Helicopter Parenting Spreads to Pets

Hi Readers — Here’s a piece of mine that ran in The Wall Street Journal. Woof! (Doggie for, “Enjoy!”) – L.

Helicopter Parents — Meet Helicopter Pet-Owning

by Lenore Skenazy

If you’re considering getting a pet at this time of year, as many folks do, you may find the rescue shelters a little pickier than you’d expect. Perhaps a little pickier than the royal family choosing a governess. Here are the requirements on one pet-rescue website:

“All dogs must be constantly supervised in their yards for their safety. Dogs of any size can scale fences within minutes of an owner’s inattention. Physical fencing is not a guarantee of safety, because . . . animals such as bats, bees and snakes can gain access to yards. [Our agency] recommends checking on the condition of fencing and digging/jumping deterrents on a regular basis, securing all gates with locks, and installing outdoor floodlights to illuminate the entire yard.”

Excuse me—no dog can be outside in a fenced-in yard these days without a human being standing guard? Didn’t guarding used to be the dog’s job?

And how about this fear of bats swooping in on poor Fido? Maybe Hartz makes a flea, tick and bat collar that’s laced with garlic, just in case.

And floodlights? Are we talking about keeping tabs on a dog or Bernie Madoff?

Ah, but that’s exactly the idea: constant surveillance. The only safe pet is a pet that’s watched and worried over. You’ve heard of helicopter parents? Welcome to helicopter pet-owners.

Kristen Stelzer, a civil engineer who lives near Washington, D.C., recently told me about going with her husband to adopt a dog. During the application process, she happened to mention that they looked forward to the fun of taking the pooch to a dog park. The agency interviewer was appalled. “She was very anti-dog park,” Ms. Stelzer recalled. “She said some of the other dog owners ‘will not control their dogs.’ ” In other words, dog park = poorly supervised playdate. Tsk, tsk.

The rest of the application process didn’t go so smoothly for Ms. Stelzer either. Handed a 50-question form, she had to secretly Google some answers. “Like, ‘How do dogs get heartworm?’ I don’t know. I just give my dog a heartworm pill once a month.”

Then, even though she listed all the vets she’d used for the past 15 years—yes, another requirement—the application was rejected. She suspects that it was because she didn’t promise to cheerfully go bankrupt if the pet needed extensive medical care.

Three months later, the dog that the Stelzers wanted to adopt was still awaiting rescue by a more perfect owner.

If you think adopting a cat is easier, it is—but only slightly. The cat-adoption application was three pages when a friend of mine decided that she wanted a kitten. It required her to list the name of her employer; indicate whether she owns houseplants; supply two references; and, oddly, reveal whether or not she owns a washer/dryer. (That one stumped us both.)

The application also listed the brands of food the cat should be fed. You will not be surprised to learn that only expensive “all natural” cat food would suffice. I’m sure it’s great stuff, if you can afford it without being reduced to eating cat food yourself. But plenty of cats have spent their lives—maybe even nine of them—eating Purina, and they still purr gratefully. That doesn’t matter to the adoption agencies, because another hallmark of helicoptering over pets or kids is the belief that if everything isn’t the very best of the best, especially when it comes to food, you’re basically poisoning Precious.

Just as with helicopter parents, the over-careful pet owner is also expected to worry ceaselessly about one matter above all others: abduction. I’ve seen an animal-control website that devotes a page to how to avoid canine kidnapping. I won’t give you the Web address because you don’t need it. The site suggests that dog owners vary the times that they let the dog into the yard. Tell that to the mutt who’s really gotta go.

No one is watching your dog through binoculars, clocking his movements and peppering a T-bone with knockout drugs. This kind of predator paranoia is the same reason parents don’t let their human progeny go outside anymore, even though the U.S. crime rate keeps plummeting. The fear does not match the facts, and the fear is winning. The result? Kids, and now pets, hovered over, fenced in and floodlit. It’s like they’re at Leavenworth. In 2012 America, that’s considered good parenting, no matter the species.

I'm adorable, but I do not need constant supervision.

I’m adorable, but I do not need constant supervision.


131 Responses to Helicopter Parenting Spreads to Pets

  1. Filioque February 20, 2013 at 8:35 am #

    What a funny article, but head-shaking at the same time. And I thought the process of adopting a person was long and tedious.

  2. Morag Lonergan February 20, 2013 at 8:49 am #

    Oh for goodness sake. If I wad to constantly supervise one of my dogs I would never be inside, unless it is pouring with rain! He’s a dog! Also, I have noticed lots of warnings recently that there is an increase in dog thefts for use as bait in dog fights. Maybe this is so, but also maybe this is because these warnings are shared on facebook, easy circulation. I do now worry about tying them up outside the shop, which I have never worried about before. But I still do it because I’d rather they got the exercise of walking to the shop and back, rather than sitting indoors waiting for me to come back from going alone. I resent being made to worry about it! But I won’t let it affect their life.

  3. Jennifer February 20, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    Great. Now there will be even MORE poor animals in shelters, because nobody is going to want to go through all of that, and really, who has the time and patience to do all of the things on that list once you have finally been granted approval to own a dog? I foresee these policies being counterproductive to pet adoptions. So, more of them will be sent to kill shelters…. because obviously, that will keep them safer than having a loving family who just happens to have a gate without a padlock on it!

  4. Kristi February 20, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    I’ve always been mystified by the pet owners who say, “I love my pets just like I love my children.” I have 5 children and have owned numerous dogs that I’ve enjoyed and even loved, but I can attest to the fact that there is NO comparison. If you feel otherwise, poor children!

  5. Cyn February 20, 2013 at 8:53 am #

    RE: the washer/dryer

    Because felines LOVE nice warm places (and baskets full of laundry) and have been known to climb into them. So, of course, prospective new owners must have counseling to make sure Fluffy doesn’t wind up in the machine when it’s running.

  6. michele February 20, 2013 at 8:55 am #

    since moving last august i have been constantly harassed by the neighbors calling dog control and the spca on me because i leave my bernese mountain dog out when it is SNOWING. dog control told me to build a lean to because he would not use a dog house but the law said i needed one. i bought him a beautiful cedar house that i figured my kids would end up playing in. then the spca came out and said the dog house wasn’t up to legal code! the roof wasn’t waterproof and it wasn’t insulated! they said that if i didn’t comply they would eventually arrest me. i then bought the dog an igloo house and the spca came back again to inspect it and measure the dog to make sure it was big enough. i was told that if the dog was outside for more than five minutes without access to my house then the law was that the dog needed a house. so now my dog has two dog houses and hasn’t used either one of them. sometimes he takes cover between the two.

  7. CaroleJ February 20, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    This is what happens with the constant anthropomorphization of animals… They are not human.

    I love my doggies, some days more than my kiddo, but I do realize that ultimately they are JUST DOGS.

  8. Becky February 20, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    I haven’t had a dog in many years now (and when I did it came from a breeder), but in my experience you can find a whole host of kittens free and without any application requirements. My current cat was found in an abandoned house along with her littermates by my – wait for it – husband’s secretary’s cousin’s husband. That’s social media for you. You want an an adorable kitten that needs a home? Try Facebook. My other most recent cat (who passed last year) came to us through a pet store. She had been randomly dropped off in a carboard box there that morning, and we randomly stopped by that evening to pick up food for our other pets. Best pet I ever had and she came to us without any attempt on our part to try and find her, let alone go through a tedious adoption process.

  9. Becky February 20, 2013 at 9:11 am #

    @Kristi – I just had to respond to your post. You say you have 5 children. Do you love some of them more than the others? If not, why would you feel sorry for kids whose parents love their furry siblings just the same? Do you think the kids get less love because they’re in a house where animals are cherished? I had 4 sisters growing up. Two black, one white, one calico, none human. I never had a problem with this. I understood that if my house was on fire, my mom would rush in to save me…and then she’d go back in for the pets afterwards. It didn’t screw me up emotionally or mentally to know that the animals who were so important to me, were equally important to the rest of my family.

  10. Jenarl February 20, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    This is one of major pet peeves! So many animals miss out on decent homes because rescues are so picky and demanding. It’s disgusting.

  11. Sara February 20, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    My family was moving and after the moving trucks left we packed up the car with our kids and small dog. She rode in my lap the whole way, tongue flopping out, loving the 800+ mile journey.

    However, when we were driving through New York, a woman in a car next to us started pointing her fingers at me and Layla (the dog) and shouting through her window. She followed us to a stop light, rolls down the window, and begins chastising me for carrying my dog and not having her properly secured in a dog car seat (oh yes, there’s such a thing.)

    I guess I could make room and put her in the car seat.. but where would I put my kids?

    Pets are pets.. and I don’t care how much someone tries to convince me, they are not people, and should not be treated like people or children. I don’t give my children flea medicine, and they don’t poop outside. People really need to get a clue.

    And as far as the adoption process goes-one word-INSANE! I wanted another dog but decided against it because of the ridiculous adoption process. The paperwork actually stated that they could come to check on the animal at any time, and if it weren’t being cared for to their standards, take it.

    And I let my dog hang out of the window on car trips-no way that’s up to their standards.

  12. Amy February 20, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    Crazy. We got our dog from a breeder who was quite thorough and is willing to take the dog back at any time if we are unable to care for her (not that we plan to send our fur-baby back, but to keep her dogs out of shelters) and it wasn’t anywhere near as onerous as the process you describe.

    The concern about dog parks is a valid one. We don’t go as often as we used to because I am unwilling to take my baby and toddler as well, but we when we did it was not unusual to see a dog who is known to be aggressive left unattended while harassing other dogs. It is difficult to control someone else’s 50lb dog while getting your 20lb dog out of the way.

    I am looking forward to fencing in our yard soon so that the dog and kids can play safely outside while I linger over a cup of coffee.

  13. Emily February 20, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    Is this just an American thing? I’m from Canada, and my family has had many dogs over the years, adopted from breeders rather than animal-rescue agencies, but anyway, the conventional wisdom here seems to be “supervise your pets outdoors if your yard isn’t fenced,” rather than “supervise your pets outdoors EVEN if your yard is fenced.” The only time we did the latter, was during the very early puppy days, when the dog was scared to be outside alone, or when the dog was still small enough to squeeze out of the gaps between our old wire fence–which we replaced with a chain-link fence probably one or two puppies ago.

  14. pentamom February 20, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    Michele, that cracks me up. Bernese Mountain Dog = dog that was bred in the Alps (as I’m sure you know.) ROFL at the thought of such a creature not being able to handle any snow, ever.

    I am really thankful that there is a no-kill shelter here in town that doesn’t do all that song and dance. As long as you promise to spay/neuter (which they will do prior to adoption at no charge if the animal is old enough; if not, they take a hefty deposit to make sure you come back and get it done at their clinic), provide appropriate shots, and be a responsible owner, it’s yours. And so last year we adopted a kitten who is now a blissfully happy, healthy cat, despite the presence of laundry equipment in our home.

