The shelter saves about 30-40% of animals that come in, and kills the remaining 30,000 annually. I have seen the worst and the best in both people and dogs.

My group's lofty goal is to reduce the number killed to a reasonable amount.

Proof sent to mods.

Edit: To clarify, I don't work at the shelter. I pull animals from the shelter into my group (and thus "work" closely with them).

Comments: 240 • Responses: 76  • Date: 

Otter24828 karma

What is your opinion of PETA?

rescue_x7115 karma

PETA sucks, and most animal rescuers feel this way.

I can appreciate some of the attention they bring to animal rights issues but in general I don't agree with their tactics, don't agree with their finances, and don't agree with their hypocritical killing.

housebrickstocking-3 karma

You still have some ways to go to catch up with their numbers p/a.

rescue_x76 karma

My shelter's save/kill ratio is a full order of magnitude higher than theirs, and my shelter has an obligation to take in all animals no matter what their condition. PETA has no excuse.

NarwhalAMA-32 karma

I'm certainly not a huge fan of PETA, but I disagree when people say they're hypocritical for killing so many animals. The fact is that PETA will take in any cat or dog, even if they're missing limbs, blinded, covered in disease and blood. Unsurprisingly, many of these animals have to be put down. Regardless, there simply aren't enough people willing to adopt them anyway. Cat and dog shelters become overcrowded very quickly - which means either putting animals down or refusing to rescue new ones.

I'd argue being put down when you're in pain is the preferable option for many cats and dogs who have been treated atrociously by humans. PETA do not protest the act of killing animals - they protest the poor treatment of animals.

I do not support PETA, and as an organisation they're certainly not perfect. However, people like to hate PETA because it gives them any easy target to blame for problems which are complicated and difficult to discuss.

rescue_x754 karma

I suspect you may not have all the facts here.

PETA is not a municipal shelter. It's not their job to put down injured, diseased, or unwanted animals. They are volunteering to do so when there is no need for them to do so. This is not noble; it's a gross waste of donation dollars. Further, there is no proof that this is actually what they do, but there are many cases of people dropping off healthy animals with the impression that they would find a new home only to find out they were killed.

PETA has a history of being an advocate for killing, even going so far as to send gifts to city officials when a shelter decides to kill animals after a period of no-kill.

PETA has a history of opposing trap-neuter-release for feral cats, a proven humane solution for controlling their population, and advocates for the killing of them instead.

The numbers just don't add up. In 2009, they found homes for eight of the 2,366 pets that came in their care. It is simply delusional to think that 2,358 pets showed up at their doorstep in an "unadoptable" state while 8 were adoptable. Even the absolute worst public shelters in the country can't top ratios like that. If an animal is truly in too much pain to go on, then absolutely they should be euthanized, but it is nothing short of delusional to think that there are 2,358 of these randomly showing up at PETA's door, and only 8 that are treatable.

semi_colon5 karma

So, why does PETA do it? Can you speculate?

rescue_x715 karma

My own personal opinion is that PETA finds the sheltering of animals to be cruel, and they think that killing an animal is more humane than leaving it in a cage for a while.

The first dog I ever adopted was in a cage at a no kill shelter for six months+ before I adopted her. I'm pretty sure regardless of how bad those six months may have been for her, the following several years being spoiled like a princess more than made up for it.

evilcleverdog1 karma

The heck. Then who should we donate to?

rescue_x73 karma

Donating to local organizations is the best use of your money if you want your donations to go to actual animal care.

xxOMEGA77xx-60 karma

Thank you! my family owns The Hunte Corporation and thanks to PETA and the HSUS one quick google search makes us out to look like evil animal killers and in reality we are the complete opposite. Usually if I bring up anything about PETA people make them out to be the Saints of the animal world when in reality 1 cent out of every dollar goes to help animals and shelters. In the past they have even threatened to bomb our trucks which would kill the dogs!

rescue_x745 karma

I'm not sure if you're being serious because I would easily consider the Hunte Corporation to be the worst of the worst, and I would happily support PETA over Hunte Corporation any day.

There is absolutely no excuse for the cruelty by the hands of your company, and I would celebrate the closing down of it.

(For those unaware, Hunte Corporation is one of the largest puppy mill distributors in the country).

engels132 karma

This is.....awkward

EDIT: mokay, I just, being a Brit, googled the Hunte corporation. If your family really does own this company, frankly you should be fucking ashamed of yourselves. Not bad enough that you are selectively breeding sentient beings at the detriment of their health, but in such appalling conditions. Eurgh

rescue_x718 karma

Yeah... it is.

zaikanekochan16 karma

Kill shelters definitely are beneficial, but often are damned in the public eye. What is the worst thing someone has done to you or your employer based on your policies?

rescue_x728 karma

Shelter employees get threats from the public. It's a thankless job.

