Worst-First Thinking: Pet Version

Hi dbhzbshrsf
Readers! Yes, this is one of my “pet” topics —  the way “I care!” can morph into “No one else cares as much as I do,” which can curdle into “I’m the only one who cares enough!”  (See, for instance, “Did Being a Helicopter Parent Doom My Marriage (and Kids.”)

But I also love this letter because it’s a great example of Worst-First thinking: Oh, you want a pet? What if you’re an abusive pet owner?

That outlook wastes a lot of  kindness. – L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: 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, altruistic 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 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. – Hipster Helper Gal

Proto-hipster walks her dog and cat.

Proto-hipster walks her dog and cat.


150 Responses to Worst-First Thinking: Pet Version

  1. Patti April 26, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    Not all nonkill shelters are bad. Our local one is phenomenal and has a very very high adoption rate. Yeah you have to sign a contract and the do check you out….but that’s ok.

    NOW there is a shelter about 30 minutes away from me in another town….they actually refused to adopt out a cat to a gentleman. The reason? He’d never owned a cat before….UH….HUH???? WHAT? He ended up at my local shelter and got his cat 😀

  2. Gail April 26, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    I work at a cat shelter where we take very good care of our guests. Their “condos” are cleaned every day and they get lots of attention, good food and vet care. By the time someone comes in to adopt them we have invested a lot of time and money into these animals. We do have an application process (not as rude as the one you described) where we check references and check with the person’s vet to make sure they are responsible pet owners. If they rent we check with the landlord to make sure it’s ok for them to have the pet. Most of the time this works out great. Occasionally we find out something which leads us to deny the application. Shelter staff do not want to just give the animals away to people who might abuse or neglect them. Recently we had a person come in whose girlfriend had just left him. He was angry and agitated and wanted to walk out of there with a cat…any cat. It sounded like he would use the cat for some kind of retaliation. Needless to say that person did not leave with any of our cats. It doesn’t have to be an extreme approach either way. Some good old-fashioned common sense is called for.

  3. Brian April 26, 2013 at 9:10 am #

    Gail, your process sounds just as rude as the one in this letter. I would never submit references to adopt an animal. Nor would I subject my landlord to calls. It is a cat not a child.

    As for checking with “my vet” I presume you mean that you assume I have an animal and a regular vet. Even when I had dogs I didn’t have “a vet.” When they are little you go get shots and spayed/neutered and then you have a friggin dog. You get heart worm pills from the internet. There is no need to go to a vet again unless they get sick or when they are ready to get put down in 15 years.

    If you and your fellow volunteers are so attached to these animals that you can’t given them up then you are really doing these animals a disservice. A bad home would be much better than your cage.

  4. Filioque April 26, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    Amen to Brian! I’ll be up front here and admit that I’ve never had a pet and probably never will, so I can’t say about the vet/no vet bit.

    But as someone who has adopted humans, I find something inherently offensive about using the term ‘adoption’ for pets. References, background checks, applications? To me it seems a strengthening of what I’ve thought for years–that compassion for animals has somehow managed to surpass our compassion for other humans.

  5. Kay April 26, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    Yes! And they wonder why there would still be a demand for back yard breeders and people even getting their pets at the puppy mill pet stores. They make it way too hard to adopt from a rescue.

    I had an interaction with one of these militant outfits but eventually found a different rescue that wasn’t as nuts to get my dog.

    As a tie-in to this blog, I think the pet rescue operations are a microcosm of what would happen if society had control over who gets to be a parent and who doesn’t. We’ve all seen those comments, on this blog and on news sites.

    Funny thing is, I might be more conscientious than some when it comes to the care of my dog. I would never preach to others but would offer advice if asked about certain topics. I researched quite a bit on various matters in order to maintain optimal pet health so as to avoid enormous vet bills. So these ridiculous pet rescues (certain ones) can bite me.

  6. Warren April 26, 2013 at 9:32 am #


    You find it offensive that people adopt animals?

    Sorry to offend your delicate sensitivities. But as you admit you have never had a pet and probably never will. The overall tone of your comment shows a dislike for animals, in general.

    Put it this way, if I had to decide to save you or one of our family dogs from harm, guess what? Sorry bout your luck. My family, more so my kids love our dogs like siblings. No they are not equals, but the love that we have for them is no different just because they walk on four legs.

    You want the definition of ” UNCONDITIONAL LOVE ” get a dog.
    They are adopted, because they are members of the family, not a possession to be left in the garage or driveway.
    Do we need to be screened like an overnight visitor to the White House? No. If as a shelter worker, you cannot read people well enough to make the call right there, then you need to find another line of work.

  7. BL April 26, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    Who funds these people?

    If they’re getting any taxpayer dollars, I see an opportunity for budget cuts.

    If they’re furloughing air traffic controllers but not puppy fascists …

  8. Tony Shreck April 26, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    I know many animal lovers and activists who defy this stereotype, but sadly there does seem to be a subculture of the animal rights / shelter mindset that amounts to animals are better off dead or in cages than with people who aren’t up to the operator’s standards.


  9. Beth April 26, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    Sigh. I can see both sides of this one,sort of. There are questions that make sense, and sometimes restrictions that do, too. If the dogies known not to behold with kids or cats, then obviously a person with either is not a good fit. If the dog has a challenging medical condition, then making sure you have a vet at the ready is a good idea.

    That said,I know people who have been turned down for dogs for the most asinine reasons. I find rescue people to be both big-hearted and completely judgmental at the same time.

  10. Kay April 26, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    @Gail- Like the others, references? Checking with vet? This was our first family dog, so no previous vet visits. Why do you need to check with the vet?

    It’s all over-reaching. Although I do have a fenced in back yard, that needn’t be a prerequisite either, as I’ve seen on other applications. There are such things as leashes and training.

    Like I said, there’s always the back-yard breeders. But even reputable breeders aren’t this anal..

    It makes me question if they really are in it to save lives because for every animal they won’t let go of because of their unnecessarily stringent adoption policies another animal dies in a high-kill shelter because they don’t have room for any more.

    It’s a noble cause what animal rescues are doing but I think some lose sight of the ultimate goal.

  11. Marie April 26, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    Almost all animal rescues are run by crazy people. I am a loving dog owner who cares deeply for my pets. We had a terrible experience with a rescue that landed in court because the woman who ran the rescue changed her mind and decided she wanted “her” dog back. I will never adopt from a rescue again.

  12. acm April 26, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    A shelter near us makes you promise that if you ever move, you’ll let them know. Like looking through your life isn’t enough, they want you under their observation FOREVER!

  13. maggie April 26, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    Some of the activists go pretty crazy. In an area where I used to live, one went so far as to steal dogs that she felt weren’t being treated well. She even broke into houses to steal them, and then took them to no-kill shelters out of state.

    When she was finally caught in the act, and the police gave chase, she THREW THE DOGS out the window of a moving car. I guess when it came down to her freedom vs the dog’s lives, she saw the dogs as disposable.

  14. BMS April 26, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    Uh, Warren, I think you misread Filioque’s comment.

    She’s not offended by people adopting pets. She’s offended by people treating the term adoption lightly.

    I’ve adopted two kids, and five cats over the years. I’m pretty laid back about the use of the term adoption. But for some adopted folks, it gets to be a bit offensive. “Adopt a Highway!” “Adopt a Killer Whale” “Adopt a classroom!” Kids who are adopted sometimes don’t want to feel they are on the same level as cats, highways, and killer whales. I have particularly laid back kids, but some kids feel it more keenly.

    And I do find it a bit exasperating that I was allowed to adopt two humans from another country, but was put through the ringer by a rescue group for two months before being denied because I only wanted 1 cat, not 2, since we already had 2 cats at home. But there are other, more reasonable groups out there, and they’re the ones who got my donation.

  15. marie April 26, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    Different marie here.

    When I was single, I talked about my dog as if he were my child. Then when I had children, I realized how stupid it was to think a dog is like a child.

    I have both dogs and children and the difference is crystal clear: children are human beings you want to grow up to become productive citizens with a conscience, solid ethics, and a good heart. Dogs are dogs; part of the family but–dogs.

  16. Caleb April 26, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    We were looking for a dog for our farm, and ran into the same absurd treatment. You would think they would be overjoyed finding a farm a dog could romp on, but we got scowled at. We had to take our adopted cat to the vet, and the cat looked like a bowling ball when we adopted it, and still looks like a bowling ball. It seems quite happy to be a bowling ball, however apparently is proof we don’t care. Then it came to the topic of us eating our male goats….

    In the end we told them to go take a flying leap and went elsewhere.

    This over protective impulse hits us in many ways on a farm. For example, we run a childcare on the farm. In the old days manure was called “brown gold” by farmers, because it is such an excellent fertilizer. Now it is “fecal matter,” and we have to deal with all sorts of government regulations.

    Fortunately I found a study that reassures parents by suggesting dirt, and even “fecal matter,” is good for children’s immune systems.

    I wrote a little about the experience here:


  17. pentamom April 26, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    I am thankful that the low-kill shelter in our town is very sensible. They give a brief interview to make sure you understand what is involved in adopting the animal, give you a free coupon for a local vet for a first-time wellness check, you sign the papers, and away you go. They make reasonable efforts to make sure that you understand your responsibilities, but they do not do background checks or refuse to adopt out because your family situation does not meet some ridiculous ideal of full-time servitude to the animal and absolute freedom from danger.

    They call it low-kill because they will put down a very sick animal or one that has been so badly mistreated that it cannot be resocialized, but in my book, that’s no-kill.

  18. Warren April 26, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    No I did not misread the comment.

    Read the entire comment. Filio is definitely one of those who does not like animals, and cannot understand the love and connections people have with thier animals. I doubt she understands the love and connection we have with our kids, as one that didn’t adopt children, kids or babies, but adopted humans.

  19. DH April 26, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    I used to work at an animal shelter. Back then, their policies were pretty sane. Come in with proof you own your house, or a lease which indicates that pets are allowed, find a pet that seemed to mesh with you, sit down for about half an hour with one of the employees to make sure you weren’t too crazy, and you’d probably be taking that pet home that day.

    In recent years, we’ve been looking to get a dog for our family, and the policies have become kind of crazy. Required references, home visits, etc. What? We’ve been denied any dog younger than several years because we’d be dependent on a neighbor to come let the dog out at midday. (I’ve owned dogs all my life prior who after early puppyhood could hold it for a standard work day.)

    A friend of mine ended up with a puppy from someone who hadn’t spayed their dog (backyard breeder, basically, but not planned). She’s a mutt through and through. She’s now headed up this way to become our dog because I don’t want to deal with the shelters or the rescues in our area again.

    I’ve done dog training. I’ve worked with rescue organizations. But some crazy stuff has happened over the past decade and I’m not willing to deal with them anymore.

  20. Warren April 26, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    And not being cold but adopt or adopted are just words. Get over it. If one word can cause you to feel poorly, then there is other issues at play.
    As a parent it is your job to teach your kids, that words are just that words. A means of communication and nothing more.

    If a child is upset because they are adopted, and so is a dog, or a highway, then get them in for counselling. Also, stop reminding them they are adopted.
    I have adopted one daughter and one son, after marrying thier mom. At no time are they ever, or will ever be reminded that they are adopted. I am for being honest with your kids, but come on, some things just don’t need to be brought up.

  21. baby-paramedic April 26, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    I looked into getting a pet from one of these rescue shelters. Some were okay to deal with, some were nuts. My personal favourite was being knocked back for a cat because I wouldn’t be at home all day, DESPITE MY HUSBAND BEING AT HOME ALL DAY. Apparently as he had not had a cat before he was incapable of basic care?

