Saturday, March 6, 2010

Adopting Emily

This is the story of how I adopted my dog Emily several years ago. I am intentionally leaving out the name of the shelter where I adopted her because this was my one and only dealing with this shelter and may not have been typical. Since they didn't kill a dog or anything even close, I want to give them the benefit of the doubt.

When I was looking for a little dog, I had been laid off from my job and was having no luck in finding a new one. Billy and I agreed we would visit area shelters until we found a good match (sometimes I went alone since he was at work). The first dog we found was at my favorite no kill shelter, the Animal Protection League. The lady who introduced us to the little white female mixed breed was up front about some major medical issues the dog was dealing with which I really appreciated. We left saying we'd get back to her about the dog. I went home and began researching online. Ultimately, we decided against taking on a dog with these issues since there was the possibility, as with any dog, that the future held more, unknown medical problems and after all, I was out of work. I didn't think we could commit to the necessary veterinary expenses for this dog. We let the shelter know and they were very nice about it. I still remember that dog and think of her and how I had left lipstick on her white head.

The second dog I picked out was at a kill shelter. When I told the receptionist which dog I had chosen, she said that dog was on a potential hold for someone else. She said she'd call me and let me know if the adopter decided to take the dog. She did call me eventually, but by that time I had adopted Emily. I still remember that dog and wonder what happened to him.

I was searching online for shelters when I came across the website which led me to Emily. Although I didn't see her listed on the shelter's site, they did list a very reasonable adoption fee of $75 which included neuter, vaccines and heartworm testing. In addition, the site indicated that some dogs who had been at the shelter for a long time were half-price! I was definitely excited about that. I didn't know if I would find a dog there or if I did, whether that dog would be one of the half-price ones, but I figured I'd give it a whirl.

When I arived at the shelter, I went to the front desk and my eye was immediately drawn to an x-pen full of little dogs behind the desk. I'm sure my face lit up but the receptionist must have seen the gleam in my eye and told me immediately that all of those dogs were adopted. I remember wondering why a shelter would keep a bunch of already adopted dogs in an x-pen behind the counter. It seems like if they were the staff's personal pets, she would have just said that but I don't know. At any rate, after I explained I was looking for a small dog, she thought of one that was available and asked someone to bring her out to me. That was Emily.

I spent a long getting-to-know-you time in their spacious lobby area with Emily, most of which she spent having a nap on my lap. While I was there, a lady came in with her kid to redeem her lost Dachshund. The receptionist refused to return the dog to the owner without spaying her first. The owner eventually broke down in tears and the small child was obviously upset. I didn't like any of that and I got a bad feeling.

I called Billy to tell him about Emily and he agreed we should adopt her. I was given an application form and the receptionist asked me questions about how I took care of my other dogs which made me feel better. That's when she dropped the bomb: No, Emily was not a half-price dog, she wasn't even regular price - her adoption fee was double! For the second time that visit, the receptionist accurately read my facial expression without me even saying a word. I was shocked. I admit it would have been great to pay a reduced fee but I had gone in there willing to pay the regular, full fee if necessary. But double? WTF? She explained that they charge more for little dogs. For reals. Needless to say, had they disclosed this on the website, I may have decided not to go there or if I did, at least I would have been prepared. I felt they had lured me in to the shelter by promising me I could adopt a dog for $35 or $75 and then when I got there, jacked up the price to $150. Do. Not. Like.

Before the deal fell through though, the receptionist unleashed her most excellent salesman tactics. First she offered to take payments - $50 a month on my credit card that I would leave on file with them. Then to seal the deal, she appealed to my independent ego. Noticing that I had called Billy earlier, she asked, "Do you need to call someone to see if paying the fee is ok?". Oh hell no, I don't need to call anyone! I am a strong independent woman who makes my own decisions and takes responsibility for my own finances! I demand that you take my credit card immediately and put through the first payment!