My group is a rescue that doesn't actually do the killing. I run our facebook page and often get messages and comments from people accusing us of being murderers when we plea for a foster home for a dog about to be killed by the shelter.

Lost_Pathfinder14 karma

As they proceed to not adopt any more pets. It sounds rough, I feel so bad for people who have to deal with that kind of stress. It isn't like they want to put the dogs down, but given the propensity to want to have your own puppies, people continue the trend of an animal population that outweighs the pet owning population. So thanks for what you do.

rescue_x714 karma

You are correct. They don't want to put the animals down.

One of the vets at the shelter will sometimes refuse to put down an animal, and foster the dog herself through our group, or find a home for the dog herself.

One of the managers at another shelter I've volunteered at did the same thing. She regularly took home dogs that whose time was up to buy them more time.

Not to say that all shelter workers are this compassionate, but they are out there.

FatYetti16 karma

What do they do with all of those adorable corpses?

rescue_x717 karma

I believe they are frozen, and a contractor disposes of them in a landfill. I could be mistaken though, as I thankfully have never witnessed the process first hand at this shelter (though I have at my small suburb's shelter).

balboa_bay_window5 karma

I used to work at a high kill shelter - this was about 12 years ago. We had a crematorium for incinerating the animal remains. We would do them in batches - not one at a time like they do with humans. This was not my job, thankfully.

rescue_x710 karma

To be fair, pets that are put down at the vet by request of their owners are often cremated in batches as well. You usually have to request individual cremation and pay extra for it (I do this for my personal dogs that I lose). I remember the last time I did it, the vet had to make all these special notes to indicate that she was to be cremated separately.

triikan4 karma

Be careful with that. This American Life had a podcast about an investigation that found that most crematoriums still do a group burn and just subdivide the ashes, even when you pay the extra.

rescue_x73 karma

That's a good warning, but our vet uses a special pet crematorium. They don't do humans at all, and they bring the ashes back in an urn engraved with the dog's name, and also provide a signed certificate saying what they did. It's possible we're getting duped but with the amount of care they put into it for all the other details I find it unlikely.

StandingByToStandBy13 karma

So, uhh. Yeah. That sucks. I don't think that number can be reduced. Do you?

rescue_x723 karma

It already has been reduced significantly in just the last year, actually.

I think long term it can be reduced to a reasonable amount but there are still drastic changes that need to take place.

StandingByToStandBy19 karma

Spaying and neutering pets for one.

There are wild dogs out in my neck of the woods. One of em tried to bite my wife. I almost saved you some trouble.

rescue_x724 karma

Spaying and neutering is absolutely essential for reducing numbers, but it does nothing for the dogs (and cats) already alive and entering the shelter system for the next 10 years or so, so shouldn't be mistaken for the overall solution to the problem. It's just one vital part of a much more complex solution.

Astilaroth15 karma

Spaying and neutering pets for one.

And yet nearly every day litters of kittens get upvoted to the front page. As cute as they might be my heart always goes out to the ones in shelters (i worked at one myself and my cats and rabbits are from shelters).

StandingByToStandBy4 karma

Reddit hates me for it, but I hate cats....

rescue_x78 karma

I'm highly allergic to cats, and as far as I'm concerned they're literally trying to kill me. As a result I have no idea how to properly handle them or read their behavior, and I stick with dogs.

Not to say that I hate them, I do find them cute, but they're just not for me :P

iwanttofork9 karma

A lot of what I'm reading on this AMA is depressing. Do you have anything positive? Perhaps an inspiring story?

rescue_x766 karma

A lot of what we do is depressing but sure I can share a positive story. Sorry it may be long. There are highlights of the work we do :)

Before I helped start this group, I volunteered at my suburb's shelter as a photographer to help the dogs get adopted via online listings. My husband and I went about every other Saturday to take photos.

He arrived before me one day and was outside with an old solid white Chow Chow mix. She was covered in mud and who knows what else, and was obviously in a lot of pain. She kept rubbing her head against the ground and crying. We had never actually saved a dog like this ourselves before, and weren't sure what to do, but we knew that we couldn't let her stay like that.

We convinced the shelter manager to let us foster her in our house while keeping her as property of the shelter. As soon as I got in the car, I drove to a dog wash and gave her a bath. Her beauty started to shine through (literally).

We soon discovered she was almost completely deaf. We took her to a low cost vet where they told us that she had ear infections that had gone untreated for years which was why she couldn't hear. The insides of her ears looked like something from a gremlin. We got medication and started treating them.

At this point I was sure no one would adopt such an old special needs dog but I tried anyway. I posted flyers in pet stores. Finally I reached out to a local rescue and asked them if they would take her in if I agreed to foster her. I was shocked when they agreed. So she was signed over to the rescue.

One day I was sitting on the computer talking to the other dogs when she responded, and I realized she could hear again! I was so happy I cried. It was like a miracle.

