How Rescues Are Failing Our Homeless Animals & Supporting Breeders

How Rescues Are Failing Our Homeless Animals & Supporting Breeders

This post is meant to be my personal thoughts and experiences with adopting a rescue dog. It is NOT an attack or reflective of all rescues – I personally know some amazing rescues that are fair and ethical in their placements and do not have such strict policies – they just did not have a good match for my family at this time.


I have been in the rescue/shelter world for many years – I have photographed adoptable dogs and cats, I have volunteered at fundraisers, I have donated time to build websites and I have spent time being a part of various adoption marketing campaigns like this calendar fundraiser. I love doing these things and always enjoyed being a part of this world.

I knew overall there were a lot of kinks in the rescue system and I had seen stories of potential adopter frustrations with rescues – but now, I have first hand experience with rescues as a potential adopter and what I am seeing is definitely not a good thing for our homeless pets.

For almost 14.5 years I have had 2 dogs that we adopted in 2001 from our local SPCA – back then I did not even know “rescues” existed. I had seen an ad somewhere for the SPCA and just went there to find our fur kids.

Ginger & Riley were litter mates and we fell head over heels in love with them the moment we saw them. We had just moved into our first house and we had never owned dogs before. Even as a kid, I never had dogs. But I knew I was ready!

We went to the front desk of the SPCA stated we wanted to adopt 2 puppies. They gave us an application – asked for personal references (which they did check) an adoption fee and about an hour later we were on our way with our new fur kids.


Fast forward 15 years. My girls Ginger & Riley have both moved on to Rainbow Bridge. They passed within 7 months of each other and my heart aches for them everyday, but I know they would want me to help another fur friend. So, I started my search for a new family member – maybe 2 if we found the right fit.


This is where things get interesting – and upsetting for me. I swore I wanted to support a rescue – and I picked a few to specifically look for dogs since I was already familiar with them and knew they were good and reputable rescues. There are a few other rescues in this article that I did not have any affiliation with as well but saw dogs with them that were interesting to me.

I look on Facebook everyday for potential dogs to bring home.

I note the ones I am interested in and do more research to find out additional information about those that seem to be a fit. (Yes, I do MY homework before I even contact the rescues – I read comments, look at web pages, PetFinder and any other resource to learn more about the dog and the rescue themselves if I am not familiar with them.)

Then, if I find I am interested in a dog I go back to Facebook and leave a comment on the pets post stating my interest- and follow up with an email if they have an email or website.

I did that THREE times this week – THREE different dogs – THREE different rescue groups.

You know how many responses I received either through Facebook or email. ZERO. NADA. NILCH.

Now let me say – I get it, they are busy – I have seen it first hand. New cats, new dogs, vet bills, transportation, adoptions, fosters – yes, there is a lot of work to do.

Rescues are usually run by volunteers – women and men who have full time jobs and families and animals of their own. I GET IT. But I strongly believe responding to a potential adopters inquiry be one of the top tasks on a long list?

Shouldn't responding to potential adopters be a priority to get animals OUT of their care? Click To Tweet

Even a “hey we are busy but will get back to you” email would be great. Or a “hey that pooch is no longer available how about this dog instead who is similar to what you are looking for”. Or even “hey you suck go away”. GIVE ME SOMETHING.

On a side note: I also tried to help a friend who is looking to adopt a Shiba Inu – they are experienced owners who can offer an amazing home. I reached out to 2 different rescues about available Shiba’s – did not get a response from either and neither did the interested owners.

Now we will move on to the FOURTH rescue I reached out to. This was a dog I REALLY thought might be the absolute perfect match so I jumped right on their website and submitted an online application for her.

Now let me preface that this is a BIG rescue and I know they do amazing work. This is NOT AT ALL a bash on them – it is just about bringing awareness to some big issues in this process – and no, I will not mention any names.

So let’s begin on the application that has over 100 questions, yes I actually counted them – I stopped at 100.

The field I had the most trouble with was the Drivers License number field. There should be no reason for me to have to give such personal information on an initial application ….. but I did. (When I later told them about my issues with their process and privacy concerns they noted the DL was not required – although on the form it is marked as required. They also let me know they process over 1500 applications a year and have few people complain about these issues, so clearly I am not the norm, although my FB friends tell me I am the norm.)

So I submit the super long application and wait.

