Casaubon's Book

Scenes from the Shelter

i-860c1713708f1b83791c55659732d8c5-MacMarsh-thumb-400x534-73164.jpg
(Mac, doing the guard thing)

I don’t live in New York City, so I don’t have to go quite through what these folks did to adopt a cat. If one of my neighbors hasn’t rescued a cat some idiot dropped off (because that’s what you do with cats you can’t take care of, right, throw them out of your car in the country where they will totally be fine ;-P), we have a long-standing and deeply friendly relationship with someone who does cat rescue, and she is happy to pass cats on to us for adoption. Still, I did come into contact with the Stalinist dog rescue folk shortly before we BOUGHT Mac:

I’m so glad she’s taking Hart,” I told an alpha a little later.

“I don’t know about that,” she countered. “We had her fill out an application, but she was pretty rigid about only wanting to feed him dry food. How would you like to just eat cereal all day?”

I nodded slowly. I needed the alpha on my side.

How ’bout the kittens, I wondered aloud. Who got them? There were four kittens, and they were just a few weeks old. When they weren’t sleeping on top of each other like strips of bacon still in the package, they were bouncing off the walls of their cages. Everybody wanted the kittens.

“I don’t think anyone is getting the kittens,” said an alpha.

How was that possible? This guy had too many roommates. That girl seemed immature. One couple had too many cats already.

We ran into some pet-rescue craziness after Rufus, our first working farmcollie died. We wanted a livestock guardian breed of dog, and ideally, we wanted to adopt a dog that needed a home. So we went looking on all the usual rescue sites – and found a deep and abiding prejudice against letting working dogs work – or even do the things that they are bred for.

Our first attempt was with a young Maremma who had been used as a livestock guardian – that is, he was trained and brought up to live among sheep, and had a hard time adjusting to the 4×6 kennel he was now kept in – his previous territory had been measured in tens of acres. We approached the shelter about adopting him.

Yes, we had a warm barn for him to sleep in at night. Yes, there would be plenty of human contact. Yes, he would be out with sheep and goats.

No, we couldn’t have him. He has to be a house dog, and they didn’t want him to be with livestock. Why? Because then he wouldn’t be being socialized to humans – he was very anxious in a house with humans and they felt he needed to be there constantly. When I pointed out his entire genetics were designed to live in open spaces, and his youth had been spent among livestock in those spaces, that this was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, they argued that he’d eventually be a perfect house pet – a 110lb, territorial guard dog would make a great living room ornament.

Ok, moving on, we then inquired of a group of crossbred LGD puppies born in an affluent suburban neighborhood near my mother – this is an area of small lots and a high degree of social connection. The pups, half Great Pyrenees and half Anatoiian Shepherd would be huge, strong, and have a strong instinctual urge to range over a large territory – perfect for affluent small yards, really! When we inquired and noted we had a farm, that the animals would be kept near our family and have a lot of human contact but also space to roam and work to do, we were told “there is a lot of interest in these pups in this town, we simply don’t think they need to be farm dogs.” They probably don’t – while they are tiny and cute. My concern is what happens later on as suburban householders attempt to keep big dogs with big territorial needs in tiny suburban yards. LGDs bark a lot – that’s part of how they let predators know they are there. They also are inclined to roam – and tough to keep in without 6 foot chain link fence. They are wonderful, gentle, sweet dogs – but all of the breeding is for life as a working farm dog. We were told it was the breed rescue’s policy that none of their (all LGD) dogs be placed as working dogs.

So many dogs end up in shelters because they are misplaced – the high energy dog in a family with no time to play, the dominant dog in a family with lots of young children. Ultimately cute often outweighs rational in choosing a dog – to the dog’s detriment. Most of us need to choose a dog not for the life we’d like to live, but for the one we actually do – which is what we set out to do. The shock was that the life we live was viewed as harmful and abusive to the dogs – EVEN WHEN the dogs were bred for precisely that life.

I do understand that sometimes “out with the animals” for an LGD means no shelter and no socialization, and I support absolutely their desire to find out what kind of working life the animal would have. That’s not, however, what we do – and what most farmers do.

After a few more failures, we gave up and ended up buying a Great Pyrenees (Mac the Marshmallow) from a breeder. He’s a wonderful dog, and I have no regrets. He’s settled into a perfect guardian, a good buddy for Mistress Quickly, our American Working Farmcollie and emergency-backup dog, and my oldest son’s best friend. Told we couldn’t expect him to guard our goats and play with our kids, we’ve found he’s able to move perfectly between those two roles.

