Denver CO

Who do we adopt to?

We need to think twice before we judge potential adopters. There are a lot of people in rescue and sheltering that find too many ways to NOT adopt a pet. Although there are exceptions, the vast majority of people in the US and around the world love their pets. We can always find negative examples, but we must remember they are the exception, not the rule.
On a recent trip to Europe I was walking over the Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic. It is one of my favorite sights in the world. Today, it is vastly more crowded than the first time I walked across it back in 1988. It is now teeming with tourists and the people on the bridge performing have mostly given way to trinket hawkers. Along the bridge I met a very nice homeless man who was on the bridge with a hat on the ground for loose change from tourists passing by. And he had a very sweet friend with him. The man said his name was George.  He spoke English well enough to learn a bit about him and his friend.
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Now George was sitting on the stone ground with this little dog in his lap. The dog was clearly happy to be with him. As everyone passed by she calmly sat there watching the world in the lap of her companion. I stopped to give him some change and ask if I could take a photograph.
George and his dog are there most days. They spend the day collecting some money so they make it through the next day. The dog had a beautiful coat, was very sweet when I pet her. I asked what he does with the money, and he said, “mostly, we use it to get food to eat.” He said “WE use it…”. He and his dog. Life companions that live out their lives on the edge of society and find a way to get by with each other. They are together and this man does not think of going through this life alone begging on a bridge. He and a friend go through each day together and make things work. This is what a loving relationship is like.
There are very little criteria a pet has for going home with an adopter. They don’t want someone that is going to hurt them. They would like fresh food and water. A place to sleep would be nice but that could be in the arms of a companion outside with the warmth of each other to get through the cold days. So when we are rejecting adopters, who are we really doing it for most of the time?
George and his dog may not have a big house or any house, and they may not have a lot of money. They may have days where they are not doing as well and skip a meal. I was there in the height of the season when there are a few thousand tourists crossing the bridge every hour of the day. But in December, Prague does not look like this.
If George walked into a shelter today, I would imagine he would be hard pressed to get approved. I would imagine he could not pay an adoption fee. I imagine he found this dog somewhere and took it in as it needed help and he has what I perceive to be a very compassionate heart.
And this dog is well cared for. As well is this man can care for her. And she is not alone on the streets of Prague. She is not in a cage in a shelter that might kill her for having too many dogs. She may be in danger of people and animals on the street without a companion.
I am criticized regularly for believing we turn away too many adopters. But I see examples every day here in the US, but even on a random walk in Prague I found a prime example that most people, given the chance will do the right thing for a pet. Until shelters stop killing for space, we have to find ways to provide potential adopters the avenue to adopt. Our judgment of their lifestyle, income, and attitudes towards what is right for a pet need to be adjusted.
DSCN4311We never adopt out a pet to an abuser or neglectful person. This I agree with. But we need to look a little deeper, get off the checklist and see who we are rejecting because we hold human judgements that our pets just don’t have any need for. I would adopt out to a lot of people many of my rescuer associates would not. I would adopt out to George.

Bark Away!