Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Shelter Procedure...Part I

Since becoming active in fostering pit bulls my eyes have been opened and my heart heavy.  The first foster was a breeze Sasha and Krusher met Champ who was a confident 4 month old pup.  Upon hearing that Sasha & Krusher were comfortable and a perfect match the organization I’m working with was contacted and Champ was pulled from the shelter and all was well.  Well this time around my eyes were opened and my heart heavy.  There was a pup that needed out of the shelter; I followed the procedures as before however, the outcome was much different and left me feeling a certain way.

Initially, I wanted to conduct the meet and greet Thursday, considering this would’ve been my second foster I wanted the experience of another volunteer to evaluate Sasha& Krushers’ behavior to ensure nothing was overlooked or misinterpreted through their body language.  Unfortunately, Thursday was not a good day and the shelter was closed Friday due to the holiday so the next best day for all involved was Saturday.  All went well at the meet & greet with the dogs including Sasha (she’s my diva pittie who’s very picky about her doggie friends).  The volunteer who assisted with the evaluation didn’t have a good feeling about Wednesday being placed with us because an outside application had been placed on her through the shelter.  I told her to think positive and we’ll speak with the shelter employee to see what our chances were in getting Wednesday placed with us.  As she told me she’s been down this road before and experience tells her we’re not going to get Wednesday.  After the meeting we spoke with the shelter worker and askedabout their procedure, her response was “If someone is interested in a dog or any other animal at the shelter all they have to do is complete the application and pick up the animal.”  I asked when we will know if the adoption goes through or not, the shelter worker told us by MONDAY, this was Saturday! Where’s the process? I again asked under what circumstance will the adopter not get Wednesday or any other animal(s) what I heard next flabbergasted me; “ifthe person doesn't show up or change their mind then we’ll contact you.” We were excited for Wednesday but not happy about the process or the lack thereof.

The shelters lack of process is for an interested person to fill out the application and they’re approved! Really, fill out the paperwork, pay and take your animal home.  No screening, no home visits, no evaluation, nobackground investigation.  Everyone wants to know where the system fails; one of the reasons is lack of sufficient policies and procedures.  Yes, itsunderstood money is needed to fund these duties however, if I’m not mistaken many folk volunteer which means more can be done with less.  Having someone complete an application and turn it in, no wonder the shelters are full of dogs being returned, the dogs are not being “matched” with the “right”person, people or lifestyles.  One can visit numerous shelter /rescue organizations websites and folk see a puppy or dog has sad look on their face which pulls on the heart strings of folk and they complete the application without knowing much about the dog.  What most folk don’t know many animals that are taken to the shelter are euthanized due to overcrowding. There are several reasons for the overcrowding, one being breed discrimination, families losing their homes and the list goes on.  Many animals at the shelter or returned to the shelter for several reasons the main because theycan’t or don’t want the animal anymore.  Folk who adopt from a shelter many times are not aware of what they’re getting.  Most get puppies because they’re cute, adorable and playful not realizing at some point that puppy is going to grow up.  Once the pup grows up its destructive because no one plays with her/him anymore so they have pent up energy so the dog runs away, terrorizes the members of the house as well as friends because he/she is not socialize probably so now they’re a liability etc. now the dog is bought back to shelter and the shelter can do but so much.  In the end it’s everyone’s responsibility to be honest about their intentions, what they’re looking for in selecting and adopting an animal and to know their limitations in order to minimize the return of animals to shelters/rescue organizations.  Shelters need to have adequate policies and procedures in place to ensure the “right”dog and human are close to a perfect match as possible again to minimize their return of adopted dogs.  Shelters many times are associated with rescue organizations; it is my opinion uses these resources when it comes to breed specific dogs (when possible).  Rescues if used probably can help shelters however, when you allow profit to be the bottom line you are sure have issues in the long run. Not all shelters fall into this category however, after my experience last weekend it makes one ruminate as to what are other shelter(s) procedures or lack thereof and how much of this lack of procedure compound the problem of overcrowding.

Again, thinking the situation through prior to adopting an animal can be the difference between life and death of an animal and even ease the overcrowding in shelters.  As we all know life has its way of doing things and unforeseen circumstances/situations occur which is understandable and that’s when shelters and rescues come into play.  Lets be responsible, do your research prior to choosing to adopt and heaven forbids should your situation changes for the worst and you have to return your forever family members don’tbe afraid to ask the shelter or rescue about their policies and procedures to adopting and re-homing your forever family member.

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