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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
A couple people here know that I've been thinking about getting a second dog. I was looking at standard poodle breeders, but more recently decided to go with rescue. I have gone to my local shelter twice, and the second time was yesterday. While I was there, I asked a lot of questions about the two dogs that I looked at. Including:
How do they act around new people? Dogs? Cats?
What is their energy level?
Why were they surrendered?
Do they have any training issues that you know of?
Are they crate-trained?
Are they comfortable being handled?
Do they have any resource guarding issues?
How vocal are they usually?
Do they have any health issues?

Most of the people there were super nice and told me everything they knew, checking the surrender paperwork for info. There was one lady at the front desk who gave me a long lecture about the first dog, which I didn't take amiss because I knew she was trying to find the best home for her, and she'd already been returned once. This particular woman is someone that I asked a lot of questions because she had the surrender paperwork.

The second dog was really nice out of his kennel, though a bit nervous and uncertain seeming. In his kennel he was a fright though, lunging and barking continuously. Not much was known about him because he ended up at the shelter when his owner went to jail, and they hadn't been able to get any info. The kennel behavior made me nervous, but the shelter was closing and they said I could put him on hold for a day, so I did. I thought about it and decided against adopting him because I just didn't feel like I knew enough about him.

So I called this morning to tell them that, and I recognized the voice of the woman who answered as the one from the front desk yesterday. After I told her that I had decided against adopting him, she proceeded to tell me: "Okay, you seem to have a lot of concerns, so maybe it would best if you didn't come back here until you figure out what you want. A lot of dogs get returned." I responded by saying that that seems like an excellent reason for adopters to be more cautious.

I asked to speak to someone else. After a long hold, I told another woman the same thing I told the first (I wanted to make sure he was taken off hold) and then I explained what the first woman had said. I said I thought someone should know. I have to admit, my voice was a tiny bit shakey at points, but I hope she didn't notice. Situations like this make me really nervous.

The second woman said that they can't guarantee what the dogs are like -- which I said I understand completely -- and that a lot of dogs get returned, and it's really hard on the dogs. Again, I said that that was a big motivating factor for me to try to learn as much as I can about a dog before making an adoption decision -- I absolutely do NOT want to return a dog. She said that the first woman shouldn't have told me not to come back, and that I was welcome. She said many adopters come back for months before finding the right dog. She also said it was okay to ask a lot of questions.

So that was that. I'm feeling upset about the whole thing. I will have to deal with the first woman if I go back. And what will the first woman tell the rest of them about me? She seems to have taken some kind of dislike to me. Might they refuse to let me adopt a dog? The whole thing was also upsetting because I felt like she was saying that I'm not a good adopter. Or not a good dog owner. :( I still feel kind of shaky. I really don't like situations like this, and I always second-guess myself. My first thought was to come to DF and get some feedback.

What do you guys think? Am I being too anal? Should I have handled the phone call differently? Why do you think this woman acted this way? (Sorry for the length!)
 

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Lots of people who work with animals are cranky with people. It gets real old killing other people's mistakes all day for years on end, seeing the ignorance, abuse, neglect, etc. The receptionist at my vet's is like that. . .but she loves kitties!
 

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it sounds to me like the one lady was just a bit frustrate. It has to be hard on them when they think they have found a home for a dog and not have it work out. You are totally right to be so cautious about choosing a rescue dog , it is a huge step to take. When I found my Guapo on petfinder he was in a shelter 2 hours away. I called them and they told me a guy was supposed to come back for him that day and they would call me if anything changed. I decided to go ahead and drive down to check out a couple other dogs they had but when I got there I totally fell in love with my little Guapo who is a yorkiepoo. I waited and waited and the guy never showed up to get him so right before they closed that day I was allowed to take Guapo who is just a little bundle of joy. In time the right dog will find you and when you meet him/her you will just "know" it is right .\!!! hmmm I WILL send you my poochon Sophie if she steals any more pieces of bacon right off my plate while I am not looking , the sneaky little booger!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks you guys. I guess I just needed some perspective. You're so right Willowy, crankiness seems to be a common side effect of shelter work, for totally understandable reasons. I should try not to take it so personally.

And odiesmom, I feel like I'm smart for being cautious, but maybe the woman just isn't used to it? They said a lot of people come in, nod to everything they say, leave with a dog, and then bring it back the next week. You'd think she would actually appreciate someone who knows that it's a big decision, and asks questions. I do wonder if maybe I'm being too cautious, and not letting myself just go with my gut.
 

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Thanks you guys. I guess I just needed some perspective. You're so right Willowy, crankiness seems to be a common side effect of shelter work, for totally understandable reasons. I should try not to take it so personally.

