Over-Qualifying Adopters

Bound Angels Blog

For some reason rescue people feel like they have to interrogate people who wish to adopt and assume that everyone is evil. I’m not delusional in thinking that everyone is great, but I also know that in order to save lives, sometimes it is a crap shoot. I know that there is no one that could provide a home as good as I could to a dog, but if I wait for “that” someone” for every dog, I’ll never get one adopted.

When I taught martial arts, years ago, I was perplexed when it came time to promote my first black-belt. I called my teacher and told him, “None of these guys are as good as me. How can I promote them to the rank of black belt.” He told me, “Judge them on their merits and skill-set, not yours.” That lesson stuck with me for years. I see this when I teach people how to train their dogs, some people don’t really get it, but they are trying. That deserves credit.

I don’t know why it is, but for some reason when it comes to handling and saving dogs there is an amazing amount of ego that gets into the mix. Everyone, dog trainers and rescuers in particular, think that the only right way is THEIR WAY. This is annoying, wrong and it costs animals their lives.

I know, for an example, a friend of mine was denied an adoption of a dachshund (an injured one at that) by a rescue group locally. Now let me explain why this is so ludicrous. This friend of mine is one of the wealthiest people I know, has an impeccable reputation as an animal lover and would have given this dog a fantastic home and has given all of her dogs a great life. The reason she was denied is ridiculous and drives me crazy. I’ve heard over and over of people like this trying to do the right thing and then just saying ‘f*ck it,” and getting a dog somewhere else – often times a (back yard) breeder or pet store. Every time a dog is denied a home because a better home “might” exist down the line, it costs another dog their life in the shelter.

There is an epidemic in our nations shelters and animals are coming in faster than they’re going out. Make no mistake, I’d like every dog to get a perfect home, but more importantly, I don’t want to see animals killed in our shelters… and they are! In large numbers. It’s not that I don’t care – I DO – more than most! I understand that there is no perfect home – but with guidance, trust and help we can give new dog owners the tools to become better dog owners. It’s like a new parent, there is no one who says you can’t have a baby, although some should be told that. Owning a dog is a learning experience and one that changes a person’s life!

There are people who are screened and screened and still turn out to be crappy people to their pets. There is no crystal ball to determine this – we have to go on our guts!  We may occasionally fail, and we have to accept that.

I know when I got my first dog, I didn’t know much and would probably have been turned down by most rescue groups. But I learned. And it is in the spritit of this learning that we need to give people a chance. Am I saying we should give a dog to anyone who asks? NO! I am saying we need to help people along the line of dog ownership and educate them and give them a chance. Every time we give a chance to an adopter, we also give a chance to another dog getting out of the shelter.

Let’s remember that each time we turn down a “potentially” qualified adopter, we see another dog go down in the shelter. This happens because once we move one dog out of a kennel, we can fill that kennel with a dog that would be killed. I’m not saying to give dogs to un-qualified people, I’m saying let’s loosen our stranglehold on qualifications that we “expect” people to have. Believe me, there are many rescues that have very little clue on canine behavior – yet they wield their all knowing – all controlling power. It turns out to be a power-play and their are lives at stake. This pisses me off and I’m on a path to make it right.

In an ideal world (for me) dogs would be very expensive to acquire and people would need to show some knowledge before getting one. However, this world just doesn’t exist. Dogs are easy to get and easy to dump. For this reason a lot of stupid people have dogs. This screws the chances for dogs.  Let’s level the playing field and help more dogs to good home and save more lives!