I started taking her to adoption events, and one day a family arrived specifically to meet her. We were really excited as this was the first adoption interest she'd ever had. The family was a mom and two kids, a son about 11 or so, and a daughter about 8. The mom immediately fell in love with her, but she knew that she was an old dog.

The mom turned to the son and said, "Now you know she's an old lady and she probably won't be with us very long."

The son replied, "Yeah but she deserves a loving home as much as all these puppies do." I just about lost it. This kid in his young innocence was able to see past the fact that she was an old dog and wasn't "cute" anymore and understood what it really meant to rescue a dog. I only wish more adults had the attitude he did.

That's what it's all about, really. Dog rescuers don't do it because they enjoy it, it's a lot of hard work and heartache. They do it because the dogs that other people have decided to overlook deserve better.

Here's a picture of the lovely lady.

Hope that brightens the thread up a little :P

phishf00d5 karma

I want to upvote that family too.

rescue_x75 karma

My husband wanted to keep her but we already had three dogs and the limit here is four. Having such a wonderful family come forward made it much easier for him to let her go.

ambivalentanglican8 karma

How do you consider killing an animal part of the rescue process?

rescue_x753 karma

Killing is an essential part of the animal services process for dogs that are too dangerous or sick/injured to be adopted. This will likely never go away.

Killing is not a part of the rescue process. Every adoptable animal killed is a failure by humans.

BBBBPrime4 karma

A failure in what way if I may ask?

rescue_x715 karma

In many ways. We as rescuers failed to find them a new home. Also the original owner of the breeding dogs failed on their end (whether it was an accident or not), and any owners of the dog before it reached that point failed to take responsibility for the well being of the dog. It takes a village, so to speak...

lawrnk1 karma


Dent77770 karma

Might they just be attempting to adopt a puppy of a specific breed who hasn't lived on the streets or been abandoned.


rescue_x73 karma

Not every shelter dog has lived on the streets. Yes some are "abandoned" but there's nothing wrong with most owner surrenders.

The average pet owner has no need for a specific breed. If the goal is to know what you're getting, then the best way to do so is to adopt an adult dog that has already grown into their size and temperament.

I know exactly what my foster dog's personality is and I know exactly how big she is as an adult. Whoever adopts her has no surprises whatsoever. You can't get that with a puppy, pure or mixed.

jenniferelaine5 karma

What does your rescue try to get from the shelter? Dogs that are immediately adoptable, dogs with medical/behavior problems? A mixture of both?

I agree that no-kills can be sad. I volunteered for one in college, so many hours it was basically a part-time job. Some of the animals had been there so long they were completely unadoptable. One had come from a hoarder, the other....had been so severely abused that she was severely people aggressive. Sometimes the "no-kill" gets in the way of the best interests of the animal.

rescue_x76 karma

We get both. It often depends on what the foster homes are willing to take.

Medical problems are generally not an issue as long as we have enough funds to deal with it. We pull a lot of heartworm positive dogs as well as dogs with mange and complete their treatment before putting them up for adoption. I have a heartworm positive Great Pyranees mix being treated right now as my own personal foster.

The only restriction we've had recently is we don't pull many litters of puppies because we had about 3 litters in a row that were already exposed to parvo in the shelter, and it's just too much for most fosters to deal with.

About half of our adoptable dogs right now are large breed, many pit mixes, but they are extremely difficult to get adopted in a reasonable time frame unless they're fluffy or pure-bred. So it takes a while before a spot opens up for someone to house one. Foster home availability for large breed dogs or behavior problem dogs are the #1 reason we don't pull more, not because of their ability to be adopted.

Pulling small breed fluffy dogs is basically a built in fundraiser for the group. The net revenue from their adoption fee from a quick turnover contributes to the care of the more difficult dogs.

I volunteered at a closed admission no kill shelter right out of college for a few years, and I still consider them the best group in this area. They are in a close relationship with a dog sanctuary and when dogs are there too long, if the dog is dog-friendly, they can send the dog there to live with a large pack of doggie friends for the rest of their life. I would still be volunteering there if they needed me, but I eventually reached a point where I had more time, passion, and skills than what they had a use for, so I left.

Gravy-Leg__5 karma

What's the process to euthanize a dog? Is it painful?

rescue_x79 karma

The process varies by shelter and by state. In some states it is still legal to use the gas chamber to euthanize, which is an inhumane practice but easier and cheaper for the workers, hence why some shelters still use it.

Here the state requires they be euthanized by lethal injection, basically the same thing your personal vet would use to put down a dog. As far as whether or not it is painful, I don't really have an educated opinion on that since I'm not a vet, but with dogs I have seen put down by injection it's a quick process, like they fall asleep and don't wake up.

