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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-30-2014, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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Questionable shelter practices?

I just feel the need to put this to a wider community and get some perspective. Apologies in advance for the length.

Some background - there are only 3 shelters in the town I live, two are completely not-for-profit and no-kill. The other is the RSPCA. Oh and there are the council pounds as well, but this one particular shelter takes many of the animals on from there.

So this one shelter is where we got our two boys from. I have never adopted an animal before and I didn't really know much about the process. I had contacted them via Facebook earlier to ask if I could bring some donations when we came to look at the kittens. We spent about an hour in the kitten room by ourselves, before the lady came to see how we were going. We had all but decided on the two boys, but I had said before we got there that we wouldn't decide straight away and would think on it for a week and come back when we were sure.

I was expecting some sort of interview so they could determine if we were suitable, but the lady said we could take them right away, and she would give us a discount on the adoption fee if we took them both that day. So we agreed, went for some lunch and came back. Filled out the paperwork, bought a carrier from them and were on our way.

Anyway, fast forward. I am friends with the shelter on Facebook and often see posts about how many animals they have rehomed in however many months. Last one was about 94 in 5 months. Which is obviously a great achievement, but after our experience I started wondering how many others get the same "you can take him home today!" service.

Last night, a story particularly bothered me. They are advertising a 12 week old kitten for adoption, and said she has a heartbreaking story. The family who had adopted her (along with her brother) didn't like the fact that they played too much, and so returned the girl to the shelter. This is horrible. A few comments on the post expressed this, saying the family is ignorant, that playful kittens are happy and healthy. The shelter commented back that "some people don't like it when they play with their kids, you'd be surprised at the reasons...". Someone said that they should have been made to give the brother back as well. To which the shelter responded that one cat with a home is better than two without.

I am still upset about it this morning. I understand the struggles that shelters face, with money and resources and space, and having animals that don't find homes for ages, that there may be some desperation to rehome. But this story and our own (a small number out of the 94) make me thing they don't do interviews with everyone, or anyone at all. She did tell me they can sort of tell about a person, especially if they have been in contact prior (like we had). But I wonder how many other animals go to unsuitable homes.

What do others think? If anyone works at a shelter, I'd be really appreciative of your input.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-30-2014, 10:06 PM
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Hi fellow Aussie I work at a cat shelter in my town so I might be able to give some insight, or try at least.
We do not conduct interviews or home inspections routinely. The simple fact of the matter is that we don't have the time, high staff numbers or resources to do so. There is a ton of paperwork and we go over heaps of stuff with adopters then, it usually takes about half an hour to finish all the papers. Plus, there is always lots of general question asking about whether the adopters have other pets, small children, whether they want their next pet to be indoor/outdoor/both, and all that kind of thing so that we can help them select the cat best suited to them to prevent them being brought back.
Of course it does still happen, and yes, sometimes I find the reasons to be idiotic. But it is better they get returned to a shelter than abandoned or dumped when the novelty wears off. And it is also super easy to tell if people are dodgy or not. We can deny adopters if we don't think they would be good pet owners. It's hard and can seem judgemental but where I live there is a breed of some really sketchy characters (bogans, haha) that you can spot from a mile away.
It's tough for shelter workers because all we want to do is see the cats get forever homes. But would never send a cat home with someone who we believed to be an unsuitable adopter.
Hope that helps you understand a little
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-30-2014, 10:27 PM
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The shelter didn't have the authority to demand the other kitten back. Shelters aren't as picky here as "rescues" who are sometimes overly cautious. Cats, dogs and other animals are dumped on them, and the shelter's job is to find homes for them.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-30-2014, 10:49 PM
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When I adopted Neelix they wanted his brother to be adopted with him. They offered me a twofer. Both kittens for one adoption fee. That would give me FOUR cats and that wasn't happening. I offered to leave Neelix and adopt Doris(a little black female kitten) but she said the same thing. They'd never turn down a sure thing home.

Them she went on to say that adopting them out is like taking a handful of darts and throwing them at the board. You hope some stick. That they have SO many animals that they try to make sure the homes are safe, healthy, loving, and they move on to the next animal.

I'm sure they wished they could be picky but they have to keep the animals moving to make room for the inflow tat never slows down.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-31-2014, 07:21 AM
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My municipal shelter where I volunteer has the same policy of allowing neutered animals to go home that same day. Our only check is an ID check, a public background check (check for animal abuse charges, etc.), a rental lease check (checking that animals are allowed) and rabies vaccination check for resident animals. That's it. No stringent requirements at all. There are days our cats are only $5 and sometimes BOGO at that.