Yeah, she got me. But in the end, we got Emily. So I can't really feel too bad about the whole thing. But honestly, I highly doubt I'll ever go back there to adopt another pet nor have I ever recommended the place to anyone. So I have to wonder if it was really worth it to them to get the extra $75 out of me when all was said and done. As I said in the beginning of this post, maybe this isn't the way they typically do business. But the incident with the Dachshund owner combined with my own experience just left a bad taste in my mouth.

By the way, the shelter ended up trying to charge my card an extra time after the fee was paid off. I complained to the bank who asked them for proof of authorization. They didn't provide a response and so the bank credited me the extra $50 charge. Not the capper to this story I wanted.

Do you have any experiences - positive or negative - to share about adopting from a shelter or rescue? I'd like to hear them.


jan said...

Bait and switch, what a terrible practice as shelters are in a real sense retail establishments.

Susan said...

Forgive me if I've told the story before, but in April '08 we adopted two kittens (6-8 mos) and a puppy (5 months). We work from home, have a large house and have had no problem caring for three animals before.
The problem: one of the cats had a huge prey drive and was determined to kill the other two. We spent two months and a lot of money trying to make the situation work, but no luck. Heads hung in shame, we returned Cujo to the shelter, where they attempted to guilt trip us.

This pissed me off, because in theory, all these animals had been temperament tested and things like this (must be only pet) were noted on their file. Obviously either that step was skipped or done in a shoddy manner. He was an affectionate, sweet cat with humans, and I'm sure his odds for finding a good family would have been better had he been left there when he was younger. We tried our best. But when down to rescuing two animals versus one, the choice was clear.

Pibble said...

What a terrible experience you had. It's like they drew you in with the most desirable dogs by placing them where you couldn't miss them, then when she gauged your interest, she jacked up the price.

I volunteer at a shelter, and one thing I love, believe it or not, is that we volunteers have to go through the same rigorous adoption process everyone else goes through.

I'm also an adoption counselor, and whenever I hear someone say "this is harder than adopting a baby," I'll smile and say "I went through the same thing when I adopted my dog from here." Or if they're really rude about it, I'll remind them that it could be their dog I'm placing: "doesn't it make you feel good to know that if you had to surrender your dog, we're being very careful about who might be adopting him?" That puts it into perspective for them and they actually appreciate it.

I do have an issue with "pricing" animals, though. We have a set price for cats/kittens and another for dogs/puppies. We don't charge a premium because a dog is younger or charge less because a dog is older. I can understand why some shelters do; I just don't like the idea of putting an elderly dog "on sale." Our shelter will, however, help with medications in chronic cases if the adopter can provide a fantastic home and the only thing standing in they way might be expensive meds for something like Cushings.

Emily is very cute - I love her ears!

Jess said...

I have never adopted from a shelter. I have had rescue dogs, and the rescues were fabulous to deal with, no problems. I have worked with Greyhound rescue and pulled dogs from shelters. One shelter, privately run, was very, very nice. Vet clinic on site, everything spotless, nice, friendly people. Inexpensive, a dog that came in already spayed or neutered was only $5. I was called to pick up two Greyhounds, a brindle bitch and a brindle parti male. When I got there the male had been adopted out. The bitch was rail thin (I am a sighthound person, I tend to keep my own dogs on the thin side, and this poor girl was very underweight), had pressure sores down to the bone on her pastern and hip joints, and point of the shoulder. Her intake papers said she had been there ten days, picked up as a stray. I asked the woman who brought her out to us, "was she this thin when she was picked up?" and was told no, but she won't eat. I told they needed to call us as soon as the Greyhounds come in, they don't do well on concrete, and need to have soft bedding. I'm not sure if she listened. I took Twiggy (as we called her) home and offered her food, which she immediately ate. She never refused food while we were fostering her. I was disappointed with this shelter because those sores and the weight loss didn't happen overnight; they should have called us much sooner.