Surprisingly, someone got back to me the same day – welcomed me to the rescue and sent along ANOTHER form for me to complete – they are really nice! But seriously, you need more than what those 100 questions can provide?

So I open the attachment and here are some of the questions:

  1. Because I am self-employed they may have to see my tax return – yeah, um no way!
  2. They need my husbands employer and contact name and number to verify employment – um no way!
  3. Because we own a home they require a copy BOTH of our drivers license numbers and utility bill.

OK, I get it – you need to do your due diligence. But you know what, there is NO REASON to need any of my financial documents. If you are not the IRS, my mortgage company or my accountant – you are not touching it in this day and age of fraud and theft.

Oh, and if you take maybe 10 minutes, you can look us up online. You can look on LinkedIn to verify our employment. You can look on Facebook to see our lifestyle and how we live – and even jump on Twitter to see what we enjoy tweeting about. You can even check to verify if we actually own the home where we live – it is public record!

Then there are our references we supplied and the vet to whom I have paid probably over 5K dollars in the last year to care for our senior girls and get them cremated and brought home with us.

They stated that “financial stability” is why they ask for these things. Seriously? Call my vet. That is proof of my “financial stability”.

I also had a FB friend write this on my post about this issue with this reply which I thought was a great point – and she is also very active in animal rescue:

“…but I’ve seen some financially stable people, not turn out to be the best adopters and the ones that may be living pay check to pay check, are awesome and provide everything they can for their babies. Point is, financially stable doesn’t guarantee anything. Id be looking into other things besides that.”

So there is a lot more to consider than how much money I make – which is really none of a rescues business.

So instead of doing their own bit of research and reaching out to my references – they lost a great adopter for a dog who has been in foster for almost a year. Who suffers? The dog and the dogs that are all missing opportunities for families because of these crazy requirements.

Then there is the FIFTH rescue I reached out to.

Another dog that I really thought may be right for us, although the dog from rescue FOUR above was my first pick – this one was a close second. But this was a rescue I had no familiarity with — so my guard was up.

Their application was MUCH less annoying – only about 30 or so questions and nothing overly personal. It was a good application process. Although I am realizing how frustrating it is to have to complete an application for EVERY rescue. There needs to be a simpler way.

I was emailed back the next day.

I was declined right away because I only have a 4 foot chain link fence securing my yard. Yes – because I wanted a pit bull, they require a 6 foot wood fence, you know because pit bulls are such great climbers on chain link fences. Really? Even though I clearly noted I would not leave them un-attended on my application? Even though I have lived in my home for 8 years with my 2 pit bull girls and not once did they ever get out.

Then there is the SIXTH rescue I WANTED to reach out to.

But I did not because of this line on their application:

“By signing this application we understand that XXXXX Rescue has the right at any time to visit the home of the adopter to ensure the dog is well cared for and still in the home.”

Ummm…….no……..not…..never! I will send you a video if you ask, but you will not police my home.

This one was the strangest in my opinion. I emailed an inquiry about a dog who was said to be kid and cat friendly to a rescue and they responded right away with information and wanted to know if the dog would ever be around children. I advised that my daughter is 13 and that occasionally we have friends with toddlers over – but day to day it is just my daughter.

We were DENIED.

I responded back asking why – but have yet to receive a response.




Yeah I know, it sounds like a stretch – but it is the truth. I have been doing some research to see just how big an issue this is, I mean I knew there were issues but I never imagined it was as big as it is. I have seen so many get turned down by so many rescues and even shelters – that they just went to a breeder or pet store where they can buy a dog in less than a half hour.

These are just a few of the comments I found from just one article:

“I tried for 18 months to adopt a dog when I moved to New Jersey. I already had a dog, who was happy and healthy who I’ve had for 11 years, but I wanted a companion for him while I worked all day. Every single agency said they couldn’t let me have a dog because the dog would be home alone all day. I tried to explain that no, they wouldn’t be alone…they would have a companion there in my dog. When I told them I had to work to support myself AND my dog, they just denied the applications. So I bought a dog from a private seller.”

“So after 1-1/2 years I gave up and bought my second dog from a private seller. She is, believe it or not, exactly as healthy and happy as my older dog!”

I’m getting very fed up with rescue organizations and will probably end up buying from a breeder though it’s the last thing I want to do. By all means, check out the adopters, but be a little realistic.”