  15. pentamom February 20, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    Becky, if someone really loved their pets like children, they might get the pets out first before the children. After all, how would you pick, if you really loved them all equally?

    And yes, that WOULD be a problem.

  16. pentamom February 20, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    And actually, it would also be a problem if the mom got the children out first and then went back for the pets, if there was any danger. If you risk orphaning your children for a pet, that is also a problem.

  17. Cara February 20, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    My parents had to go through this process recently to adopt a couple of dogs. Luckily they passed, but only because my mom is retired and doesn’t go out of the house for more than a few hours at a time on most days. I’ve known people who were rejected because they work full time, even if they said they were going to get a mid-day dog walker.

    The worst thing about this is that it really doesn’t end up helping the dogs and cats get adopted. Millions of dogs are put to sleep every year because they can’t find homes. In the end, this strictness encourages backyard breeders (the only for many people to be allowed to get a dog) and increases the number of unadopted pets in the system. Everyone is worse off!

    I’m all for encouraging people to be better pet owners, and I’m ok with a certain degree of background checking before people are allowed to adopt, just to make sure they have no record of animal cruelty and know basically how to take care of a pet. But refusing because they have a job or can’t afford dog chemotherapy if it ever comes up isn’t helping anyone, least of all the dogs!

  18. joanne February 20, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    Emily, it’s a lower 48 thing. When I lived in Alaska, this would never be an issue because there dogs are accepted for what they are: dogs.

    Adopt a pet from your city shelter not the ‘rescues.’ The city shelters tend to be less ridiculous about the rules because they are kill shelters and realize that if they don’t adopt out an animal, they will have to kill it. It makes them much more sane about owner requirements and they always have plenty of pets.

  19. Ann in L.A. February 20, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    The new wave of commercials for high-end designer dog food drives me absolutely crazy. We human carnivores used to make a deal: we’d eat the parts of an animal that we liked–big juicy chicken breasts, etc–and leave the rest to our pets and other domesticated animals. That way, the whole of the slaughtered animal would be used, and none of it would go to waste. I know that makes a lot of us feel better, to know that we’re not taking more than we can use.

    Now, however, using anything but the best human-favored cuts is somehow torture for your poor pet, and you’re nothing but an unfeeling monster if you dare to give your dog your scraps!

    If this trend catches on and really takes over, what will happen to the parts of the animals that we leave behind?

  20. Kristi February 20, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    @pentamom…EXACTLY! We lost our home to a fire, due to a lightening strike, almost a year ago. We got all the children awake and out of the house safely, and our two dogs followed. If the dogs had not gotten out of the house, not only would I have NOT gone back in for them, I would not have allowed fire fighters to enter it in search of them. No human life is worth that of a pet!

  21. C.J. February 20, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    I have a 15 year old cat and a 4 year old dog. I always fed them the best food. Now my 15 year old cat throws up all food except Friskies and Fancy Feast. She is 15 so I doubt eating cheap food is going to do her any harm at this point. The dog is a Boxer and prone to developing allergies to food no matter how good the food. She develpoed a terrible rash and the only food I could get on a weekend in town was Purina Beneful with salmon. The rash went away so that is what she is eating until she develops an allergy to it and I have to switch her again. Good thing I didn’t get either of them from the shelter, they might be taken away for eating cheap food! Though I don’t think the application process here in Canada is as bad. On a side note, I used to have a cat that was the sole survivor of a hawk attack. All the kittens were in a box outside waiting to be adopted and hawks swooped down and snatched them. My aunt adopted the last one but couldn’t keep her because her other cat didn’t like the kitten so I ended up with her. That cat was never right. She was traumatized. I don’t supervise my dog in my fenced in yard because of it. Though I probably wouldn’t put a box of kittens or puppies outside in an open area.

  22. Carly Rose February 20, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    Free Range parenting is about helping kids prepare for independence. Dog-owners should have the same goal, but I’m concerned about the tone in this post. I’m a dog trainer and I would recommend supervising a dog in the yard when you first bring the dog home– so that you can interrupt the dog from digging or chewing on things that you don’t want him chewing on. My roommate, also a dog trainer, fosters dogs, and she supervises them closely until she gets a sense of their behavior. For example, the current foster dog has a knack for jumping the fence. Luckily she was outside with him when he jumped and she could call him back right away. You wouldn’t release a toddler onto a middle-school playground, and you shouldn’t release your dog until you know if they’re ready to handle it (and trained well-enough to come back when you call!)

  23. Beth February 20, 2013 at 10:05 am #

    I know several breeders who will not sell to people with children under ten. Fortunately, ours didn’t feel that way. However, those crazy designer foods saved my almost fifteen year old lab’s life. She is allergic to rice, wheat, corn, chicken, and lamb. We often joke that the dog eats better than we do.

    The just a pet crowd make me shake my head. I feel sad that y’all haven’t met your heart pet yet. You will, and then you’ll get it.

  24. Dana February 20, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    Ha, I always read your blog but since I don’t have kids yet this particular post struck a cord with me.

    When my fiance and I were adopting kittens, 2 different agencies asked for 3 references and actually called them!! Then they asked them questions like “Do you think that Dana would declaw her cat?”. As if I go around talking to my friends about my stance on cat declawing… They also asked her if she thought my job was stable enough that I’d be able to afford my cat.

    We also had to sign a “contract” that we would never let our cats outside. Since we got our cats from a rescue, I’m pretty sure they were born outside! But heaven forbid they should slip past me once and actually get to chew on some grass.

    One of the agencies that we didn’t end up adopting from, required a home visit before they give someone a cat. A CAT! A home visit????

  25. Momof2 February 20, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    Funny you bring this up…because I also feel pets are not being “disciplined” along the same lines as children aren’t being disciplined these days. Or maybe it’s spoiling?! I can’t tell you how many people I talk to whose dogs aren’t as well-trained as pets of yesteryear used to be. :)

  26. Momof2 February 20, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    “Pets” – I meant DOGS!! :)

  27. Yazmin February 20, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    I have been going through the application process for a rescue dog of a small size and have thus far been turned down twice; I may have to consider going to a breeder after all!

    Although it’s still unlikely, it is unfortunate that I would even start to consider that option given that some breeders are the reason there is a need for so many rescues in the first place! I suppose it’s a way to close the loop.

  28. R. Meigs February 20, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    Sometimes the helicoptering required by shelters may have a result opposite to what is intended. Years ago my mother wanted a cat to live in the barn and help control mice. So she called the SPCA. When asked where the cat was expected to live she said In the barn, catching mice. Oh no they said. She must live in the house where she will be loved. As it happened, at the time my parents had three very active corgis who would have been death to any cat they could catch. So we gave up the SPCA as a possible source for a cat.

    About a week later a stray walked into the barn and had kittens. She and one of her daughters lived happily there for many years, finally dying of old age, eating Friskies and anything they could catch, and evading the farm dogs. But they were always friendly to people.

  29. WendyW February 20, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    Our dog was adopted from a Craigslist ad precisely becasue of these kind of requirements. We wanted a specific breed mix, not a purebred, and it happens to be a herding/cattle breed. One of the rescues we looked at required that these dogs must be inside dogs, and not be allowed outside alone. This in a state where herding animals are literally used for their intended purpose, and many ranches are thousands of acres in size, with no roads in sight. Do they not have a clue about what their favored breed actually IS?

    @ Carly Rose: No one is suggesting that anyone throw a brand new pet out into the cold cruel world of the back yard. Of course a new pet would need to be watched and trained. That is not the same thing as a shelter requiring that same level of supervision throughout the animals life, and claiming the “right” to inspect the homes of the potential owners.

  30. BMS February 20, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    I have adopted 2 human children and 4 cats so far. Some of the cat shelters/rescues whatever you want to call them make human adoption look easy. When we were looking for cat #3, I was perusing local cat adoption venues, since we had moved after adopting the first 2. One place would only allow you to adopt if you could take two at once, so they wouldn’t be lonely (never mind if you had two cats already – no exceptions). There were places that required home visits, places with 5 page applications, places that wanted to know if you were going to get married/divorced/have kids within the next 15 YEARS. It was insane. We finally found a no-kill shelter that had minimal paperwork and didn’t require us to turn over one of our kids as hostage, but it took a while. I love my cats, I do. Even when they yak on the rug. But they are ANIMALS. Not people. If I’m not in the police blotter for animal abuse, and I’m willing to take in an animal who doesn’t otherwise have a home, why the heck would you make it so difficult??

  31. lollipoplover February 20, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    We adopted 4 rescues and didn’t have any bad experiences or crazy criteria, thankfully. I wouldn’t lump all rescue groups as this extreme- most just love animals and want to find permanent homes. The foster parents we got our dogs from were lovely and only wanted the best “match” possible and made sure we were familiar with the breed (very high energy) and offered training advice but didn’t ask us to create a prison yard.
    They also didn’t want us to lock up our puppies in a crate for 8 hours a day. These dogs need hours of exercise and running- which means they are outside all the time (unsupervised!) in our fenced in yard. But all breeds are different- just like kids.

    I did leave the dogs with a bone this morning while I ran errands. I just read the packaging from the dog bones:
    “For Supervised Consumption Only”

  32. C.J. February 20, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    @Momof2 – I have to agree with you and it drives me insane. I spent many hours training my dog. Took her to puppy classes to socialize her. Command trained her. She is a big dog and I wanted to make sure I could handle her in any situation. We still continuesly train her so she doesn’t forget any commands. She loves training time because it means treats! She is around 100lbs of solid muscle. She is big for her breed. She is a boxer. We also wanted to make sure she doesn’t jump on people. Boxers can be a little too excitable. Now, she is the one that gets punished because she is well behaved. We have to bring her when we visit family over night. We all stay at my MIL’s house. My BIL has a dog that is not trained and is aggressive. He tries to attack my dog constantly. They make excuses for the dogs behaivour but don’t do anything about it. They seem to think it is ok becase our dog is bigger. Our poor dog ends up laying in her bed and ignoring the other dog while they let their dog have the run of the house. They are both on leashes so no one gets hurt. The kid is overdiciplined (not abuse, just a lot of rules) and the dog has no dicipline. It makes no sense. My dog was trained to ignore other animals on command. We tell her to leave it and she does. I wouldn’t bring her at all except it is difficult to find a dog sitter at Christmas and I figure she is better off having to deal with that dog than be in a kennel since the dog can’t actually get to her and hurt her. The rest of the year we just go for the day, she can stay home by herself and have someone come walk her if needed. They actually have someone that can watch their dog but bring him anyway even though is is bad. I would not want to bring my dog with me if it was aggressive, beggs for food, jumps on people etc. I just don’t get why they won’t train him.Apparently he is aggressive at the dog park too, he is going to bite someone one day.

  33. Emily February 20, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    @Yazmin–I never knew that there was anything wrong with adopting a dog from a breeder. My family always got our dogs that way, because buying a dog from a pet store would be supporting puppy mills, which are primarily concerned with producing as many puppies as quickly as possible, to sell to pet stores, and don’t really care much about the health of the animals. I know that rescues are probably better, and if I ever adopt a dog on my own, I might go that route, but I didn’t know that adopting from a breeder did any harm.

