Is This Legal By Rescues?

Emily Yoffe's Cavalier King Charles, Lily (Courtesy of Emily Yoffe)

Emily Yoffe’s Cavalier King Charles, Lily (Courtesy of Emily Yoffe)

If you’ve adopted a pet lately, perhaps you’re like many Americans who feel the right way to do that is to get an animal from a shelter or pet rescue group. But Slate contributor Emily Yoffe says “[t]he grilling you get for wanting to take in a homeless animal makes being strip-searched by the TSA seem like a holiday.”

Yoffe, who writes the popular “Dear Prudence” advice column for, mentioned her frustrating experience with pet adoption in one of her weekly online chats. A longtime pet lover and owner, she wanted to adopt a second rescue dog and found the lengthy application forms and rigorous screening process frustrating.

“There are incredibly intrusive questions,” Yoffe told Here & Now’s Robin Young. “‘Do you plan to have children in the next 10 years?’ Now, the rescuers will say, well, some dogs don’t do well with children, but normally one doesn’t ask strangers about their reproductive choices over the next decade.”

“The woman who ran the rescue at the last minute said, ‘You know, I can’t give you this dog… Because you have an Irish accent.. [and] the dog has never heard anything but American accents.’ ”

–Emily Yoffe, Slate columnist

Yoffe said that each application form could be 40 to 60 questions, and after filling out several, she ended up going to a breeder and purchasing Lily, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Yoffe received dozens of letters from readers who had similarly frustrating experiences with pet adoption. She heard from a would-be pet owner who was rejected because she was over 60 years old, even though she had a daughter who promised to take care of the cat if anything happened to her.

Yoffe also heard from someone whose kitchen floor was too slippery, and one who couldn’t adopt a greyhound unless she already had an adopted greyhound. One of her favorite emails was from a woman who was rejected by a setter rescue group.

“The woman who ran the rescue at the last minute said, ‘You know, I can’t give you this dog.’ ” Yoffe said. “Why? ‘Because you are from Ireland, you have an Irish accent, your fiance is South African, he has a South African accent, the dog has never heard anything but American accents and this is going to be very confusing.’ This is craziness!”

Yoffe says pet rescue groups are looking for the absolute perfect homes for the animals they care for, and in the screening process are preventing dogs and cats from going to good homes. But rescue groups counter that they are looking for homes that will be the best fit for the animal. Barbara Osgood, a volunteer with Lab Rescue of the Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac, in Virginia, says that her group does not “try to ‘screen out people.’”

“We work to find the right match between dog and family,” she said. 

Well, let’s see. So if I had a Hispanic accent, Japanese accent, or Russian accent, then I might not make the cut.  If I had too many steps to my yard, or if I had loud music that might be the wrong kind, or if I had hard floors with vinyl, or no carpet, or too much carpet, or no kitchen with a separate area for dog, or no couch that I would let the dog on (or any furniture for that matter) or if I would not prefer the dog to sleep in or on the bed, or I would not want to buy the food that costs $55 per bag as opposed to less expsensive brand, or if I was to go to the  generic type of vet (meaning inside Petco type) and not a specialist, or if I was not going to behavior train the dog because I can do it myself, should I be excluded????


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