I’ve been thinking about the dog thing again since Mistress Quickly is getting older. Rather than having Mac lose his best buddy, we probably will try and find another dog in the next couple of years, so that our dogs are never alone. Moreover, we’ve talked about possibly needing another LGD to handle the animals that are kept up on the hillside, out of sight of the house. While Mac goes up there, his guarding work is mostly in the areas around the house where the does are kept – but the bucks and calves are up on the hill pastures.

As much as I’d prefer to support rescue operations, I just don’t think I’ll be using one. The requirements of many of them are fairly ridiculous – one asks you to sign a contract that they can come to your property and investigate your dog’s condition at any time. I don’t abuse my animals, and I support their desire to protect dogs that have already endured trauma – but I don’t make strangers free of my property, either. Multiple home visits before you can adopt – I’m willing to do that for children, but not for animals.

I don’t know what happened to the puppies we inquired about – I hope all of them are stably settled in their homes now that they are big and not so cute. I do know that the Maremma was still at the shelter in the same 4×6 cage more than a year later. I know he was lavished with love and attention there, taken for walks and cared for by people who love animals – but not enough to let an animal bred for work do what they love and are bred to do.

I take seriously the need to ensure that animals that have been abandoned and traumatized don’t get abandoned and traumatized again – but what I see is that “animal love” often gets perverted into making the barriers for adoption so great that over and over, people I know give up and buy from breeders. Now there is nothing wrong with purchasing an animal bred for a specific purpose from a breeder – and there are some compelling reasons for doing so. At the same time, there are many people who would adopt if they could – and homeless animals that wouldn’t be euthanized if the barriers to entry weren’t both high and sometimes misguided.

I often find myself suggesting that a dog or a cat might be a good addition to a sustainable household – yes, feeding them is a real issue and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but the security that a dog can provide to someone who lives alone, the rodent control a good mouser or the working qualities of a dog bred for hunting or ratting or guarding or herding are too valuable to give up. Add in the merits of comfort and security that having a dog or cat can provide and I do think pets are incredibly important to most of us. It is perfectly reasonable that to adopt an animal you’d have to show you can care for it and that you don’t regard animals as disposable, that you should agree to spay or neuter and that you have a plan for its medical care. It is not appropriate that you should have to open a vein, treat an animal like a human being or commit to chronic and permanent invasions of privacy. It is a pity that our perfectly laudable desire to protect animals has gone overboard in some cases.

Sharon

Comments

  1. #1 Denys
    March 13, 2012

    Thanks so much for writing this. We ran into the same thing n our rural/suburban part of the world. When our first set of cats grew old (18 & 19) we wanted kittens while the children were small. No adoption if you have a child under 6, if you both worked full-time, if you had any other cats in the house, if you let the other cats outside at all, vet reference required (must have had pets before but not currently) and on and on the list went. I couldn’t help but think “how many people qualify for these animals?”. I figured that most people must have lied on their application to get them and I was being was too honest.

  2. #2 Bertie
    March 13, 2012

    I totally agree with you. After our one cat died, I was going to get another and I prefer to adopt from a shelter rather than purchase and I had such a hard time finding a place that was willing to consider our family since we had two kids under 5. Really? How do children learn to be kind to animals unless they are around them? So I tried a for a guinea pig and no guinea pig rescues in the area would adopt to someone with a child under six. How many homes can you find for guinea pigs where they would be fed a good diet of mainly organic veggies, have a nice cage in the pesticide free yard to get supervised outdoor time in, a big container, an owner with previous experience with g. pigs (one of whom had health problems that necessitated some pretty creative therapies on my part). I even talked to the owner of one rescue group and she just wasn’t willing to be flexible at all about having them in a house with kids. It was crazy.

  3. #3 Shannon
    March 13, 2012

    I’m sure you’ve already got them on your radar, but here’s a rescue that would have NO PROBLEM with you sending a working dog out to work: National English Shepherd Rescue. nesr.info. Their hesitation – and it’s just – would be sending a farm collie to live with an urban or suburban family as a house dog.

    Yes, you’ll have to apply and jump through those kinds of hoops, but the people who are most involved with NESR understand that their breed is a working breed.

    Plus, English Shepherds are kind of awesome.

  4. #4 Teresa
    March 13, 2012

    I told my husband, an animal control officer/shelter manager, the Great Pyrenees story after you’d first told it. He was torn between mocking laughter at the well-intentioned idiots and pity for those poor pups, which, without room to roam and critters to herd, would probably grow up into neurotic couch-eaters who end up dumped back at some shelter.

    If Himself ever gets what looks like a good large working dog, I’ll let you know.

