened.

I know there are people out there who were turned down by rescue and it left a bad taste in their mouth. (Why they would feel "despised" is a little hard for me to swallow, but whatever.) However, I truly believe that those people are the minority, and that there are many, many more happy "customers" of rescue. Controversy is where it's at for a lot of sites, publications, etc. And message boards, too! ;)
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#17 Eileen Stein

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 07:22 PM

The topic itself was not of interest to me. It's the "pot stirring" with nothing new to offer that has grown tiresome to me.


But maybe something new might develop from it, if rescuers didn't refuse to engage with it.

For example, does anyone think it would be constructive to write a piece about rescue policies and practices to post here as a sticky? Something that might inoculate folks against recoiling from rescue as a result of overzealous rescue policies and procedures they may encounter? Or at least explain that not all rescues have the same policies and procedures, and so it's not an exercise in futility to try to find one more amenable to you? Or would that be objectionable and counterproductive?

I don't know. I guess you're probably right. Ignore it or shoot the messenger or both. If y'all don't think there's a problem, who am I to say there is?

#18 PSmitty

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 07:28 PM

Or might it be a useful call for moderation -- an alert that the good light that the public has come to see rescue in is being undermined more and more in public opinion by policies that turn potentially good homes away, in ways the rescue may not be aware of, because they never get to the point of even having contact with these discouraged potential applicants.


I believe we're talking about a small minority of the public that views rescue in a bad light, after ending up disgruntled over one thing or another. As the saying goes, you can't please everybody, all of the time. However, this article could most certainly persuade others to not even bother trying with rescue and go right to the breeder or pet store, and I think that is a shame.
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#19 Pippin's person

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 07:50 PM

A sticky would probably be useful. Even more useful would be actual data on the extent of this issue.

Without relevant data, how should the volunteers of rescue organizations that do not engage in these kinds of practices or that have an excellent placement record with delighted adopters, etc. respond or anticipate what kinds of potential policies might be out there?

All we get in the article is the hearsay and anecdote from the disgruntled. Not a single comment or quote from someone who had a positive experience. Indeed, this is frequently the way this story goes.

Eileen, what is your evidence that "rescuers refuse to engage with the topic." My experience is exactly the opposite, for instance.
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#20 Eileen Stein

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Posted 26 January 2012 - 07:54 PM

I believe we're talking about a small minority of the public that views rescue in a bad light, after ending up disgruntled over one thing or another. As the saying goes, you can't please everybody, all of the time.


No way of telling whether you're right or I'm right about the relative percentages. Any rescue is naturally going to focus on its success stories -- they are so much "realer" than the ones turned off and the possibly rippling consequences.

However, this article could most certainly persuade others to not even bother with rescue and go right to the breeder or pet store, and I think that is a shame.


Yup. I would have thought that was a problem very much akin to the problem of people who have bad experiences with rescue and pass those experiences along to their circle of friends/acquaintances. But I guess we can just decide that all of them are bad, disgruntled people with suspect motives, and therefore there's no need to pay attention to any of them.


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