  34. Sean Phillips February 20, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    i’m always pretty horrified by stories about these kinds of requirements, they’re pretty horrible. I figured my shelter was the norm, considering how dog-unfriendly the town is: all they do is make sure you know how to care for the animal, and if you live in an apartment they call to make sure pets are allowed (it’s a college town). We adopted our boxer/whippet puppy with no problems at all.

    I have always been pretty shocked by people being so terrified of trusting their dogs, and at all the stupid laws and rules. My babydog has been trained from the start (two months old) to stay out of the streets, not pester strangers, and stay with me and come when called. We never even made it to a puppy class due to money issues, but even though that made it tougher, she behaves all but perfectly when off-leash, which is how she stays whenever possible. She’s in the peak of adolescence, and she’s a spot-and-chase breed that runs at thirty miles an hour. If she’s fine, i’m sure given education most every other dog would be too. All they need is consistency and trust. just like kids.

  35. steve February 20, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    You have to wonder about the real intentions behind animal shelters when they would rather kill animals than let other people take care of them their own way.

    The Humane Society of America says:

    “…approximately 3-4 million are euthanized. At this time, there is no central data reporting agency for animal shelters, so these numbers are estimates…”

    (Hmmm. So is the number even higher?)

    Peta actually says on it’s homepage:


    “We never turn our back on animals who need help, even if the best we can offer them is a peaceful release from an uncaring world.”

    Of course they go on to explain how they REALLY CARE a lot more for animals than everybody else.

    But just think, they ACTUALLY say:

    “…even if the best we can offer them is a peaceful release from an uncaring world.”

    Peaceful Release???

    Try walking into an animal shelter and telling them you’d like 5 dogs to take home so you can offer them a peaceful release from an uncaring world and see what response you get.

  36. Angelica February 20, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    When I worked in cat rescue a few years ago it wasn’t that tough. I wonder if it’s changed across the board.

    As an owner of indoor/outdoor cats, I definitely feel the backlash against unsupervised pets. A good cat owner is *supposed* to keep cats indoors, even though I have always felt that was rather cruel… would YOU want to be kept indoors all the time? Especially if you had the hearing and smelling capabilities that cats have? But, you see, the world is super dangerous for cats. Add to that that there are groups opposed to outdoor cats who are vigorously putting out information saying that cats are super killers destroying all our wildlife, and you now have the argument that cats are too dangerous to US to let outside. Nevermind that housing and business development is doing more to kill off native species than cats ever will. Hmmm, maybe developers should be kept indoors where they can’t develop any more land.

    We live in a townhouse development, which has a lot of turnover. Inevitably, someone will move in and get angry that our cats have gotten on their car or their lawn or whatever, and ask us why we don’t just keep our cats indoors, like everyone else does? Of course, didn’t they notice our cats outside when they were looking to rent/buy? We do have a few. So the fact that everyone else keeps theirs inside creates an *expectation* among people that they shouldn’t have to deal with cats outside, the way they used to. I see this as similar to the expectation that people don’t have to watch out for kids playing because kids so rarely play outdoors anymore.

    I agree this is a frustrating and damaging trend.

  37. Bridget February 20, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    We check the fence once a month. We have diggers. We do not supervise them in the back yard. We have 6-dogs. They like to play so they want to go out often. During the nice days they will play for hours. We make sure they have water and we check on them now and then. One of the Chihuahuas is a sun worshiper. There are days she would live in the backyard if we let her. I do agree with locks on the gates. That is in part for the dogs and part that I don’t want to give anyone easy access to my back yard. We do have a motion light in the back. It is not for the dogs but because of my daughter’s stalker (LONG story) and a mystery vehicle that keeps driving up on to a part of the unfenced part of the yard. This may or may not be related to the stalker. But, I really REALLY want to catch the ahole!!!

    I am not anti-dog park at all. However, I am very selective. We had a dog park not to far from our house that was very convenient. The problem was that the Labrador came down with an eye infection three times in a row after going there. We don’t go there anymore. He never had another eye infection. I would also stop going to a dog park if aggressive un-managed dogs presented a chronic problem. No matter what, you are going to run in to unmanaged dogs, but if it is every single time?? Find a new park.

    I only get rescue dogs. I go into an adoption making it clear that I am in charge of the process. I noticed this alarming trend of Helicopter adoption agencies and I do not approve. I take control of the “interview” from the get go. I have been adopting recues for 30-years. I consider myself an expert. No 20 something hipster who fancies they are saving the world one dog at a time is going to “educate” me. It is a good idea to know the causes of dog diseases. But by no means is it essential. It is vastly more important that the owner is aware of the common ailments and treats appropriately. Asking for references and employment? Nope, not happening. They should ask if the person is employed. Where I work is none of their business. Identifying your current vet is all they need to know. NO way am I giving every vet I’ve used in 15-years. The list happens to be short. In the 15 years I have lived in my current location, I’ve had two. I fired the first one because the women was a 30 something hipster who fancied she was saving the world one dog at a time she planned to “educate” me. In case you missed it, I am not fond of that. The current vet is absolutely fantastic. That is ALL the agency needs to know. I’ll add that if the person is a first time owner and has no vet, the agencies job is to provide some recommendations not to impede adoption.

    Is it important to educate new cat owners to the possibility of poisonous plants? Yes….if you have not had a cat before you may not know that you should be selective about houseplants. Did you know that azaleas are like crack to a cat? I didn’t until Odie spent a week strung out on the azalea I got for Valentines Day. Did you know that withdrawal from azalea highs makes for a week of serious crabby cat? Me either.

    I imagine that the washer and dryer questions was so that when the person says, yes I do own those appliances, the rescue will remind them that cats like to crawl into things. DUH….no kidding who knew? Maybe a person with no cat experience, but seriously that person would also have never watched a TV show, commercial, or movie to NOT know that.

    I am not a fan of cheap pet food. Yes, it’s true that many animals eat the cheap stuff and live long lives. I used to use Purina. I just know that a higher quality food is better. I do NOT judge anyone for using the cheaper stuff. I am in the position to use higher quality treats and we make our own pet food. It is vastly cheaper!!!! It is not complicated or hard. The work is in the chopping and the rest of hands off cooking.

    My last comment is regarding the “Physical fencing is not a guarantee of safety, because . . . animals such as bats, bees and snakes can gain access to yards.” This is true. But…Bees? Seriously, bees are everywhere. In 30-years of pet ownership I have had ONE bee sting. It was a cat who went after the bee. The bee won. Odie, the little trouble maker, never did THAT again. I had friends who moved out to the country. They had a huge fenced area. I was perplexed by the enclosed dog run. I asked her why she bought a large pricy dog run when she had this amazing yard. Her dogs were on the smaller side and there area was extremely active with wild life. This included eagles and large owls. Her neighbors warned her that the small dogs are just viewed as nicely contained prey. They told her that there were quite a few sad stories until everyone started building enclosed runs. I think that is a good reason to be cautious. In my neighborhood there have been coyote sightings. I’ve not seen any, but each year there are more and more sightings and I do NOT live in the country. I have 4-small dogs and 2-big dogs. I still let them play in the yard. The fence is 6-feet high. The coyotes want something easy. Not much chance they are going to try and take on two dogs bigger than them. Is there any chance? Of course, there is never zero risk. But the probability is astronomical. If I lived some where with a poisonous snake problem…I don’t know what I would do. (Actually, truth be told, I have a snake phobia so if there was a poisonous problem, I would NOT want to live there.)

    OH, and Lenore if you happen to read this comment, please tell Kristen that the next time she gets the what will you spend to save your dog question she should look them in the eye and say that the more important question is will she make sure that she takes well-dog care seriously. Tell her to tell them that she intends to work hard to have a healthy dog. Should the worst happen, how much one spends on the dog depends entirely on what went wrong. It is not about the money, it is about the dog. Spend $20,000 on a very sick dog and only prolong the suffering? Not on your life. Tell her to say this with the attitude that the agency has just offended her with the notion that being cruel to a suffering animal is OK with them as long as you are throwing money at the problem. Believe me, it takes them right down a peg or two, as it should. My beloved Maggie got a tumor on her esophagus. My amazing vet talked it out with me. He said we could do a biopsy but these things are almost always cancer. He said he could operate but it would be very expensive and dangerous do to the location. He said he would recommend I take her home and love her for a few months and as the tumor grew she would present with swallow issues at which time we would need to make the decision to put her down. But it was completely up to me. He would treat her aggressively if I wanted to. No way was I putting her through that for such a low chance of it doing any good. 2-years later when we did finally have to put her down we were SO very glad that we took door number one. When we came in to do it the vet told me he was so glad I made the choice to not treat her. She lived far beyond what he thought and it was all quality!

  38. Kristen Stelzer February 20, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    I just looked at the page for the original rescue group that rejected me and my husband. We met the dog we had wanted at one of their shows on 8/11/2012. As of this weekend, he was STILL available through the group. So for the past 6 months, this dog has been fostered and getting dragged to shows every weekend instead of being with a family. In the meantime, 5 months ago we adopted our goofy hound through a different agency that understands the point is to find homes for pets. Obi was underweight and shy and not quite housebroken… now he is the proper weight, goes for 3 nice long walks a day, is fully housebroken, knows some tricks, and just as sweet and friendly and happy as could be. And, he’s been in our yard unsupervised.

  39. C.J. February 20, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    @Bridget – Bees actually can be very dangerous to an animal if they have an allery. My dog is allergic, so is her father. My dog was stung when she was a year old and had a terrib’e reaction. Giant hives all over her body and her face swelled. We got her to the vet before her throat closed. She was given steriod shots and benedryl. I still don’t stand over her in the yard. She seems to have learned not to try to chase bees and I keep Benedrly in the house just in case. We get a lot of nest under the deck because it is always wet under there from the pool.. My husband is always out there looking for them in the summer. We take precautions but who has time to babysit a dog in the yard, especially in the nice weather when they want to be out more.

  40. lollipoplover February 20, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

    @Bridget- When adopting, I agree that being very upfront with the type of dog owner you wish to be (and that may be a running companion or a small lap dog) and not letting a “20 something hipster who fancies they are saving the world one dog” run the process. Sometimes you enter the adoption process with a picture of a dog in mind but end up with a a different pet that fits your lifestyle better. Some dogs don’t work well with kids or other pets and it’s good to know this information up front vs. letting your kid be a chew toy for a dog that’s show aggression towards children. I will always hear the volunteers out but stand my ground with the type of pet owner I will be- Responsible but not fanatical.