  5. #5 DennisP
    March 13, 2012

    When I taught college classes, I used an example from the 1800s. Up until the middle 1800s dogs were working animals, not pets. Middle and lower class families could not afford large animals like horses, so they used dogs for such jobs as not only herding livestock but pulling heavy carts of goods to market or from firm to firm. They were an important part of the working team at many businesses (usually small).

    Of course with millions of dogs in England, there were many cases of animal abuse, given the relatively uneducated population and lack of the knowledge we now have about the sensitivities of the animals, and the absence of the commitment to animal welfare that we now have in our society.

    So the early animal welfare groups committed themselves to a crusade on behalf of animal welfare. And eventually a law was passed by parliament sometime in the mid-1800s (I don’t remember exactly when) that made it illegal to use dogs as working animals – that was now considered abuse. The result was that millions of the animals were abandoned and turned loose or killed and thrown out into the streets. The welfare of dogs was greatly advanced!

  6. #6 Greenpa
    March 13, 2012

    Excellent cautionary anecdotes for those getting into it all. We have two rescue farm dogs; 1st is 1/2 Anatolian, 1/2 presumed Australian shepherd; 2nd is 1/2 collie, 1/2 German shepherd. Both acquired as small pups and trained up with an older dog- who just vanished one day (they can). They run free 24/365, on our 160 acres, never leaving our land so far as we know. We did/do intensive training when necessary, on leash, off leash, and sometimes with electronic collars; you have to put in the time. Used properly, the electronic collars do NOT cause pain, but startle; and they can wind up being a kindness to the dog by adding clarity and consistency to the training, so the dog winds up doing what you want much sooner/easier- which, in fact, is the #1 thing the dog wants; to please you.

    Our local coyotes got smarter though, and started teasing them away from the sheep- that will happen eventually, too. Don’t ever think you’ve got the predators handled permanently- the damned things learn and adapt.

    Your experiences are identical to ours, which is why we don’t have a rescued GP or something; just impossible. We have great relations with the local shelter lady; she thinks our dogs live in Dog Paradise; which is approximately true.

    It would seem to me this near universal problem is by way of being an opportunity for the right people; there’s no shortage of dogs in need of rescue, and there ought to be a way for getting them into good hands could be made to pay- a little.

    (Glad to hear about the English shepherd group! I’m checking them out now… we know 2 dogs is not enough.)

  7. #7 Alexandra M
    March 13, 2012

    YES!!! A friend of mine found a kitten and tried to contact me because she knew I was looking for one, but I was out of town. When I got back, she had brought it to the humane society (who wanted $50 she didn’t have to take it in). I called the next day and they said it “wasn’t ready” to be adopted. I asked if they would call me when it was. No, they couldn’t do that. I asked if when it was “ready” they would hold him for the 20 minutes it would take me to drive there. No, they couldn’t do that. When I finally went there I had to fill out pages and pages of forms and swear to all sorts of things PLUS they insisted on calling my husband at work (even though he teaches and can’t be reached except in an emergency). You’d think they were in the business of NOT finding homes for animals.

    Yes, I learned to lie on the applications after being turned down a couple of times. The fact that we’ve always had happy, healthy, long-lived cats(one was 23) mattered not one bit.

  8. #8 H. Houlahan
    March 13, 2012

    Shannon. RE: NESR. Ding ding ding.

    Although we would be the first to tell you that an ES is not going to be a suitable livestock guardian for those hill pastures. He wants to be with his people first. The stock are important because they belong to his people. The dog would not be happy so banished, and he wouldn’t do the job well, if at all.

    I’ve fostered over a score of dogs for NESR. More of them come in as failed pets and go out as small farm working dogs (or other kinds of working dog) than ever vice-versa.

    My own take on the problem —

    http://www.honestdog.com/2012/02/02/mending-the-rescue-wall/

  9. #9 BNightengale
    March 13, 2012

    This strikes such a chord. We are stymied by the intensity of demands in order to have a homeless pet placed in our care. All the above is so true and so unfortunate. In addition to all of that, we are low income and to pay $300 for a dog or cat is unreasonable. That does not mean we can’t afford to pay for high quality food, and veterinary care – it just means we seldom have that kind of money in one lump sum on hand. What we do have is 10 acres if doggy playground, warm soft dog beds, great local vets that offer the best medical care imaginable, and hearts that long to support forever homes for these dogs in need. One or two at a time. Of course for $40 I can go to the mall and buy a puppy mill product almost sure to be diseased, poorly bred, and the creation of a cruel and inhumane system of massive forced reproduction. But to rescue one of these animals – we don’t meet the criteria! Grrrrr

  10. #10 Jody R
    March 13, 2012

    I totally support National English Shepherd Rescue ( http://www.nesr.info). I have an NESR dog now. ES are great dogs & the NESR folks are really good at evaluating their fosters to determine the best setting.

