Are Shelters Making It Hard To Adopt?

Written by: Stephanie Valente

October 10, 2015

Adopting a dog from a rescue or a shelter is a rewarding and fulfilling experience. My pup came from a rescue network, too! I found it to be a smooth and easy process. However, a popular post on Reddit chronicles one poster’s experience in which he found a many adoption road blocks for potential owners who work typical 9-5 jobs.


So we decided to take a look and see if it really is true that shelters make it “difficult” to adopt. BarkPost sat down with Stephanie Shain from the Washington D.C. Humane Society to find out if it’s really true.

So is it true? Are shelters making it hard to adopt?

The short answer is no, but it’s also important to look into why shelters might be denying a potential owner. There are many different shelters and rescue networks out there with various needs and histories.

Additionally, as times change so do the policies of shelter and rescue networks. As Stephanie Shain noted, “Shelters have changed at how they look at adoption. They no longer are looking at that process as someone having to prove themselves as ‘worthy’ for getting a dog.”

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All right, then what can shelters do to support current and future dog owners?

Shain strongly emphasized that all shelters are always “thrilled [when] people want to adopt.” She advised both shelters and potential pup parents to be open with the personalities and needs of each specific animal. This helps create a successful match for each adoption search.

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So what can potential adopters to do to support dog ownership?

This is all about having happy, positive, and communicative relationships between potential owners and rescues from the get-go. Rescue networks always want past, present, and future adopters to feel connected to rescues and shelters. For instance, when owners stay in touch with their pup’s former rescue or shelter with follow-up photos, letters, and updates, it helps the entire community. Likewise, getting involved with adoption events and supporting your local shelter can do wonders for pups and humans alike.

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Also keep in mind: Just like humans have unique personalities, so do dogs.

Each pup has his or her own individual needs that may go beyond routine care and exercise. People should be on the look-out for rescues and networks that best represent their interests and lifestyle. More so, when shelters and rescues are able to communicate what potential adoptable pups need, the new owners feel secure, happy, and prepared.

Another thing Shain noted for us is that there are many types of dog owners in this world, and shelters are evolving to be flexible with different needs. As she put it, “Just because someone doesn’t want the dog to sleep in bed with them, doesn’t mean they’re not a good owner.”

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Will a shelter turn a person down because they don’t have the “perfect” lifestyle?

No, and the point is that there are many wonderful organizations and rescues that are looking for owners just like, well, YOU. Sure, you may have to do a little extra effort to find the perfect fit, but in the end, it’s worth it.

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Additionally, really think about the kind of dog you want and whether he/she will be conducive with your lifestyle. For example, if a person is looking into bringing a puppy home, consider hiring a dog walker or asking friends, family, and/or neighbors to lend a helping paw to walk the dog during work hours.

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How can someone adopt a dog even if they have x, y, z obligations? Or, if the dog has a very specific need?

It’s not about saying no to an adoption. Instead think of it as a time for people and organizations to get creative. Reach out to your community network, trainers, vets, friends, and relatives.

Shain provided this fantastic insight as well: “Sometimes, all we need to do is brainstorm to fill an animal’s need and if that person really wants that pet, we can work around that.”

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It’s also important for both sides to come from a place of compassion and hope. Some would-be adopters, like the Reddit commenter, might feel a culture of judgement from staff, that no dog owner could be good or perfect enough. Conversely, some shelters might feel that people don’t recognize how overworked they feel, as the drain of constantly trying to place dogs in good homes can take its toll.

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However, we know that both sides can benefit from looking past pre-conceived judgements. There are many wonderful and loving types of dog owners out there. When both the adopter and the organization look at each other with compassion, it helps everyone.

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I want to close the article with an important truth we gleaned from our talk with Shain: “Please don’t judge all shelters and rescues based on one experience.”

In short, don’t be daunted, your pawfect pup is out there, and the right organization is waiting for you! Just go out and look. 🙂

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Follow The Washington D.C. Humane Society on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, You Tube, Instagram. If you’re looking for a forever buddy, check out Bark Buddy, for pups that need loving homes!

H/t via Reddit

Featured image via @bestfriendsanimalsociety and

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Written by: Stephanie Valente

October 10, 2015

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