    Also, the food. There are foods available for all budgets. SInce dogs have shorter lifespans than humans a lot of their health issues are based on what they eat. Some can eat anything with no problems. My one dog came with digestive issues since she was a pup and has to eat vegetarian to save the family from her gas and constant crop-dusting of every room in the house. She used to fart so bad it would curl your eyelashes. During the summer months, she would snack on our garden (LOVES cucumbers) and her tummy problems stopped. Now we feed all our dogs a limited ingredient kibble doused with vegetable broth. For treats we give baby carrots (99 cents a bag) and other seasonal fruits (apple slices)and veggies from our garden- though they can still jump the deer fencing to help themselves when they want a snack. They even munch on the parsley and other herbs, go figure. Left unsupervised, leave it to the dog to show us what she needed to eat. And no one had to do the doggie Heimlich manuever as she didn’t choke on the cherry tomatoes.

  41. AG February 20, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    @WendyW Doesn’t a dog from a herding breed need to be outside though? I always heard that since they were so intelligent, they needed a lot of stimulation or they develop unhealthy behaviours and it was a pretty bad idea to keep one inside since they got bored.

  42. Angelica February 20, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Having worked in cat rescue, I can tell you that the goal is not just to find homes for pets, but good homes with good owners. You don’t want an owner who is going to give up the pet at the first sign of trouble or who is going to get a pet they can’t afford. We had a lot of people who looked good up front turn out to be not so good. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut.

    Most rescue people are very dedicated and maybe more so than the general pet-owning population, which partly explains why they want to ensure a standard of care. Still, I agree with the original post that expectations can be TOO high and asking people to helicopter parent their pets is too much. Stuff happens in life that’s unexpected. Bees come into yards. So do bats. It seems that people have gotten to the point sometimes that they want to somehow manage or legislate away all of life’s uncertainties. Life just isn’t like that.

  43. Samantha M. February 20, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    Considering some of the stuff rescue workers see that have happened to these animals I can understand why they are so overprotective of them. A lot of the rescue dogs are not properly socialized and in some cases prone to running away or aggressive behavior to other dogs. Only recently a dog from a rescue group I know of, was adopted out to a nice new home, withing 10 days he had slipped his lead because he became frightened while out peeing in the unfenced back yard of his new owners and took off. He was hit by a car and found dead an hour later.

    If you don’t want to adopt from the rescues, you know you can go straight to the shelters and pick up a dog there. Of course then you can spend all the money on vet care and time rehabilitating and socializing it, or you can just mock the people that do.

  44. Heather February 20, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    I wasn’t approved to foster horses for a rescue and I failed a veterinary care interview to adopt a dog. That’s embarrassing since I’m a vet.

    When I was in vet school the local humane society flat out refused to let vet students to adopt animals. We were considered not qualified. I don’t know if they thought we were going to experiment on them or what.

  45. pentamom February 20, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    Samantha, here’s the first line Lenore quotes:

    “All dogs must be constantly supervised in their yards for their safety.”

    ALL DOGS. Not dogs that have been abused, not properly socialized, or are prone to running away. ALL DOGS.

    Nobody’s saying traumatized dogs don’t need special care, or that people who give dogs special care should be mocked. But it’s ridiculous to treat all dogs like abused dogs in this particular way. Even many “rescued” dogs do not need this kind of treatment, because they have not had such bad experiences — they were just saved from being abandoned before they were actually in any trouble. So even if it only means “All rescued dogs” it’s still over the top. To say that this advice is over the top and ridiculous is not to deny that some dogs need special care.

  46. Snow February 20, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    Kristi, when my son was younger he came down with a sudden, life threatening illness and we came within hours of losing him. Our beautiful, healthy son almost died suddenly. We then went through months of hospitals, medications and surgeries. Luckily, he came out of it and is a perfectly healthy young man once again and you’d never know he was sick. However, when we were going through all that I can’t tell you how many people said something to me along the lines of ‘oh yes, I know just what you’re going through, my cat/dog/whatever pet was sick last year.’. I just wanted to punch those people. They had no clue. I have a cat. I love my cat. My cat is older than my son and I have lived with my cat longer than I’ve lived with my son. However, my son is way more important to me than my cat. When the cat dies I will be sad, but it’s a cat. It’s not a human. I won’t be devastated like I would have been if anything had happened to my son. I don’t understand people who think their pets are the same as their kids.

  47. Captain America February 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    about 10 years ago, my best friend told me, “pets are our new children.”

    Meaning, people having no kids or very few kids will buy dogs and cats.

  48. JJ February 20, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

    When we adopted a cat 7 years ago the CONTRACT said that it was NEVER allowed to go outdoors! Well guess what, the cat even survived our stint living in the woods and is still alive today.

  49. Andrea February 20, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    I adopted one of my dogs from a shelter who fed Science Diet — not the most high end, but certainly quality food. He had the worst indigestion and gas you could imagine, and tended to have unpleasant things come out of both ends. My parents’ dog refused to eat anything but crappy Kibbles -n- Bits, and when we went there my dog tried it. His stomach instantly settled and the gas went away. He ate that stuff for a long time, which was convenient because I was in grad school and appreciated a cheaper bag of dog food. But you know who was the most appreciative? My dog, for me getting him out of the kennel he had lived in for six months! Even though there have been times over the years when I got busy or overwhelmed and wasn’t a perfect dog owner, he’s glad to be where he is, rather than waiting to either die or find some magical perfect dog family.

  50. CMML February 20, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    This has happened to me. My husband surprised me one Christmas with a note saying he would take me to pick out a kitten. A month or so later, we were at PetCo for their weekend cat adoption. I saw a darling little kitten I wanted to take home. After speaking with the adoption agent, I discovered I was not qualified. She couldn’t believe I thought it was ok to only adopt 1 kitten and that s/he would be home alone while I was at work 5 hours a day. Don’t even mention the fact that s/he may have been let out in our small, enclosed condo backyard for any length of time. I left the place in tears and tried PetSmart. This time with a plan. I said I had two cats, but one recently died and I was looking for a friend. “Oh, you don’t want a kitten! That will just upset your other, older cat at home.” I tell ya, no matter what lies I came up with, no one would let me adopt a darn cat. Then they say, “Look at little Fluffy over there. He’s so sweet! He’s been looking for a home for 2 years!” Yeah, no kidding! You don’t let anyone adopt! I was so mad, sad, and upset, we ended up at the local animal shelter and got our darling cat with no questions asked. (and this cat has been an outdoor cat for all but 2 years we’ve had her. She loves it outside!) The whole process was almost more than I could take. I think the foster pet groups forget we’re talking about cats and dogs. There was so much paperwork, contracts, “friendly notices” about the dangers of the great outdoors, potential home visits, etc, it was ridiculous.

  51. Dr. Par Donahue February 20, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    We people could learn so much about parenting from mother dogs, or mother anything. One time I told a lady that if a mother pig could house train her piglets by 6 weeks of age surely she could toilet train her child by age 3. She laughed and asked if I was calling her “dumber than a sow?”
    “No,” I was ” asking if your kid smarter that a piglet?”
    Life is so entertaining!

  52. Bridget February 20, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    @C.J. I am so glad your dog came through the bee sting. Odie did swell at the site of the sting but that’s all the reaction he had. Dogs and cats are typically smart enough to not want to repeat the trauma of the event. I am right with you on the precautions. That’s just smart. It’s not just the dogs that can have problems with swarms.

    @lollipopover I like how you put it, “being very upfront with the type of dog owner you wish to be”. I love that you follow the clues to feeding your dogs. The dog really will give you guidance on what is and isn’t working.

    @AG we had a Border Collie and she didn’t have a great deal of application for the outside. It was actually pretty funny. She loved walks and loved the dog park so she could run and run. But the yard? No thanks. And is there was mud around…forget about it!!! She was such a princess.

    @Heather…WOW, just WOW. That’s just not right. I would be thrilled to place a rescue with a vet.

    @Snow….I am glad your son is healthy!!! @Captain America I have a friend who wanted children so bad. Her husband didn’t. He refused to participate in any medical intervention. My friend has two cats and a dog. She has transferred every single bit of her desire to be a mom to these three pets in a way that is actually quite frightening. We are all worried about it. In her mind these are her children. My pets are my family but she is taking it to a very weird level.

    I want to say that my hipster comment does not apply to all people who work with rescue. Looking at it, I realized that it is rather rude. There are so many wonderful people involved in rescues. @ Angelica I love that you believe that sometimes you go with your gut! I am aligned with a local rescue that is primarily all very young women and a few young men. They are fantastic hard workers and very adept at “reading” people.

  53. Krystal February 20, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    A tad silly! I have an adopted cat and an adopted dog. My cat is kept indoors for a few reasons, but I don’t condem people for keeping their cats outside, both my husband and I had indoor/outdoor cats growing up. I know that the shelter we adopted from had a condition that we would keep our cat inside at all times.

    The supervision of the dog in the fenced yard? Please! Yes, when we first adopted our dog, he would try to escape, but with some training and maturity (he needed a lot of training), he can be left outside just fine. How are bees a danger? We’re really worrying too much. My dog has been stung–life goes on. He doesn’t chase bees anymore now 😉

    I think it is also important to remember that a dog adopted into a loving home that is doing their best, who may sometimes leaves their dog in the fenced yard for a couple hours or feeds them store-brand foot is better than these dogs being stuck in the shelter. While children and pets are NOT the same, it reminds me of the adoption/foster parent ad I saw on TV that being there and doing your best is all that matters.

  54. Amanda Matthews February 20, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

    While I agree it’s ridiculous to not let a dog into a fenced-in yard unsupervised, I completely agree with not giving pets to people that say they can’t afford – or are unwilling to pay – for medical care if needed. It’s irresponsible and cruel to get a pet if you aren’t able/willing to pay for medical care.

  55. Warren February 20, 2013 at 4:44 pm #


    Anyone adopting a pet, I am sure will provide medical care, if and when needed. The problem is these shelters expect you to take out a second mortgage for cancer treatments to extend the dog’s life by six months.

    Sorry, I love all my animals, but I won’t do that. I don’t want someone doing it for me, either.

  56. Gina February 20, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    Pet cats should be indoors because they do not know to stay out of the road and they kill wild birds and small animals.
    Living in the Arizona desert, I NEVER leave my small dogs outside after dark. We lost our Yorkie to an owl two years ago. We have coyotes all over the place and they are capable of scaling a 6-foot wall. My large dogs, however, have access to the yard, unsupervised, 24 hours a day. They’re dogs!!!
    I have had dogs since I was a child…always at least one, sometimes as many as 8. I LOVE my dogs. I cry when they die. Then life goes on. I have 5 children (15-28). I don’t know how my life could ever go on if one of them died. It is NOT the same thing. If you have both kids and pets, you know that. If you never had kids, you can’t possibly understand it.

  57. Angela February 20, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    I am so thankful that our cat adopted us and not the other way around. And I’m thankful that we have a vet that sees nothing wrong in our allowing our cat to go outside. She just gives her a dewormer once a year and we’re good.

    That being said, I went to Pet….. at Christmas to get our cat a new “feathery thing on a stick” and was AMAZED at the floor-to-ceiling, half an aisle shelf space devoted to toys that will help alleviate your cats….ANXIETY! Yes, anxiety. Then I go around the corner to where the pet adoption is in process and after reading all the rules and talking with the adopters I only had to shake my head. It’s no wonder they make toys to alleviate Cat Anxiety (CA). If I followed all those rules, I’m sure my cat would have anxiety, too.