    Another working breed rescue that places in working homes is New Spirit for Aussie Rescue (www.ns4ar.org). They are mostly the eastern seaboard (Maine to Florida) and will transport for the right home.

    With either group – just be honest. They are good people who know their breed.

  11. #11 Thetimchannel
    March 13, 2012

    I have never had to buy a pet or get one from rescue. I get them off the street or from people who are unable to keep them (move from house to apartment e.g.). In any event, I would never be compelled to actually buy one. I leave that to the one percent.

  12. #12 D. C. Sessions
    March 13, 2012

    I have, on consideration, lived with my last dog. Nothing against them — I’ve had dogs for the last 30 years, but I’m moving to a small town where I won’t have the land and enclosure that they need. So when our last (a rescue mixed-damnifiknow) died after she became too arthritic to walk we decided: no more dogs.

    Cats, now …

    So here’s a tip for working with rescue groups:

    Our first rescue was theoretically a Savannah, but she’s so far outside of breed standard that it’s disgusting that anyone would breed her. Much less a would-be commercial cattery, which went under leaving a whole lot of mistreated cats stranded. She was so spooky that all they could hope for was a place for her to hide, where she could eat and be warm without being frightened any more.

    We figured, “we can do that.” So we adopted her, and they even waived the fee. Best thing that happened was that the woman who’d fostered her also gave us a mongrel kitten who was a handful — while we were talking she was busy savaging my hand while purring furiously. Velvet, no force to the bite. That little monster is now 9 pounds, but she’s still the Little Friend to All the World. She’s the one who got the former “Shy Kitty” to come out and now snuggles with us purring all night.

    With her as a reference, they let us adopt an adult F1 tom who had been poorly socialised (family tragedy, neglect rather than abuse.) He’s coming along, not without drama, but is already good company and playful.

    Lesson: breed rescue organizations can often be convinced by success. Nothing is a better recommendation than a home that has turned a difficult adoption into a happy, healthy animal. Brag, post pictures on their adoption fora, show them it works.

  13. #13 BADKarma
    March 13, 2012

    I beg to differ on one count: You said, “It is a pity that our perfectly laudable desire to protect animals has gone overboard in some cases.” This is not accurate. The shelter/rescue movement is increasingly being co-opted by the AR movement, whose ultimate, oft-stated goal is the total elimination of all human/animal contact, and the total extinction of all domestic animals.

    “Disqualifying” absolutely everyone who wants to adopt an abandoned/rescued animal is part of their strategy, along with legislating breeders out of existence so no new animals are available to anyone, ever. I’d say they’re misguided, but in fact, “misguided” implies they don’t know what they are doing; which is not the case; so we’ll go with “evil” instead.

  14. #14 Laura
    March 13, 2012

    One of the farm blogs I read has adopted 3 working LGDs from http://nationalpyr.org/

  15. #15 Another Sharon
    March 13, 2012

    And yet these are often the same people who, after spending the day vigorously defending a homeless animal from the horrors of eating dry kibble, come home, turn on the TV, and not even bat an eyelash at a local news report of some small child being beaten, tortured, molested or starved by a family member or “uncle”. Am I suggesting that all animal adoption volunteers are this cavalier? No, but it just seems hard to understand that many people who zealously guard the rights of animals cannot muster a similar passion for their own species.

  16. #16 Denys
    March 13, 2012

    OK, how funny, or should I say sad, is this: On this beautiful 75 degree March day I have been working outside most of the day and some woman I don’t know, keeps driving by my house to make sure my dog has company outside in the yard. He likes to lay toward the front of the yard where he can see down to the neighbors who have three dogs. He’s done this for years and we have an electric dog fence. He doesn’t bark (except when this woman keeps stopping) or whine or jump or anything annoying. I talked with her once and she said she thought it was so odd the dog was laying there and she wanted to make sure he wasn’t lonely. It’s a dog. Laying on the ground. Like a dog. Get over it and move along please. I wish he bit people. Geez.

  17. #17 Cath
    March 13, 2012

    I’m flabbergasted; have never heard of such strident rules. We adopted our cat from a local vet who does pro bono work for a pet rescue operation. No background checks, just a bit of cash handed over and a form filled in for microchipping. My three kids were very welcome and had a great time choosing from the litter surrounding them on the floor. We picked the girl who stood quietly on my daughter’s shoulders while my autistic son jumped up and down in excitement. :) She’s a great lap cat, loves visitors, and is fab at killing spiders and insects.