Gravy-Leg__5 karma

What are the most common breeds of dogs that come in?

rescue_x712 karma

Most dogs that come in are mixed breed, about a quarter appear to be pure-bred but without papers it's hard to prove. Pit bull mixes (and various pit-like dogs) and chihuahuas are very common in this area.

Usually if a pure-bred dog of another breed enters the shelter they are pulled by a rescue fairly quickly because they are easier to adopt out. Personally I love mutts and don't understand the appeal of a pure-bred dog for the everyday owner.

SuperShak5 karma

I've heard mutts are usually healthier and longer lived, too.

rescue_x75 karma

That has been the case for me personally. My thirteen year old mutt (beagle mix) is very healthy and probably will stick around a lot longer.

Makes sense from a biological standpoint, larger gene pool and all.

There's also the fun factor of having a dog that is truly one of a kind.

Gen_Hazard0 karma

Is he smarter than the average beagle?

rescue_x75 karma

Well, he almost drowned as a puppy and I think he has some brain damage from it, so I don't think he is very smart but it's not his fault. Poor guy :P

huskyguides3 karma

What tolerance does your shelter have for pitbulls? I know where I live all pit bulls are terminated

rescue_x74 karma

They have a reasonable tolerance for them. There are more pits killed than any other type but that has very little to do with any breed traits, and a lot more to do with the fact that they're the breed of choice for horrible dog owners around here so there's a huge surplus of them.

ThoseDirtyBirds3 karma

I think you see the pure breed dogs leaving faster is due to the help of the local breed club/group. They get contacted and have the resources to find the proper owner who knows what they are getting into.

rescue_x75 karma

That is true a lot of the times, but I've also found some of the local pure breed rescues to be overly picky, like saying a dog isn't purebred, when they look pretty purebred to me.

The boxer group refused to pull this guy, as an example, claiming he wasn't enough boxer:

Gravy-Leg__4 karma

When a dog comes into the shelter, is there an upper age limit that guarantees it will be put down? Are there other traits that prevent an animal being put up for adoption?

rescue_x76 karma

This varies by shelter but at this shelter, they go in every day and make a decision for every dog whose stray hold time is up. If they have spaces available on the adoption floor, they choose which dogs to go there. They choose some dogs to email out to their rescue partners to give a chance to save that way (this is a common approach for highly adoptable dogs that have some fixable problem, like a broken leg). Many of the rest are killed.

There is not really clear criteria, just a judgement call on who is the most adoptable.

Some shelters do have an age limit, but this one doesn't. I recently pulled a nine year old dog myself. Senior dogs are notoriously hard to adopt though, so I'm sure it is part of their decision.

Any signs of aggression are bad, obviously. Dogs that are too scared to be approached are also in serious danger.

nomnomchikhan4 karma

There is a lot of emphasis put on the "goodness' of no kill shelters. How much flack do you get for running a kill shelter? Also, how are some of the ways your shelter plans to reduce the kill number?

rescue_x710 karma

To clarify, I don't run the shelter. I am a team leader and board member (volunteer basis) for a rescue group that pulls exclusively from that shelter.

There are two types of no kill shelters, open admission and closed admission. A closed admission no kill shelter is basically a rescue that has a facility. It shouldn't be compared to an open admission shelter of any kind. They get a lot of flack for "turning animals away" but that is unfounded. As long as their animals are properly cared for and they are saving lives, then they are having a positive impact.

An open admission no kill shelter, when best practices are used and the animals are properly cared for, is the ideal goal for a shelter.

The shelter in the last bit of time has improved the number by working more with rescue groups and having more aggressive adoption tactics. I believe in order to reduce the number further in the future they (or we) should also focus on public education on the reality of the situation, marketing campaigns promoting shelter animals, and helping owners keep their pets (thus reducing intake numbers).

gnualmafuerte7 karma

Thank you for doing the work you do. I've been insisting for years we need a special tax on dog breeding, dog food/apparel/accesories, etc, and any other activity that profits from house pets, and that money should go straight into groups like yours.

Also, I don't think a shelter is always the best option, concentrating animals in a single place like that is a recipe for disease and poor care. In my neighborhood, for example, we have 13 stray dogs. I talked with a couple of neighbors and convinced them to cheap in, we put in around 50 bucks each every month, and with that money we feed them and take care of them, we have a little fund for vet expenses, etc. They've learned to stay at the park, they don't bother anyone, they play with the kids, and everyone loves them. We have a sign explaining they are up for adoption, with my phone number so the new owner can request their vaccination card, etc. (it's actually so we can check out for potential abusers). If everyone did this, we could reduce shelter work to a fraction, only for dangerous/sick/injured animals.

rescue_x75 karma

I think your setup sounds awesome, and I agree that a shelter isn't the best place for every dog. It sounds like you're running a great little neighborhood rescue. I'd recommend getting the dogs fixed if you haven't already.

