Local News

Pet Adoption Guidelines Stricter for Nonprofit Rescues

Posted February 19, 2008
Updated February 20, 2008

When Jim and Sandra Ashley wanted to get a kitten for their 7-year-old daughter, Carolyn, they decided to adopt from the SPCA of Wake County.

But after filling out an application, answering questions and playing with a kitten for 45 minutes, the Ashleys left without a pet.

"They denied us, because we were going to let the cat outside," Sandra Ashley said. "It absolutely broke her (Carolyn's) heart, and then, I got upset."

Like most private and nonprofit animal rescues, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Wake County has stronger guidelines and criteria for adopting pets than public animal shelters.

For example, a local golden retriever rescue has a five-page application that requires references.

In the Ashleys' case, part of the reason their adoption application was denied was Sandra Ashley's history. A cat she had 20 years ago with a roommate ran off and returned pregnant.

The Ashleys insist the cat they wanted to adopt would only go out when it was older and supervised.

"They just couldn't offer us an assurance that the cat could be contained," Wake SPCA spokeswoman Mondy Lamb said.

She insists the agency will not turn away prospective cat owners who want their cats to go outside, but in this case, it does require assurance the animal will not run away.

"Every year in Wake County, thousands of stray cats are rounded up by animal control and are subsequently euthanized," Lamb said.

Among all the animals it rescues, the Wake SPCA only denies an average of 14 of 200 adoptions a month, Lamb said.

Garner animal control officer Judi Lowry says the rules are in place so animals will get a good home.

"People just have to understand, these are little creatures that have no advocates other than us," Lowry said. "They cannot call us on the phone and say, 'These people aren't taking care of us.'"

Most public shelters require less in the way of screening.

Kelli Ferris, an animal cruelty investigator and veterinarian at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, says what to require can be a tough call.

"We do have polar opposites, almost, of what people are required to pay or produce, as far as documentation," she said.

The Ashleys say they do have a good home for their new cat, Summer, who was adopted from a local veterinarian.

They say Summer will go outside - supervised. They even purchased a leash – something they learned about from their trip to the SPCA.

The Ashleys also say they wish they had known the Wake SPCA's criteria for adopting before they decided to get a kitten.

But many agencies say that if people know the guidelines, they could try to get around them.

In 2006, nearly 303,000 animals entered public shelters in North Carolina. About 75 percent of them were euthanized.

Although most animal rescues do not euthanize, the Wake SPCA does put to sleep animals that have serious health problems or cannot be adopted for other reasons, such as aggressive behavior.

Sometimes, it has to euthanize animals for space reasons, as well, the agency said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • cheapdisguise2003 Feb 20, 2008

    Oberlin-I can't tell you why that rescue told you what they told you. I can only tell you that that isn't a common practice and I would never deny adoption to someone simply for the reason that they are single. In fact, I'd be infuriated, too.
    All I can say is that it is common practice for people to lie on an application and get caught somewhere down the line. I'm not implying you did because I don't know you. I just know that it happens and it's frustrating for the rescue as well.
    I hope that you were able to find a rescue organization to work with you on finding an animal that met your needs and that you're both happy.

  • cheapdisguise2003 Feb 20, 2008

    I think fanofrescue has already stated this once, but rescue orgs don't euthanize animals. Those are your county/state tax dollars that are euthanizing animals at the shelters.
    In all sincerity- have you ever stopped to think about how animals ended up in the shelters to start with? Most are picked up by animal control officers because someone complains. If it's your pet outdoors with no ID tags or microchip, how is animal control going to know you are looking for the animal? They don't. Often they are held for a total of 3 days and if they aren't claimed they are euthanized for space reasons. When I say shelters, I am refering to Wake Cty SPCA (aka-the shelter) and all the shelters in this state. Rescue orgs don't make it hard to adopt an animal- they just ask that you follow their rules because they have put more than the minuscule adoption fee into the animal- they put their heart and soul into saving these animals. They want them safe. Is that really too much to ask?