    My friend has adopted a couple of beautiful dogs with no trouble or tedious checking either.

    Cath in Australia

  18. #18 Karen
    March 13, 2012

    Icelandic Sheepdog Rescue http://www.nationalicelandicsheepdogrescuealliance.org would also consider a working farm home for a placement. We are lucky so far that we don’t have a lot of rescues. Our breeders are doing a good job in placements, and in stepping up if a dog does need rehoming. When we do have a dog to place, we are looking for a good fit for that dog. We know the drawbacks of our breed, being a working dog and a barking herder and don’t want to set up a dog to bounce from home to home. ISD aren’t a LGD to be left with the flock, but are good multi purpose farm and family dogs. Friends of mine use them in conjunction with a trio of rescue GP to run their farm, and there are a lot of them working sheep, especially on Icelandic sheep farms. My ISD only get to play with livestock occasionally, but they forgive me. :)

  19. #19 Claudia Oney
    March 13, 2012

    Look at Karrakachans. They are endangered, almost destroyed when the Bulgarian small herding culture was broken up by the Soviets. We love our dear guardian; he is gentle with children and protective of sheep and chickens, huge friends with the cow and a real part of our farm. He is a working dog and would be shocked if invited into a house. The best contact for the dogs is Peter D Houchin,
    highnrg2@aol.com
    http://www.runningriverranch.com
    http://www.karakachandog.com
    http://www.bluemountainorganics.com

    He will not place his dogs in a non-working capacity. I like the idea of rescuing this beautiful breed vs individual dog rescue. Just me. Individual dog rescue is complicated.

  20. #20 Rebecca
    March 13, 2012

    I’ve done a lot of work with a local adoption group, and they do everything they can to find the animals homes. The requirements are pretty loose, they require you to not declaw a cat, you have to sign a contract that says you will bring the animal back to the group instead of dumping it at the shelter if things don’t work out, and they do one home visit to make sure you don’t have hungry pit bulls chained to a tree out back that you intend to feed the adopted cat to.

    There’s no requirements about children (unless the pet in question doesn’t need to be around kids) or other pets (ditto), you don’t need a vet’s reference, or any of that nonsense.

    To me, these are common sense requirements, but many of these shelters have gone overboard. It seems to be as hard to adopt a pet from some of these places as it is to adopt a child. That’s crazy.

  21. #21 Stephen B.
    March 13, 2012

    I’m not surprised at this.

    Some time ago I started looking at rescue organizations for a dog. I was thinking of a German Shepherd. Between work and home, along with the Maine spread, I have the land. I had a dog for 14 years and sometimes take care of my sister’s dog.

    I know dogs.

    But then I started reading the requirements from the various rescue organizations. Lots of questions, and yes, home inspections both before the adoption, and random ones afterwards too.

    I’ve been looking at breeders more and more, who, in the end, are only moderately more expensive as well.

    I hate to say it, but BADKarma is on to something as well. Various animal rights organizations first went after the puppy mill breeders, as well they should have, but they’ve gone after reputable breeders, dog shows, and heavily influenced the rescue groups too, in my opinion. There is a growing population of AR people and rescue people, that just seem to think that only a very small segment of the human population, should have a pet dog or cat at all. It’s getting harder and harder to get a pet, what with more rules and regulations, just like a lot of other things in this life. It all starts out with the best of intentions, but then everybody goes overboard in the extreme.

    It’s not a huge problem, on the level of climate change, economic deprivation due to Oil Decline, etc., and I don’t lose sleep about it, nor would I have ever mentioned it to most folk, but, Sharon, since you wrote about it, yes, it’s a problem.

  22. #22 Gail S. Dash
    March 14, 2012

    I recommend going to a breed rescue when you have a working dog in mind. Experts on a WHAT a breed is built to do are usually more willing to place them in appropriate breed specific situations.

    Another source of good working dogs are breeders with retired show dogs or unsuccessful show prospects to place in new homes. We want our dogs to be treated as valued members of your family (not some discarded farm tool tossed out back to rust), but most working dog breeders are happy to have their dogs in responsible working homes.

    Gail

  23. #23 Susan in NJ
    March 14, 2012

    Glad you wrote this Sharon; I’ve heard about it on several fronts. We were slighlty out of state at an event with rescue animals present and met a dog we really liked — but even though the rescue people knew us from commercial transactions, we couldn’t adopt because we were unsuitable — didn’t live in state and so they wouldn’t be able to check up on the dog or inspect our premises. At least the dog got adopted … after another 9 months at the facility. It’s sort of a joke with us now.