Ideally our job as rescuers would no longer be needed and I hope to see that day.

FWIW Petsmart Charities (the little prompt you get when you check out) does a lot here locally like sponsoring spay and neuter clinics. Also Pet Supplies Plus donates to the rescue doing the adoption whenever a pet is adopted in their store. So some of them take it upon themselves to help.

gnualmafuerte2 karma

Yup, they are all neutered. I can't consider this a rescue, or an operation at all, since I'm the only one actually working on it (I managed to get some neighbors to contribute some money to pay for food, vet, etc. but I couldn't get anyone to help with the work of delivering the food daily, taking them to the vet, etc). The biggest issues I've had are the municipal shelter trying to remove the dogs from the park, and dogs running into traffic. The first issue has been solved since we talked to the shelter, explained what we where doing there, and put collars with name tags on all dogs, and the second issue has been mostly solved since the animals got used to that park being their territory, also, a big-ass bad-ass mix-breed german-shepperd I named 'mofo' has emerged as a sort of pack leader, and he keeps tabs on everyone.

Regarding Petsmart and other charities you mention, I live in Argentina. We do have many charities doing animal work, but there's no donation system like the one you mention, mostly because people isn't so bent on using plastic here, and most small operations are settled in cash.

rescue_x72 karma

Interesting change in perspective from one country to the next. I hope your doggies find homes soon, but I'm glad they have a guardian angel of sorts in the meantime ;)

nomnomchikhan3 karma

Thanks for answering. I thought of another question. What would you say is the primary reason people bring animals to the shelter you work at?

rescue_x79 karma

Hard to answer this because the shelter doesn't ask enough questions (in my opinion) and people lie.

Moving, having a baby, losing your job, are common reasons I see. I see a lot of behavior issues being the reason but often it's something that the person should have trained out of the dog in the first place, and something that can still be fixed.

It's a common issue for people to acquire a large-ish breed puppy somehow and fail to give it basic training while its still small, leading to a large number of 1-2 year old bigger dogs being surrendered once their problem behaviors are no longer cute.

RuleTheRoost1 karma

Is an open shelter one that takes every animal or one that doesn't refuse animals based on adoptability? Or something different?

rescue_x71 karma

Closed admission shelters pick which dogs they want to take in. Open admission shelters take in all dogs that are within their jurisdiction. For example there's a city open admission no kill shelter near me. They take in all stray dogs found in that city and all owner surrenders from people that can prove they live in the city. So they don't take in all dogs per se, but they don't have the ability to pick and choose dogs to fill spaces.

dog_whisperer4 karma

No questions, just wanted to say i admire what you do! as a person beginning to be familiarized with this business, im learning quickly that you cannot save every animal, but the ones that you do are that much more worth it. thanks for helping the furry childrens

rescue_x75 karma

Thanks. I hope some day soon we can save every one.

ThoseDirtyBirds3 karma

What are your thoughts on ASPCA?

rescue_x76 karma

It's important for people to realize that the ASPCA has no affiliation with any other SPCA. That's a common misconception. People donate to ASPCA thinking it helps their local SPCA but it doesn't.

I'm not a huge fan of theirs, and I think they just fell into the same problems that most large national animal welfare organizations have. Too much bureaucracy and marketing, not enough actual animal care. Their president makes over $1 million a year. It's hard for me to come to terms with that.

I think it's just better to support local organizations, all things considered.

SuperShak3 karma

How can ordinary people help these fuzzy little ones?

Related question: If someone wanted to donate to a rescue charity how could they tell the good guys from the bad guys. (Bad guys being the ones that only use < 10% of the donations to help animals.)

rescue_x76 karma

In general, don't donate to large national organizations if you want to directly help animals. They tend to spend more on marketing and that sort of thing than on actual animals. I recognize that they have a place in animal welfare, but people donate to them with the assumption that money eventually reaches their local pound, and that's 999/1000 times not the case.

If the organization has a shelter, you can stop by and visit them and see if the animals are well taken care of, and if the people are compassionate. If they don't have a shelter, you can try meeting them at off-site adoption events and seeing what the people are like. Many 501c3 organizations post their IRS documentation online so the public can see exactly how much they spend on what.

Everyone can do something. Volunteering at the level I do sounds (and is) very taxing, but donating a few hours of your time at a shelter can actually be very rewarding and a ton of fun.

For my organization, we usually struggle the most with finding foster homes and getting adoptions. On that note I'd say the best way to help the fuzzy ones is to either be a foster, or adopt. We also have a need for photographers, graphic designers, web programmers, and people to send emails/make phone calls. Everyone can do something :)

Also really important is just getting the word out. If you hear someone talking about getting a pet, recommend that they visit the shelter.

twistedfork3 karma

Local rescues to me seem to have ridiculous standards to adopt out a dog without ever even speaking to someone. I submitted a form to them and because of one of their reasons (I live in an apartment, I work a job that keeps me from the house 9 hours a day, I don't have a fenced in yard, I'm not married, whatever) I am not a candidate for their dogs. It doesn't even matter WHICH dog, they have blanket rules about homes for ALL of their dogs. I realize the goal is to not have a dog relinquished back into the system, but they didn't even ASK for clarification on anything.

