Why Some People Should Never Be Allowed to Adopt a Shelter Dog

andrew kirschner animal rescue bar

When we adopt a shelter dog, we make a lifelong commitment. The dog we adopt may have been hit by a car, neglected and left starving in a backyard, raced, kicked and beaten and now fearing human contact, or surrendered by the only family and home he or she has ever known. These are not reasons to not adopt shelter dogs; these are the reasons we should adopt shelter dogs instead of supporting pet stores with dogs from cruel puppy mills or profit-driven breeders who unnecessarily contribute to overpopulation problems.

Erin Auerbach’s harmful Washington Post article “Why I’d never adopt a shelter dog again” (intentionally not hyperlinked to prevent an increase in your blood pressure) fails to recognize several key points:

1) If a shelter dog has a challenging medical problem, we can’t extrapolate that experience to all shelter dogs. Most shelter dogs are healthy.

2) Any dog we adopt, even from a breeder or pet store, comes with health risks.

3) If we enjoy the company of a healthy dog for 10 years, as Auerbach did, and then the dog becomes ill, that is part and parcel of caring for a companion animal, not cause for complaint. When we sign the paper at the dog shelter, we must be ready to sign the bill at the vet’s office. My dog swallowed a lamp cord when he was six-months-old and almost died. Anything can happen.

4) Purchasing a dog from a breeder is not a “good deed” as Auerbach insists. With millions of dogs waiting for homes in shelters, we don’t need breeders creating more dogs. When we buy a dog from a breeder, we are not “re-homing” the dog, a term she uses to fend off critics. We’re perpetuating a problem that supports the unnecessary breeding of dogs while lonely and scared shelter dogs die. Breeders and pet stores may also be less responsible about spaying and neutering.

5) Many dog shelters conduct thorough interviews and background checks to ensure the suitability of prospective parents whereas many breeders and pet stores are profit-driven above all else. Adopting dogs is about more than satisfying people; it’s foremost about the best interest of the animals.

Auerbach fails to mention that most shelter dogs, including puppies, live happy and healthy lives in their new forever home. While I applaud her for previously rescuing dogs and providing them medical care before she started raising her pom poms for breeders and condemning shelters, and while I empathize with the medical challenges she experienced, she makes reckless generalizations, fails to comprehend the global problem of dogs in shelters, and doesn’t weigh the impact of her suggestions on the millions of adoptable shelter dogs waiting desperately for homes. Many of these dogs also came from breeders and puppy mills because they couldn’t find homes or people surrendered or abandoned them.

tri county animal rescue

I’ve been volunteering at dog shelters in Florida, walking dogs, hosting fundraisers, providing orientations for volunteers, and matching prospective parents with dogs, for more than 20 years. Dog shelters are places that give hope to the downtrodden and brighten the lives of families beyond measure. I have never met more happy people than I have speaking with the grateful masses who return to volunteer after adopting a shelter dog or adopt another dog to join their family.

This is Rusty, an abandoned shelter dog with a clean bill of health. I visited him today at my local animal shelter to take him for a walk and provide him comfort until he finds a home. Rusty was thrown over the shelter’s fence in the middle of the night by his owners. When I entered his cage, he was crying, pushing his nose into my chest, and licking my face.

sammy tri county animal rescue

As I left the shelter today, this thoughtful couple adopted this sweet and healthy puppy named Sammy. They were beaming with pride as they explained how rewarding it feels to save a life.

These are the faces of abandoned, abused, stray, and surrendered dogs. I hope they dispel Auerbach’s inaccurate statements about shelter dogs being sick and inappropriate for adoption.

Auerbach states that shelter dogs are a “crapshoot.” For compassionate people who love animals unconditionally, there’s nothing risky about shelter dogs and our desire to care for them never wavers. To the contrary, it grows stronger as they grow older and our bond becomes unbreakable. With millions of dogs waiting desperately in shelters for homes, it’s the height of irresponsibility to promote breeders simply because she doesn’t want to care for a dog if he or she becomes ill. Her article serves as a valuable reminder to everyone who runs a dog shelter to screen applicants carefully. Not everyone deserves a shelter dog.

28 thoughts on “Why Some People Should Never Be Allowed to Adopt a Shelter Dog

  1. You are correct Erin Auerbach’s article did raise my blood pressure. Thank you setting the facts straight. Imagine if we were that selective with humans. And I guess Erin should know all of my dogs came from a “reputable” breeder – a greyhound racing breeder.