  22. Rachel April 26, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    My parents got a rescue dog. We were told she couldn’t walk outside until she had finished all her vaccinations at 6? months old, and can’t live outside and I think she was supposed always be supervised when she was out in the back yard. She’s a HUSKY mix! Seriously? As if she had room to turn around inside. Also some places have switched to pet guardian instead of pet owner.

    I live in the bay area, people don’t hide the fact that dogs are more important than kids. “My cats kept me up all night. Poor me. Parents don’t complain, having kids is a choice”. I have heard those words.

  23. Sally April 26, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    @ Caleb, my understanding is that the evidence is pretty conclusive that exposure to farms (fecal matter and all) at a very young age somehow provides protection against allergies. Here’s just one of many studies that I found:
    So those parents should be thrilled to have their children spending time on “dirty” a farm.

    Well, some shelters don’t just give you a hard time if you want to adopt — some also treat you like a rotten egg for trying to give up an animal, even for completely legitimate reasons.

    My sister volunteered at one of these places (but sure enough it was short lived due to the unbearable attitude of so many of the people there). A family had found a cat and had taken it into their home. The father was allergic to the cat. They tried to give it to the shelter, the shelter refused the cat and told them they should find a way to keep the cat. The man’s allergies went from bad to horrible and he had to live in the basement — the MAN I mean, not the cat. They went back to the shelter, explained the situation, and were refused again and told to try harder to make it work out.

    As my sister put it: “Isn’t this exactly why this place exists? So that people can give up animals they can’t care for? These people are trying to do the right thing, give the cat to a shelter and not put it out of the car on the side of the road somewhere. But rather than be grateful people like them are coming to us and asking for help, they’re given a guilt trip instead.”

  24. Michael April 26, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    I love cats and would do almost anything for mine but I completely agree that these rescue shelters have gone way too far and I will never adopt from or donate to them. At the end of the day an animal is an animal.

    On another note, I find it disturbing to read here that someone would rather save a dog from harm than a fellow human being. It’s a sad day when your thinking has come down that far.

  25. Brooks April 26, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    There is a shelter here that requires the potential owner of a cat to sign a contract stating that the cat will NEVER be allowed outside. That would, of course, be horrible, to allow the cat to be a cat (chasing, hunting, etc.). I’ve had a number of cats. My experience is that if they make it the first two or three years, they figure out the dangers outside and live a wonderful life (all mine were in at night, out during the day). I’d rather have a happy cat that dies at 3 or 4 than a miserable cat staring sadly out the window at all the wonders beyond that prison glass.

  26. Donna April 26, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    Anyone remember the Ellen dog rescue story from a few years ago. Ellen had adopted a dog from a rescue but couldn’t keep it for some reason (I want to say that it didn’t get along with her other pets but I could be wrong). She gave the dog to her hairdresser and her preteen daughters. The rescue then came and took the dog back from the family and stated that they were not an appropriate family for the dog despite no allegations that the dog was being improperly cared for. They stated that after you adopt a dog, you can’t just unilaterally give it away. Really? It’s her freaking dog and she should be able to do whatever she wants with it within the bounds of the law.

  27. Shannon April 26, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    I agree with the policy of not letting cats roam free outside. If you want to leash them or have an outdoor coop or something, fine. Free-roaming cats are a nuisance in the city and they kill songbirds. Now, signing contracts that state that the cat sill NEVER go outside. That’s crazy talk. Pet ownership should not require so much paperwork and background checks. I will never own a “rescue” animal.

    When I went looking for a dog 7 years ago I was turned down by shelters because I did not have a yard. Ended up acquiring a bullmastiff mix puppy for 30 dollars off of Craigslist. She had the best life a dog could have: family vacations, sleeping at the foot of the bed, riding in a bike trailer, regular walks, eating like a king… Then she died young. Of cancer. So when I am ready to look for another dog I will not waste my time at a shelter and adopt one from the paper or craigslist. I’m not going to lie. I probably won’t have a yard by then.

  28. DH April 26, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    “It’s her freaking dog and she should be able to do whatever she wants with it within the bounds of the law.”

    Several of the rescues organizations we looked at recently make people sign a contract requiring they return the dog to them if they need to give it up.

    Once upon a time, the idea that the shelter or organization would take the dog back in times of necessity, if the owner couldn’t otherwise rehome the dog, was a good idea. It was a reason to work with an organization.

    Now they’re attempting to get people to sign contracts stating they are not allowed to independently rehome their animals under any circumstances.

  29. Jessi April 26, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    We tried to adopt from a shelter. None here will adopt a cat or dog to you if you have children under 12-14. Seriously. No more dog and boy growing up together.. Only teens. Disgusting.

  30. Warren April 26, 2013 at 2:05 pm #


    Sorry if my choice to save one of my kids dogs, over that of a stranger offends you. I am just honestly admitting what my response will be in an emergency situation, when emotions are running high.

    It is not meant put animals above humans, oh wait, humans are animals. To many people have let that slip thier mind. So when it get’s right down to it, and remembering despite our higher level of intellect, (some less than others) we are all animals. So who are you to say a human is more valuable than a canine?

    Funny how arrogant humans can be when it comes to nature. So many believe we are better than any other animal on the planet, that we have certain entitlements. That a human life is more important than any other animals life. Now if that isn’t the pinnacle of arrogance, I do not know what is.

    For example, there are mother dogs that have adopted piglets, and nursed them, and brought them into the fold. Two completely different species. And there are many other incidents of different species “adopting” outside thier own. Humans would do well to learn from them.

    So please Micheal, explain to me why I should value your life over that of one of our three dogs?

  31. Warren April 26, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    That is insane, kids by the time they hit that age are losing interest in the family dog, as they are developing more socially with peers. Wow, that is just so wrong.

  32. Stephanie April 26, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    Brooks, that’s my experience with cats too. I’ve had some very long lived indoors at night/ out during the day cats. A number did die young, though, which is hard.

    We don’t have pets right now. We rent, and have a no pets rule, not just because the landlords say so, but because it’s so hard to find a rental that allows them, and if we move, I don’t want to have to get rid of pets or pay a high deposit. We’ll get pets when the time is right, and dogs and cats will be allowed out during the day.

  33. Kay April 26, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    I have a neighbor who had tried keeping her cat indoors. I believe the cat was a stray to begin with. She says her cat was absolutely miserable and cried all the time for months. She feels that if he is happier roaming his usual radius then it is better he lives a happier shorter life than a long miserable one. So he is an indoor/outdoor cat.

    Cats are natural predators. I think the most important thing is making sure your animal is fixed. I grew up with indoor/outdoor cats and know so many other people with the same. It’s usually someone who has an apartment that has an only indoor only cat.

    It really is a philosophical debate whether a cat should be “free-range” versus cooped up indoors. Accidents can happen sometimes, right? But for the most part, cats do know how to get around and come back for their meal and rest.

  34. Ann April 26, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

    my dog and cat both free-roam outside. We live on 3 acres in the middle of a corn field. We had looked into adopting a dog but they had a requirment of a fenced yard – really? It is a DOG! and my cat would be pissed if I didn’t let himout… and retaliates by doing his thing – inside. NOT happening. (yes – he has a liter box but when he wants out – he wants OUT!) And of course this all trickles down to the whole free range thinking philosophy. If we can’t let our pets outside alone, how in the heck would we EVER let a child out into the big bad world without constant supervision??? AUGH!

  35. Susan April 26, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    We had this issue with a GUINEA PIG rescue. Among other restrictions, the group would only let you have a guinea pig if you would keep it in one of the main rooms of the house, e.g. the family room / living room/etc. That is impossible with the layout of our house and our tiny first floor living room, but we planned to keep them in my daughter’s room, which is just a few steps from the living room. Unacceptable to them. We gave up and got a pair from the city animal shelter, which was much easier to work with. Some of these groups really need to learn the adage about the perfect being the enemy of the good.

  36. Jim Collins April 26, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    My first job was at a shelter. One day we had a guy come in and wanted 12 cats. Because he wanted them for barn cats at a dairy farm he was turned down. A week later a virus hit the cat room and we had to put down 30 cats.

    Something to think about for those who let your cats out on their own. In the last five years, the neighborhood that I live in has had 9 young children (4 and below) have to get Rabies shots. The one thing that they all had in common was that they were all bitten by cats. You know if your cat has had it’s shots, but, unless your cat wears a collar with a Rabies tag, no one else does. I’m not just blaming cat owners.
    Last year one of the local animal groups got a grant and used it to trap feral cats. They then spayed or neutered the cats and gave them Rabies shots. They then took the cats back to where they were trapped AND LET THEM GO!

    At least one child has had to have Rabies shots since this happened.

  37. BMS April 26, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    @ Warren

    Seriously, why the hostility?

    No one is trying to deny the feelings you have for your animals. But you’re coming across like you have to fight to the death anyone who suggests that there might be a difference between humans and animals. If my cat ever makes me coffee, I’ll concede your point. But really, calm down already, and keep it civil.

  38. Donna April 26, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    @Jim Collins – Unless you live in an area with rampant active rabies, 9 kids in one neighborhood needing rabies shots is extreme and largely unnecessary. My guess is that the local hospital is panicking and giving rabies shots to kids who don’t need them.

    Rabies is actually extremely rare so there is very little chance that an animal bite will lead to rabies (less than the odds of your child being kidnapped). Unless you suspect the animal was in fact rabid (it showed signs of rabies at the time it bit), there is no need for treatment overnight. You have time to track down the animal and ask the owners about its medical condition or trap it and take it to the shelter for observation. You don’t need to run to the hospital for rabies shots immediately.

  39. J.T. Wenting April 26, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    “A shelter near us makes you promise that if you ever move, you’ll let them know. Like looking through your life isn’t enough, they want you under their observation FOREVER!”

    Shelter where my parents got their last dog demanded the same. Worse, they demanded the right to take the animal back at any time without having to state a reason.
    My dad’s a better contract negotiator than most, so they got around that idiocy.
    They ended up rescuing a dog from the dog rescue, a dog that was 6 years old, 5.5 of which had been spent in and out of that shelter, never lasting more than a few weeks at any home.
    The animal had an undiagnosed food allergy, undiagnosed intestinal infections, undiagnosed chronic bronchitis, undiagnosed vision problems, severe separation anxiety (which was so bad she would start crying incessantly the moment anyone left the room she was in and not stop before that person returned), terrible anxiety attacks (she’d get in a panic hearing a starling sing, a twig break, minute unexpected sounds like that).

    In the 3 years before she died, she got more love per day than that “caring” shelter had provided in over 5 years.

    And those shelters dare to try to threaten people to take their animals away if they don’t “treat the animals properly”…
    And have the full power of the police and courts backing them up too, it’s easier for them, private for profit organisations, to steal a pet than it is for child services, a government organisation, to steal a child.

  40. Katie April 26, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    I have done 3 shelter adoptions (none of them were no kill shelter though) and am very happy with my decision to do this.

    @Brooks As for indoor verses outdoor, it is ridiculous to assume all cats want to be outdoor cats and even if they did they would not enjoy being indoor cats. I can assure you my indoor only cat who has zero interest in going outside anyway has a very good life. In fact I have had numerous people comment they wish they could have her life. Not to mention the risk of sending a cat outside particularly if you live in an urbanish area like I do is much higher than the risk of sending a child outside.

    I do think though shelters could consider though in a case if the cat is better adopted though particularly if they know they are going to have so many cats they will euthanize some. No kill shelters still lead to euthanizations because when they are full they just refuse to take any more animals and they end up in high kill shelters.