  24. #24 H. Houlahan
    March 14, 2012

    And yet these are often the same people who, after spending the day vigorously defending a homeless animal from the horrors of eating dry kibble, come home, turn on the TV, and not even bat an eyelash at a local news report of some small child being beaten, tortured, molested or starved by a family member or “uncle”. Am I suggesting that all animal adoption volunteers are this cavalier? No, but it just seems hard to understand that many people who zealously guard the rights of animals cannot muster a similar passion for their own species.

    I’m curious, “Another Sharon,” about what YOU do when you turn on the news and are treated to an account of child abuse?

    What, specifically, do you do to respond to that news story? Is batting an eyelash the appropriate response that you find lacking in others, but provide yourself?

    Or perhaps the question is, what, specifically, do you do on a day-to-day basis to prevent child abuse in the general population, or serve abused children?

    Are you a political activist on the issue of child abuse? Are you an emergency foster parent for abused children? Do you work in a community outreach program for parents? Spend your days at the courthouse as a court-appointed advocate for abused children?

    What is it that makes YOU superior to the scores of animal welfare workers who, according to you, are so morally bankrupt that they simply don’t care about child abuse, so skewed in their priorities that they spend their own discretionary time attending to the needs of animals rather than what YOU think they should be doing — which is, what, exactly?

    Just curious.

  25. #25 H. Houlahan
    March 14, 2012

    And yet these are often the same people who, after spending the day vigorously defending a homeless animal from the horrors of eating dry kibble, come home, turn on the TV, and not even bat an eyelash at a local news report of some small child being beaten, tortured, molested or starved by a family member or “uncle”. Am I suggesting that all animal adoption volunteers are this cavalier? No, but it just seems hard to understand that many people who zealously guard the rights of animals cannot muster a similar passion for their own species.

    I’m curious, “Another Sharon,” about what YOU do when you turn on the news and are treated to an account of child abuse?

    What, specifically, do you do to respond to that news story? Is batting an eyelash the appropriate response that you find lacking in others, but provide yourself?

    Or perhaps the question is, what, specifically, do you do on a day-to-day basis to prevent child abuse in the general population, or serve abused children?

    Are you a political activist on the issue of child abuse? Are you an emergency foster parent for abused children? Do you work in a community outreach program for parents? Spend your days at the courthouse as a court-appointed advocate for abused children?

    What is it that makes YOU superior to the scores of animal welfare workers who, according to you, are so morally bankrupt that they simply don’t care about child abuse, so skewed in their priorities that they spend their own discretionary time attending to the needs of animals rather than what YOU think they should be doing — which is, what, exactly?

    Just curious.

  26. #26 Stephen B.
    March 14, 2012

    H. Houlahan,

    Perhaps you should read back in the archives a bit….read the many stories and blog entries (at least a dozen or so) from the past year or two, where Sharon details the many issues surrounding her taking in emergency foster placements along with the issues of placing said foster kids in a sustainable, farm, and farm house setting. By doing so, you can begin to prepare yourself to answer Sharon’s response, which should be along shortly :-)

  27. #27 Stephen B.
    March 14, 2012

    By the way H. Houlahan,

    I work with abused, neglected, impoverished, and otherwise at-risk teenagers from foster homes, broken homes, sometimes taken in from emergency situations, in a rural setting, at residential treatment center myself.

    I offer that since I too complained a bit by over-the-top animal rescue workers myself.

    ‘Just saying.

  28. #28 H. Houlahan
    March 14, 2012

    Maybe you should read more carefully, too, Stephen B.

    The commenter I quoted and addressed was not the blogger here, but someone who signs her name “Another Sharon.”

    I might also warn those who want to engage in a pissing contest on how people use their unpaid discretionary time to benefit others that they are unlikely to win that one.

  29. #29 Stephen B.
    March 14, 2012

    I stand corrected :-)

  30. #30 H. Houlahan
    March 14, 2012

    It is generally a safe bet that those who actually devote their lives to serving others, “doing good” as it were, have little inclination to piss and moan about the moral bankruptcy of people who apply different talents and resources, or pursue different priorities.

    That is to say, those who are actually feeding starving Africans are not the ones rolling their eyes because someone else is feeding starving horses.

  31. #31 Sue
    March 14, 2012

    Sharon,

    In spite of the questionable lesson it provides for your kids, I think this is an appropriate place for a white lie — to save the animal, in a sense.

