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March 23, 2012

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Rescue Rejection Turns Happy Tail

By Natalie Lester, Brand Marketing Specialist

If you don’t have a pet when you start working at PetSafe, people start taking bets as to how long it will take before you find your furry forever friend. I always wanted a dog but just wasn’t in a position to give one the time and attention they need until I started working at PetSafe. I thought long and hard about the financial and time commitment associated with owning a pet.

Within a few months, all bets were off and I decided I was definitely ready for pet ownership. I was excited and committed to giving a good dog a great home. I started by filling out a lengthy application with a local rescue group and it was followed by a 45 minute phone interview. The interview felt a little like an interrogation, but I knew I would be a great pet parent so I didn’t think too much about it.

While I was picking out names for my future new addition, the rescue conducted a home visit. The representative visited and toured my townhome and peppered me with more questions, many of which were too personal for my comfort. By the end of the visit, I actually felt like I was doing the wrong thing and I wasn’t good enough to adopt a dog.

Two days later, the organization told me they did not think I was right for a puppy and I was crushed. The rescue told me I was turned down because I do not work from home and they didn’t feel I would be spending enough time with her, even though the dog would be coming to work with me every day. They were also concerned that, because this would me my first dog, I did not have another dog to show the new puppy “the ropes”.

In this day and age, I wondered to myself, how many people fit their stringent criteria? How many people never leave their homes, and how many people who adopt puppies have a “veteran” dog at home to teach the newcomer proper behavior? And, how many veteran dogs have the slightest interest in taking on an “apprentice” in the first place? Whenever a Charlie Brown character cries on the cartoon, they tilt their head back and tears squirt out the sides. That was me, along with a mix of total surprise.

I was convinced I had gone about getting a pet the right way, but obviously something was missing. Since I work at PetSafe, I am lucky to be surrounded by pet owners who have been through similar experiences and this brought me some comfort. They all have happy healthy dogs now and seem like awesome pet owners. Turns out many people are rejected by rescues for similar reasons, usually because the potential adopters hadn’t owned the specific breeds before.

Certainly rescues are working hard to find homes for dogs, but my experience and those of my fellow associates forced me to beg the question, are rescues going about adoption the right way or is their system so rigid that they are passing up great homes for puppies and dogs and forcing those people to purchase dogs instead of saving lives? What should really be the criteria for adoption? If they are really committed to placing animals in homes and saving lives, are they being so selective that they are keeping dogs from finding great homes?

Natalie was already in love with Emma after day one. This picture was taken the day after she got her.

I didn’t let my experience discourage me from becoming a pet owner. A friend had a litter of Boykin Spaniel puppies and let me adopt one. Emma Lou has already stolen my heart. She is currently 10 weeks old and we are settling into a nice routine together. She comes to work with me, spends her mornings snoozing and afternoons playing with the other office dogs, who are also showing her “the ropes”. 

So, while my story ends happily for me, what about the rescue puppy I wasn’t allowed to adopt? I’m sure she’ll find a good home eventually, but I am pretty certain it won’t be any better than the one I would have gladly provided. You’ll definitely be hearing a lot from Emma Lou and me through this blog in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, I’d like to hear from you about your thoughts on the rescue adoption process and whether you think their process for selection is right or needs revamping? Have you had a similar experience? Or maybe you work for a rescue and can shed more light on the process?


ABOUT NATALIE As the PetSafe Brand Marketing Specialist, Natalie manages The Paw Print blog and generates other brand related content including public relations and promotions. Before PetSafe, Natalie worked in the local media covering politics, education, and religion. Natalie’s puppy, Emma, spends almost as much time in the office as she does.

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