The Humane Society did a study and found that stringent demands do not necessarily mean one is a better pet parent. They also found that economics of a family does not necessarily mean a pet won't be loved and taken care of. Anonymous bloggers on a site can be very quick to offer their misguided or mistaken 2 cents worth. I don't put much credence into what others say when they are not in the same circumstances.

I agree with the shelter. I don't find it upsetting at all. The 12 week old kitten will find a home more suitable for her I'm sure. You would be shocked to know how easily our shelter (which IS a kill shelter) takes returns but also it's comforting to know that perhaps those families were not initially the best match and usually a better match is made afterwards.

We have an absolutely adorable, loveable 5-6 month old kitten that has been adopted and returned twice for the most bogus of reasons:
Adoption #1 - pooped outside box. I actually had a photo of him standing in his box and pooping over the edge cuz the shelter box was too small. The people bought an itty bitty kitten box and guess what???........
Adoption #2 - Kitten scratches furniture and doesn't like long car rides. Gets car sick.
Duh.

Our Animal Control officer went and picked him up after that and brought him back. This guy is so freakin sweet. He'll find his forever match with the right people this time I'm sure as will your kitten you are worried about.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-31-2014, 09:49 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies and perspective which is what I was after. There have been a few other things come up about the shelter that have probably added to my thoughts, justified or not I don't really know. I have been torn actually because I really want to volunteer there, but the things stopping me were one that it is about an hour each way to get there and then the moral issue.

I do have a lot of sympathy and understanding for how difficult it is for the shelter. I have spoken to the lady a few times and know they are struggling. So I really hope I didn't sound in-compassionate towards the staff because I am really not. Obviously just a bit naive as to how things work.

And yes, that is actually a really good point that it's a good thing she was returned and will find a better match.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-31-2014, 10:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happy_panther View Post
To which the shelter responded that one cat with a home is better than two without.
Can't say I disagree with that.

Didn't realise you had RSPCA in Australia, I assume it's the same as the UK one.

The UK based RSPCA is well known for being 'overzealous' with euthanasia.

Quote:
The RSPCA destroys nearly half the animals it ‘rescues’ each year, with thousands being put down for non-medical reasons, shocking figures obtained by The Mail on Sunday reveal.
The animal-welfare charity destroyed 53,000 animals last year – 44 per cent of those it took in – leading critics to claim that the organisation spends too much time on prosecuting cases of neglect and cruelty and not enough on finding new homes for animals.
The charity insists the vast majority of the animals were put down to end their suffering, but it admits that last year alone 3,400 animals were destroyed for ‘non-medical’ reasons, such as the lack of space in kennels and catteries.
I think the only no-kill shelter here is 'Cats protection League' who are very good, I was subject to a home visit when I adopted Ebony but as soon as they saw the house full off cat toys from my previous cat Gizmo (R.I.P.) they just flew through the paperwork and where on their merry way.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-31-2014, 04:17 PM
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I don't trust the RSPCA but that's a whole other story. The shelter I support is no kill and is struggling with an ever growing number of cats needing help but unless they know you well they visit your home. Even when friends of mine wanted to adopt a farm cat, they visited - checked where the cat was going to be confined until she had settled, talked diet, etc..
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-01-2014, 10:31 PM Thread Starter
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I guess there are different practices out there.. I think the home visits and suitability assessment are taken more seriously with dogs, from what I have seen/heard. But again everywhere is different.

I am not a fan of the RSPCA either.. can't say the same for everywhere, but there have been articles in Australia similar to yours Dave, re too much euthanasia. I recall one story where a pet they were minding was "accidentally" euthanised. But yes, another topic on it's own.

As Louise said, I guess it would be fairly easy to spot the dodgy people, especially if you have been working in shelters for some time.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-02-2014, 06:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happy_panther View Post
As Louise said, I guess it would be fairly easy to spot the dodgy people, especially if you have been working in shelters for some time.
Sometimes, but even dodgy "looking" people can be great pet parents. One just never knows. We do our best to screen and then hope for the best. I've adopted out cats from the shelter to what I thought were GREAT pet parents only to have them returned for the most bogus of reasons. I've adopted to "dodgy" people and gotten updates about how great the cat is doing. You just never know. I've learned not to judge too harshly.

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