    Tell them the dog will be a family pet. On the off-chance that they do conduct a post-adoption home check and catch a situation that doesn’t fit their vision, you can say something like “the dog seems to prefer being outside” or “he just started hanging withe the livestock of his own accord”.

    Their rules seem well-intentioned but so far off-base as to almost border on cruelty, to me.

    I have a dog who is a pet (I have one acre and no livestock). I would love her to snuggle on the sofa with me and warm my feet in my bed at night. But it’s just not who she is — she prefers to sleep on the porch, in all but the most blustery weather. I can count on my fingers and toes the number of nights she’s spent on my bed in almost ten years. But oh well, she gets to be herself, which is more important. (though I won’t go so far as to acquire livestock just for her to focus on!)

    Sue on the Western Edge of the Great Basin

  32. You don’t move on when you encounter pet-advocate craziness! You send your friends in, armed with all the right answers up to the point where you failed. If possible, read the organization’s manifesto about what pets need before going in. When your friend washes out on the next crazy requirement, send in another friend. I know of people who’ve had to go to a third friend to get the animal they want to adopt.

  33. #33 Jo
    March 14, 2012

    Sharon,

    Try http://akbashrescue.blogspot.com/. Or, just hang around the mountains in the northern part of Utah. It won’t be long until you find an authentic guard dog needing a home or a bunch of puppies about to be drowned in a beaver pond by the sheep herder.

  34. Having heard about the local Humane Society and their rules (and fees), I went to the Animal Control department in my city. They were delighted to have someone come in willing to take an adult cat, for about half the price of the H.S.’s fee.

    Also, people sometimes offer adult cats when their situations change–moving to an apartment, etc.

  35. #35 olympia
    March 14, 2012

    Mac is so cute! I’d love to see how that beautiful fur looks during the heart of mud season!:)

    And this overprotection of would be pets is indeed detrimental- to the animals as well as to those who’d like to take them in. Many, many dogs are built to run, and having the space and freedom to run is what they need most. I can’t help but notice how much better behaved such dogs are, too, compared to dogs who are allowed only yard access and the occasional walk. Why do some animal rescue folk think the dogs would be better off with fewer chances to run?

  36. #36 Flo Allen
    March 14, 2012

    Having started with Maremma LGDs, my eyes and ears
    are always open for rescue or fosters, we adopted two giants
    when our girl Molly was a pup, thinking she needed company..well, the woman brokering the ” deal” was quite anxious,
    As these two were 10 yrs. Old and nuetered and spayed
    siblings. I was told to seperate them completely, (wth??!!) By field and stock, they did not deal well with it, so I basically went with my instinct and re united them.. she had a fit, was going to blacklist me, etc.. I finally told her that I tracked down their former VET, and the tech who had occasionally boarded them, and she said I made a great new mom decision.. They lived 5 happy years and passed within a week of each other.. my point being, a lot of people Love the power/ ego trip of deciding what to do with a life.. A rescue org. In our next town, non profit, of course, wouldn’t let my 85 yr old fil take pix of rescued ponies from the road !! Non profit, my a..!! She collects and buys from other states, then files non p status, what a scam.. As are the ads in papers, puppies wanted, all breeds, have families waiting.. REALLY??!! SCAM
    They are just starting UP non profits.. ok.I am done..
    JMHO… Flo

  37. #37 Lynn
    March 15, 2012

    We live in the country and it’s not unusual to have people just dump unwanted animals out here. One day I came home and discovered a pit bull in my yard. He looked completely lost and confused and wanted nothing more than to get inside the house. He was a total sweetie and greeted me like a long-lost friend. However, since he was an unneutered male of unknown background, and us with two very small children, my husband wouldn’t let me keep the dog. So I ended up taking him to the local humane society. When I dropped him off I had to make it clear several times that I was not the owner but simply trying to help out a stray. Most people around here would have shot a strange dog on sight but I was trying to do the right thing.

    Fast forward two years. The children are older and we feel like now is a good time to add a dog to our family. We go to the local humane society, only to discover that our names are on a blacklist because we “previously relinquished an animal”. Been to every shelter in the county with the same result. I guess no good deed goes unpunished.

