So many rescue dogs are returned to shelters! Where does the problem lie? Is it the dogs or is it the people who adopt them? Wake County Animal Center kept meticulous records! The problem, it seems, lies squarely with society. It is not the dogs – they simply want to love and be loved!
Most dog lovers would never leave their dogs behind. Most of us cannot comprehend why dogs are returned to shelters – or why dogs land up in shelters in the first place.
How can anyone say no to a dog’s love? When a true dog lover looks into a dog’s eyes, they see a living, loving being, but apparently there are many out there who don’t!
If society is to be judged on how we treat our creatures, we are not doing a good job! More and more dogs are treated as a consumable and thrown out with the trash! It’s just not right!
Since 2010, nearly 1,000 animals have been returned to the Wake County Animal Center in Raleigh – some of these animals were returned as many as four times.
Grace, Max, Charlie and Xerox are four of those returnees. Grace smelled bad. Charlie was too affectionate. Max liked to kill chickens. Xerox humped pillows.
To the people who returned these animals like a “no longer wanted plaything,” we say: “Give Grace a bath.” – “Learn how to be affectionate from Charlie.” – “Accept Max’s natural instincts and make a better plan.” – “What? Your pillows are more important than Xerox? Please!”
Each time a pet is brought back, the shelter employees ask the owner what went wrong and record the reason in a computer system.
WRAL News reviewed five years of shelter’s logs, which are all public record.
Shelter director Jennifer Federico checked some of the cases with them and often shook her head as she scanned the files.
“This one, this one killed me,” she said. “We had one person return an animal because it got too big. I’m like, ‘We told you it was a Mastiff mix.'”
The most common reasons for returning pets were along the lines of “the animals didn’t get along with the family or had too much energy”.
Other reasons give were more unique and rather ridiculous. Here are just a few:
- In 2010, a family returned a Labrador Retriever named Papi because they “thought it was a Chihuahua.”
- Jax, a Rat Terrier, was returned three times. The first time because the man’s “wife said no.”
- In 2010, a Beagle named Sam was sent back after he failed to serve a specific duty for the owner: “Dog was adopted to run deer out of the yard … doesn’t.”
- Last year, Luca, a Golden Retriever, was returned when the owners realized he was afraid of planes. “And they live on flight path!” a staffer wrote.
- McQueen, an American Staffordshire Terrier, tried to attack the owner’s mother-in-law “twice.”
As ludicrous and suspect as these reasons are, they do seem to indicate that about 10% of the population are simply incapable of loving and caring for animals!
At the Wake County Animal Center, adopters have three days to return their adopted pets for any reason and 21 days to return it if the pet has a medical condition for a full refund.
“With returns, what frustrates me is, you didn’t check with your apartment complex? Your landlord? Something?” Federico said. “Be responsible … At the end of the day, we’d rather have the animals returned to us, but it’s stressful for that animal to be here, to go home, be in a new environment two days, come back. I mean, you’re disrupting that poor pet’s life, and you could’ve just done your homework.”
Despite the sea of fickle-minded people, there are still lots of serious, loving and responsible adopters.
Roommates Marissa Piner and DoriaZarfaty certainly knew what they’re in for when they walked into the Wake County Animal Center in December 2012. They also knew who they were looking for: a German Shepherd named Freedo. They had spotted the male pooch on the shelter’s website.
What they didn’t know is that Freedo had been repeatedly returned to the shelter.
Freedo and a Collie, named Jack, hold the record for being returned the most times since 2010 – four times each. The shelter staff broke the news to the would-be adopters.
“They told us up front. It made us a little nervous. But when we saw his face, we were like, he has to get out of here,” Piner said. “They said he needed someone taking a chance on him. They were pretty sure he had possibly been abused. They really wanted us to be patient with him. I couldn’t imagine taking him back there.”
Despite Freedo’s past, they adopted the German Shepherd and renamed him “Ace” after one of Piner’s favorite movies, “Ace Ventura.”
Piner and Zarfaty immediately noticed serious problems with Ace.
While on walks, Ace snarled at people who approached him. He also became aggressive at home and tried to bite friends who came over. Ace is also scared of loud noises. He is so terrified he pees himself.
“Yeah, it’s been a struggle,” said Zarfaty. “He’s very difficult, but I love him to death.”
Ace also earned the nickname “Houdini” because he’s a master at escaping from his crate. When he fails to escape, he whines uncontrollably.
“There were a couple times we thought, ‘We can’t take him back there (to the shelter). Do we have any friends with a backyard?'” Piner said.
The roommates asked the help of dog trainers, some of whom suggested they put Ace down if he was biting people.
But the friends continued working on his behavior. They are very determined to keep him.
“He’s calmed down a lot. I think I’ve learned to control him and control the situation more,” Zarfaty said.
They’ve now moved into separate apartments but Piner still visits Ace, who lives with Zarfaty.
They encourage anyone thinking about adopting an animal to be prepared.
“Make sure it’s something you’re 100 percent ready for,” Piner said. “He will probably come with some issues. Be prepared to give that dog a chance. You can’t just give it a week.”
“Stick with it,” Zarfaty added. “It’s worth it when they snuggle up to you and cuddle at your feet.”
Ace’s story has a happy ending! The lucky dog found loving pet parents who were prepared to go the extra mile, but it seems they are few and far between.
Problem dogs do exist, but if you ask how they became problem dogs, you will inevitably find a human being in the process.
Only a small percentage of shelter dogs have problems! The majority are loving, wonderful creatures looking for love and companionship.
How about you? Would you even consider giving up on your Lab?