It wasn’t so long ago that I was on the receiving end of a shelter application. We had decided to adopt three cats from our local humane society, and it was time for the paperwork.
The application was at least two pages, maybe three. It asked about our living situation: Do we own or rent? Who lives in the house? How many kids, and how old are they? Is everyone in the house on board with adopting?
Then, it asked about pet care. Where would the cats sleep? How much time alone would they spend each day? How do we discipline? Did we have a vet? Would we declaw? We were asked about past pets and where they were now. If they were no longer living, the application asked what happened.
Last, there were some theoretical questions. What happens to the pet if we move? Have another child?
When all was said and done, we were approved, and we happily took our three cats home that afternoon. I had volunteered with rescue organizations in the past, so I wasn’t surprised by the level of questioning.
But if you’ve never volunteered or worked inside a rescue organization or shelter, all of these questions can seem over the top and downright nosy. After all, these are homeless animals. Don’t these groups want them to go home?
Of course they do! But now that I am volunteering in a rescue organization again, I realize there’s a second part to that answer:
Rescue groups want animals to go to good homes and not come back.
We ask these questions because we want to make sure you and the pet you’ve chosen are a good fit. Foster home-based rescue organizations like the one I foster through have learned a lot about their animals because they live in homes. The application process enables us to learn a lot about you. If you’re not very active, a hyper dog is going to drive you nuts. If you have other cats, you don’t want to bring home a cat that doesn’t like other cats. If you have kids, you want to make sure the animal you choose is patient and good with kids.
Animals are surrendered or returned for all kinds of reasons: Moving, babies, cost of care, and landlord rules, to name a few.
So if we ask a lot of questions or ask for references, please understand that it’s not personal. It’s just that we don’t want to see that animal again.
Unless of course, you’re sending us happy updates or coming back to adopt another animal.