    I’ve also ran into a few people who made ridiculous comments though about cat parenting. My friend’s ex said that it is horrible I let my cat sit at the table and have dinner with us and that I occasionally give my cat cream as a treat. Given this lady was totally fat I have no idea why should be give dietary advice to anyone.

  41. Hellogolly April 26, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    I remembered reading about ridiculous/burdensome pet adoption applications and found this: http://www.dawg-rescue.org/adoptionapplication.htm

    You have to download the application to read it, but it’s everything that’s wrong with animal adoptions. If I wanted a dog and was faced with filling out 4 solid pages of questions, plus attaching references, and agreeing to a home visit, I’d say no thanks. It’s almost as if they don’t want the animals to be adopted…

    My favorite question is #35: 35. “How many hours/day will the dog be without adult supervision?”

  42. J.T. Wenting April 26, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    “My first job was at a shelter. One day we had a guy come in and wanted 12 cats. Because he wanted them for barn cats at a dairy farm he was turned down. A week later a virus hit the cat room and we had to put down 30 cats. ”

    as barn cats they’d have a great life. Freedom to roam, hunt, do cat things all day long.
    But of course no close control, no heated litterbox and pet bed, no clothes, no $10 a day per cat petfood. Which is probably what shelters demand you provide for cats now…

  43. Katie April 26, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    On that note things I will say this:

    Things I think are reasonable assuming their is a surplus of the type of animal:
    -Criminal background check to check for animal abuse cases
    -Some sort of verification that if renting pets are allowed (otherwise they just end up back at the shelter)
    -Talking to the person to make sure they will take care of the animal.
    -Requiring something stating that while the animal can be allowed out in a fenced(or invisible fenced) in yard or enclosure, and not going to be allowed to just roan anywhere freely or chained excessively.
    -Requiring spaying and neutering

    What I think is too much:
    -Requiring the pet to only be fed premium foods.
    -I agree with condoning declawing and would never do it, but a pet is better declawed than euthanized.
    -Requiring a yard, saying the pet can’t go outside in an enclosed area.
    -Not adopting to families with kids unless the pet fails a kid friendly test(the shelter I adopted from did tests to determine if an animal would become aggressive if there tail and the like and made adoptions for these pets above age 8).
    -Other similar minor detail things.

  44. Warren April 26, 2013 at 4:57 pm #


    No hostility, just sarcasm. You see my upbringing and elders has taught us that all animals are equal. That includes our species, as well. My ancestors recognized that as humans we are actually inferior to many other species of animals, on the planet. That humans are far from being the superior beings, they think they are.

    Humans could actually learn alot, from the rest of nature.

  45. Kimberly April 26, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    I had a similar experience when I went to spring the neighborhood cat after she was picked up. She hadn’t been around in a few months so I checked the local humane society website, and there was her picture. Her previous owners had declined to pay the fee to get her back so she was up for adoption. I made the mistake of mentioning during the paperwork that she really loves being outside, and that’s when the trouble started. After a semi-hysterical lecture on cat scratch fever and how this particular worker had once had to have a picc line after an encounter with an Outiside Cat (terrifying creature), she basically threatened to not let me take the cat unless I agreed to keep her inside. This was a cat we already knew, whose previous owners (our neighbors) had given up on her because she insisted on wandering. She needed a home like ours, where we “host” her, take care of her shots/ flea protection, and accept her wandering ways. I agreed to attempt to keep her inside, feeling a little dishonest and guilty, especially since my kiddos were there. The worker reluctantly allowed me to take her, saying that many cats, after being “spoiled” by the pound, don’t even want to go outside any more. Baloney! Our BeBe was back to scaling trees and crashing neighborhood yard sales in no time. And I totally agree that pet ownership has been fetishized to the point that many animals are valued above people. But that’s a whole different rant.

  46. Warren April 26, 2013 at 5:02 pm #


    Background checks? Really?

    And sorry, but I have acres of land, that the animals can roam freely.

    Talk to them, meet the entire family, and if you cannot get a feel for them, then you shouldn’t be working at a shelter.
    It is that easy, that simple.

  47. Katie April 26, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    @baby-paramedic Wow, I’ve never heard of that for a cat. I agree with some of the rules, but wow that is crazy. Was that for a normal adult cat? If you eliminate everyone who works and hasn’t had a cat previously seriously who is going to even able to adopt a cat. I don’t even really think much about leaving my cat at home during the daytime when I go out particularly given we have child locks on all cabinets with anything I wouldn’t want her to get into.

  48. Katie April 26, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    @Kimberly I understand your situation, but the shelter worker isn’t completely incorrect when she said some cats have no interest and make no attempts to go outside. My cat doesn’t and she loves her life as an indoor cat. That’s something I’m happy with too as I live in an urbanish area.

  49. Katie April 26, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    @BMS Your dealing with someone who likes to argue.

    That’s wonderful though you’ve done so many adoptions-kids and cats!

  50. Shtetl G April 26, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

    @Warren, on April 26th, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    The idea that all species are equal is a very human concept and has nothing to do with “nature”. I guarantee you that a cat does not find a mouse his equal and bobcat does not see a house cat as his equal. Nature is a lot less harmonious than you think.

  51. Katie April 26, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    I also wanted to say not free ranging at pet is very different than not free ranging a child, because pets don’t have to be able to function in the real world, but children grow up to become adults and have to be able to function independently of us.

    So the role of a pet parent is much different because you don’t need to teach your pet life skills.

  52. Leah Backus April 26, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    A lot of these no-kill shelters are no better than animal hoarders. Their perceptions about animals are severely off-kilter and out of line with reality. When we look for a pet, we go to the Humane Society first.

    As far as letting pet cats outdoors? Not only no, but heck no. With whipped cream on top. Outdoor cats have 1/3 the lifespan of indoor cats. So you’re not doing them any favors letting them roam. They are also responsible for hunting some species of songbirds nearly to extinction. There is no need whatsoever for a cat to be outdoors to do “cat things” or express their natural instincts. Informed cat owners can provide their animals with activities that mimic what they would be doing outdoors.

    Here’s a study that the Smithsonian did recently with some facts about feral and free-ranging pet cats and the damage these non-native predators do to the environment: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/scbi/migratorybirds/blog/default.cfm?id=128

  53. Marianne April 26, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    I was faced with the same problem when my husband tried to get a dog. We kept getting the runaround from the rescues and shelters we tried to adopt from. The rescues here in the DC area often have really extraordinary adoption fees ($300+) and they all require home visits, which I find extremely instrusive for a simple animal adoption. Another problem that we ran into is that the shelter workers have a one-size-fits-all attitude when it comes to different breeds of dogs. We were rejected from adopting a golden retriever because we don’t have a yard, but anyone who knows anything about the breed knows that they are inside dogs who need to be near their family. I read about another family who lived on a farm with sheep who got rejected from adopting a border collie! All because the yard wasn’t fenced and dog wouldn’t be leashed while outside. These people righteously claiming to know exactly what’s best for their dogs often don’t even have basic knowledge of their breeds.

    So after getting fed up, we did what so many shelters hate and got our puppy at a pet store.

  54. Katie April 26, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    @Leah I agree with you completely-actually pretty much everything you said. No way I would send my cat outside, even if she wanted to go-which she doesn’t.

  55. Sean Phillips April 26, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

    I hate that some shelters are as awful as so many people are saying, because there ARE good ones out there — mine, for instance, where i adopted a beautiful cat and wonderful puppy. they have i believe a one or two page questionnaire that is more to make sure you are a good fit with that particular animal than to be any sort of gatekeeper, a short interview with an adoption counselor to make sure you’re a reasonably good person and also to make sure you know what having a pet entails (and also to give friendly advice and answer Your questions), and finally they check to make sure your apartment — if you rent — allows pets. all reasonable.

    the shelters that go to far ruin things, not just for their own animals, but for all the shelters that are actually reasonable and doing good work in their communities, by feeding into this ubiquitous perception that shelters are bad.

  56. hineata April 26, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    @Warren – we were taught not to attempt to rescue either dogs or cats, chiefly because they tend to be better at rescuing themselves. I keep seeing stories on the net about people drowning, for example, trying to rescue their dogs. Almost happened to a girl in the harbour here the other day – the dog, btw , washed up OK. Other larger animals, and/or expensive breeding animals maybe…..or caged animals, but only if your own life is not at significant risk.

    @Filoque – while the word doesn’t bother me too much, I do agree that there is something sick about putting the humane rehousing of animals up there with taking kids into your family.

    My sister, who is great with my kids but doesn’t have any of her own, talks about her cats being her babies. I wish kids were as easy as cats, but then again, her cats have yet to go shopping for her, and certainly won’t be contributing to her retirement fund when she gets older. I never will be able to understand the mentality that puts animals up there with humans. For starters, unless you’re talking cockatoos or turtles, most of them don’t live that long….

  57. hineata April 26, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    We’re lucky that the local SPCA isn’t that weird yet, though we had a lovely guy phone me a few days after we got our last cat from there, trying to get me to buy pet health insurance, because ” What would I do if I was suddenly faced with an $1800 vet bill to save my cat?”

    Oh, I don’t know, put it down? For some reason he was rather flabbergasted by that, but really – unless the cat was some kind of pure breed, who would waste that sort of money? I get on well with the cat, usually, but……at the end of the day, it’s only a cat.

  58. Jenny Islander April 26, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

    I’m glad my local no-kill shelter is sensible. (They will euthanize one animal if it is so sick that the money needed to maybe cure it would help save three more; like an above poster, I consider this no-kill.) Twice now we have gone in to get cats and explained up front that the cat would be an indoor/outdoor cat, a mouse and vole killer indoors and a rat deterrent outdoors. We live close to a harbor, so it’s either have a cat patrolling outdoors or put out poison and kill everybody else’s free-range cat. The first cat died at home, in a basket of soft towels, of lymphoma. The second is getting old and a bit skinny and is headed to the vet for a checkup next week. At no point did the shelter balk at either adoption. They just led us to the right cat and made sure we knew the basics of cat care.

  59. Michael April 26, 2013 at 6:13 pm #


    “No hostility, just sarcasm. You see my upbringing and elders has taught us that all animals are equal.” – Do you take that to its logical conclusion to include the mosquito that’s about to bite you? Also, if you really value every animal including humans equally I assume you would quite possibly save your dog from a fire before your children if it is easier to get to the dog? After all you can’t have your cake and eat it too you know. Respectfully, I find you attitude unsettling.

  60. Jenny Islander April 26, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    Forgot to mention: As indoor/outdoor cat owners, we were strongly advised by shelter staff not to have a bird feeder. We go further, lopping off the lower branches of trees on our sloping lot so that inexperienced first-time bird parents don’t build where the view out of the front is much higher off the ground than access from the back!

    A little responsibility is all it takes. Of course, if we lived in the habitat of an endangered species, conditions would be different.

  61. Tsu Dho Nimh April 26, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    @maggie … Are you thinking about the New Mexico “rescuer”?

  62. Smatsy April 26, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    We were denied because we had kids under ten. ! I just! I can’t even!

  63. hineata April 26, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    @Warren – with respect to your ancestors, whom I’m going to assume in this case were First Nations, because as a mixed blood, none of my white ancestors from any part of the globe had any notions about animals and humans being equal, I think if you put a little more thought into that idea you’d realise it’s a fallacy. For example, we are all commenting on this blog using some form of electronic device that I can almost guarantee you was neither invented by, nor put together, by an animal – human beings did that. I have also yet to see an animal build any form of housing for anything other than its own species, whereas human beings regularly construct shelter for their own as well as other species, in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons.