And odiesmom, I feel like I'm smart for being cautious, but maybe the woman just isn't used to it? They said a lot of people come in, nod to everything they say, leave with a dog, and then bring it back the next week. You'd think she would actually appreciate someone who knows that it's a big decision, and asks questions. I do wonder if maybe I'm being too cautious, and not letting myself just go with my gut.
I did rescue work for years and I can tell you that while you are probably more exhausting for them to work with -they are likely burnt out, frustrated, tired, and that's just from the animal care - you are doing the right thing by searching and asking as many questions as you can. A rescue group that could put you in touch with a foster-mom/dad of the dog would probably be able to give you far more information about the dog, but even in the shelter asking questions is a good, good thing. Just... realize that while the rudeness isn't okay, at all, you may have to bear with some people who are scattered, harried, going a billion directions at once, and occasionally snappish and frustrated.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
"You have a lot of questions."
"Come back when you know what you want."

DOES NOT COMPUTE. lol
I know, right? That was one of the odder things she said, because I know EXACTLY what I want.

I did rescue work for years and I can tell you that while you are probably more exhausting for them to work with -they are likely burnt out, frustrated, tired, and that's just from the animal care - you are doing the right thing by searching and asking as many questions as you can. A rescue group that could put you in touch with a foster-mom/dad of the dog would probably be able to give you far more information about the dog, but even in the shelter asking questions is a good, good thing. Just... realize that while the rudeness isn't okay, at all, you may have to bear with some people who are scattered, harried, going a billion directions at once, and occasionally snappish and frustrated.
Thank you for the advice. That's true that maybe she just felt like I was too demanding because she's already stressed, and just wanted me out the door so she could get on with her work.
 

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Were these volunteers? I don't care how cranky people get when working in a shelter (Trust me, I get pretty cranky) there needs to be professionalism when working with a shelter. You can't treat people like garbage because you REALLY want that dog to get out the door. We have an image to uphold and treating people rudely is not a great reflection nor does it help animals get adopted. You don't HAVE to adopt every dog you look at. I would call and ask to speak to a manager or whoever is in charge, tell them who you talked to, and tell them what they said.
 

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The problems with shelters is that in most cases there is not a lot of information on the dogs, whether they are strays or owner give ups. When going to a shelter, it is a gamble. Out of the 15-20 dogs I have had in my life, all but two were rescues. My oldest is from a shelter and she was returned twice before I got her. I wouldn't trade her for the world. What I am saying is because a dog is returned, do not let that stop you from that dog, sometimes it can work out. Another thing is hesitating, sometimes if you do this the dog that you wanted is gone. If you feel it, then do it. They can't tell you you can't come back.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Were these volunteers? I don't care how cranky people get when working in a shelter (Trust me, I get pretty cranky) there needs to be professionalism when working with a shelter. You can't treat people like garbage because you REALLY want that dog to get out the door. We have an image to uphold and treating people rudely is not a great reflection nor does it help animals get adopted. You don't HAVE to adopt every dog you look at. I would call and ask to speak to a manager or whoever is in charge, tell them who you talked to, and tell them what they said.
I'm not sure whether she's a volunteer or not. It's actually kind of confusing there because all the employees wear green t-shirts printed by the shelter that say volunteer on them, along with all the other shelter info. Not sure how that happened... excess t-shirt stock? If I had to guess, I would say she was an employee just because she was handling paperwork and doing intake (people dropping off cats :(). When I've volunteered at shelters in the past, I haven't really seen any volunteers in that position. But it probably varies, I'm sure.

I think I will do what you suggest. I might wait until after I adopt a dog though, just so I don't have to see her again afterwards.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
The problems with shelters is that in most cases there is not a lot of information on the dogs, whether they are strays or owner give ups. When going to a shelter, it is a gamble. Out of the 15-20 dogs I have had in my life, all but two were rescues. My oldest is from a shelter and she was returned twice before I got her. I wouldn't trade her for the world. What I am saying is because a dog is returned, do not let that stop you from that dog, sometimes it can work out. Another thing is hesitating, sometimes if you do this the dog that you wanted is gone. If you feel it, then do it. They can't tell you you can't come back.
The lack of background info on a lot of the dogs at the shelter is making it hard. I only know what I can see, and that's just a fraction of who the dogs really are. It's kind of hard to go with what I feel, when I also feel like I'm driving blind (is that the right expression?). This particular shelter doesn't have ANY fosters currently, which is odd. I actually asked whether I could foster a dog, and they said they don't like to put adoptable dogs in foster homes. I'm also exploring other venues for adoption. Adopting a foster is much more ideal for me, so I can get more info about the dog.
 

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I'm not sure whether she's a volunteer or not. It's actually kind of confusing there because all the employees wear green t-shirts printed by the shelter that say volunteer on them, along with all the other shelter info. Not sure how that happened... excess t-shirt stock? If I had to guess, I would say she was an employee just because she was handling paperwork and doing intake (people dropping off cats :(). When I've volunteered at shelters in the past, I haven't really seen any volunteers in that position. But it probably varies, I'm sure.