For me, this turned me away from rescues completely. I wouldn't even look at a rescue, I got my dog from the humane society. While they did ask some questions, they still let me leave with a dog. A dog that is walked at least 4 times a day and is brought to the dog park almost daily (almost because she hates the rain so we don't take her on rainy days) and I am pretty sure is generally happy.

Do you feel like the overly restrictive rescues hurt the rescue process?

rescue_x72 karma

I think it is harmful to turn people off to the point that they won't bother looking elsewhere, however, each rescue is free to enact whatever requirements they wish on their adopters.

For the record, I've adopted dogs out to apartments, mobile homes, ranches, poor people, rich people, single people, married people, parents, childfree, just about everything. However, my group's goal is a mix of quantity and quality, while other groups may focus on getting the best home possible. Hell I'd pay people out of my own pocket to adopt if I could. I've bartered with people on adoption fee before to get them to adopt. I'm not going to sit around and wait for the perfect home. If the dog is safe, well taken care of, and loved, then I don't care if they have a fenced yard or not.

I don't disagree with them using restrictive qualifications for adopters. They've probably been burned too many times, and that's why they do it. If they want to keep their dogs in foster homes for years while they turn down adopters, that's up to them, but the public needs to realize that every group is completely independent of one another, and the behavior of any one group is not indicative of the behavior of all of the rest.

Based on what I have seen, it would be impossible to get all rescue groups to agree on correct screening criteria.

Keep in mind, though, that because my group isn't as strict, we have a higher return rate, which is extremely stressful for everyone involved, adopter, dog, and rescuer. I can see how many groups would not see the benefits as outweighing the detriments.

softbeard7 karma

I just have to comment that I had to get my dog off craigslist, because I too had difficulty finding a shelter in my area that would adopt to apartments or first-time dog owners. The fact that I used to babysit both rottweilers and mastiffs during my summers was irrelevant.

I understand that shelters don't like getting burned with returns, but ownership criteria can get really ridiculous.

rescue_x72 karma

Do you live up north?

softbeard3 karma

Is Ohio north?

rescue_x72 karma

Yes. The problem is much worth in the south. Most shelters around here will adopt to just about anyone.

The problem is so significantly worse here that many south rescues have partnered with north rescues to literally ship homeless dogs to other parts of the country where there aren't as many.

xxOMEGA77xx3 karma


rescue_x720 karma

I think it should be illegal to sell puppies (or kittens) in stores or on the internet, and I'm glad many areas around the country are adopting laws like this.

Edit: I should clarify, I think the little cat things for rescue pets you see in Petsmart or Petco are great because they allow rescued pets to get some needed attention. Those stores allow rescues to put animals in the store mostly out of good will, but also in the hopes that the adopter buys stuff. They make no actual profit from the adoption of the animal. Not the same thing as breeding puppies and kittens in order to fill a demand at a store and generate a profit on the sale of the animal.

Masanari3 karma

If they can make adoptions as quick and easy as getting a pet on the internet then I can see your point. But as long as the tedious, vastly subjective, and invasive adoption process exists then I would rather look to a private owner. Just looking through the comments I see some people in situations where a shelter would rather put the animal down than to have even the slightest risk of not being cared for properly.

rescue_x72 karma

My group has online adoption applications. Once they fill it out, we bring the dog to them, let them spend time with the dog, introduce the dog to any existing pets, and then if they decide to go through with it there's a one page contract to fill out.

I don't know how it can get any easier than that.

I have no control over the possibly invasive or overly strict policies of other rescues.

RiseOtto3 karma

What is your opinion on cattle? Aren't efforts hugely misbalanced considering how pigs, cows and chickens are treated every day in our food industry?

rescue_x78 karma

I'm actually reasonably passionate about the treatment of livestock in this country as well, and I'm a vegetarian as a result, though not a strict one. I don't eat or buy any pig products, and pay a premium for pasture raised milk and pasture raised eggs.

I'm passionate about several issues but I don't have time to devote myself to all of them. I'd rather go all in on one that I can make a significant impact than do a little for many.

iamfuckinganton3 karma

do you feel an obligation to work more closely with kill shelters than non-kill because those animals are in more danger or do you try to not play favorites, so to speak?

rescue_x73 karma

I think both play an integral part in saving lives, and tend not to favor one over the other. They each have important but different roles.

Most no kill shelters pull their dogs from kill shelters so it's all connected in the grand scheme of things.