    Yes, under the classification system ‘animal, vegetable, mineral’ human beings fall under the section ‘animal’, but in all other ways we are above animals. Not perfect, but certainly creative, intelligent, inventive etc, in ways that animals are competely incapable of. And before you say animals are more caring than humans, chickens and geese can be extremely vicious to one another, dogs work in packs and bully each other until that’s established, male cats will eat each other’s young etc. Life is pretty tough in the animal world.

  64. hineata April 26, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    @Smatsy – ridiculous!

  65. Donna April 26, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

    “We were rejected from adopting a golden retriever because we don’t have a yard, but anyone who knows anything about the breed knows that they are inside dogs who need to be near their family.”

    Goldens are not inside dogs. Yes, they are good family dogs who like to be with their family and should not be left in yards 24/7 (nor should any dog). They are also sporting dogs that are bred for outside, hunting and swimming and not sitting around a house. Goldens need considerable exercise and benefit greatly from having yards to run in – and preferably children to chase them in those yards.

    A yard should not be a determining point; a commitment to getting the animal the exercise it needs should be. However, I don’t like seeing a very active breed that requires a large amount of outside exercise being termed an “inside dog” as that brings too many connotations of a chihuahua (or Great Dane interestingly enough) who can just hang out in the house all day.

  66. Leah Backus April 26, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    I really, really don’t understand the mentality that says alter the habitat to discourage birds so that your cat, who shouldn’t be out in the first place, won’t kill them. Simpler to keep the cat indoors, and way better for the cat. We convince ourselves that we know everything there is to know about animal species based on our limited knowledge of evolution. Tigers live outside! Lions live outside! So cats must need to be outside, too. So far from true, and so dangerous to the animals. Cats do not equal lions or tigers. Dogs do not equal wolves. Domestic parrots do not equal eagles. Domestic animals are called that for a reason. They are not wild, and should not be allowed to become so.

  67. Donna April 26, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    @Warren – Do you object to criminal background checks for people who want to adopt children? Because if humans and pets are equal, I don’t really understand at all why the protections for their adoption should be different.

    I don’t think we need criminal background checks for pet adoption but I don’t think children and pets are the same thing either. Pets are nice and all, but they are clearly not equal to people. I love my dog and cat, and I hope that if there is an emergency that everyone will get out safely, but dog and cat rescue will not come until all the humans are out and I would be absolutely appalled if anyone neglected a human person – known or stranger – to save my dog and cat.

  68. Donna April 26, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    “We convince ourselves that we know everything there is to know about animal species based on our limited knowledge of evolution.”

    How is your insistence that cats must be inside any different than someone’s insistence that they must be outside in this regard? Especially when your entire argument is that inside is okay because we can ARTIFICIALLY create everything they need – and all those needs exist NATURALLY outside.

    Kinda seems like a really convoluted view of life to me. And one we could take with anything. Why do children ever need to go outside if we can artificially make everything inside? We don’t need real stumps for them to climb on; they can just use the fake stump things that Lenore blogged about several months ago. What’s the difference? They still get to climb on stumps.

  69. missjanenc April 26, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    Okay, as a cat rescuer and feral cat colony caretaker, I want to weigh in on this and think some of you guys are way out of line in your criticism. Do you know how many animals end up in shelters because a couple has split up, the landlord doesn’t allow pets and found out the tenant had sneaked them in anyway, college students get a cute kitten only to dump it at the end of the school year or – my favorite – people who want to surrender the cat they have had for 12 years because now there’s a new baby and they just don’t have time for the cat any more.

    You screen people to make sure the pet is going to stay rescued and not end up returned or dumped. You find out if the 80 year-old woman whose family wants to get her a cat (no kitten) really wants one and what will happen to it when Grandma passes away. You ensure that if a person is an apartment dweller he or she is allowed to have pets. If a person has had pets before and they are deceased, you do a vet check to see if the pets were spayed/neutered and kept current on vaccinations (especially rabies, which are required by law.) If someone tells me they’re looking to replace the year-old intact tom cat who got hit by a car a few days before, yeah, it concerns me. I am no cat Nazi (no cat for you!) but some things are just common sense.

  70. Leah Backus April 26, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    False equivalence. My indoor cats do no harm to other people or species. Outdoor cats absolutely do. This is not a matter of “everyone’s way is acceptable, let’s just agree to disagree.” Outdoor cats have a proven, destructive effect on the habitat around them. They live shorter, unhealthier lives. It is projection to believe that they need to be outside to be happy. They don’t. Domestic cats were bred to be indoors. In houses. In barns. They were not ever intended to range free in suburban back yards. They are non-native predators to which native species have not adapted. This has resulted in a tremendous loss of biodiversity among bird species. This isn’t me saying this. This is scientifically proven. Sorry, but that trumps your, “Fifi NEEDS to go outside! It’s her natural instinct.” She doesn’t and it isn’t.

    **This** is what bothers me about the conflation of children and pets on this blog. They are in no way, shape, or form the same thing. Just because free range is desirable for children (and I firmly believe it is) that does not equivocate to being desirable for domestic pets.

  71. Sean Phillips April 26, 2013 at 7:44 pm #


    I think warren meant objectively, or from the point of view of the universe. those achievements don’t mean anything to non-humans. i would say based on what he has written that he does value different animals differently, just not based on species but rather by relation to him: his human family most important, his dogs next, and so on, with human stranger lower than family dog. of course, this is just my guess (and also how i feel myself).

    also (and i apologize for this little rant, just a pet peeve of mine), dogs do not form packs, nor do they have alpha males or whatever either. they frequently live in groups in the wild, but they are not organized, they hunt and scavenge separately or in parallel but not together, they share and take turns sleeping in the best spots, etc. they’re social animals, but not pack animals. and if any decision-making is done, the job is generally shared by a few of the oldest females. no bullying takes place — fighting over territory, sure, but not fighting for dominance in a group. on the other hand, they Are very affectionate with members of the group. they don’t fight any more (or less) than humans, just on a different (smaller) scale.

    oh, and wolves don’t find for pack dominance either — they live in families, generally only one breeding pair with several younger wolf generations living together for the sake of hunting and helping rear newborns.

  72. missjanenc April 26, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    @Jim Collins – you need to check out http://www.alleycat.org. Fixing feral cats and taking them back is called TNR – trap, neuter, return, and is a viable, humane solution to deal with feral cats than just killing them. When the cats get sterilized, they get vaccinated for rabies and 1/4″ of the left ear tip removed to identify the cat as having been vetted out. When our Animal Control department gets eartipped ferals brought in they call the local feral cat group, who puts out an email to locate the colony caretaker. Upon reclaim the cat then gets a three-year rabies shot and microchip. In any case the incidence of feline rabies is very low and if nine kids had to get rabies treatment then it was either a skunk, raccoon or hysteria.

  73. missjanenc April 26, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    @ Leah Backus…I agree cats should be indoors but your assertion is flawed that they are the big wildlife destroyers. That distinction belongs to humans who destroy habitat, use pesticides and in general are poor stewards of the earth.

  74. Sean Phillips April 26, 2013 at 7:59 pm #


    totally agree with a lot of this. some shelters do in fact go waaaaay too far with this gatekeeping nonsense, but i feel like usually (at least with fed or state run shelters) it’s just common sense stuff: “are you likely top actually (and legally) keep the animal?” “Are you going to abuse the animal?”

    @Leah Backus

    Yes! dogs, and especially cats, are Not humans. that doesn’t mean they are less important or should not be treated with the same respect or love, but it does mean respecting their inherent differences. for instance, they don’t speak english. cats kill animals all the time, not for food. you can only teach your animals so much, which can and should be a HUGE amount (especially for dogs who should be out in the world all the time) but cannot make up for the fact that they are strangers in these human-run places. they are Not the same as children, and so should not, and really Can not, be given the exact same treatment.

  75. Leah Backus April 26, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

    Uhhh…so when you let your domestic cat out to wander, that’s not an example of humans being poor stewards by making uninformed decisions? The cats couldn’t do what they do on such a scale if human beings were willing to be more pragmatic about their destructive role in the ecosystem.

    Think of it this way. When we encourage our kids to be free-range, we’re equipping them with skills and tools to become functional, independent members of society. We are emphatically *not* throwing them out the door and saying, “Hey, kids! Your ancestors were hunters and gatherers, so that’ll work great for you, too! Go nuts!” It’s the same with pets. We have a responsibility to them that requires over-riding our emotional responses.

  76. Matthew Brown April 26, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

    Leah Backus, I would guarantee you that every single generation of domestic cat prior to the last 50 years or so has gone outside.

    ‘Domestic’ does not mean ‘confined to the house’. It means ‘lives with humans’.

    As to killing songbirds, it’s what predators do. And we’ve wiped out most of the medium-sized predators in our environment anyway. It’s not like there’s this “ideal state of nature” that we’re “ruining” by allowing pets to go outside. We live in the environment. We are part of it. And we have altered the world by our existing and flourishing — just like every other living creature.

  77. Leah Backus April 26, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

    Again, cats are non-native predators. The presence of feral and free-roaming pet cats has the predator-prey balance completely out of whack. Human beings contribute to this problem. I’ve pretty much made my point, I think, and I don’t think it’s appropriate to keep going so far off topic here. I’ll probably write about this at some point on my own blog and try to get a discussion going over there.

  78. Gail April 26, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

    Wow! A few hours later, I find all these negative posts about people who work at shelters. Why don’t you try volunteering at one and see what it’s really like? Our shelter is all volunteer, and we rely on our fundraisers (that we all work very hard on) and donations. No taxpayer dollars here. As missjanenc very accurately pointed out (thank you so much for saying it better than I could), there are sometimes good reasons not to hand over a pet to someone. I can’t speak for every shelter, but ours is run by generous people who love cats, and we all work very hard to make it run smoothly. We aren’t pet nazis by any stretch of the imagination. I’m really surprised at the negative reactions in the comments here. Seems like some people are just looking for an argument.

  79. LRH April 26, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

    Animal shelters have gotten crazy, haven’t they? I’m sorry, but a dog, if it can be responsible in doing so, belongs outside, ditto a cat. The main thing: they can’t disturb the neighbors. I don’t want someone’s cat hopping on the hood of my car or ESPECIALLY someone’s dog coming into my yard ransacking the yard or barking its head off over nothing. But if that can be done, then by all means, let them be outside.

    “If your child and pet didn’t get along, which would you choose?” Um, gee, what do you THINK? Anyone with a brain bigger than a BB will choose their child. To wit:

    Donna Pets are nice and all, but they are clearly not equal to people. I love my dog and cat, and I hope that if there is an emergency that everyone will get out safely, but dog and cat rescue will not come until all the humans are out and I would be absolutely appalled if anyone neglected a human person – known or stranger – to save my dog and cat.

    No kidding. I could not agree more. I don’t know when some people in our society started equated humans & pets as being equal, but it’s ridiculous. Frankly, I think it’s the very genesis of this trend that the post is speaking of. It’s also, I think, a big part of when neighbors squabble over barking dogs and cats destroying their bushes–the pet owner really actually believes their dog or cat has just as much rights as a human being. How insipid can you get?

    Movies depict it too, they ALWAYS show the dog being rescued from the burning building as the most “tear jerker” moment. It’s ridiculous.

    And yes, I have 2 dogs and 2 cats. I also have 2 children. No, I do NOT have “two children with 2 legs and 4 children with 4 legs.” The dogs & cats are NOT children. I may have my problems, but I’m not that sick.


