Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Don't Threaten Me with Buying a Pet

Threatening a rescue worker that you'll just go buy a pet is offensive, shameful, and really quite childish. Over 200 pets a day die in Atlanta, about 4 MILLION a year in the US. Most of us who work in rescue do this for free. We hold down regular 40+ hour a week jobs, and spend our free time and any extra dollars we can save trying to save pets from dying in shelters or on the streets.

AARF recently had a young Siamese cat, Cassanova, for adoption. We don't have a preference for pure breed pets. Anyone who has followed AARF for any length of time knows this. He just happened to need placement, and we just happened to have space.

As you can imagine, we received several applications for him. People seemed to appear out of nowhere, desperate to adopt Cassanova and insisting they and their families had already fallen in love with them. (Remember, at this point in the process, no one had actually met Cassanova).

When Cassanova found his family, and I let all of the adopters know that he had been adopted and wished them the best of luck on finding a new addition to their family, I received this response:

"Congratulations to the new family.

This process really is sounding more like a government project and less like a pet adoption. Our back-up plan is to swipe the debit card at the local pet store. We'll have our new Siamese cat in a matter of minutes without all of the red tape.


I can't tell you how many times we get this response, this tantrum.

Let me tell you something else about this adopter. He has an unneutered male dog, and was irritated that we asked why he wasn't neutered. He didn't seem to think that an unaltered dog was any kind of problem, and plainly told me so.

It's amazing how many people want to lash out at me, at us, at rescuers, because they can't get the pet they want right now. And he hadn't even met Cassanova. Why isn't his back-up plan to go to the county shelter and get a cat? Or to meet another cat available for adoption? I actually really love Siamese cats, and have a few that were overlooked at the shelter. They are not in the greatest health and have some socialization issues. But I also really love the "regular" cats - the tabbies, the tuxedos, the black cats, and the hodge-podge cats. Why are they any less deserving of a good home and a second chance.?

If a potential adopter has a tantrum and threatens to buy a pet, it never has the effect I think they hope for. I don't want to rush out and find them a pet. I never feel guilty that they didn't get to adopt. In fact, I feel the opposite. I worry about the puppy or kitten mill pet they buy from a backyard breeder or an unethical pet store. How long before that pet is sick, or pees on the floor, or scratches the furniture, or simply becomes a chore?

I know they'll find us again then. And they'll throw another tantrum about how we won't take that pure breed dog or cat with papers.