DatWhiteDevil2 karma

Why do you so many dogs end up in these shelters? Irresponsible owners mostly?

rescue_x74 karma

I have avoided answering this because it's a hard question. You can't just look at why they go in to the shelter, but also have to look at why they don't come out. In short, yes, irresponsible owners are probably the #1 reason.

Either people don't know that there's such a huge problem, or they do know and choose to ignore it.

However, I don't place the blame solely on the owners' shoulders. The community should be out there taking an active role in the problem, educating their neighbors and friends, showing people how awesome their shelter dog is, and making wise decisions themselves about their pets. We have to change the attitude that pure bred puppies are somehow superior pets if we ever hope to reduce the demand (and therefore supply) for them. The best shelters for animals are almost always the ones which are surrounded by a community that supports them and respects them as more than a place to dump animals.

Likewise the shelters should be actively working with rescues to get pets out. They should be proactively trying to return strays to their owners, and when times are dire, they should be using aggressive adoption tactics like waiving adoption fees.

mynameisdust2 karma

How do you get a job in a kill shelter?

rescue_x73 karma

Animal services officers have certain certifications they need, typically. Vet techs also have special training.

A lot of the workers I see are just average people that needed a job. Nothing special. It doesn't pay a lot.

Everything I do is on a volunteer basis.

funchy1 karma

I head up a large animal rescue. My biggest challenge is that I'm exhausted. There's never enough donations to help all the people who can't keep their animals. Animal control in many areas is lax. In some counties it to downright joke, and they simply won't send anyone out. But we don't have the authority to seize animals or trespass without animal control authority. The few times we can get Animal Control involved, there very reluctant to press charges. The few times abusers go to court they either win or they go home with only a slap on the wrist and the animals are returned to them. The government doesn't want to fund welfare enforcement laws sufficiently so enforcement in rural areas is weak. There isn't much money for training officers in welfare issues for species other than dogs . Donors don't understand why sometimes extremely aggressive or elderly animals may be candidates for euthanasia. Animal trainers that are any good won't work for free consistently. Donors dont understand why it costs a lot of money to retrain a single animal. How do you keep from going crazy in a world that demands everything from you and give you no resources to do it?

rescue_x72 karma

I think you have to be a little crazy to keep going.

One of the best things we have going for trainers is a couple trainers that will take our dogs into their homes for a couple weeks for "boot camp". It's hard to get foster homes to consistently keep up with training, and you don't want to ask too much of them for fear of them quitting.

One of the best things we've had going for us for fundraising is a partnership with a beer festival. People love donating to cute dogs when they're drunk :P

Cantoi1 karma

Does the shelter you work with have any rules that you must follow before you can rescue an animal? I foster pups for a local group and our local kill shelter has rules which I find odd. Here are the rules we have to follow.

Once a dog is tagged for rescue it has to be out of the shelter for 10 days at a foster home before it can travel to the rescue. Once a dog is tagged for rescue it only has 5 days to be placed in a foster home. If not placed in a foster home after 5 days it goes to the top of the kill list. Does your shelter have ridiculous rules like these? I fail to see why a dog can't travel directly from the shelter to a rescue group.

Our local kill shelter is mired in politics and people who think they are more important that they really are. We do have a very good network of fosters, rescue groups and a travel network though.

rescue_x71 karma

The first rule is probably for disease control, the foster home working like a quarantine. It's strange that the shelter requires it though.

We have a lot of politics too but thankfully the people I'm involved with have no interest in contributing to it.

Sometimes we've been thrown under the bus though for things we have literally nothing to do with. For example we once had a local festival put on by a local animal advocacy group try to deny us being able to bring dogs for adoption on the basis that some woman who has no involvement with us bad mouthing them in comparison to us. They said that unless we got her to back down we couldn't come. It was absurd. She wasn't even a volunteer.

dolphinfriendlytuna1 karma

When I am rich I will build a temple for animals with no homes. Want to work with me?

rescue_x72 karma

When you're rich you can help me build the best shelter in the country! :)


What vacuum is best for cleaning up animal (Labrador dog) hair, in your opinion?

rescue_x72 karma

I have all hardwood floors and tile and a $20 Walmart vacuum has actually worked wonders for me.

TBH though I gave up on keeping my house clear of dog hair years ago.

Wackbot1 karma

You said you've seen "the both people and dogs." Has there been any cases of animal cruelty by workers at the shelter? What is the worst condition you've seen an animal in?

rescue_x75 karma

Not recently, but there have been cases of cruelty by the hands of workers at this shelter, even leading up to criminal charges. They made huge changes after that happened, and now most of the workers are relatively compassionate since the attitude has changed from the top down.