  80. Sherri April 26, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

    Matthew Brown-Is your argument “We have already ruined the environment but letting non-native predatory species roam free, so why stop now?”

  81. baby-paramedic April 26, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

    It was an elderly indoor only cat. I get the restrictions for me, paramedics work ridiculously long hours. And it wasnt her meeting my husband that worried her, as they hadnt yet met.

  82. Donna April 26, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    “Domestic cats were bred to be indoors. In houses. In barns.”

    Huh? Barns are outside, not inside. I’ve never known a single barn cat that didn’t leave the barn to roam around the farm at will … and I grew up on a farm with many barn cats. Not a single one ever chose to remain inside the barn 24/7.

    And domestic cats were bred and domesticated to HUNT PESTS, not to look cute in windows. Refusing to allow cats to hunt – but giving them a feather to chase – is the same as telling me that a rice cake is equal to a cupcake. Both may end in cake, but they are not equally satisfying. I may be able to survive substituting rice cakes for the real thing but mere survival isn’t LIVING.

  83. Donna April 26, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    “They were not ever intended to range free in suburban back yards.”

    They were absolutely never intended to be house pets. They were bred for the job of hunting pests – mice, predominantly. So while your assertion may be true, that means nothing other than the fact that cats have exceeded their usefulness and the habitat that we currently live in does not support cat ownership (in your mind). It does not support the notion that it is okay to take an animal that was born to hunt small prey and keep it in a house and refuse to allow it to hunt small prey.

  84. Julie April 26, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    We just adopted two cats this weekend from the shelter. We had to meet with an “adoption counselor” before taking the cats home, and they required that all members of the family meet the cats. She told us the cats’ known medical and social history, what we should expect upon taking the cats home, how to care for them, etc. I found this perfectly reasonable. She got a feel for us as a family and as caretakers; we got a feel for the cats. (Granted you don’t know 100% about an animal at the shelter, but there were a couple cats that were obviously not a match for a house with rambunctious kids.) We were happy with how things were handled.

    Contrast this to an adoption fair hosted by a rescue group a few months ago, in which we were going to have to sign a contract that authorized random in-home checks of the cat’s welfare. That’s right–they wanted us to say that we’d allow the kitty police to come into our home to make sure we were in compliance with their lengthy list of rules. Or they would take the cat back. Uh, no thank you.

    I think there are valid reasons for shelters to deny adoptions. I have no problem with a shelter trying to make sure the animal will have decent quality of care. But no, I will not give you character references so you can call my boss and ask him whether you think I’d be good to a cat. (If you can’t tell while watching me with a cat, how would he know when he’s only seen me at work?) And I will not give you permission to randomly check my house.

  85. Kimberly April 26, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    @ Katie

    I agree some cats are happy inside. I just knew that this cat would not be. And I was afraid someone else would adopt her with that expectation, which wouldn’t have worked out well for the new owner or for BeBe. Hence my intervention. 😉

  86. Donald April 26, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    And another excellent post.

    “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.”

    This is common and in echoed in your last post that involved rescue pets. Their application to adopt was rejected because they didn’t hover. However they saw the dog still caged and waiting for adoption 3 months later.

    “I don’t think it makes pets safer.  I think it just gives some of the people a high….”

    You hit the nail on the head. Some people use hovering (over kids or pets) as a way to feel superior and an excuse to look down their nose at others. It’s not about safety. That’s only something they hide behind.

    @ Gail
    You’re quite right. “Seems like some people are just looking for an argument.” Free rangers And Helicopter parents alike. (and pet Nazis)

  87. Warren April 26, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    Thank you. Someone understood that, under stress, most likely rescue in order of emotional attatchment. So yes hineata, you would come after my dogs, who would come after my wife, who would come after my kids.

    At all of those who think we are above animals because of our advances, just prove my point. And are also people who probably think the bigger house, and nicer car you have the better a person you are.

    You want to talk about what is important………..how many animals other than human’s seek revenge? How many other than human’s kill for sport? How many other than humans hold a grudge? How many other than humans continue to develope more ways of killing off thier own?

    When a bear attacks a human, it is hunted down and killed. No other reason than revenge. I do not see hoards of bears roaming the street looking for the hunter that made a rug out of thier friend.

    Just for the record, all you who think humans are above the rest, do not fool yourselfs. We are not at the top of the food, chain. The only advantage we have is weapons. One on one, we do not stand a chance with the majority of predators and non predators.

    So when it comes to the really important things in life, I would say that humans are far inferior to most any other animal out there.

    Your arrogance is proof of that.

  88. Warren April 26, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

    No, I do not believe that you should have to have a background check for adopting any member into your family, feline, canine or human. We all know that background checks are useless.

    Other than technology, no one has been able to tell me why the life of a human is any more important than the life of any other animal. Being able to make material things, or shelters, isn’t important enough for me to consider. If you do that then you have to rate human lives by skill, occupation, and age. Which would mean the 60 yr old waitress would be more expendable than the 35 yr old engineer?

  89. Deborah. A. April 26, 2013 at 11:13 pm #

    There are some cats, actually, that you just can’t keep inside, barring keeping them tied to a table or locked in a room. OK, I’ll illustrate. We had a wonderful orange Tom named Harry. When we adopted him from a shelter he had been an outdoor/indoor cat for 4 years already. If you opened a door, he was out like a shot. FOR 9 MONTHS we tried to train him to stay in, including changing our door configuration, putting in special screens, and (even more importantly) training ourselves, the 3 kids, and every single visitor to the house not to open the door if Harry was downstairs. It also involved our patiently going after him EVERY SINGLE TIME he escaped (one awful weekend when we had family up it was 4 times in a day) and picking him up from the neighborhood. This was hours and hours of our time over those nine months. We ended up putting him outside on a lead with an overhead line (like a dog run) and he lived in a harness 24/7 so we could hook him and unhook him from the line. But even that was a pain, because he got tangled up in the rope, bushes, etc.
    When I told the vet about the situation, she gave me a lecture about how rotten it is for cats to ever be outside, and to try harder. But I ask you, what in the heck else could we have done?

    Should we have taken him back to the shelter? He would have either lived in his tiny cage there, or been adopted by another family who would most likely have given up on him and just let him out all the time.

    Should we have had him put down? I mean, I get it about the songbirds, so I’m willing to accept that might be the right solution.

    I’m really interested in what you all think is the ethical thing to do here. I’ve got to believe there a lot of “Harry”s out there.

  90. Donna April 26, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    @Warren –

    While I don’t think criminal background checks are any guarantee of safety, I don’t agree that they are useless. They insure that people who have not previously been convicted of child abuse are not handed children to abuse. That is only part of the story since every criminal has a first conviction, but it does rule out the already convicted.

    My objection to parents having to undergo a criminal background checks at school has nothing to do with the usefulness of them. It has to do with the ridiculousness of them. Parent volunteers are rarely left alone with kids. They don’t have any one-on-one time that they couldn’t get outside of school to “groom.” Simply I don’t believe that a single child has ever been molested by a parent volunteer in a classroom so background checks are a complete waste of time and money.

    Adoption is clearly very different. You get plenty of alone time with a child. You have total control over that child’s life. I don’t think it is too much to expect at least a cursory look to see that the person adopting hasn’t been previously convicted of child abuse. Of course, it is no guarantee that the child will not be abused as such a guarantee does not exist but at least you are not willingly handing over children to KNOWN child molesters.

  91. Donna April 26, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

    @ Warren – You are a vegan then, correct?

    If humans and animals are equal, than eating a chicken leg is no different than eating Bob’s leg. In fact, drinking milk (eating yogurt, cheese, ice cream, butter) would be the same as breast feeding.

  92. Caleb April 26, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

    @ Sally (11;43 AM)

    Thanks for that link. I included it as an “update” on my post.

    By the way, there has been some talk about cats being an “introduced species.” May I remind people that several species of mice and rats are also “introduced?” As are Starlings and English Sparrows and House Finches?

    In the “Fenway” of Boston there are rabbits, and no natural predators. Were it not for feral cats, those rabbits would denude that park in a single summer.

    Where I live in New Hampshire “outside cats” had better have brains, because if they don’t, (or have brains but are slow,) they are eaten by both coyotes and fisher-cats.

    This is not to say cats don’t kill birds. If you are a true bird lover, you should probably not own a cat. Cats treat us like kittens at times, and lay dead creatures at our doorstep to feed us. (or even living one teach us how to hunt,) which is pretty nice, when you think of it, but the closest I ever came to killing my own cat was when it proudly trotted up and lay a beautiful (but very dead) Indigo Bunting at my feet.

  93. Donna April 27, 2013 at 12:04 am #

    I also like how everyone acts as if cats just came into existence last week. Domesticated cats are known to date back to Ancient Egypt but it is believed that they date back much farther.

    Many believe that cats were not intentionally domesticated at all. It is believed that people tolerated small wild cats around because they killed rodents and other pests (including birds). Natural selection led for them to be domesticated and form a symbiotic relationship with people. So cats are not unnatural predators at all.

    Until the post-WWII era, it was highly unusual for animals to be kept that didn’t work. Cats were kept to keep rodents down, not to be chase feather dusters. Even as recently as my childhood (70s-80s), cats were routinely inside/outside. The inside-only mentality only came into existence in the last 20 or so years. So we are to believe that thousands of years of documented interaction with cats was completely wrong and only in the 1980’s did we learn how cats prefer to live?

  94. Warren April 27, 2013 at 12:08 am #


    Your vegan arguement is irrelevant. If I were to be vegan to avoid the killing of another animal, then in essence I am putting that species higher than myself. In nature, there are predators and there are prey. There are those that eat and there are those that are eaten.

    Now yes, I buy about half of my family’s meat from the butcher, as that is what is now considered appropriate. The other half is from hunting and angling. If not for seasonal restrictions, my family would have no problem giving up beef, lamb, pork, and farm birds. Moose, bear, deer, turkey, partridge, elk, rabbit, skunk, porcupine, and numerous gamefish, would be more than enough.

    It is all our technological advances, that have pushed us away from being hunters and gatherers. With the time we have to dedicate to making a living, we do not have the time nor the freedom from regulation to hunt, and gather to sustain our families.

    So, sorry Donna, but just as the wolf, bear or racoon are not vegans, neither am I. Humans are not built to live on a vegan diet. Humans are meant to eat meat and vegetation. One look at the teeth in our heads tells us that.

  95. Donald April 27, 2013 at 12:11 am #

    Some cats like to be indoors and have little interest to go outside. Outside cats harm wildlife and are sometimes hit by cars. However, if they have a strong yearning to roam, I don’t believe in keeping them prisoner.

    I’m not for indoor cats or outdoor cats. However I am against some of the comments on here of trying to shove their opinion down someone else’s throat!

  96. DH April 27, 2013 at 12:24 am #

    I think the majority of kittens raised as indoor cats from kittenhood can be primarily indoor cats.

    But, if you’re adopting an older cat, you have to go with the flow of the particular cat. Especially when you’e dealing with cats, who live WITH us rather than FOR us.

    If you end up with a Harry, you need to figure out whether it is safe for Harry to live in your area, with you. At my parent’s house, there’s probably no way in heck its safe for an outdoor cat. At our house, I’d be more open to an outdoor cat. The cat would have to quickly figure out to “stay away from that one crazy-busy road and coyotes” but it’s probably a lot less hazardous than my parents’ fully urban environment.