    As a postscript, a friend in another state recently adopted a dog from a rescue and was very nervous the day of the “home visit.” HOME VISIT. Sigh.

  58. SadButMadLad February 20, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

    The whole process of adopting has gone stupid. It doesn’t matter if it’s dogs, cats, or babies. If you changed the the species in your story from dog to human you would be describing the UK’s adoption process.

  59. Crystal February 20, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    Thank God for shelters. I just walked in, picked out a dog (best in the world!), paid for him and left. But that was Idaho, where animals are considered property and not humans.

  60. Elizabeth February 20, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    We adopted exactly one of our pets from a well known animal shelter. We brought her back to the shelter for spaying as we had agreed to when we adopted her. Unfortunately, she didn’t wake up from the surgery. They offered to let us adopt another cat but we decided against it. The funny thing is that we later ended up with two pets from the same well known shelter whose screened owners decided that pet ownership wasn’t for them. One was re homed to us 6 months after initial adoption and the other was re homed to us after 2 years. We have also re homed a snake and a turtle (private adoptions,lol) I was kind of surprised when the shelter didn’t check up on either pet since when I see them at local events, they are screening people to the point where they should be read their Miranda Rights!

  61. Matthew Brown February 20, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

    Somehow, the people who run animal shelters have become convinced it’s their job to ensure that the animals are placed into PERFECT environments.

    It’s not. It’s to make sure that the animals, on the whole, are placed into OK environments. Their job is to weed out the worst proportion of potential adopters, not to take only the best 10% or less.

    Even if the shelter’s a no-kill shelter, they are effectively killing animals with this policy — because every time they won’t place an animal because the prospective adopters aren’t PERFECT, they refuse to open up a space in their shelter or their foster network for another animal in need. Many of those animals will die, because they get abandoned or dropped off at the pound to either get sick and die or be euthanized.

  62. Jenna K. February 20, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    Wow, that just discouraged me from ever adopting a dog, which is what we were hoping to do after our old dog dies.

  63. LRH February 20, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

    This is silly. And yes, comparing your pet–dog or cat–to being like your children isn’t just silly, I would say it’s borderline mentally sick. In fact, as strongly as I feel about people being very careful about calling social services on other parents for anything but the most extreme situations, not just because you disagree with their philosophy, I’m this close to saying that if you express the attitude of your pets being equal to your kids in importance, you don’t deserve your kids.

    The only supervising I would mandate of pets is insomuch that they need to not bother the neighbors. If your dog trespasses into my yard and ransacks my belongings, or even if it’s in your yard but it barks a lot & makes my property no longer quiet, that’s my business, and I expect you to handle it. Otherwise, yes–dogs should be able to run loose so long as they aren’t causing such problems, and the same goes for cats.

    People who call SPCA on people for not having an air-conditioned/heated dog house are as despicable as people calling social services on account of someone letting their kid play outside. But it’s a part of an overlap I’m seeing with pets & cats: (1) people act as if their pets are EQUAL in importance to their children, which again is borderline schizophrenic (2) as one person said, people are bad about excusing their pets’ behavior (barking, hopping on hood of new cars) rather than doing something about it, and how dare you defend yourself against it, same as many parents are about their kids now and (3) yes, people don’t seem to want pet owners to “let their pets be pets” (with regards to exploring their territory without constant supervision) much as many do with children.


  64. Sara February 20, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

    I have adopted dogs at our local shelter but it’s been awhile and the only thing that I had to prove was that I could have a dog where I lived. However, some of our local “rescue” groups have gotten a little out of line with common sense…on a similar note we had a major network feature on the local news a woman who accused a hawk of “eying her chihuahua” she was terrified the hawk was going to swoop out of the sky and carry the little dog off while it did its doggie things in the fenced yard. She claimed that the city needed to “do something” to protect her dog. I was a little peeved because quite frankly my tax burden can’t take it. So for giggles, I will share the link http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/sep/05/preying-eyes-hawk-has-knoxville-woman-fearing/ . Hawks are birds of prey which I believe are protected by federal law.
    I love dogs, am a dog person and have had one pretty much my entire life but this is a serious lack of human common sense.

  65. Jenny Islander February 20, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    @Sara: Yeah, there’s one rule in bald eagle country about having small cats and dogs: Supervise outdoors at all times. Or don’t own one. Because if the eagle decides that Fifi or Scooter look tasty, the eagle gets what the eagle wants.

    I had an undersized Bluepoint Siamese that turned herself into a housecat shortly after we moved from a house in town to a house in the woods with an eagle tree at the edge of the clearing. She spotted it before I did, took one look at that bird, bolted back to the house and did not come out again for the rest of her life.

  66. Eric Van De Ven February 20, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    When we adopted two of our cats, the lady, after asking us just about every question there is, asked us this, “If you get divorced, who gets which cat?”
    I had just about had enough and said, that is a stupid question, are you going to let us save these cats lives or not?
    Finding the third cat, Samantha, at the golf course was much easier!

  67. Sara February 20, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    @Jenny Islander: I agree you have a very smart cat. I had a pet cat once that was born feral that would have eyed the hawk…not smart. We live in a suburban neighborhood in TN but have coyote, hawks, possum etc that love cats, probably small dogs. My children will walk our dog (Aussie) most of the time during the day but my husband or I generally do after dark or at twilight because of the coyotes and occasional skunks…don’t want to introduce the pup to that. But I would never expect the government to take out a hawk (or anything else for that matter although I did call game control about the coyote) for eying my pet.

  68. maryZ February 20, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    My family found a young dog abandoned/lost in the desert, and after unsuccessfully trying to find her owner, we opted to keep her. She whines to go outside when she’s in the house and seems quite comfortable outside when we leave for the day. One day I we were going to be gone overnight and I arranged for her to be fed and watered while we were gone (24 hours), but when we got home, a neighbor sent us a scathing text about leaving her outside ALL DAY AND NIGHT. Now this isn’t a chihuahua, but a 38 lb border collie mix. I reminded said that this dog had LIVED outside before we found her. The response: “That doesn’t mean she liked it.” LOL

  69. fred schueler February 20, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

    hey – what about free range Dogs? There’s- a species in decline, whose decline really destroys the fabric of a community – I’ve put the Merle’s Door site as my website – read the book if you’re interested in finding out what the proper relationship between Dog and Human is supposed to be.

  70. Betsy February 20, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    With some of these animal shelters, its all about the people who run them and not the animals. Its all about power.

    Our pet food store had Sunday Shelter day with cats in cages for adoption. One man had his two kids with him who wanted one of the cats and the shelter lady wasn’t letting him. He called the store manager over to complain. The shelter was never invited back in again.

    My three cats found me from off the street, one came running in when I opened the door on a rainy night as I was walking in! We grabbed the kitten before a terrible lighting storm blew up. He was in bad shape. The Gods sent him!
    The other I nabbed off of someone’s front lawn, he was missing an eye and badly infected. I cat-nabbed him!

  71. Tsu Dho Nimh February 20, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    Oh dear, the Pet Polizei are going to come take me away … we callously left our three cats “Home Alone” while we went skiing.

    They did what cats always do when their owners leave them alone: surfed the net for kitty porn, ordered expensive cat toys from Amazon, and ordered out for sushi platters.

  72. Bill Beeman February 20, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

    I wonder how many of the hyper-picky shelters manage to avoid killing a large number of cats and dogs.

    I our area several of the animal adoption groups have started the “no outside cats’ rule. Fortunately, the one group that has contracted to manage the county shelter is far less doctrinaire, and has almost managed to reach ‘no=kill’ status by being more flexible.

    For what it’s worth, the stray and her kittens that we took in 4 years ago have sharply reduced the mouse and vole population around the house, happily spend the day outside, coming in at night (too many coyotes and mountain lions), and simply don’t exhibit the neurotic ‘cat crazies’ that seem to be the fate of housebound cats.

    The only excuse I can see for keeping a cat indoors all the time is if the paws have been mutilated by de-clawing, which renders the cat largely defenseless.

  73. mollie February 20, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    Tsu Doh Nimh,

    I can’t stop thinking about that Steve Martin routine about the cat toys from the 1970s… remember that one?

  74. Inara February 20, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    How is this helping provide homes for rescue dogs and cats? I say just lie: I’m sure you can tell what response they want. Are they going to do post-adoption home visits to make sure you comply? It’s sad when policy is made by fools.

  75. Puzzled February 21, 2013 at 12:16 am #

    @Inara – a friend adopted a rescue dog. They did, indeed, come by and check up on their stupid policies.

    This whole thing is infuriating. Do these people really know nothing about animals? The way they want these animals to live is not at all how they are supposed to live.

    But, then again, this mindset is also the mindset that has humans living in metaphorical cages – and downing anti depressants in tremendous numbers. What is wrong with a society that pressures people into living in a way that will lead to half of them needing drugs to get through the day? Roughly the same thing that is wrong with a society that decides that animals living and acting like animals is bad.

  76. hineata February 21, 2013 at 6:46 am #

    Good grief. I’m surprised they didn’t mention bear attacks or alien abduction. Though maybe they do, somewhere.

    Reminds me of when we ‘adopted’ our last cat, and a lovely young man rang to try to sell me animal health insurance. Because what would I do if suddenly I was faced with an $1800 bill for some sort of operation on said feline? He was a little taken aback when I replied that I would put the cat down.

    Seriously, $1800 for a cat’s health? We spent less than a thousand on Midge last year, and she’a a thirteen year old human with major health issues. Stuffed if I would expend over that amount on a non-working animal.

    An animal is an animal is an animal. They’re not human, and while I enjoy my cat, I wouldn’t waste heaps of resources on her.

  77. hineata February 21, 2013 at 6:49 am #

    And when my husband was young, and living in a compound with his family at the back of someone’s house, another extremely poor elderly couple who shared the compound with them ate his dog. Desperate times….

    I wonder what the animal shelter would say about that?

  78. Marion February 21, 2013 at 6:53 am #

    hah! Agatha Christie tells in her autobiography (which is *brilliant* by the way, everybody go and read it!) how she got a mongrel terrier when she was six or so (around the year 1900) and how he was fed ‘the same stuff as we’ (ie, kitchen scraps, boiled potatoes, cabbage, bones and bacon rinds etc). They didn’t *have* special dog food in those days and yet, as she tells us, her Toby was a lively and healthy dog. The only time they ever had trouble with him was when they returned from a year abroad. They had ‘lodged’ the dog with a couple of kind and well-meaning ladies who had so spoiled the dog that he would only eat if he was hand-fed. Well, they were not going to put up with that kind of nonsense! They simply gave Toby his usual meal and the dog refused to eat it for a couple of days and they chose eggs for his money, eat his meal, eat it the next day and things went back to what it was before, with Toby being a happy, healthy little dog who lived until a great age.

