Saturday, March 6, 2010
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.