“This is spot on for our animal shelter. We tried to adopt a dog about two months ago and we were denied. Their reason was because we have a 12 year old dog that isn’t spayed and we work during the day. We really wanted another dog so we bought a puppy instead.”

Even people like Nathan Winograd have seen firsthand the difficulties in finding a rescue dog when he was denied because he did not have a doggie door. Really? I would think most would NOT want you to have a doggie door.

So you have a man who has dedicated his life to animal welfare reform – you have me who has lovingly cared for her own and spent countless hours helping homeless animals – aren’t we the type of people rescues WANT?

When people who are active in rescue have trouble adopting, there is a big issue! Click To Tweet


Well, clearly rescuing a dog is a process that I am already frustrated with and I am only a week in. Next week I will be going to several shelters to visit some dogs and expect a much less stressing and intrusive experience. Two of the shelters I plan to visit I already know people there and assure me due diligence is done in prospective adopters – but it is not as intrusive as I have seen in rescues.

Because of my strong no buy attitude – I of course will not resort to a pet store or breeder, but if I was not so involved in rescue – I probably would.


I know this was long but I wanted to give a full picture of what I dealt with in the last week.

But here it is in a nutshell:
1) Reached out to 3 rescues via email or FB about potential dogs I am interested in – got no response from any.
2) Rescue 4 I submitted an application that had over 100 fields – I was responded to the same day with ANOTHER form to complete asking for financials, job references and other personal details.
3) Rescue 5 – denied because of chain link fence.
4) Rescue 6 – wants to come to my house whenever they want to visit the dog after adoption.
5) Rescue 7 – denied because I “sometimes” had kids over even though the dog I wanted was listed as dog friendly.

Reasons people get turned down for dogs that I have seen that seem extreme:
1) Lack of fence – one women noted she had 150 acres, how do you fence that?
2) Children in the home – most homes have kids this is blocking a lot of adoptions. If a dog says KID friendly then there should be an adoption allowed.
3) Existing pet is not neutered – this is mostly an education issue – if a rescue can educate a potential adopter and just make sure the pet they adopt is neutered, what is the problem? Many first time dog owners do no even know the benefits of neutering.
4) Requisite of a doggy door – like Nathan above where the rescue noted the dog should have the ability to go in and out at whim
5) Someone will not be home full time – Most people do have to work – and how will adopters afford a dog if they do not work. Most dogs do fine home alone – and many people will even bring in a dog walker. So you would rather have a dog languish in a shelter or boarding than have them in a home where the parents work?


The rescue world needs a big shape up if there is ever going to be a chance to get dogs into homes. I UNDERSTAND wanting every dog in a “PERFECT” home, but it is rare to find a perfect home. How about we just find good homes?

By blocking people for what you “think” is a good reason – is just preventing great adopters from getting dogs they want and taking the easy route and buying a puppy.

Here are a few more threads I came across where people had similar issues – this is just a really small sampling:



Have you had an experience like mine?

Do you agree or disagree that we need some change in the world of rescue?

Circus Animal Cruelty Awareness Ad Campaigns

Circus Animal Cruelty Awareness Ad Campaigns

Circuses – kids love them, animal lovers hate them. We know the abuse most of these animals go through and we hate seeing wild animals stuck in cages only to be used for our personal entertainment. Although it seems we are beginning to see change in this industry – we still have a long way to go.

Circuses take place all over the world – and we recently came across some fantastic awareness campaigns that we hope have touched people in a way that will help them understand the plight of the circus animal and to stop supporting this abuse! While some circuses have begun removing animals from their circuses – we still have a long way to go in educating and letting others know that these horrible acts are still happening all over the world.

Below are some of our favorite campaigns that really invoke emotion and get the message out loud and clear!




The Animals are Not Clowns campaign images features the following text on each of their designs:

“Roll up, roll up, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls for the crack of the whip against the animal’s stinging wounds. A big round of applause for the flaming hoops, the injuries and the electric shocks. Come and see the famed number of cages and tightly binding chains allowing no escape from endless training sessions. Laugh, applaud and join in with the repetitive choreographed routines typical of depressed animals under great stress. All the fun of the circus travelling from city to city exhibiting animals as human caricatures. Clowning around that’s no fun at all. Animal circuses, don’t be part of the show.”  *credit for this campaign goes to: Accao Animal and Liga Portuguesa dos Direitos do Animal


The Elephant text:

“Every Ticket you buy means this for the elephant. Heavily chained and confined in small cages, elephants are let out only when it’s time to train. Barbed hooks are used to painfully teach them how to do entertaining tricks, like standing on their hind legs. This odd body position combined with their weight causes joint and spinal injuries, ruptured ligaments and in some cases, paralysis.”  