    Oh, and Toby got a LOT of exercise in their garden and outside it and nobody would even *dream* of worrying about the dog being ‘dognapped’ or somesuch nonsense!

    That autobiography is wonderful. Agatha was a late child (she had a brother and sister, both much older than she) and she was left to her own devices most of the times (she did have an elderly nanny whom she dearly loved but who, like Agatha’s parents and indeed just about every Edwardian parent, of the sound mind that people should *fuss* about children so much) and she didn’t see her parents or siblings much of the day either, but they dearly loved her and she dearly loved them. Indeed, the family was very close and loving. They just took that for given and didn’t feel the need to constantly hover, flutter and bleat about how much they loved their pwecious snowflake. This was the complete anti-theses of a helicoptre upbringing and reading it never fails to move me with a strange sort of jealous joy. Wish we were as sensible as those Edwardians, a hundred years ago.

  79. Marion February 21, 2013 at 6:55 am #

    Sorry, that should be ‘was of the sound mind that people shouldn’t *fuss* about children so much’ of course.

  80. antsy February 21, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    Our hamster wheel for inside the cage even came with the warning to supervise while using.

  81. Misty Fagan February 21, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    wow. that is crazy, antsy. What do they expect you to do? take the wheel out when you aren’t watching? Rig it to an alarm to tell you when the hamster is running so you can run and supervise? gosh. crazy people. lol.

  82. CrazyCatLady February 21, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    My pets all have their jobs, which are traditional and according to their breed lines. To deny them their jobs would be mean – like telling a highly intelligent 6th grader that she/he had sit in 1st grade and do the work without fuss. The kid would not be happy and would cause problems.

    My ducks and geese lay eggs for us, keep the bug population down, and keep my grass short and fertilized. Yes, they are pets, and we do not eat them. We provide them with fencing, secure shelter and protection from stray dogs, coyotes and hawks who would eat them. But they go outside and are not monitored every second. If I had to keep them inside they would not be happy, and it would cost me a fortune in food.

    My cats catch mice. They are also companions, for what it is worth. One was raised by wild skunks and is very feisty, biting and scratching the kids in her play. But they keep the mice out of the duck and goose food, and warm my feet on the bed at night. I provide them with quality food, (because it limits my vet bills, but it is not much more than standard food price.) They get their shots. They come in at night because we have coyotes and my cats go outside my fences.

    I have two dogs. They are livestock guardian dogs and have been bred for centuries to guard flocks of animals. That is what they are happy doing. They lay around in the yard during the day, but at night, the roam the property, bark and keep out the coyotes, mountain lions, badgers, skunks and any stray dogs. One of the dogs is a Great Pyrenees, he has a very long and fluffy coat, and the cold doesn’t bother him. The other will sleep inside from time to time, but he likes to be outside when the barking happens. They are fed twice a day, the prescribed amount, because they can get bloat (when the stomach twists around when too full causing death.) My dogs get their shots.

    All of my pets are happy. They have their jobs, and yes, they do face the danger of living as do their owners – I get in my car, I live on a planet that has meteors falling on it, lightning, tsunamis, hurricanes, snowstorm, tornadoes, flooding and fires.

    But, I know some would condemn me for letting my cats out and letting my dogs be out. At the same time, others would condemn me if I had my ducks and geese penned inside all day. Because, that wouldn’t be free range!

  83. ValerieH February 21, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    Most of the rescues and shelters that I have looked at in the Chicago area are like your article. I was trying to adopt from a GSD rescue. They checked with the vet of my 15 year old dog who had recently passed. Then they wanted to know why the records showed we didn’t buy a certain drug for our dog when he was 11 (4 years prior)!
    We were trying to adopt an older dog because I didn’t want to go through puppyhood now that all my children were finally potty trained. If I could have found a nice 1-2 year old dog it would have been easier. We ended up getting a puppy from a breeder. They asked fewer questions and the contract was less than 1 page.

    I am grateful she came from a breeder. I know that her mother was well cared for and nourished during the pregnancy. The parents hips were checked prior to breeding. I can be certain I have a dog with strong genes and superior health. Animal husbandry seems to be a misunderstood topic in the general public.

    I’m confused about the SPCA. Aren’t they a charity organization? They aren’t a government body with laws like DCFS, right? There are animal abuse laws on the books, but they govern extreme cases only.

    Perhaps the problem with the shelter people is the same problem this blog highlights all the time. We are disconnected from our neighbors and our community. We distrust each other terribly. This isn’t on a personal level but at a societal level. Rescue and shelter people see animals that have been neglected and thrown away. I think some of the people who come to adopt do lie to them. Some people return the animals for bogus reasons. They see it day in and day out. That has to change a person.

  84. pentamom February 21, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    “When we adopted two of our cats, the lady, after asking us just about every question there is, asked us this, “If you get divorced, who gets which cat?”

    Not only is than an offensive and obnoxious question, but how could it possibly matter? Either both people are competent to care for cats or they’re not. And if they are, how could it possibly matter which person got WHICH cat?

    What you have there is the classic syndrome of a power-hungry person vested with an extremely small amount of actual power, tripping on the power for all it’s worth.

  85. EricS February 21, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    Again…it’s all about the adults and their no common sense thinking. I’m guessing this is a non-common thing as well. It’s not that complicated to adopt in my city. You fill out the forms (which isn’t made complicated, and no background checks), and you pay your fees (anywhere from $20-$50). You do have a waiting period though. I believe it’s 3-5 days before you can pick up your pet.

    I can’t believe that part of the reason the couple in the article didn’t get to adopt was because they wanted to take the dog to the dog park, but the shelter employees fear of dog parks influenced her decision to approve the adoption. I’m glad she works at an animal shelter and not something more important. Like a hospital, daycare, or senior home.

  86. Yazmin February 21, 2013 at 11:03 am #

    @ Emily, it’s not that I think it is bad to get a pet from a breeder exactly, and I realize that a reputable breeder is much different than a puppy mill. It’s more that it is heartbreaking for me to see so many homeless pets waiting for homes (currently http://www.petfinder.com lists 318,023 available) and yet to consider going to get a specific animal bred which does nothing to help the pet overpopulation problem.

    quote context: http://qote.me/rGeDBF

  87. EricS February 21, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    @ValerieH: That’s exactly what it is. It’s not the situation, it’s the mentality of the people dealing with the situation. Sad. I don’t understand, these animal shelters are so “ADOPT, ADOPT, ADOPT! Or these animals will be put down”. Yet they make it extremely difficult to rescue an animal from the shelter. They are basically signing the death warrants of these animals who want to be adopted by people, but are not permitted because of ignorant people fears. They are taking the chance to not give up the animals for adoption for fear of going to the wrong home, or it being mistreated, or running away. Which is highly unlikely for most adopters. Sure there is always that possibility. But if they aren’t adopted, the chances of them being put down is much more likely to happen.

  88. Emily February 21, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    @Yazmin–I’m just curious, how much does it cost to adopt a dog from an animal rescue, or the pound, SPCA, local animal shelter, or similar? Because if my family was going to get another dog, we’d probably want another Golden Retriever, but if I were to adopt my own dog, there’s no way I could afford a purebred, so I’d probably want to look into ways to adopt a dog on a budget, and help with the pet overpopulation problem at the same time.

  89. Aimee February 21, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    We adopted a bichon frise from a rescue agency when my son was 6. We had the whole home visit, giant questionnaire, etc. I’m surprised we passed the test because the home visit lady said that our son “might crush the dog.”

    If our son were that rough with an animal, I think we’d have a way bigger problem on our hands than a hurt dog – we’d have a kid with some serious emotional issues. In the last 5 years, I’ve accidentally tripped on the dog more than once (like in the kitchen, etc) – and I’ve been more hurt than the dog. He’s pretty good and yipe-ing an alert and scurrying out of the way!

    When we went to pick up our dog from the “foster family,” it was the FILTHIEST houses I’ve ever had the misfortune to walk into. There must have been at least a dozen yappy small-breed dogs in there, and then we could hear another 2 large dogs barking like mad and charging at the doors of other rooms. Our dog laid eyes on us for the very first time and literally leapt into my husband’s arms, like “Get me outta here!” Also, the “foster mother” told us to ONLY feed him raw chicken. Our vet told us that is just as dumb as feeding raw chicken to a human. There was certainly a lot of “do as I say, not as I do” going on with that agency.

    We were told (warned; threatened) that we could NEVER allow our dog to be off-leash. Well, within a month of owning him, the dog decided that following my husband’s every move, indoors and out, is his mission in life. DH can’t get the dog to NOT heel. LOL

    I love our dog, and he gets all his shots and everything, but no, if he gets cancer, he will not be having treatment.

  90. SKL February 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

    You can only imagine how much those rescues hate people like my sister who (gasp) breed dogs! Though my sister is kind of picky whom she “homes” her puppies with. She doesn’t have a questionnaire, but she feels them out for dog-sense. She’s had some pups come back because of foolishness that amounts to abuse/neglect. But then again, if you’re willing to pay $1000+ for a dog, you probably want the seller to care for his well-being.

    That said, she’ll be the first to tell you that some dog people are idiots. A dog is a dog. Useta be a wolf not that long back.

  91. Puzzled February 21, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    Hmm, interesting that a lot of these same people wouldn’t have a problem with free range meat. Why is it ok for cows but not dogs to play outside?

    Also, forgot to add, my friend who adopted a rescue follows all their guidelines religiously. He keeps the dog inside, takes him out only on a leash, and feeds him carefully 4 times a day, as well as keeping track of all of his elimination and eating habits. The dog is an emotional wreck, as I would be if someone treated me like that.

  92. CrazyCatLady February 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

    Puzzled – they probably are all vegetarians. Which is funny if they are, because the animals that they are trying to adopt out need to eat meat – even if it eventually comes from a can or bag.

    I belong to a Yahoo pet duck group. If anyone says anything about incubating eggs, they get many tongue lashings from people who say that they should ONLY get rescue ducks. They also get very upset if people cannot or do not take a slightly injured duck to the vet right away. They must all live in large areas with lots of vets, which is not were I live. Where I live the vets don’t want to deal with birds, and ducks and geese in particular, because they can’t do surgery because putting a duck under is hard as they hold their breath. I have learned to treat my birds on my own, for the most part, and just ignore the useless haranguing posts. Oh, and lots of them don’t think that ducks should ever be outside alone either. Sigh. They should be in the house, with a diaper on. Not something that would make my ducks happy!

  93. JJ (other JJ) February 21, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    CrazyCatLady, if you keep your ducks inside with diapers on just please promise me you’ll change your mane to CrazyDuckLady. :)

  94. JJ (other JJ) February 21, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    *name. Sorry

  95. CrazyCatLady February 21, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    JJ, Will do! My daughter wants me to have a goose or duck inside – she doesn’t get that while it will make HER happy, that they will NOT be happy. We don’t have grass, slugs or snails for them to root around for in the house! (Although, they wouldn’t mind some watermelon or salad!)

