Reasons why Pet Adoption Applications are rejected

"I entered the kennels and saw him sitting in the corner.  He was staring at me, but was too affraid to come to me.  I slowly approached him and with caution touched his soft furry ears and head.  Our eyes met and I knew I had to save this little soul from a life in a cold and noisy kennel.

After spending some quality time with him, I could not wait to get the paperwork done and take him home with me.  My heart was ready to bring this lost soul to our loving home.

But it was just there where it all ended. 
At first I had to complete the - what felt like - an endless application - and then I had to wait for someone to visit my home.  Minutes became hours, hours became days, and days became weeks.  Finally the phonecall came in:  "Hi there, we are terribly sorry but your application to adopt has been rejected." The thought of that poor doggie still sitting there - waiting for my now empty promises - will haunt me for a very long time.   

I tried to convince them that I will be a good mom and I will take care of him like he was my own flesh and blood.  I called the local counsellor to help me.  I tried the newspapers.  Everyone seemed to stick to the same story:  Rules are Rules.    So, with a broken heart I bought a puppy online.   I named him after the other doggie that I was going to adopt, knowing that we will somehow be together in some cosmic way." - Jenny C.

What is most likely to happen to the family who’s adoption was declined? 

Did they try at another shelter?  Hell no, they just moved on to buy from a breeder.  Like it or not, this is a fact.  

Why do animal shelters decline Pet Adoption applications?

  • Fencing : Animal could get out and get injured (by cars or neighbours’ pets)
  • Yard : Dangerous living conditions – the yard might be filled with debris materials
  • Work Hours: Your working hours mean you will be away from home for too long, leaving the animal to fend for itself is not right.
  • Size of yard and home: The living courters are too small.
  • Children might get hurt, or visa versa.
  • Current Number of Animals:  Too many animals on one property
  • Maturity: You are unable to look after yourself, let alone another animal.
  • Mentalility : Turmoil in the family could lead to a divorce and animal has to be returned to shelter.
  • Affordability : a tough one, but are you able to take care of (that one more animal) if they fall ill?
  • Location: City or rural
  • Are all the other animals sterilised?


What goes throught the mind of the person who's adoption has been declined?

For most people, when they have made up their mind to get a new pet, they are going to get one.  The truth is very real, many people dont care where the dog comes from, as long as it is what they want.  Breeder, shelter, off the street - their needs are fulfilled.  Yes they might first go the 'good samaritan' route and visit their local animal shelter.  So what if the person has 3 or four dogs.  So what if their ten year old dog is not neutered.  So what if they have children.    What does matter is that if they can not get that animal from you or your organisation, they will go and find themselves a dog or cat in a place where no home check or forms need to be filled in.  There are various legal options that can be followed here, like reporting the person, or having their pets confiscated.  Getting abused animals confiscated is hard, let a lone if the people show that they do care.  Let's leave the legal parts out for another conversation.

How can we help a family get their chosen pet adopted and stop them from soliciting a pet online or from a pet shop / back yard breeder?

  • The first and foremost thing to do is that you treat them like you would want to be treated 
  • Get to know the family, their likes, needs and lifestyle.
  • The most important part about getting them the loving animal that they would like to adopt, is to work with the problem.
  • Try and find them a pet that is suitable to their home environment.
  • Help them to make their home fit in with the minimum standards that are enforced upon them.
  • Teach the children to be kind and loving, or give them an animal that will be good with children.
  • Reduce the fee:  While shelter costs are never ending, are you able to (sometimes) consider to reduce the adoption fee or allow that third kitty to get a good home?  Being hard on others is not what this is about, this is about giving both the animals and the people who want to look after them the opportunity to have a life together. 
  • Help with Fencing: Place an advert on social media to ask if anyone can help with the shortfall (or whatever the shortfall might be, someone could be of assistance)

Animal Rescue is not just about the dog or cat, it is also about the humans who rescue the animals, both inside and outside the shelters.  Sometimes people are new to pet ownership and education and guidance is all it takes to get them to become good pet owners.

Have some flexibility, be human again.  I know how much hurt every-day animal rescuers endure every day of their lives.  I now because I will not be able to do what they do, yet I see what they do all the time.

Is it worth being a watch-dog or like a horse with blinkers?

I say the above with caution as none of it is fool proof and we have no control over what is to come their way, even though we try our best to make sure both the animal and the family find each other in a happy ever after outcome.

One story that particularly stood out for me is of an animal rescuer who said: “I turned down an adoption application because the other dog in the house, who was ten years old, was not neutered.”   

What should you do if your adoption application gets rejected:

Talk to the shelter or rescue organisation and discus an option to negotiate towards a solution.  Consider fixing the problem that is standing out.  These special people know what animals are up to long before it has even happened.  Whether it being a dog that will jump a fence or a cat that will cause trouble next door, take their valuable advice.  Please don’t move on to find an animal elsewhere until you are sure you have done your best to meet the needs of basic pet ownership.


Animal Shelters in South Africa   |    Breed Specific Rescues in South Africa



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