  97. hineata April 27, 2013 at 12:24 am #

    @Donna – Bob’s leg might be tastier, potentially, depending on how it was cooked, Lol….. I find chicken a little tasteless these days.

    @ Warren, as always, you’re entitled to your own opinion. That is something a group of human beings around today believe in, and so we give each other that right. Other human beings don’t accept free speech as a right, and therefore don’t grant it to their social group. That’s something else humans have above animals, that social variance.

    If I sound arrogant, well, that isn’t my intent. But you are free to decide how to take it. For that very reason, that creative potential, for want of a better phrase, you are more valuable than any animal, and personally I would still save you or any other human being before I saved my cat, my chicken or any of the dogs I’ve had in the past.

  98. Donna April 27, 2013 at 12:58 am #

    @Warren – Eating another animal per se means that you value your life over that animal.

    Raccoons, wolves and bears do eat other animals. Raccoons, wolves and bears also have no belief that the animals that they eat are equal to them. That is the difference. It is impossible to say that an animal is equal to you but you are within your rights to kill and eat it for your own pleasure. Afterall, the same would not be said about humans. Killing of humans is not acceptable and the only time it has ever been deemed socially acceptable is when we view those humans as not equal to us (slaves, criminals, warring nations).

  99. Donna April 27, 2013 at 1:01 am #

    @Donald – I am not trying to shove my opinion down anyone’s throat. I’ve had both indoor and outdoor cats and couldn’t care less what other people do with theirs. I am simply sick of the people on this blog who insist on shoving their personal opinion about cats down mine.

  100. Stephanie April 27, 2013 at 1:46 am #

    My fiance and I are *really trying* to do the right thing by adopting a dog from a shelter. We can absolutely afford to buy from a breeder, but I honestly view that as killing a dog who is already here.
    However, I absolutely, positively refuse to allow a home visit or any type of contract that says they can take the dog back. I am finding it almost impossible to find a dog without those requirements.
    Even on Craigslist, people seem to believe they can “get back what they invested” in their dog, which is insane. I am NOT going to pay a private party $300 for their unfixed, behind on shots, not housebroken dog because “they paid $500 for it”
    It is so bad here that we are considering adopting from another state, where they have a high kill rate and we can get the dog we want without a full background check.

    BTW….we are good pet owners. I work part time, no children at home, fenced yard, and the money to pay for vet care. I just REFUSE to allow them to treat me like a criminal because I want to adopt a dog.

  101. bmommyx2 April 27, 2013 at 3:49 am #

    so true. My mom had a horrible experience with a rescue place so we went to the City shelter.

  102. Laura W April 27, 2013 at 6:07 am #

    Enjoyed reading this article! Totally agree with her assessment 🙂

  103. Sally April 27, 2013 at 7:17 am #

    @ Donna – “Unless you live in an area with rampant active rabies, 9 kids in one neighborhood needing rabies shots is extreme and largely unnecessary. My guess is that the local hospital is panicking and giving rabies shots to kids who don’t need them.”

    Jim’s story is setting off my BS alarm, too. 9 kids bitten by cats? Bitten? Cats don’t run up to people and bite them. I suppose an extremely provoked cat may bite – as in the kids had it backed into the corner and wouldn’t let it run away and came up to it and did something unpleasant to it. Because any cat’s instinct will be to run away if it can. And held its paws down. Because most cats’ first defense mechanism would be to scratch. And I’m sure 9 different children didn’t take it upon themselves to hunt down (because feral cats avoid people), capture and torture some feral cats. Urban legend, Jim. Sheesh.

    Okay, just did a quick search to have a look and sure enough, as someone else pointed out above, cats pose virtually no risk of rabies:

    “Science Shows Feral Cat Colonies Pose No Disease Risk to Humans

    The health risks that catch and kill advocates most often blame on cats are intestinal parasites, rabies, flea-borne typhus, and toxoplasmosis. Yet the spread of these diseases has never been conclusively linked to feral cats”

    Also on that page:

    “I’m not a cat or animal lover,” says Ron Cash, director of the Atlantic City Department of Health and Human Services, “But I believe the complaints and hysteria about disease as result of feral cats are overblown.”

    Most diseases that infect cats can only be spread from cat to cat, not from cat to human. You are much more likely to catch an infectious disease from the person standing in line with you at the grocery store than from a cat.1 In fact, a 2002 review of cat-associated diseases published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that, “cats should not be thought of as vectors for disease transmission.”2

    “Feral cats pose even less risk to public health than pet cats because they have minimal human contact, and any contact that does occur is almost always initiated by the person,” says Ackerman.”


  104. Donna April 27, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    @Sally – I did have a cat that bit quite regularly. Probably bit 9 kids, although none regular members of the neighborhood since the neighborhood kids knew to stay away. My cat would even lure unsuspecting people in by being nice and gorgeous and then turning on them as soon as they bent down to pet him. It was also a male cat who was pink (Really. It was an orange tabby that was colored in such a way to look pink in the sun) so maybe had a need to prove its manhood. Whatever the cause, it was a conivingly mean little sucker from kittenhood.

    But it was a single cat in an entire neighborhood. And everyone within its range knew exactly whose cat it was, where it lived and not to touch it. It was well known throughout the roaming area by even the youngest child as “mean cat.” If there was a question, any kid who could talk could say that “mean cat” bit him and the parents knew where to find “mean cat” with his shot record. No need for rabies shots.

    Outside of my rather bizarre, psychopath cat that I still don’t know why we never had put to sleep, cats tend to stay away from people if they don’t want affection. I certainly don’t believe that 9 preschoolers managed to get that close to any cat, feral or not, and that the cat was subsequently so invisible, untraceable and uncatchable to an adult that rabies shots were required.

  105. CrazyCatLady April 27, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    I actually NEED my cats to go outside. I NEED them to catch rodents. We live in an area with hanta virus. We have domestic birds,which also means we have grain which attracts the mice. Although, the mice don’t limit themselves to the buildings with the grain – they also seem to like to be in there tool drawers in the garage. Or the bin of toys that my kids play with. At this point, I think I need several more cats, as the mice are horrible, even with us keeping feed in metal cans with lids and not leaving free feed out of the birds. I also encourage snakes when I can, to help keep the rodents down, but honestly, they are much harder to find and keep around than cats.

    Yes, my cats do get an occasional bird. From the feathers I can tell they are primarily introduced species, ones that tend to run into the big glass windows. Which has happened a lot less since I stopped washing them and let the kids draw on them with window crayons.

  106. Kimberly April 27, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    I agree with Brian. Asking for references is ridiculous on so many levels. Calling my vet? Their time is incredibly valuable, way too valuable to be taken up by paranoid people calling to check up on my ownership skills. I’m certainly not going to let people call my friends and family to harass them. They would certainly think I was a nut for giving their number out for that.

    It’s a freaking cat. They sit and lick themselves all day and sometimes want to cuddle. They poop in a box, you clean it up. When they are hungry, feed them. Take them to the vet once a year and if they get sick. Not that hard.

    Sounds like a high kill shelter is the way to go, that way you don’t have to give away your first born child and be assessed by a bunch of ladies who have nothing better to do with their time than get FBI background checks so decent people can adopt a 13-year-old one-eyed pug.

  107. Sean Phillips April 27, 2013 at 11:00 am #


    warren does value his life above others, he established that. it’s just that his value system isn’t based on species, but on relevance to his life — food, stranger, family member, etc.

  108. Brooks April 27, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    Wow. After reading through most of these comments, I’d have to say that there is as much passion about pets as there is in the abortion debate. Some well-reasoned comments, some shrill, and a little bit of crazy. If I had two alleys to walk down, one with a potential crazed gunman and the other with some militant pet folk, I think I’d have to choose the gunman 🙂

  109. Tsu Dho Nimh April 27, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    @Warren … When a bear attacks a human, it is hunted down and killed. No other reason than revenge.

    No, it’s killed because it’s either in bad shape (wounded, ill, elderly) and looking to humans as easier prey, is one in good condition that has learned that humans are easy prey and making multiple attacks, or one that unfortunately has been fed enough by humans that it is getting aggressive about panhandling.

    The wildlife guys won’t kill a bear for acting like a bear (defending cubs, etc.) . it takes a series of unprovoked attacks (by a bear’s definition of provoked) for them to start hunting it, or other indications that it’s a danger.

    Here’s the possible source of the cats and rabies story:

    Something like that could cause a lot of rabies shots in exposed children.

    I have two “rescue” cats. There was an extensive interview because the cats were “special needs” cats and couldn’t be placed in all homes. They needed adults who would tolerate their issues while working to socialize them.

  110. Pam April 27, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

    Have we run out of crazy kid stuff to rant about? I thought this blog was about free range kids?? What’s next?

  111. Jynet April 27, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    I ended up fostering and then accepting ownership of a high needs cat when my daughter was 5 (now 19). The rescue we got him from was a TNR, but he was so sick that they couldn’t release him.

    We didn’t pay an adoption fee, or have to prove that we were good pet owners (though there may have been some behind the scene checking since the vet who had cared for him before we got him was also our vet). And the only time the rescue was in our house was to drop him off. The only time that they met my daughter was at that time.

    For the first few months as we nursed him back to health I was making a kind of thick warmed broth out of cat food, meat baby foods, “Missing Link” (a food additive I highly recommend) and water and feeding it to him 6 times a day with my fingers. We did the same again 3 years later when he got sick again, and 5 years after than when he got sick for the 3rd and last time.

    We were told that he would live 6 month to a year, and 8 years later our vet put him down for us… and we all cried, even the vet – who was amazed at how healthy we kept him, and for how long.

    So when I say that I don’t believe that cats are members of my family I want you to understand where I am coming from.

    That is an animal. We are humans. There is a difference. A human I don’t know will get rescued before my cat. A human child will be adopted, a cat will be bought. I own a cat, I parent a child.

    I love them both. But it is different.

  112. Warren April 27, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    The predator/prey relationship has nothing to do with value of life. You are projecting a human viewpoint on another species, that does not deal in arrogance.

    The species know as human has this sense of superiority, by entitlement. An alpha male in a pack, or a predator feels superiority by earning it. Big difference.

    Your arguements are in conflict with your point. If a bear sees humans as easy prey, then they are acting like a bear, and being hunted down because of acting like a bear.
    When a hunter kills a bear, do you see a group of bears going door to door looking to find the hunter and kill them? No.

    And still no one has come up with a reasonable point as to why a human life is worth more than any other life. Why? Because you cannot.

  113. Lucy April 27, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

    I had a very bad experience with the local animal shelter when one of my cats ended up there (he was picked up by animal control for trespassing on a neighbor’s property) and I had to go bail him out. The woman working at the shelter that day was a real bitch. I had to be polite to her because I wanted to get my cat back, but she was so nasty that I wanted to bust her in the chops. This particular shelter is always begging for donations — they seem to think they can be rude and obnoxious to people, then turn around and ask them for money. What a bunch of jerks.

  114. hineata April 27, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    @Warren – ah, I think several people above have made valid points about why human life is more valuable than other life. The beauty of it is, though, that you as a free thinking human being can choose to accept those points or not. Were you merely an animal ruled by instinct, you would not be able to choose at all.

    Neither could you read the comments either, for that matter.

    @Pam – hopefully that means that things aren’t’ too bad on the kid front, today at least.:-)

  115. Kay April 28, 2013 at 1:34 am #

    I think a large part of the problem is that for many our animals are not working for us anymore and they are strictly pets. According to rescues, cats aren’t allowed to catch mice or moles anymore and dogs aren’t allowed to hunt or herd. The various breeds served a purpose for our daily lives. Now they are delicate hothouse flowers, not unlike our bubble wrapped children. “Fur-child” I don’t think that’s necessarily true in more rural and agricultural areas. I do think people should pay particular attention to the breed in their decision in accordance to their lifestyle.