  96. pentamom February 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    “I belong to a Yahoo pet duck group. If anyone says anything about incubating eggs, they get many tongue lashings from people who say that they should ONLY get rescue ducks. ”

    Waaaiiiitttt…..are these people suggesting that we neuter BIRDS now?

    Or just that you eat all the eggs?

    Or that you somehow enforce celibacy for the ducks?

    Because it seems to me that if you have birds, you get eggs. Is it just that you’re never supposed to raise them?

  97. pentamom February 21, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    Are there people in the world who REALLY keep ducks in the house with diapers? SERIOUSLY?

    I thought I’d heard it all. I shudder to think what else is out there that I don’t know about, because I know a lot of stuff that I wish I didn’t.

  98. Stephanie February 21, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    Had to smile because yesterday I was talking with some of the moms at my daughter’s preschool, and they were talking about snake training for their dogs. The basic idea is to train them to stay away from snakes, a pretty good idea if you have concerns about rattlesnakes. I would hate to have my pet bitten by a rattlesnake, but better them than the kids! Fortunately, we’ve so far only had a gopher snake in the yard, and one I couldn’t see well enough to identify, but I saw enough of the tail to know it wasn’t a rattler.

    My kids desperately want cats and dogs, but we don’t have any yet. Will eventually, but we rent, our current landlords say no, and moving with pets is a pain, so I won’t get any until we own a place. And they will be indoor/outdoor.

    My oldest has been grumbling about the lack of pets, and we just got an unfortunate reminder of why I won’t get a pet we can’t be certain of keeping. One of her best friends just had to get rid of her pit bull mix puppy because the landlord didn’t want the liability. They’re one of three families I know who just found their pit bull mix pups (all different ages) – apparently one of the local HOAs has a rule against pit bulls, so people keep abandoning them – such an awful thing to do to a dog! But the kind of commitment some rescues expect is beyond reasonable.

  99. Lisa February 21, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Years ago, we were going to get a second dog. The first dog was a stray from the same animal shelter. We brought him along to make sure the two dogs would get on okay. After pages of applications, they asked if we had kids. I was very visibly pregnant and said “ha ha, not yet”. That was it, discussion closed – no animals can be adopted out to a family with children under 10. Which we didn’t even have yet!
    Um, hello – isn’t that the whole point, for a stray dog to have a loving family to care for it?
    Friends of mine were denied a cat at the same place because they didn’t have a vet yet, even though they promised to get one. Would you deny a woman in labour the baby if she didn’t already have a pediatrician? These are things you get AFTER the fact!
    Very sad and silly, when there are so many animals needing homes.

  100. Tsu Dho Nimh February 21, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    @Molly …. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2Nyf-bVpxw

    Cat Handcuffs …

  101. K February 21, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    I’ll start this off by saying that I am a veterinarian (albeit non-practicing). We acquired a dog from a coworker of mine, who had given it to her goddaughter and the father (a class A jerk) made her give the dog back as a punishment. She’s a schnoodle who grew up on their Wisconsin farm. So she is used to be outside. We moved into a nice single family with a big yard, and the dog now wants to spend all the time outside (in a fenced yard, with food, water, a doghouse etc. But our neighbor can’t get it around her head that the dog begs to be outside. She has come over a few times to threaten calling the ASPCA on us because the dog refused to come in one night in the summer and slept in her house when it was 60 degrees (a hawk might get her?!?!) and another time because she begged to go out at midnight (50 degrees and rainy) and when she wouldn’t come in, I left her while I nursed my 5 month old son. The neighbor came over at 12:35 (coincidentally as I was getting ready to bring the dog in) and KNOCKED LOUDLY on our door, waking both kids up and screamed at us that we were animal abusers and she was going to call the police. Her dog is carried everywhere it goes. Poor thing. I think if I told her that I am a veterinarian her head would explode.

  102. Beth February 21, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    I have a husky-samoyed mix who loves to be outside, and I’ve had knocks on the door from passersby telling me that it’s too cold for the dog to be out. Really? Look at the fur on him (most of which ends up on my living room carpet!) and tell me again how he’s too cold?

  103. Puzzled February 21, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

    Lisa – scarily enough, I can see the logic for that. If you have little kids, you might want them to help take care of the pet, learn responsibility, and what not. But there’s two problems with that. From the cat perspective – they’re worried that the education we give kids today, and the way we raise them, will lead to not taking proper care of the cat. From the kid perspective – we can’t expect kids to be responsible! That can extend even to things like “Don’t sit on the cat” hence why you can’t have kids and adopt a cat.

    In other words, it’s all part of the same absurd mess.

  104. Jennifer February 21, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    I’ve heard of this phenomenon before. Some of the more ridiculous regulation include not letting someone adopt a dog unless there is someone home full time (or you send the dog to a day care), and either not adopting to someone who has another dog, or only adopting to someone who has already has a dog of the same breed.

    Logistically, if you only adopt to people who have someone home most of time, but don’t have kids under ten, you are pretty much restricted to single income traditional families with older/no children, people who work at home, retired people, and the chronically unemployed. You rule out all single people, most couples, and most families.

    The sad thing is – if they refuse to adopt out an animal for spurious reasons, often it stays in the shelter, or is put down. And when they turn people down, they generally don’t say “Oh, right. I’m not worthy/capable of looking after a pet.” Instead, they go to the back yard breeders who haven’t bothered to neuter their pets, or the pet stores who get their dogs from puppy mills, or the expensive purebred dogs who are sometimes so inbred they can barely stand up and have massive (and expensive) health problems.

  105. MrsSell February 21, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

    It’s particularly hard to adopt a pet in California. We first tried to adopt a cat from a shelter and were denied because we have a child under five years old. After seeing the multi-page application form at the county shelter, we didn’t even bother. We finally found a woman who allowed us to have one of her cats, although it seemed more that we leased a cat than actually got to keep it.

    The worst part is all the cats who are still living in a cage because of the ‘dangers’ of living with a child under five. And what about the kids who are denied the experience of growing up with animals?

  106. pentamom February 22, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    ” you are pretty much restricted to single income traditional families with older/no children,”

    Just an aside, the single income traditional family with older/no children barely exists at all anymore, unless one of the people is disabled. Cut out the cases where the unemployed spouse spends a lot of time away from home volunteering or caregiving for other family members, and you’re down to a tiny, tiny percentage. I can’t think of any cases of the above where a physically able person doesn’t work or attend school at least part-time, and I hang out with a pretty traditional crowd. So I do wonder who they think they’re going to adopt to, other than people who work at home, retired people (who are often considered a bad risk because they might not be able to keep up for the animal’s entire lifetime) and the chronically unemployed, who by the account of a lot of posters here don’t qualify because they’re judged not to be able to afford a pet.

  107. olympia February 22, 2013 at 9:30 am #

    *Raises hand teacher’s pet style* I think I know why your friend was asked if she had a washer/dryer in the house in regard to her kitten application. A few weeks back, my sister became aware of a heavy clumping sound coming from the dryer, as if I pair of sneakers was in there. Knowing there wasn’t a pair of sneakers in there, and sensing something was wrong (she’s attuned like that), she opened the dryer and out came Sparky, her dazed, ruffled cat. Apparently my nephew opened the dryer midway through the drying process, went to get something and when he came back to restart it, Sparky was in there. I know this isn’t an unknown phenomena- I had a friend who found her kitten dead in the dryer, and when I asked at the vet’s office if they ever saw this, they said, “Well, we don’t usually, because it doesn’t often end well.” Can’t say HOW common it is, but I don’t think it’s out of line to make someone applying for a cat aware of the possibility, just as a heads up. Checking the dryer for a cat before you close it is a pretty easy fix. :)

    As to the overall issue, I feel that as with most things, there’s a relevant Onion piece:
    http://www.theonion.com/articles/life-is-too-precious-to-be-enjoyed,11204/ The safety is everything mindset is incredibly pervasive. I do keep my cats inside -just something I’ve gotten in the habit of doing, although I enjoy seeing other people’s cats outside and don’t think folks are negligent for letting them out. I can also overprotect my cats without the risks to society that overprotecting kids has- but I don’t feel I should be required to do so.

  108. CrazyCatLady February 22, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Pentamom, yes, people do advocate not letting the eggs hatch (which IS pretty easy and tasty to accomplish!) Honestly, when our birds hatched 12 eggs and 8 of them were males, who later grew up to fight and mate excessively with the gals (pulling feathers off, one right after another) it became evident that we needed to get rid of a few. It took a while, but we did find some 4-H kids who took them and ended up bringing them to fair (where they then sold them!)

    Here is a video of a duck in a diaper. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnJXs-fa9TI My ducks are VERY happy outside. We do bring them in for a period each day when training for 4-H fair, but the kids just sit with them on their laps with a towel and the tv on.

  109. pentamom February 22, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    I refuse to watch a video of a duck in a diaper. Thanks anyway CrazyCatLady for your thoughtfulness in linking it. :-)

  110. pentamom February 22, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    “Checking the dryer for a cat before you close it is a pretty easy fix. :)”

    See, that’s the thing, though. Checking the dryer for a cat before you close it is a pretty easy fix, so why does whether you have one need to be a part of the adoption application? It makes it sound like dryer or lack thereof is actually a qualification for adoption.

    Just put it on the list of things the shelter workers are supposed to tell people when they adopt. Such lists always exist already anyway.

  111. rwdougla February 22, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    Truly ridiculous behavior, but I must say that pet kidnappings are not unheard of. In fact, where I grew up, we didn’t need to lock our doors, and I had never heard of anyone being kidnapped, or even of burglaries of any sort. But, my friend was outside with his dog, his dog out near the road, a ways away, when a pickup stopped, and a man got out, and put his dog in the back of the pickup, much to my friends horror. As the pickup started to drive away, though, my friend simply called out to the dog, which promptly jumped out and ran back to the house.

    Yeah… it was a small town. No need to lock your house, but you might want to keep tabs on a good hunting dog…

  112. olympia February 22, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    pentamom- I would hope having a washer/dryer wouldn’t be a disqualification for having a cat! I saw the question as to whether people had one as being posed as a segue into a warning about the potential, very manageable dangers of such. Which I think is reasonable, especially compared to some of the other things they warn about/outright ban.

    CrazyCatLady- Having hatched chicks from eggs before, I think I would advise others to be aware of the drawbacks of such an approach: primarily, of course, the risk of large amount of males! Watching the chicks hatch was honestly one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen, but winding up with four roosters out of the batch (of seven), did create the need for some logistical maneuvering that getting pullets wouldn’t have. Of course, if you’re open to male birds, have plans to eat/sell them, then it’s another deal altogether. I have seen people get sucked into the cool factor of watching chicks hatch, though, without considering all the repercussions.

  113. Amanda Matthews February 22, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    “Because it seems to me that if you have birds, you get eggs. Is it just that you’re never supposed to raise them?”

    If you have birds, yes you will get eggs, but if you keep the males and females separate – or if you keep diapers on them – you will not get fertilized eggs.

    That’s just a secondary benefit to diapers though, the main reason for them is that birds don’t have sphincters, so if you have ducks (or chickens) in your house at all, you’re going to want a diaper on them.