The Monkey text:

“Every Ticket you buy means this for the monkey. They have to be beaten, punished, starved and subjected to horrifying psychological abuse to teach them a few new tricks. Trainers will do what it takes to get a monkey to ride a bicycle and other amusing acts. Worse than the physical pain, the kind of extreme mental stress the monkey suffers have driven may of them to the point of insanity.”  

The Tiger text:

“Every Ticket you buy means this for the tiger. They get their fangs and claws pulled out. Usually without any anesthetic. After that, the torturous lessons of learning routines like jumping through fiery hoops. If they are lucky, the only get scarred and burnt. Severe cases have seen tigers end up blind or with broken legs where they remain untreated and left to fester.”  


There are circuses that you can attend that do not use animals in their performances that are just as good — if not better than a traditional circus!

Born Free USA has a great list of circuses that do not use animals in their events so please visit their website for an updated list to find out where you can support groups that care about animals welfare!

The Human Walking Program

The Human Walking Program

Every shelter understands the difficulties in finding enough help to walk, care for and socialize the animals in their care. With many dogs being caged for up to 23 hours a day – it can often bring on issues that may make it more difficult to get adopted. The more socialized a dog can be – the better chances they have of finding and being successful in their forever home.

The Lost Dogs Home created a “Human Walking Program” that will uses their adoptable dogs to help you get out of your hum drum life in the corporate world. They reach out to local office workers on specific days and invite them to be walked by one of their pooches that are currently up for adoption. This is a total WIN WIN! Imagine spending your lunch hour having dogs brought to you to spend time with – to love on and to give a much needed break from the confines of a cage.

But what does it do for you? It makes you smile, gets you outside to get some fresh air (yes we know most of you eat at your desk while you you are working) – and you get to meet a new pet and possibly your soul mate!

Here are a few of their printed campaign flyers as well as a video!

Human Walking Program

Human Walking Program

Human Walking Program



The Real Cost of The Dog You Just Bought!

The Real Cost of The Dog You Just Bought!

So you want a puppy – that is GREAT! There is nothing like a puppy to bring a new sense of excitement, love and happiness to a home. You run to a local or online pet store to pick out just the perfect pooch. In the pet store you see cages filled with the cutest happiest puppies ever —- online you see pictures of adorable pups frolicking in the grass or enjoying a nap in a beautiful home.

You pick out your puppy, pay hundreds or thousands of dollars – and then get home and begin to live your life together…..

…….but what is the real cost of purchasing that puppy from a pet store?

Roughly 90% of puppies in pet stores come from puppy mills! #dontshopadopt Click To Tweet

First – we have the costs.

Pet stores can pay as little as $75 per puppy from a puppy mill – and they then turn around and charge you sometimes thousands of dollars.

Second – the parents of these puppies are living lives of misery and suffering.

Stop Buying Dogs So We Can Stop Puppy MillsThink about this for a life:

  • Never seeing the outside of a cage or crate
  • Being kept with several other dogs every moment of your life in a 2’x2′ box – often fighting because of the stress and suffering
  • If you are a female you are bred EVERY cycle until you can no longer reproduce and then you are murdered – sometimes in horrific ways
  • No healthcare ever, if you get hurt – you suffer, you are just a product
  • Love? What is that?
  • Never enjoying a roll in the grass or a glimpse of the sun
  • Some of you will never experience fresh air – you will live in feces filled cages and boxes until you die

This is the reality for puppy mill dogs and their puppies!

So, what does this mean to you – the purchaser of a puppy?

  1. Because of the significant filth and horrific conditions they are born in – puppies often arrive to pet stores very sick.
  2. Congenital issues are greatly increased in puppy mill puppies because of improper breeding practices. Sisters and brothers can be reproducing, dogs that are sick can be reproducing – breeders do not care, it is all about the money.
  3. Puppies are often removed from the parents way before it is recommended which can result in major behavioral issues.
  4. Diseases such as Parvo, Epilepsy, Respiratory issues and so many more are often associated with puppy mill puppies. They are costly to treat and can often lead to death.