I think I will do what you suggest. I might wait until after I adopt a dog though, just so I don't have to see her again afterwards.
Well I suppose volunteer or staff doesn't really matter, it's inappropriate either way. Usually volunteers are manning the desk and dealing with potential adopters, so I ask because they need to be the MOST professional because they're helping the public with adoptions. It varies, as at my shelter volunteers deal with the paperwork and do intake. I'm largely bothered by what she said because people don't seem to realize that that can completely turn someone off the shelter and people REALLY like to tell every one they can about bad experiences when they shouldn't have a bad experience. Adoption can be confusing and unorganized enough without any one being rude. I'm glad you're not turned off from adopting from them because it isn't the fault of the dogs and I bet they have some great volunteers and staff, but I would definitely talk to someone who can reiterate to staff/volunteers that every one that comes through the door deserves respect and help, and even if they prove they DON'T deserve respect and help they STILL have to be respectful themselves.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Funny you should say that, I've already told 4 people about it (plus here), and it just happened. I wouldn't say "Don't go to this shelter!" of course, because like you said, it isn't the fault of the dogs. And everyone else there has been awesome. I will definitely either send a letter or go there in person to explain what happened to a manager, because it's important that this one woman doesn't send other, less persistent people away.
 

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I laughed, but it isn't funny because see! People do not want to deal with that and really that stuff has to change. People tend to be the worst part about rescue for me.
 

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And honestly, I've been treated pretty poorly by some people in rescues and what happened? I didn't adopt from them. One really bad experience left me not adopting a dog that sat in the shelter for months and months after.
 

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Don't worry about what that lady may say about you to the other workers in the shelter. I bet they all already know she is a crankypants and don't really rely on her opinion of adopters.
 

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Lots of people who work with animals are cranky with people.
This! It doesn't apply to all people who work with animals, but there are always a few in every bunch. Just ignore it. I'm sure working in a shelter they deal with people doing much worse than asking questions. I've cried at a shelter before, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
 

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Ugh, cranky shelter employees. There was a litter of four red tabby kittens being fostered for the local shelter when I wanted a kitten, two males and two females. I drove 45 minutes each way to the foster home to meet them, and I chose a kitten. I filled out all of the paperwork, got accepted, and then had to wait for her to turn eight weeks old, be transferred to the shelter and spayed before I could pick her up (another 45 minute drive each way). Well, they spayed the wrong female, and when I told them so, the lady at the desk glared at me and said, "Does it matter? They're both orange cats." Hell yes it mattered! I had chosen the other one! I ended up taking both females, though (and yes, I had to wait another few days for the one I picked in the first place to be spayed and I had to do another drive), because I am a sucker. I just couldn't help wondering what would happen to the one I rejected, heh.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
And honestly, I've been treated pretty poorly by some people in rescues and what happened? I didn't adopt from them. One really bad experience left me not adopting a dog that sat in the shelter for months and months after.
That's really sad, and frustrating. I often find myself defending shelters and rescues, but sometimes there are problems that need to be acknowledged. But in a way that's constructive. Sometimes people shelter-bash, without realizing that they can do something about those issues, and they are just a tiny part of a larger picture, which is that shelter dogs need homes.

Don't worry about what that lady may say about you to the other workers in the shelter. I bet they all already know she is a crankypants and don't really rely on her opinion of adopters.
Ha, I bet you're right. She had crankypants written all over her. Actually, I do remember one point when she disappeared for a while, and someone else asked me how they could help me. I said I was already being helped by the first woman (gesturing toward her chair because I didn't know her name), and she was like "Ooooh," and smiled and rolled her eyes. I just smiled back, not really understanding the subtext. Maybe it was "Good luck with her"?

This! It doesn't apply to all people who work with animals, but there are always a few in every bunch. Just ignore it. I'm sure working in a shelter they deal with people doing much worse than asking questions. I've cried at a shelter before, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
You're not alone. I have also, and I've seen it happen to other people. When I volunteered at one shelter with the cats, my favorite was put to sleep. I just came in and he was gone, and I had to ask the question. It still hurts to think about him almost ten years later. I wanted to adopt him, but I was living in a college dorm room and couldn't have any pets yet. He was so sweet and clingy, but he didn't get a home because he was shy and frightened.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Ugh, cranky shelter employees. There was a litter of four red tabby kittens being fostered for the local shelter when I wanted a kitten, two males and two females. I drove 45 minutes each way to the foster home to meet them, and I chose a kitten. I filled out all of the paperwork, got accepted, and then had to wait for her to turn eight weeks old, be transferred to the shelter and spayed before I could pick her up (another 45 minute drive each way). Well, they spayed the wrong female, and when I told them so, the lady at the desk glared at me and said, "Does it matter? They're both orange cats." Hell yes it mattered! I had chosen the other one! I ended up taking both females, though (and yes, I had to wait another few days for the one I picked in the first place to be spayed and I had to do another drive), because I am a sucker. I just couldn't help wondering what would happen to the one I rejected, heh.
A happy ending! That's a lucky kitten.

Maybe after a while, with kittens coming through by the bushel, they all start to look interchangeable. That's probably a good time to take a break.
 
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