    I use to have 3 pet ducks, and they slept in my room at night. During the day they were free to go into the back yard as they pleased – had a dog that would protect them – but in the winter they mostly chose to stay inside.

    “Just an aside, the single income traditional family with older/no children barely exists at all anymore, unless one of the people is disabled.”

    In a few years I will be this (some of my kids are young now, but I will not be returning to work when they are older), and I know many people that are like this.

  114. bmommyx2 February 22, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    Sad, but true. I think you are better off going to a city shelter. A few years ago I went with my mom to adopt a dog at a shelter he had previously adopted one from. They told her her fence wasn’t high enough for certain dogs. I don’t remember all of the details, but we left with the feeling that they weren’t really interested in finding the dogs homes. Also you had to submit to a home inspection. We went straight to the city shelter & she left with a dog.

  115. pentamom February 22, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    “That’s just a secondary benefit to diapers though, the main reason for them is that birds don’t have sphincters, so if you have ducks (or chickens) in your house at all, you’re going to want a diaper on them. ”

    Well, yes, but that’s a pretty big IF.

    “In a few years I will be this (some of my kids are young now, but I will not be returning to work when they are older), and I know many people that are like this.”

    I guess our experience varies, then. Would you say your acquaintances are typical? That I’m wrong that it’s rare?

  116. olympia February 22, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    pentamom- Well, even if you don’t keep the males and females separated, if you don’t let the females sit on the eggs, you won’t get babies (I know some folks have issues with eating fertilized eggs -I don’t- but keeping the hens from setting is no doubt simpler than trying to keep them isolated from the men!). I do think there are solid reasons not to get your poultry by hatching it yourself, particularly if you don’t want males (I know a lot of places ban roosters), and aren’t prepared to deal with them.

  117. Emily February 22, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    You know, I’ve been thinking, has anyone else ever seen the show “Pick a Puppy?” They do home visits, and ask questions about the family dynamics, etc., to ensure that each family gets a dog that’s the best fit for them, and each dog gets a FAMILY that’s the best fit for them as well, but nobody on that show is ever denied an animal. That’s because, when they do the home visits, they focus on the positive–dog bed, check. Bowls for food and water, check. Chew toys, check. If anything is wrong in the house or the yard (loose electrical cords that should be tucked away, hole in the fence, etc.), then they explain why it’s a problem, and tell/show the family how to correct it, beginning from the assumption that, of course the family members want to create a safe environment for a puppy, and they want to help them. Then, the family meets with the breeders or animal rescue people, they talk, meet and play with the puppies, go home and decide together what kind of dog they want, and in the last segment of the show, they reveal the family’s decision. Yes, I realize that it’s heavily edited reality television, but I can’t help but think how much better the pet adoption process would go if it was done in a positive and collaborative way, instead of the (probably well-intentioned) breeders/rescue people treating ALL prospective animal owners like horrible, negligent people.

  118. Kara February 22, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    Our county animal control agency had some problems a few years ago and finally lost their contract to provide services to the county. The city animal shelter stepped up and agreed to take on the county cases along with it’s own. The problem was that the county agency dealt with cases of large and farm animal abuse and neglect. The little city agency only had dogs, cats, and the occasional bird or rabbit. The city agency has a no breeding clause for all of it’s adoptions as well as a no slaughter clause. These make perfect sense when you are dealing with dogs and cats, but now the city shelter has several neglected cows needing homes where they will be neither bred or eaten. How many people do you know who want to adopt a cow as a lawn ornament?

  119. pentamom February 22, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    “I saw the question as to whether people had one as being posed as a segue into a warning about the potential, very manageable dangers of such.”

    Given that the majority of people in the U.S. who are in the position to adopt a cat do have washers and dryers in their homes (since nearly all homeowners and a significant proportion of renters do) you don’t really need a “segue” — just make it a matter of course for the adoption worker to utter the very simple sentence, “And please be aware that cats have been known to climb into dryers which can be extremely dangerous, so be careful to check.” It’s not as though it’s a sensitive issue that you need an excuse to bring up, or that people will be deeply offended if you say that and they don’t have a dryer. Therefore, I don’t think it unreasonable to think that it’s strange to ask the question *on the application form.*

  120. olympia February 22, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    pentamom- Yeah, taking the direct approach definitely makes sense- why bother with confusion-producing questions when you can just state the dangers and be done with it? Maybe because it seems so random to be bringing up washers and dryers in regard to cats? I don’t know how common it is for cats to get stuck in dryers.

  121. shoshana February 23, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    i neveandrhad a problem with cats getting into the washer/dryer. we used to foster both cats and dogs when i was a kid and even though i love animals they are just ANIMALS. my sister is a helicopter parent of both her grown up daughters (yes i know) and her dogs. the dogs and girls must be supervised and baby sat at all times.

  122. Puzzled February 24, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    So, I just came across something fun. From 1984-1999, the dog population went up 2% – the number of human dog bites went up 36%. The author (Temple Grandin) suggests that a large part of the reason is the changes that human lifestyle made to dog treatment – in particular, more walking on leashes and staying enclosed, and less running around with neighborhood dogs.

  123. RaD February 24, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    Hence the reason we got a dog from a “backyard breeder” (even though the dog’s owner didn’t know her dog was old enough to breed and when it got pregnant chose to find good homes for each one and then use the money she got for the dogs to fix her pet so she wouldn’t have any more pups) because most of the rescue places required a ridiculous application that we decided was not worth our time. Craigslist here we come!

  124. An February 25, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

    Sad thing is, pets are probably HAPPIER outside, running around, chasing things, etc. Is it really good for a dog or cat to lie around the house all day, getting fat on expensive food? (I roll my eyes everytime I pass the refrigerated gourmet cat food at the grocery store) Cats LOVE to be outside, stalking their prey. Dogs LOVE to run around on the farm. I feel really bad for all these fat, housebound pets these days who can’t be allowed out for fear of picking up a flea!

  125. Nettie March 2, 2013 at 4:15 am #

    Reading through the comments I’m guessing most of you have never worked very closely with animal rescue people. The reason they are willing to be so strict is because they really believe that their animals are better off dead than living in the sort of conditions you’re describing (whether unsupervised exercise or owners who are away from home all day). I’ve worked with places like this a few times and I admit that sometimes I’m a little unsure myself–not about leaving a pet out in a dog yard, but about the sort of situation many people are willing to keep their dogs in if they don’t have a dog yard. Kennels are NOT appropriate for an entire workday or whenever you’re tired of the dog. It’s one thing to expect the dog to sleep in a kennel another to leave it there during waking hours. That said I support house visits, but not extensive questionnaires. I would still rather have an animal adopted than not, in most cases. Which would be part of the reason I don’t work with some of those organizations anymore :)

  126. Melanie March 7, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Crazy cat lady- i have a pyrnees as well. A stray we found eating our trash. Been the best dog. I walk him everyday but most of the time he spends with my daughter and I following up around. :) we recently got a rat terrier from a shelter. In the last 3 weeks since we adopted her i have spent 1000 on treatment for heartworms and pneumonia from kennel cough. I love the little dog but the vet was pissed. The shelter stopped testing animals for heartworms and give them the shots for distemper and kennel cough. They dont test them anymore because if they test postitive they have to treat them and its expensive. So they have a list of requirements that you have to do within 30 days of adoption and you have to bring in proof otherwise you get fined by the city and they will confiscate your dog. Our dog tested positive when i had all her shots and tests done right before she was to be spayed. Well, we can spay her while she is going through treatment, the vet wrote a letter that she was being treated and would be spayed when the treatment was completed. They were pissed off. They wanted me to have her spayed, which endangers her life than wait the two months. Meanwhile, she is a house dog and my other dog is neutered. And they told me they would still fine me until its done. These people are crazy.

  127. Joan April 17, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    I have a free range cat, indoor/outdoor, probably sitting on my porch right now. He is microchipped/tagged/labeled with my address and phone number and his name. The fact that he is spayed and has his shots should go without saying. He is happy, healthy, and has lots of (human) friends in the neighborhood. The biggest concern I have for him is overprotective humans that think cats should be indoor-only. These are probably the same humans who think my 10 year old shouldn’t walk or ride her bike 1/4 mile to school down a nice sidewalk.

  128. Aerevyn April 22, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

    I never drew the line between helicopter parenting and the behavior of many animal rescue places and some pet owners, but I cannot agree too emphatically.

    A few years ago I went looking for a cat, and being the hipster helper lass that I am, thought that going to a no-kill shelter would be the responsible, altrusitic thing to do. I was an animal lover connecting with other animal lovers.

    Perish the thought.

    What I was – in their eyes – was a potential animal abuser. I completely get that these folks see humanity at it’s worst, and get jaded, but they were … hostile, suspicious, and knew much, much better than I.

    One on application, I was asked, if I had a conflict between a new baby and I pet, what would I do? Get rid of the child was what was clearly asked for. I believe I wrote, “Unless I came home and actually found the cat holding a pillow over my infant’s face, I think we could probably find a solution.” Oddly, did not hear back from those folks. I didn’t understand then how an animal could be cooped up for TWO YEARS in a cage waiting for an adoption, getting sick along the way, but I certainly do now.

    I got one of my kitties from a high kill shelter and the last, my dog, from a person from Craigslist, because I find it offensive and over-reaching that someone wants to paw through my life and then … only provisionally adopt a pet out to me. I don’t think it makes pets safer. I think it just gives some of the people a high.

    I once read an article about pets getting organ transplants. The notion made me agog. Really? Can my cat understand what all the pain and suffering of that is for? Is it worth it? We have great numbers of animals being put down each year, people starving, and we are advancing the science of organ transplants? I mentioned it to my vet at our next visit, to see if the idea was as fringe-y as it seemed to me, and her face lit up with delight. I do not judge other people who want to do these things for their pet (OK, maybe I do, a little, inside my head), but I find it unethical, truly, that this might be the standard of care.

    I have two cats and a fat little puggle, all taken care of reasonably well, not getting the cadillac of health care (but neither am I), but being loved, getting exercised (we all walk out together) and seemingly content.

  129. Haley May 1, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    When we adopted a cat, we went to the cat’s “foster” house and met the super nice family who were foster raising two litters of kittens. It was a great setup for the cats – lots of space and a bunch of sweet kids to play with the cats. We liked the cat and the fosters liked us so they gave us the cat after we promised to take her downtown to sign the paperwork. Boy do I wish I had just driven away with the cat and gone home, but the cat needed her last round if shots.

    When we got there, I thought they were going to pry the cat out of my sobbing daughters arms and take it away. They were furious that we had “possession” of the cat before the paperwork was signed.

    I had to sign a paper saying I would consent to home-visit to check up on the cat (all the while thinking “over my dead body…”) the application was 10 pages.

    I emailed the foster cat-mom a few weeks later to tell her how much we loved the cat. She told me the agency was so awful to deal with that they weren’t going to foster anymore litters. These helicopter people are crazy.


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