    But then the pet world is so messed up that many of the AKA have been so bred to extremes and dysfunction they wouldn’t be able to do the jobs they were originally bred to do. Check out some pictures of certain breeds from the 30’s-40’s to now. I find it sad.

    People that don’t want to have a microscope up their rear will just walk away from rescues and their over-extending adoption processes. It is evident in the commentary here and it is evident with rescues’ poor turnover that rescues’ policies aren’t doing themselves any favors in getting animals into good homes.

    Just don’t want to hear any more crying about how we should get our pet from a rescue. There’s breeders and there’s the pound for those that don’t want to be put through the extreme scrutiny and condescending judgment of a rescue operation.

  116. Donald April 28, 2013 at 1:38 am #

    I apologize. I wasn’t referring to you. In fact, I think that you are one of the more rational people on this blog.

    Although we are talking of pets, I think this post is similar to “the crazy kid stuff”. Both helicopter parent an pet Nazis can go so far overboard that they are actually causing harm to the people/pets they are trying to protect.

    I don’t think it’s off the topic at all.

  117. Stephanie April 28, 2013 at 1:51 am #

    Here are the printed “adoption requirements” to adopt a dog from a local no-kill shelter. Insane? I think so. We aren’t eligible to adopt a DOG, yet we are approved FOSTER parents to humans. Go figure.
    To ensure that this dog thrives in his new home and that the adoption works out for the dog and your family, these are the requirements for adoption. These criteria are not negotiable. If you do not meet these criteria, please choose another dog that will work out better for your family.

    • Homeowners: REQUIRED no exceptions

    • Status of adopter: 30-55 (purpose is to ensure adopter can keep him for next 15 years which is his projected lifespan

    • Previous dog owning experience: Preferred

    • Age of children: 7 and up

    • Another dog in the home: Very playful dog strongly preferred

    • Fenced yard: Physical fence required, and securely fenced to keep him in

    • Time alone on work days: Needs a stay at home adult.

  118. melP April 28, 2013 at 7:47 am #

    Man this really hits home. I was turned down by8 different shelters because I had kids younger than 7 and no fence in my (huge unfenceable) yard. I was told by one shelter that my house was” too exciting” for a dog. Seriously. I ended up with a 50$ puppy from a grocery store bulletin board advertising. Oops my dog had puppies type situation. When my dog writes his memoirs it will be titled ” my awesome exciting life! “. How is an exciting house worse then a sheler coop? Shelter people are doing themselves a huge disfavor by unilaterally rejecting parents of small children from adopting. Sad for the animals. Sad for all of us really

  119. JJ April 28, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    @Pam in the beginning there was a tie in between free range kids and pets in that both parents and pet owners sometimes fall into that “I love my kids/pet more than you”. Unfortunately, this conversation has devolved into one that shows me that many “regulars” come to this site not so much because they want to discuss free Range kids issue but because they want a place to argue or prove they are right about anything. Worse, many of the posts missed the irony in what they are saying. That is, they love their pets more than the other posters here.

  120. baby-paramedic April 28, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    I went and looked up “Stephanie’s” dog.
    I was thinking some sort of difficult to manage behemoth. It is a seemingly well adjusted, well socialized shi tzu / yorkshire terrier.
    What I would like to know is, why am I an irresponsible pet owner because I am under the age of 30?!?

  121. Buffy April 28, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    “they want a place to argue or prove they are right”

    @JJ, there is basically one person, a troll (a person who posts inflammatory messages…with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response), who acts like this. Practically every conversation is derailed because of him and those who can’t stop feeding him.

    Sorry to lay that out on the line, but it’s the way I see it. I can barely read these comment sections any more, and I used to enjoy them so much.

  122. pentamom April 28, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    “Homeowner — no exceptions.” Bogus. I know a family that lives in an apartment where their landlord is the husband’s father. He’s cool with them having a dog. Why should it matter? I understand they’re trying to prevent situations where the people aren’t really allowed to have a pet, but so what? It’s the pet owners’ problem if they’re breaking the rules, and the worst that can happen is that they might have to return the pet to the shelter. Why is that worse than not getting the pet adopted at all to people who might be fully permitted to have it in the first place?

  123. Stephanie April 29, 2013 at 1:32 am #

    I got my dog today, from Craigslist. They got the dog from a puppy mill (no comment) and were SHOCKED that he is not a purebred Pomeranian and, therefore, not really the best dog to breed with. He’s a little less than a year old.
    The stress of the puppy mill had caused the mother dog to chew off the pup’s feet, so he has three legs. We named him Lieutenant Dan. 🙂

    *He looks like a Pomeranian, but is 13 pounds. I have no idea what he is mixed with…he might just be a gigantic Pomeranian. We are all in love with him, except the cat,.

  124. Amanda Matthews April 29, 2013 at 8:55 am #

    If you don’t have a vet, you either 1. Have NEVER had experience in caring for animals – i.e. have never had a pet, have never volunteered at a shelter where you can use the vet for reference, have never been in 4H where you would know a vet, etc. etc. In that case, a shelter cat or dog is NOT a good way to get your first experience with animals! It would be like giving a child with issues in their past to someone that has never so much as babysat.

    Or 2. You are admitting that you do not/will not take your animal to the vet. (In which case, I do not think you should have any pets, personally.) Yes you can get the shots elsewhere, buy medicine online and only take them to vets in an emergency (which is only going to be things like getting hit by a car, or them being HORRIBLY sick, because due to the natural instincts of dogs and cats, they try their hardest not show when they are sick, and obviously they can’t tell you they don’t feel good). Just like with a kid that can’t say (or in some way indicate) they don’t feel good, you can get their shots elsewhere, buy medicine online and take them to the ER if need be. People still recommend you have a pediatrician and take them there regularly, just as people still recommend you have a vet and take your pets regularly. It’s your choice to not, you have the right to choose that for any pets/kids you already have. But you can’t expect others to agree with that choice and let you adopt a pet or child that is in their care.

    Adopting a pet is not a right. I support the shelters’ right to refuse to give a pet to people that don’t pass their questioning and reference checks. The animals in shelters have already had issues that led them to end up in the shelter. They’re going to need a little more care and attention than a puppy fresh from your neighbor, and the shelter is going to want to make sure they don’t go through more bad things and/or end up back at the shelter. Just as the questioning and reference checks are going to be more rigid if you’re adopting a child vs having your own or having someone just give you one (sign over rights to you). Not everyone who wants a pet should have one, not everyone that wants a kid should have one. Not every household is going to be suitable for every dog/cat, just as not every household is going to be suitable for every child – and sometimes the household is suitable for one but not the others.

    If you are denied a pet, instead of getting one elsewhere, why not try spend some time fixing the reasons you were refused, and then try again. Just as when people are adopting a child, if they are refused, they fix whatever the issues were and try again, rather than getting a child off the black market.

  125. Max April 29, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    And this is where we completely part ways, ideologically speaking.

    My mother works with a dog rescue that does a lot of work with pit bulls. She also works with finding homes for other dogs, but a majority of it is with pits. She checks references to be sure that people have a vet all set up and she checks to be sure that they have a fenced in yard and familiarity with the demands of owning a larger dog and other specifics that go along with pits.

    She has been working with dogs for over 30 years and was a dog groomer and trainer before an illness disabled her. She knows her stuff. She knows that dogs deserve a good life and someone who is willing to do the work to take care of them.

    The idea that if you are a free range parent that you believe that dogs and cats are commodities that should be handed over to anyone who wants them is absurd. Expecting someone who wants to own a cat to have a vet lined up is not.

    Some of the shelters totally get in their own way when it comes to finding homes for animals. However, a modest adoption fee covers the spay or neuter of an animal and is intended to insure that the person wanting to adopt the animal actually has the money to take care of it.

    I am grossly offended by the attitude that it is “just a cat”.

  126. Warren April 29, 2013 at 10:07 am #

    Sorry but you are so off the mark. Spend the money to fix why you were rejected?

    Are you seriously suggesting that a home with small kids is no place for a dog? And you think that is fine?

    Give your head a shake. You want the puppies to grow up with the kids, because it creates and incredible bond.

    Why the hell would I spend thousands of dollars on fencing, that I do not want on my property, just to please some over zealous shelter. All my dogs roam our land free, and never stray. They have been trained from day one, where the lines are. It is time consuming, but easy. Twice or more times a day you walk the dog, on lead, all the way around the property lines. You do this and this only, you do not mix it with play. It does not take long for them to learn what is their property, and not to leave.

    I would be rejected, because my dogs are also shop dogs. Around strangers, customers, employees, vehicles, equipment and everything all the time. Hell my dogs go on service calls with me, and my guys.

  127. AnotherAnon April 29, 2013 at 10:40 am #

    Add me to the list of people who had good experiences with no-kill shelters. I adopted one of our cats from one, and despite the fact that I had what might be considered a black mark on my record (I had adopted some strays while living abroad, and I had given them to a friend rather than figuring out how to fly them over an ocean when I left the country), they still adopted to me. 8 years later, my cat is pampered and loved, and I still send occasional progress reports to the old shelter.

  128. Amanda Matthews April 29, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    “Are you seriously suggesting that a home with small kids is no place for a dog? And you think that is fine?”

    I’m saying that if that specific shelter decides a home with small kids is no place for the dogs THEY have, then maybe there is a reason for that. There are many shelters that do have dogs that are suitable for homes with small children. I AM going to say that if the parents have absolutely no experience with pets, though, then getting a dog while they have small kids is not a good idea, especially not a shelter dog. Get some experience with animals first. If the kids grow up in the mean time, then on well.

    If you do not want to spend thousands of dollars on a pet, then either don’t get a pet or get a pet which will cost you less. Even if the shelter approves you without a fence, what if a month after getting the dog you find out it has cancer? That’s a thousands of dollars cost… though I think you said before you would not pay thousands of dollars for that, and that’s fine, that’s your choice, but **I** would not hand an animal over to you knowing that, and I support shelters’ right to not hand an animal over to you for that.

    You already have dogs. Why do you need more? You have taken the time to train them to not leave the yard, and to act appropriately in shops and on service calls – can you take enough time off work to train more dogs?

    A dog that is aggressive toward strangers would not be a good fit for your lifestyle. A dog that, despite training, just can’t understand that he should stay in the yard instead of going off to eat the neighbors’ pets would not be a good fit for your lifestyle. A dog that is too afraid of the car to go to shops and on service calls would not be a good fit for your lifestyle.

    A fence does not have to cost thousands of dollars. Maybe you have a large amount of land for the animals to roam, but most people going to shelters do not. And yes you want the puppies growing up with the kids, but not at the expense of the puppies’ or the kids’ well being. For example, a dog that was abused by kids and therefore is aggressive to all kids, but great with adults, should not go to a home with kids prone to pulling dog tails and no fence that is right next to a school bus stop. It doesn’t matter how much the kids in that house want a dog; it just would not be good for the kids, the dog, and the public if that dog goes to a home that does not fit him.

    People don’t have the right to get what they want just because they want it. Sorry, but that’s life. You have to work for what you want, in some way. If that way is working to earn thousands of dollars to make your house acceptable to the shelter you’re adopting from, so be it. If that way is volunteering at a shelter while getting older, so be it. Either do what is required, or go do something else.

  129. Kay April 29, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    Your’re right, Amanda, it is the shelters right to reject who they feel isn’t good enough and it’s the public’s right to shop elsewhere. It’s a free market.

