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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dear Former Adopter...

Dear Former Adopter,

I wanted to share a brief update sent to our rescue group by Fluffy's adopted family after you returned her with only a few short days in your home:

"Fluffy is doing great! The whole family loves her. This is a picture of her giving my granddaughter kisses. She gets along with our other dog just fine and the cat tolerates her, Fluffy wants to play and she doesn't. I am so happy I found her."

While I am grateful that you wanted to incorporate a rescue dog into your home, and grateful that when it did not work out with this particular dog you returned her to us rather than take her to a local shelter or rescue, I feel your reference to her as being "vicious" is unwarranted.

I apologize for the delay in sending your "refund" check.  On the adoption contract you signed at the time of adoption, you agreed that your adoption fee is considered a donation to assist in the rescue of other animals in need and aid with the expenses of the homeless animals currently in our care. You did not "buy" a dog that day.  You made a donation to a non-profit organization that saves animals lives in a county where there is NO OTHER animal welfare organization. Your donation saves animals lives.  It provides them with their necessary medical care, and provides them with food and shelter until their forever family is fortunate enough to find them and provide for them a loving home for the rest of their lives.

I will bet it is safe to say that you have never argued so vehemently with any other non profit organization to get your donation back.  I cannot imagine anyone arguing so aggressively with the Red Cross or American Heart Association or even the HSUS or ASPCA.  Unlike these groups, we get no governmental funds, no large scale donors, no large grants.  We rely on a small group of dedicated employees, and a small number of volunteers and donors that I can probably count on one hand.  We exist in a town of only 1200 residents.  We are a small town group trying to make a difference and lend a hand to animals and people with no other humane options. 

I am not naïve enough to expect every adoption to go perfectly, and I know that not every animal will fit into every home.  But when you commit to a rescue pet, and sign a contract, you are committing to a rescue pet and signing a contract.  You should be proud to have made a donation as it is a thank you for our efforts. Some days any form of thank you is few or far between.  Your commitment to rescuing a pet means that even if one is not quite right for your family, that you will consider another rescued pet and save the life of the animal that is meant to be with your family despite your struggle to find him/her. There is always trial and error in life.  You likely did not marry the first person you dated. Imagine a world where if a first date did not go well you could get a refund from the restaurant and movie theater for the epic fail.  There is no guarantee of success when you go in for a medical procedure, but everyone hopes for the best possible result.  If the procedure fails or needs to be repeated, the hospital does not issue a refund for the first attempt, and certainly does not perform the second procedure for free.

We no longer take in dogs for adoption.  We will assist animals into other rescues, but Fluffy was one of the last.  Paying clinic staff to care for homeless rescue dogs over weekends and holidays has become too much.  Operating in such a small town has many benefits, but funds are tight, volunteers are cherished but few, and donors are dedicated but limited.

Enjoy your "refund"  I understand you needed  it to place a deposit on a new puppy.  I sincerely hope things go well with your family and that puppy.  If by any chance it does not, I worry.

I worry that if that puppy came from another rescue/shelter that you are going to place the same demands on them regarding your adoption fee should that dog not be the right one for your family. 

I worry that if you went to a pet store or breeder for this puppy, that you may be dealing with a commercial breeder or puppy mill. Iowa is second only to Missouri in the number of large commercial dog breeders, also referred to as puppy mills. I hope you researched any breeder from whom you considered purchasing any puppy.  These facilities routinely do not offer "refund" checks.  They usually require returning your "faulty" puppy for a replacement puppy.  Should this happen, I hope you won't spend too much time wondering where your first puppy went after it was returned.  Google Iowa Puppy Mills and read all about them. You can help Iowa Puppy Mill dogs by joining in the fight against them with the Iowa Friends of Companion Animals.  Read more about puppy mills at Bailing Out Benji.  Visit either website for more information.

If you have researched your breeder well, and they are a small scale, reputable breeder who raises their puppies as part of their family, you will sign a contract with them as well.  They will often take their puppies back to rehome, but again, "refund" checks would be rare as this is a for profit business endeavor. 

I wish you luck with your new family member.  I hope she/he is everything you expect and more... for her/his sake.




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3 comments:

Jennifer Davies said...

Not everyone is a pet lover, that's for sure. I'm glad that dog found a new home just a few weeks later-- it sounds like that's a better placement anyway. There's always a lack of funds when it comes to caring for animals, so professionals as dedicated as you mean even more. Thanks for everything you do. http://montgomeryanimalhospital.com

Mary LaHay said...

You are an amazing writer, Lisa. The animals are lucky to have you on their side. Blessings to you and yours.

Anonymous said...

This is why the group I'm with screens so heavily before letting animals go in their care. While it's easy to "blame" the adoptee for their failure to commit, the responsibility also goes to adoptER to provide properly screened and careful placement. It's so important that animals don't wind up in the middle of bad judgments and commitments.