Two months later I got a call from a guy who had a brindle parti male Greyhound to give up. I went to the get the dog, a huge handsome dog that had raced until he was five, very vigorous and wiggly, very friendly, just a great dog. With him, I got the adoption papers from that very same shelter, AND the contract from the original GH adoption group, clearly stating the dog was to be returned to them. Not too pleased with the shelter. I don't really know what to think about the original owner of this dog, because I know the group I worked with would guilt people big time if they returned a dog.

CyborgSuzy said...

I adopted a cat from a local kill shelter about 5 years ago. She was part of a large group of cats from a hoarder. We eventually came to the conclusion that she had either switched info collars with another cat or otherwise slipped through the cracks.

The shelter said she was about a year old. On our first vet visit, they told us she was much older, closer to 5 or 6. The shelter said she was already spayed (they have a policy of either spaying or giving a voucher for a free spay). Three months after we brought her home, she went into heat. When we called the shelter and explained their mistake and asked for the voucher, the receptionist told us they had no record of the cat or our adoption. THEN she said even if they did, it wasn't their policy to give out the voucher so long after the adoption. To make everything worse, before we got her to the vet to get her spayed ourselves, she slipped out the door before we could stop her. We haven't seen her again.

It didn't sour me on shelters in general, though. Two years ago when it was time to get a dog, we went to a no-kill shelter. The process and couldn't have been smoother.

Elizabeth said...

My first adoption in my adult life was living hell!!

After losing Myrtle, a dog who i had found, and lost within a year, I spent three weeks in bed crying. My boyfriend said that I needed to get another dog and forced me to start looking. I did, and went quite a few times before I saw Chubbs from across the room. I knew at that moment he was my dog.

The shelters computers were being swtiched to a new system, his chart said he was a spayed female when he obviously was not, and I had to fight other adopters off with a stick. Since the systems were down dogs who had been adopted (waiting on shots or whatever) were actually adopted out to other families.

Sicne the systems were being switched they coudlnt adopt him out to me immediatly and they told me I'd have to wait to find out who the dog even was. I went in for 3 days in a row, and even had my boyfriend in a day before that.

It took four days to find out who he was, and then one day (6 hours) of waiting in the office for the shelter manager to talk to me. However she was very friendly and even ran out to catch the vet at his car so my dog could get his shots and come home with me that day.

Chubbs was also a return who had been adopted as a young puppy. He was not temperment tested when he was returned and turns out he's very quirky with other dogs. He attempted to attack my boyfriends senior dog when we got home. I probably would not have adopted him if I had known that was an issue. He is great with dogs once hes met them and since then I ahve brought another stray into my life. He's also wodnerful with my cat, foster kittens, rats, ferrets, and iguana. (we have a total zoo!!)

I also had a problem with that shelter last year when my sister was looking to adopt a second dog. I'm in my 20's and at the time my sister was 19 and the first one was adopted from that shelter. They allowed us to see the dog but when we aquired about the dog, we were told that "our parents would have to come in to do the adoption" I kinda told out the shelter manager and I ended up finding a stray a few weeks later who now live shappily with my sister. (philly has alot of dumped dogs) But still why were we both allowed to adopt dogs from the shelter then denied a second adoption? BTW neither one of us were living with our parents at the time.

Elizabeth said...

Also one really horrible thing I left out. I recieved a phone call several weeks after I adopted my dog asking me if I had dropped off or adopted a dog.

This wa sseveral years ago, and the shelter has gone under new managment. I now volunteer and foster.

Anonymous said...

the humane society of swmo. stole my dog by way of stall his pick up then jacking up the fees they dont have posted any where . i am a little smarter and more determined than they'd ever believe. i have my dog thanks to a voucher and some theatrical makeup . they where talking crap about me to me . what a bunch of snotty whores they are.hey snotty whores ofmo.what do you know.sorry had to do it