Letter to our local pet shelter

Dear Sir or Madam,
I feel I should bring to your attention the experience I had at your animal shelter earlier this year. After years of college and post-graduate education, my husband and I were excited to finally find ourselves in a situation amenable to owning a dog. We are both dog-lovers and have looked forward to getting a dog together for years, so this was definitely a plan we had thought long about when we moved into our house. Since we have both had dogs as pets before, and my husband’s last dog was a rescue, we were excited to find your website and see the frequently updated list of dogs available for adoption. We both work in Boston and commute on the train, so before going to the shelter to inquire about adoption, we arranged to hire a professional dog-walker who had a puppy program where they come by three times throughout the day. This way, we knew any puppy or dog we brought home would be well cared for during our workday, since this was a big concern for us.
When we arrived at the shelter we walked into an interesting and unfortunate scene of a young girl attempting to drop off a cat. Obviously the situation was tense and the female worker who came in to resolve the issue sent the girl away and then made remarks about how the shelter would be happy to help if she would stop lying. Although the situation made me a bit uncomfortable and I considered the worker’s behavior to be incredibly unprofessional, I put it out of my mind as a volunteer ushered us around the crowd and showed us how to sign in. After a long walk through all the dog/puppy rooms, we found a few puppies we were interested in so we took the cards out to the lobby to wait for an adoption counselor. The lady who came to help us turned out to be the same one we had seen interact with the girl with the cat. She escorted us to the puppy room and started to ask the usual questions about our living situation, etc. When we said that we both work she there was absolutely no way the shelter would adopt a puppy to us because you can’t leave a puppy alone for 12 hours a day. I explained to her that we would never do that and our work day was certainly not 12 hours long. For the time we were gone during the workday, we had already hired a professional dogwalker in Salem that could stop by three times a day. Her response is that I “wouldn’t want to pay for that.” She said instead that she thought a house-trained adult dog was what we needed. Since we were not adverse to the idea, we were happy to walk through the sm-med adult dog room with her, where she proceeded to stop at every pen and tell us why she could not adopt that dog to us. In the end, she felt that no dog currently at the shelter was a “fit for our situation” and took our contact info, promising to get in touch with us when a dog arrived that did “fit our situation.”
I left feeling that she made many assumptions and did not listen to us at all. I do not feel like our “situation” of both working is an impossible one, especially given that we have prepared for exactly this. I was and still am greatly offended that she made comments about what kind of care I would be willing to pay for; I can only assume she thinks I lied about the dogwalker (she wrote down the name of the business before we left because she had never heard of them). She even made a remark implying that after a long day at work, we would not want to walk a dog and by not being home during the day with a puppy, it could take us up to 2 years to housetrain one.
I realize that many dogs that end up in shelters are turned in by families who can not handle the responsibility of a dog, so I appreciate her concerns. However, the rudeness and skepticism we experienced was completely uncalled for. I am happy to say that in the last 6 months since this incident, we have privately adopted, not only 1, but 2 puppies. We have been quite willing to pay for multiple visits per day from the dogwalkers, whom our pups love, and amazingly enough, they are both house-trained! We have gone through beginning obedience training with both and plan to continue with intermediate training. I can honestly say that finding these two wonderful puppies elsewhere was really the best part of my experience at your shelter.
It makes me sad to know that two other dogs who needed a home were denied ours due to unfounded assumptions. For a long time, I was too upset to even contact the shelter about this, but many of my friends with rescue dogs were shocked that we were so quickly denied and have urged us to bring the situation to the forefront. Thus, I bring this to your attention, not for any kind of retribution on my end, but so that hopefully another pair of responsible “puppy parents” will not be so quickly disregarded due to only one person’s misguided opinion. I wish you success in all your efforts to save dogs and provide them with their forever homes.
Dr. KellieBelle

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