  • cheapdisguise2003 Feb 20, 2008

    SEOpro-nothing I said was incorrect. Non-profit rescue orgs are budgeted ZERO dollars to operate in NC. Privately funded grants are available based on the mission of the rescue. You can't compare a TNR program for feral cats with an organization that seeks to rehabilitate and adopt animals out in the community. It's apples vs oranges.
    I'm very familiar with programs in SC. Which organization does your friend work with? I'd love to see what programs they employ to see if there is anything that can be employed in NC to help animals here. Even if it's just with assisting groups that do only low-cost spay neuter that would be a start. And I'm certainly not against helping any rescue attain grants if they are out there. More often than not, it's a matter of supply and demand. There just isn't enough grant $ out there.
    The more animals we spay/neuter and the more people are educated, the better off we all will be. Especially the animals.

  • Oberlin Feb 20, 2008

    Cheapdisguise-while I understand you are trying to represent your side to imply that I lied on an application just to adopt a pet is pretty insulting. As someone who is a Senior Loan officer with a large non-profit credit union I can assure you that my record is clean, criminal, credit and otherwise-not because my job REQUIRES this, but because I'm a responsible 35 year old adult. That being said, this was discrimination, pure and simple. My previous post relayed, verbatim, the reason I was denied. I'm a single adult. I also want to make clear that I was not referring to the SPCA. I've always found them to be above board, and a well run organization-others are not.

  • gorgon01 Feb 20, 2008

    The way I look at it..these shelters and organizations have the right to be picky about who they choose to give their rescues to. THEY rescued them, THEY paid for them to be fixed, THEY paid for vet bills associated with these animals. If they don't want you to keep the animal outside, that's their business.

    All these places want is for the animals to go to forever homes. Like it or not, if a dog or cat is an outside animal, they have a better chance of running away, being attacked, etc.

  • SEOpro Feb 20, 2008


    Take your own advise. I volunteer, assisted at a "no-kill" adoption agency in South Carolina, donate plenty and also take in homeless animals on our 10 acre farm in the country so don't go judging people without doing YOUR research. One of my best friends and colleagues runs a cat sanctuary in SC and gets over $50,000 annually protecting feral cats. It's a different type of non-profit but a grant-funded non-profit none-the-less. The point IS - lots of non-profits "adoption" agencies make it too hard for decent families to take in adoption animals where it is much easier to go buy one. So, are the adoption agencies doing the animals favors by making it so hard to adopt them out? Of course, the animals are given some protection and improvement of conditions, but then they need to be allowed to be placed into HOMES, not held out of homes until they are euthanized based on ridiculous "rules".

  • cheapdisguise2003 Feb 20, 2008

    "So what about all these stories about people being denied because they were single, or they couldn't stay at home all day?" Notorius- have you ever thought that there may be other reasons they were denied? I find it rather hard to believe a rescue would deny someone for those reasons alone. Often times people will omit things from applications (read in between the lines- they LIE) and a rescue will find out during the application/approval process that this might not be the right home for that particular animal.
    I adopted my first two rescue animals as a single adult,just out of college,working full time and living in an apartment. I didn't have any issues. A rescue is not required to adopt to anyone they don't want to. By law, the animal is the rescues 'property'. If you don't like the process, go elsewhere. There are enough backyard breeders in this state to inbreed an animal to your liking that will have so many physical and mental deformities you'll never stop going to the vet.

  • fanofrescue Feb 20, 2008

    "So what about all these stories about people being denied because they were single, or they couldn't stay at home all day?"

    There may be an occasional rescue who might have that type of requirement, but usually either the person who says that is why they were turned down were not really given a reason so they came up with why they "think" they were turned down. Or there was a really big reason that they were turned down and the rescue tried to sugar coat it some. It is a lot easier to hear that you are being turned down because you aren't home during the day (something that you can't control, so it's not your fault) rather than be told that the vet reference you provided told the rescue that you didn't even provide basic vaccinations or care for your animals. Or even better, have no idea who you are because you have only set foot in their office one time in the 10 years that you had your pet.

    Drive on down to the Duplin County dog pound. They have no screening process at all.

  • WF Zookeeper Feb 20, 2008

    Rev. RB, again - look before judge!!!! The Humane Society of the United States has statistics that show indoor cats live much longer than outdoor cats. And living in the country doesn't justify letting them out - we live on the edge of the city/country and have wild dogs, foxes, and people with guns.
    As for "Rev" in front of your name, assume it means revved up! Not very compassionate for a clergyman.

  • Space Mountain Feb 20, 2008

    So what about all these stories about people being denied because they were single, or they couldn't stay at home all day?