  2. All my cats and dogs came from shelters. That is where you will find the best !!! I did not see Erins article but I think it would make me mad. I , too have volunteered at shelters for over 15 years and see many wonderful dogs and cats come in. Many purrbreeds as well for those who feel the need for that. No reason at all to pay a fortune to some nasty breeder. A lot of breeder dogs come with illness.

  3. I would willingly and knowingly adopt a dog or cat that may have limited time. Just so they would know what love and care and comfort are for their last days. I can say that with complete honesty, because i have done it. Lucy was estimated to be between 12-15 years old. she was blind, deaf, had a heart murmur and a thyroid condition and was recovering from both kinds of mange. we brought her home as is and proceeded to give her 2 more years. but those 2 years were happy and active and warm and dry and fed and most of all, loved. Yes, she was a lot of time and money and effort, but so what? Bless her heart that SHE had to go through all that!!! I hope she doesn’t have a special needs or sick child somewhere down the road…

  4. Very well said. Please take a look at an article written in memory of MY beloved rescue, Hallie. She was 10 yrs old when I adopted her from the DRNA (Dachshund Rescue of North America) and NEVER did I regret my decision nor the $10K+ dollars I poured into her well being during the 4 years we had together, Every single cent was money well spent. http://goatfury.hubpages.com/hub/Remembering-Hallie

    1. I wholeheartedly agree. She is a weird, cold hearted buttwipe. Reading one of her articles made me shake my head the whole freaking time. She is a sad excuse for a hooman.

  5. I’ve had shelter dogs. I’ll always have rescue dogs…. I will never support a breeder (reputable, professional or otherwise) for as long as I live. Erin’s article added another notch on the tally board of reasons why. My dogs’ breeds, lineage, fur colour, size….. they mean nothing to me. Absolutely nothing. Why? Because I love my dogs unconditionally. I am no where near perfect, why do my dogs have to be perfect? Why does the potential of a future illness mean they these wonderful animals shouldn’t be given the right to be adopted, and to live?

    1. No shelter dog I’ve ever had has ever been a medical disaster. Not a one. They’ve all lived full lives… In fact, the only dog I recall having horrible healthy issues was a working-line black German Shepherd Dog, bred, trained and shipped all the way from Belgium in order to be a police dog. He had brain tumors, new ones would form several times a year. At age 6, he was euthanized. Our rescued “crapshoot” german shepherd mixes outlived him by more than twice that….

    2. No dog is perfect. No dog’s life is 100% predictable, no matter how far back you go into the family tree. LOL it doesn’t work like that…. and anyone who thinks it does is a complete moron.

    I will always have rescues and shelter mongrels. They really cannot be beat ❤

  6. I so agree with Riley in absolutely every aspect of his letter. You have said it all just like it it Riley.

  7. Here here!! I foster kittens for a local shelter, or two, and I adore this reply. I have to tell you that some of my deepest relationships with pets were with ones that occurred when something “went wrong”. Caring for a diabetic, dealing with like ending cancer, kittens on the brink of death that by the grace of God make it, or don’t… These are the ones I remember out of the 300 I’ve cared for.

    I can’t help but wonder if the author of that original article is a sociopath. One article does not a diagnosis make, but darn it if it doesn’t feel right.

  8. Adopting a dog from a *shelter* can be a “crapshoot” but that doesn’t mean that someone has to buy a puppy from a breeder! My perfect beagle came from a pound in rural Kentucky, but if someone is looking into acquiring a dog and is worried about behavioral or health problems, or they have kids or other animals in the home or spend long hours at work, I always recommend adopting a dog through a rescue that has dogs in foster homes. Then the dog’s behavior in a home situation is already known – whether he or she is good with other dogs, kids, cats; if the dog high-energy or relaxed; is housebroken or knows basic ‘commands.’

  9. I can’t think of anything really honest to say about Auerback that would not risk getting me into serious trouble. So to put it politely, Erin Auerback is a heartless, selfish person.

  10. Soooooo with you. I read that WashPo piece and all I think was: “Sack up, lady.” Are you kidding me? You won’t get a shelter dog because they pass away? I rescue dogs, but I only adopt seniors. Every one of those seniors are dogs that I have loved terribly, and I lose them after a few months or a year or two. Virtually love entails loss of some kind. If you can’t understand that…you haven’t really had grown-up love for anything.

  11. It is typical of our society nowadays to ruin stuff, get rid of it and push for something new and shiny. It makes me crazy people who say shelter dogs are bad and don’t realize it is the humans that put them in that situation – they did nothing wrong! I LOVE my shelter dogs and they have always always been the best things in my life.