We hope you have seen enough to reconsider ever purchasing a dog — but if you need more, then consider the below news reports.

Here is a partial list of 2015 puppy mill rescues so you can see the tremendous work involved and how rampant this issue is. These are the same places that pet stores and many “breeders” get their puppies from. If you visit a breeder who shows you a clean house and a beautiful puppy — you still do not know if they have another facility where these dogs are actually kept, you really need to do your due diligence!

When you buy a puppy this is what you are supporting:

Tonopah, AZ – 129 dogs saved, November 2015

Licensed breeder – 74 dogs saved, Macon GA – September 2015

Kankakee, IL – 80 dogs saved, April 2015

Clewiston, FL – 100 dogs saved, November 2015

Manhattan, NY – 10 dogs saved, February 2015  ( yes, this is a big city issue as well)

Choctaw, AL – 130 dogs saved, March 2015

Los Angeles area, CA – almost 200 dogs saved, February 2015

Oscoda County, MI – 50 dogs saved, December 2015

Warm Springs, AR – 46 dogs and 11 other animals saved, February 2015

Want proof of where these puppies wind up? Yep, we have sources for that too.

Furry Babies Pet Store Faces Lawsuit For Selling Sick Puppy Mill Puppies – Chicago, IL

Fancy Pups Owner Charged With Animal Abuse & Neglect – Avenel, NJ

Petland – reviews and stories of sick puppies

Elite Puppies in MA closed – read the complaints of sick animals they sold


The Vice president of the ASPCA Field Investigation and Response, Tim Rickey, released the following statement during the Clewiston, FL rescue.

“… Many people are unaware that most puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills, and that buying pet store puppies indirectly supports these facilities,” Rickey said. “While the puppies are sold for profit, their parents are kept at these mills for years, subjected to incessant breeding and a very poor quality of life. Our goal is to remove these dogs from a life of neglect, help them become healthy and eventually find them safe and loving homes.”

Here is a video from a 2011 puppy mill bust – it is important to be aware of how these dogs are kept and treated. This is just a typical example of a puppy mill — many are even much worse than this one. But to really understand the level of abuse in puppy mills – not only to the parents, but to the puppies they will be selling, everyone should watch this video.

And if local pet stores are not bad enough – now we have “internet puppy stores”.

This is even worse because you are buying without seeing or knowing anything about where your dog will be coming from. Read the consumer affairs reports on some of the online brokers and you can see the many issues that often occur when buying a puppy online. – 2 star rating

Internet Puppies – 1 star rating (seems like this is a catch all for a lot of online websites)

Where Do I Get A Puppy Then?

Great question! We will follow up with a future post on more in depth options for finding purebred puppies if that is really what you want. (Personally we love mutts!) – but we understand that some do want specific breeds.

But here are a few quick resources:
  1. Breed specific rescues – very often they can find or may even have puppies for adoption. If you can be patient, ask them to contact you as soon as some puppies become available. Just search “the breed you want rescue” to find rescues local to you.
  2. Shelters – yes, shelters can often find you and may even have puppies! All you need to do is ask.
  3. Veterinarians – ask veterinarians for referrals for breeders. If a breeder is taking their dogs to the vet, it is a great sign they care more about the dogs than the profit!
Puppies are not products! #puppymill Click To Tweet

I Am Crying and Want To Help – What Can I Do?

Puppies Are Not Product TankYAY! Well, we are sorry we made you cry of course but are thrilled you care enough to help. We sincerely believe a majority of people who are still buying dogs do not know about puppy mills. (Even the owner of CharityPaws has bought animals in the past – until she learned about the horrible practices).

Only through education can we make change – the laws are not as strict as most animals would like and it can take years to even take down a puppy mill legally. So it is up to US to educate everyone we know — if we can each change 1 mind – we can take down the puppy mills by removing the need for them to reproduce!

Contact your federal legislators and let them know how you feel about puppy mills! Attend local events and share information and talk to people – let them know this is a big issue!

Eventually, we hope every puppy mill will be removed and we can have licensed and inspected breeders so dogs can be safe, happy and healthy!


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