  38. #38 Sister X
    March 15, 2012

    A few thoughts….
    1. The personality of working dogs will come out whether you want it to or not. My relatives used to have an OE sheepdog (rescued, he was deaf) in their suburban neighborhood. Lots of room to roam and exercise, kids to play with. But as the story goes, I was particularly excited and energetic at one particular family gathering when I was three. After a short time the adults realized they could hear me but not see me and found me backed into a corner by the dog, screaming. He’d taken it into his head that I was an unruly sheep who needed to be herded!
    2. Thank God I live in Alaska! On the animal shelter website they specifically list which dogs would be good for working. “Great sled dog, already used to the harness…” Also, our local no-kill cat shelter was a dream to adopt from, even for two very poor college kids living in a cabin with no running water. Questions to answer, yes, but no forms. The only caveat was that we had to promise that if we ever needed to get rid of our cat we’d bring him back to her. (He was already fixed.) The woman who runs it is the quintessential “crazy cat lady”, but she knows her stuff and she has a knack for fitting cats with the perfect situation. Friends adopted two kittens from her, one of whom was very energetic and needed a companion. So they got Ghost, who is very fittingly named. This cat is so shy that she likely wouldn’t have been adopted by anyone else. I can’t imagine what would have happened to her at a regular shelter or in the hands of a rescue group. As it is, she’s found pretty much the perfect home.

  39. #39 Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife
    March 17, 2012

    *Raises hand and waves* Yup. Been there, seen that, lied on the adoption forms. The shelters in our area are just plain nuts about not letting cats go to willing homes. I’m with you on being okay with requiring vet references, and (grudgingly) a home inspection. I’m not okay with withholding cats from people who will let them outdoors, or working dogs from farms where they will work. That’s just pure insanity.

    Shelters like these remind me of vegans who are able to hold noble principles only because they don’t examine (among other things) the realities of food production very closely. They mean well, but their view is absurdly simplistic and limited. Farmers, on the other hand, necessarily have broader views which are firmly grounded in very real reality. I suspect that as with the veganism vs. killing animals debate, the shelters’ desire to keep animals so safe that they are denied the ability to fulfill their basic instincts, it all comes down to quality of life vs. quantity. I’m with you, as an ethical livestock producer, on the side of high quality of life, regardless of duration.

    I really, REALLY hope you will forward this to the shelter(s) in your area which adhere to such ridiculous policies that affect the animals in their care so detrimentally.

  40. #40 annette
    March 18, 2012

    When I was a single working mom with kids aged 9 & 4, PAWS refused to let us adopt a dog because “no one would be home with him during the day.” So I took the heartbroken kids to the city pound and we got a small dog who was a beloved pet for the next 12 years. I seriously don’t get these animal rescue people. Do they really think its better for animals to live in shelters (in cages, no less!) than with less-than-perfect families who will love and care for them?

  41. #41 Patrick
    March 21, 2012

    I am surprised to see that people are angry and offended by the adoption requirements of animal rescue groups.

    The tone of the negative posts(including the original post by Sharon) seems to be “I want something for myself and somebody is preventing me from getting what I deserve”.

    Couching it in terms of “I support the idea of rescue” does not change the selfish and greedy nature that is evident in the viewpoints.

    The world does not owe you a cheap, great dog.

  42. #42 NJ
    March 21, 2012

    Patrick@41:

    The world does not owe you a cheap, great dog.

    Nor, it appears, does the world owe you the gift of reading comprehension.

    A group that sets the bar for animal adoption so high that normal, everyday people are excluded and animals are kept caged for unlimited periods is not a rescue group. It is an animal hoarding group.

    That you fail to grasp this simple fact after reading these comments reflects poorly on both your nature and nurture.

  43. #43 Patrick
    March 21, 2012

    @NJ 42
    Glad to see you did not disagree with the quote you highlighted from my post.

    You may also agree that a rescue group is acting reasonably if they would like to check on the animal occasionally post adoption. Apparently, some potential adoptees consider it an invasion of privacy in the highest degree. They are not government agents or thieves, they are concerned about the health of the animals they made a committment to. Be a normal, everyday person and welcome them onto your property to talk about how great it is they helped you find a pet.

    You might also agree that normal, everyday people don’t advocate that lying and dishonesty to get a rescued animal is appropriate The following five excerpts from some of the above posts do just that.

    Been there, seen that, lied on the adoption forms

    Yes, I learned to lie on the applications after being turned down a couple of times.

    In spite of the questionable lesson it provides for your kids, I think this is an appropriate place for a white lie — to save the animal, in a sense.

    Tell them the dog will be a family pet. On the off-chance that they do conduct a post-adoption home check and catch a situation that doesn’t fit their vision, you can say something like “the dog seems to prefer being outside” or “he just started hanging withe the livestock of his own accord”.

    You don’t move on when you encounter pet-advocate craziness! You send your friends in, armed with all the right answers up to the point where you failed. If possible, read the organization’s manifesto about what pets need before going in. When your friend washes out on the next crazy requirement, send in another friend. I know of people who’ve had to go to a third friend to get the animal they want to adopt.

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