Ellen and the Dog Adoption

Much has been posted online for the past 2 days about Ellen Degeneres and the dog adoption gone bad. I found this on and I think it's worth posting again if you haven't seen it. Forgive the double posting, as I would have included it earlier had I found it then.

Mutts and Mom has chosen to temporarily inactivate their website on because their email inbox and voice mail are overwhelmed. Petfinder has 11,000 shelters and rescue groups posting over 260,000 pets that need homes. We do not dictate the adoption policies of our members. We do work with them to educate their volunteers and hope to professionalize the industry as a whole, providing a positive experience for adopters. Petfinder advocates for all parties: the pets, the adopters, and the shelter and rescue group workers and volunteers.

Pet Return Policies

Many shelters and rescue groups insist, through their adoption agreements, that if a pet cannot stay with his adoptive family, the adopters must return him to the group. Why do they do this?

Between 500,000 and 1 million pets adopted from shelters and rescue groups find themselves homeless and in the shelter once again.

One foster mom said it best, "I found the dog on the street, starving. I nursed her back to health. She slept in my bed. I sang her back to sleep when she had nightmares when she first came to me. Then I adopted her to a wonderful family. A year later, I got a call from animal control because she was at the shelter and she was going to be euthanized. The family had gotten divorced and she ended up on death row!"

This too-common experience leads rescue groups and shelter to put strict policies in place governing what happens if the adoption doesn't work out. In effect, the rescue group and shelters are promising to always be there as a safety net for the pets. This can be very comforting to adopters.

Finding a New Home for Your Pet

Some pet parents, who have the best intentions for their pets, feel that they can do a better job of finding a new home for their beloved pet than a shelter or rescue group. Their rationale is that they know their pet best, they can keep it in their home until the perfect new home is found, and they can help ease the transition for the pet. Often times, this is a natural transition - a family member, trusted friend, or a colleague gets to know the pet, falls in love, and the ownership of the pet is unofficially transferred to them.

This is a controversial point of view, even amongst shelters and rescue groups who may feel that they have more experience identifying pitfalls and risk factors when identifying new families. Research, however, suggests that there is no difference in the success rates of the adoptions between organizations that screen heavily versus those that have more open adoption policies.

It also bears noting that shelters and rescue groups, understandably, want to keep in contact with new families to be able to lend their support and continue to get updates about the pets they cared for. So we have two groups, the shelter and the pet parents, who both want what is best for the pet, but who may have very different points of view. The silver lining is that everyone really wants the best home possible for the pet. If we could ensure that same future for all the pets available on, our job would be accomplished.

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