  12. I have owned nothing but shelter or rescue dogs my entire life and they have all been wonderful healthy dogs. People are stupid if they think otherwise. My friends with pure bred dogs have had far more problems than I.

  13. The woman who wrote this nonsensical article clearly doesn’t understand the concept of “love” in general, forget about her ability to properly care for any furry friend, whether it be from a breeder or from a shelter. What animal (or any living being for that matter) doesn’t encounter some kind of medical issues throughout life? NONE. You aren’t going to find a perfect dog, free of medical issues forever no matter where you get them. Because they are not “things.” They aren’t TV’s and cars. They cannot be bred to eliminate all possible medical issues. My home is currently full of shelter dogs (my own and a couple of fosters) with medical and behavioral issues, dogs that have been abandoned, previously abused and/or neglected of proper medical care throughout their life…until they came to me. There is nothing better than to watch any creature transform with love and care. Shelter animals are not “things” people. They are living, breathing, feeling beings. This woman is clearly missing something important and crucial at the core of her being…and this article says all that needs to be said….some people don’t deserve shelter dogs…or ANY dog for that matter. Go get yourself a stuffed animal lady!

  14. Rescuing a dog is a “crapshoot,” but then again, I think buying a dog from a breeder is just as big of a “crapshoot.” My family’s very first dog was from a breeder. He came to us with parvo (our only dog that ever had health issues early in his life) and I have no doubt that my parents shelled out some good money to save his puppy butt. He was a good dog, but as my little brother got older and began to tug at his ears and do other little kid type things to him, he became aggressive and my parents had to make the hard decision to give him away. He was a great dog, just not suited for our home. All this from a dog we got from a breeder, whose personality, it seems, we should have known from the start. The rest of our dogs were always rescues and we never had problems with them.

    Fast forward to my adult life, 6.5 years ago I adopted my first dog from a rescue organization. She was just as big of a “crapshoot” as my first dog as a child, and I love her to death. She’s quirky and anxious. Other dogs scare her, and her fear manifests as aggression sometimes. She thinks anyone coming into/near my house wants to murder me, and she acts in an accordingly protective manner. She is the sweetest and most loving dog I have ever met, and if you get to know her the way that makes her comfortable she will never want to leave your lap, despite the fact that she’s 50 pounds. She’ll have my back always and forever. This rescue dog that ended up being a lot more than I had bargained for has taught me more about being a responsible pet owner than any other dog. She has taught me to love her and work with her quirky personality to keep her safe and happy, because we chose each other the day I brought her home, and that’s not something I take lightly. She’s 7 years old now, and I wouldn’t trade her for any other dog in the world. When you adopt a dog, you adopt them for life, and you take on all their quirks and health issues, the ones you know about and the ones that will come down the road, and if you are open, you will become a better person. Erin Auerbach doesn’t seem to understand that at all, she seems to see dog ownership as a one-way street, and for that I simply feel sorry for her.

    And thank you for writing this post in response to her article!

  15. My shelter dog, Zoey, has been part of my family for over 13 years now. She’s about 15 or 16, and until lately has been a very healthy dog. She won’t be with us too much longer. Her arthritis is so bad she can’t walk down stairs easily and she has fallen a couple of times lately when she’s gotten off the couch. Plus she has cancer. But, she’s not in serious pain, and she still happily barks at the mailman and anyone else who walks by, and she moves pretty quick when it’s mealtime!! However, I am now at the point where I often wonder if we are keeping her alive only because we so don’t want her to die.
    So, screw people like Auerbach who think there is anything wrong with shelter dogs.

    1. I hope your girl is still around Martha, my girl’s 17 and the arthritis is bad now too. Try some shots which help synovial fluid in her joints, 5ml of cod liver/flaxseed oil a day and homeopathic remedy – chinese herbs too, as they aren’t as toxic as the vet stuff. Talk to a pet psychic if you need, that way you can say all you need to say, and see what she’d like. For the younger dogs out there, get them on MSM/Glucosamine early rather than later.

  16. Glad I saw this response. If the dog became sick it was more than likely because the woman was unkind – animals often take on our poison and ailments because they love unconditionally – and we know that being around unpleasantness can make us sick. I’ve got a 17 year old shelter dog who now has arthritis, costing me about $100 a week. I don’t care about the money- because she’s loved me more than anyone I’ve ever known. Unconditional love is difficult to find. Perhaps that woman would have discovered it (learnt something from her dog) if she wasn’t so materialistic, shallow, bitter and blind.

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