    Keep the sanctimony, I, and I’m sure many others, are not going to work on building a RESUME in order to buy a pet.

  130. Amanda Matthews April 29, 2013 at 11:07 am #

    I’m not saying you’re “not good enough.” The shelters are not saying that either. They’re saying the animals are NOT A GOOD FIT FOR YOUR LIFE.

    If you can’t understand the difference, if you just see it as buying an object and think you should be able to do so just because you want it… well, call it sanctimony if you want, but I’m glad people with that attitude are being refused.

  131. Kay April 29, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    No, no, no, that is not what they’re saying or what you’re saying. This is not about dissuading a springer spaniel with a couch potato or matching a dog scared of children to a family with small children.

    Your insistence on fencing, for example, has nothing to do with matching lifestyles with breed.

  132. pentamom April 29, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    Amanda, we’re not talking about specific cases where a specific pet wouldn’t be good with specific children.

    We’re talking about stuff like blanket rules *for the entire shelter* of “no kids,” or “someone must be home all day” or “you must already have had a relationship with a vet regardless of any circumstances like being new in town, not having had a pet in your adult life, etc.” And why ISN’T a healthy, docile, 3 year old shelter cat a good “first pet” for someone not used to caring for animals??? If you have a special needs pet, or a family that seems to have a lifestyle not suited to a pet, then yes, there are issues. But blanket rules that imply that NO animal belongs in ANY home with children, or with people that are not around 24/7, or that do not have a current relationship with a vet regardless of circumstance, are ridiculous and just result in good people not getting pets, and in pets not getting good homes.

  133. Warren April 29, 2013 at 12:23 pm #


    It has become so bad that holierthanthou shelter and shelter workers have lost sight of their goals, and lost sight of what is good for the animal.

    How would rejecting a multiple dog owner, because of fencing be reasonable, let alone the right thing to do for the dog? Are you telling me that keeping the dog in a shelter, and gambling that someone else will adopt it, is better than having acres to roam, with three other dogs to keep it company, to play with, and belong with, not too mention a loving family?
    That is just ridiculous. And if you cannot see that, you are blind to the needs of the animals that are supposed to be protected and cared for.

  134. Aerevyn April 29, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    I am reminded of a line from “The Truth About Cats and Dogs:

    ” You can love your pets, you just can’t LOOOOOVE your pet. Repeat after me: Us, them. Us, them.”

    I had a lady at a cat rescue place who got … angry … when I did not take the cat she wanted to give me. She had merged so much with her little furry charges that she felt rejected herself. It was an odd moment.

    I had also met some great people at shelters. One of the local counties is no kill, but also super sane. They check with your landlord, talk to you about caring for pets if you’ve never had one before, but are balanced.

  135. DH April 29, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    @Amanda, you are being illogical.

    “In that case, a shelter cat or dog is NOT a good way to get your first experience with animals! ”

    “If you are denied a pet, instead of getting one elsewhere, why not try spend some time fixing the reasons you were refused, and then try again”

    So, if the reason you were refused is that you haven’t had a pet before, what exactly do you suggest that a person do besides get a pet from a different source (which you apparently regard as the black market of pets)? That’s an interesting catch-22 right there …

  136. DH April 29, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    “that do not have a current relationship with a vet regardless of circumstance, are ridiculous and just result in good people not getting pets, and in pets not getting good homes”

    Or result in good people throwing up their hands and turning back to the methods that the shelters and rescue organizations have been trying to get shut down.

    If you’d told me 10 years back that I’d be getting a puppy from some random stranger because my family isn’t being allowed to adopt a dog by the organizations in the area, I would have thought you were crazy. I worked on multiple public relations campaigns to get people to work with rescue organizations and adopt from shelters.

    But that’s what I’m doing now. It also makes me judge my neighbors far less than I have in the past–good dog owners who have turned back to today’s methods of getting the puppy from the box in the parking lot. It is not the same world as when we got our last dog from a rescue 15 years ago.

  137. Buffy April 29, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    Why again would I have a current relationship with a vet, if I’ve never owned a pet before, or not owned a pet in the area in which I currently live? And it appears we’re not talking about having chosen a vet, or knowing which vet you’re going to take your new pet to, but having a “relationship” that the vet can vouch for when his busy day is interrupted by shelters calling to interrogate him.

  138. Allie April 29, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    It’s sad to see how many people have had bad experiences trying to adopt a pet from a shelter.

    I have a dog and two cats, all of them obtained through different rescues. Our dog was horrifically abused, breeding in a puppy mill. The Humane Society rescued her when she became infertile (and therefore useless to the breeders). She displayed fear aggression towards children, men, strangers and other dogs. Even with her behavioral problems, all we had to do was fill out a simple questionnaire. We were approved within hours, and picked her up the next day. I should add that this was our first pet (as adults), we do not have a fenced yard and neither of us stays home through the day. Three years later she is very well adjusted, has been trained to stay in our yard, goes for two walks per day, and happily sleeps at home while we work.

    One of our cats is from our local high-kill animal shelter – we didn’t need to fill-out anything before taking him home. We only had to sign a form saying that we would have him neutered when he was old enough.

    Our second cat is from a cat rescue. To adopt him I had to fill out a short questionnaire and then speak with a representative from the rescue over the phone for about 10 minutes. This rescue had a policy that their cats must be indoors and never declawed. Both of these policies were ok with me, but I understand that some people like to let their cats outside (I grew up with indoor/outdoor cats).

    There are so many rescue organizations – I’m sure that some would not let us bring home an animal, but we have been fortunate to find ones where everything went smoothly. It makes me sad that so many people are denied a pet because they don’t have a fence, or they work away from home, etc. Cats/dogs are incredibly adaptable, and I’m sure that there must be some animals in each shelter who would be fine with young children, no fence, etc.

  139. pentamom April 29, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    “Or result in good people throwing up their hands and turning back to the methods that the shelters and rescue organizations have been trying to get shut down.”

    Which in turn results in those animals already in the shelter not getting good homes, which is what I said.

    Not that I’m arguing, just pointing that your point does come back around to mine as well.

  140. Lisa April 29, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    This topic is one that drives me crazy. We are an animal household – currently a dog, three cats, two fish and pet-sitting two guinea pigs.
    When I was pregnant with my first child, we had a dog (from the pound) and two cats. Our local shelter would NOT let us adopt another dog, despite the fact that we had a fenced yard, a dog it got along with and two adults who would be home all day every day. Why? Because I was pregnant and they don’t allow dogs to be adopted by families with children under 10!
    Another family I know wanted to adopt a cat, but because this was their first animal in a while, they didn’t have a local vet (yet). Because they didn’t have a vet – though they planned to get one – they were denied.
    Hey, no one asked me for the name of my pediatrician before I gave birth!
    It breaks my heart to see dozens and dozens and dozens of cats in this local shelter and know that…they aren’t really that interested in having them adopted.

  141. Lisa April 29, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

    I should add that we got our three cats via the local vet, who was fostering them for…the local shelter!

  142. Shannon April 29, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

    “It’s the pet owners’ problem if they’re breaking the rules, and the worst that can happen is that they might have to return the pet to the shelter. Why is that worse than not getting the pet adopted at all to people who might be fully permitted to have it in the first place?”

    Well, for one thing it’s worse if the shelter spent money having it fixed, vaccinated, and all that stuff, and then doesn’t have room for it when it’s returned and it has to be put to sleep (adoption fees frequently don’t cover the full cost of all that). It is also probably going to be more traumatic for the dog/cat to be adopted and then returned than to hang out at the shelter a little longer until it is adopted by someone who actually can keep it. So by taking the dog home for a couple of weeks until your landlord busted you, you have made the dog less trusting and less adoptable. Thanks!

    I volunteer at a municipal shelter. I have seen what happens with returns. It SUCKS for the animal. Sometimes it can’t be helped but no decent shelter wants it to happen often.

    That said, I don’t think home ownership needs to be required. But requiring either home ownership or proof that the landlord is OK with the pet is entirely reasonable.

    Some rescues may go overboard in what they require of adopters. But requiring proof that you are allowed to have an animal is quite reasonable. The shelter I work with honestly doesn’t have the resources to verify in most cases but they do ask on the application if you own or rent, and in the case of renters, what the pet policy is. As well they should.

  143. pentamom April 29, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    Shannon — I understand that having the pet adopted out and returned is not desirable and there are costs to it.

    I still don’t see how having that happen occasionally that is worse than having dozens of pets unadopted because a landlord who *doesn’t actually object to pets* “might have* objected to a pet, and therefore pets are completely unadoptable to non-homeowners.

    I think that requiring proof that you are permitted to have the pet is is not terribly unreasonable, though I think it is not always necessary — asking people to sign off on the fact that they are allowed to have a pet ought to be enough. But I was referring to the notion that some shelters don’t even let you adopt a pet AT ALL if you don’t own your dwelling. Keep in mind that the whole point of this post is “worst-first” thinking — ASSUMING that anyone who has a landlord is at best a dubious candidate for pet adoption, because the worst-case scenario that pets are not permitted is the first option, rather than the first option being “people who don’t own their own homes are frequently allowed to have pets and can be good pet owners.”

  144. Warren April 29, 2013 at 11:13 pm #

    Pet rescue agencies are no different than the police or cps. Because they are the ones that swooped in to save the day, they figure they are above the rest of us, and will dictate their holierthanthou standards. It is all ego. It makes them feel good.
    I would love to see how many shelter workers would get turned down by their own standards.

  145. baby-paramedic April 30, 2013 at 12:33 am #

    So my problems I need to fix are my age (only one way there!), and not having a current vet (new area, didnt want pet until settled down, previous vet retired). It doesnt matter all prior pets have been rescues.
    Illogical indeed.

    (We did end up looking further afield for our rescue, just finding the right fit for our family now).

  146. acm April 30, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    @missjanenc I agree cats should be indoors but your assertion is flawed that they are the big wildlife destroyers. That distinction belongs to humans who destroy habitat, use pesticides and in general are poor stewards of the earth.

    No, that’s strictly wrong — domestic cats are the major threat to songbird populations in our country: see this or this, for example. Not entirely on-topic with whether national shelters have gone nuts, but requesting that you keep your cat indoors isn’t baseless, for either its well-being or environmental preservation.

  147. Tsu Dho Nimh May 1, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    @warren …
    Here’s the AZ response to bears attacking people in campgrounds:


    Note that the bear in last year’s attack is still out there in the woods. The response to the attacks was to close the campground for a couple of months to prevent a habit.

  148. Rogier van Bakel May 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    Lifelong pet owner here. Never any problems with the multiple dogs we rescued and adopted over a 25-year span. But when I and my family applied to adopt a friendly, lovable Saint Bernard from the SPCA some five years ago, we were turned down — because we had young kids. Seriously.


    The upshot was that this no-kill shelter waited for more suitable candidates to come along, none did, the dog gradually got lonely and depressed, and then, rather than let us adopt him, THEY KILLED HIM. I learned about it months later, from an acquaintance.

    There’s a special place in hell for the people that feel that in order to “save” the pet, it’s best if they kill it.

  149. Reziac May 23, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    The rescue industry has become quite profitable playing on people’s fear of not being “good enough” to “adopt” a pet… for which the “adopter” will pay $100 to $500 (and I’ve seen “adoption” fees as high as $1,200) and agree that the “rescue” or “shelter” can invasively inspect their home, and repossess the pet if they deem you unfit.

    And re-sell, er, I mean adopt it out again, to someone else.


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