The worst condition I've seen dogs in is cruelty cases. There was one here not long ago of a dog doused in gasoline and set on fire. Puppy mill seizures are almost always in horrible shape, too. Two in particular come to mind, one that had a cage above him (only wire, no tray) and his long hair was caked in waste from the dog above to the point that he couldn't see or walk. Another was a great dane from a hoarder that was kept in a cage too short to the point that she could never stand up straight.

Astilaroth1 karma

How do you screen the potentially new owners, to make sure the dog gets a permanent safe home?

I've adopted both cats and rabbits from shelters and one of the people from a rabbit shelter said that they had bunnies coming in because the owners wanted to adopt a dog instead. Bit ironic, dumping one animal to rescue another...

rescue_x72 karma

Instinct is a pretty powerful tool for screening adopters. We don't typically do home visits, but if we are not sure about someone, we will require one.

We have a pretty long application and a contract. We go through the contract and app and ask them about any red flags we see. We usually call their vet if they have pets already to verify that the pets health is taken care of. The length of screening we do depends on the problems we encounter in the application process.

In general I can usually tell if someone is a good fit for a dog based on how they interact with the dog, and their interactions with me as the rescuer. The best adopters are people that take a long time to discuss the adoption with their spouse/family and ask me lots of questions about the dog's history.

We also have regular follow up calls and emails. For dogs with behavior problems, we have a trainer volunteer give them a consultation follow up.

There's only been one dog so far that was placed into a horrible situation, but the adopter lied to us multiple times. I don't feel that there was much more we could've done in that case, and once we learned of what was happening, we immediately seized the dog.

We would not adopt an animal out to someone that had dumped an animal in the past. However, if they lied about it, there's not much we can do.

As an example, I have denied an adopter based on the fact that their previous dog was stolen from their yard. I didn't feel like it was a safe situation to put our fluffy little dog into.

rookierolls1 karma

I respect your work.

Sorry if this has been asked, I haven't read all the comments but has it ever gotten to a point where you wanted to give up this responsibility? Your duties can be very heartbreaking, based on some responses.

Thanks for the AMA.

rescue_x72 karma

Yes burnout is very common, and the turnover rate for volunteers is pretty high.

I have small duties week to week, usually working the adoption events and updating social media, but I always have large projects on my plate. If I'm feeling burnt out I pretty much just show up and do nothing else. When I'm feeling motivated I get big projects done.

Some of that is my own fault. I'm a perfectionist and have a hard time trusting other people with things that are typically my responsibility. It helps that my husband is so involved since we can keep each other going, and share responsibilities.

There have been times I've wanted to quit, but TBH this gives my life meaning and purpose I haven't been able to find elsewhere.

rookierolls2 karma

Glad to hear positive things. You're doing good work - I wish you all the best in all your endeavors.

rescue_x72 karma

Thank you ;)

minos161 karma

What I don't get is.....why don't pet stores just sell these shelter pets?

I have a funny feeling you'd end up moving more pets if you copied the pet store model.

rescue_x71 karma

The pet store model has been utilized by rescues in different parts of the country. I think you can find examples if you search for them.

The shelter here has an adoption center inside a Petsmart that does this. I think they get around 50-100 adoptions a week in there.

The retail model is something that a lot of rescues try to copy. The problem is that it's hard to reach the point where you can buy property and hire employees.

We utilize the ideas as best we can, such as having adoption events on Black Friday, but that is difficult as well when your "employees" are all volunteers that have families and lives.

huskyguides1 karma

Do you notice a higher amount of a breed making it into the shelter? I ask because a shelter I used to work at seemed to get a lot of rotties in

rescue_x71 karma

Pits are the breed of choice for the bad neighborhoods around here, so we see a lot of them.

blackday441 karma

No question, just want to say I am happy there are people like you to help out at shelters.

When I encounter people who want their pet to have 'just one litter' or let their kids 'experience the miracle of life', I tell them: If you are willing to bring these babies into the world, you had better be willing to watch some of them leave it. Go to a kill shelter, and watch them euthanize the unwanted puppies, kittens, elderly animals, etc. before you let your pet get pregnant.

rescue_x71 karma

Something else you can tell them, is they can foster a dog that's already pregnant. They get to help a rescue and their kids get to experience the "miracle of life" or whatever but they're not purposefully breeding more dogs.

Creami1 karma

You mention that your goal is to reduce the number killed to a reasonable amount. What is your groups definition of this "reasonable amount" if you don't mind me asking?

rescue_x71 karma

In general, around 90% of the animals coming in are adoptable, or can be adoptable after medical treatment and/or training, so that is the generally accepted goal. Up to 10% of animals coming in are too dangerous or sick/injured to ever be adopted.

siniminstx1 karma

Sometimes it makes me sad to think that my dog never had pups while she was alive. Is it ever okay to not spay / neuter, or should it generally always be done?

I know outdoor animals would probably need it more because it's difficult to control the other animals they come into contact with, but what about an indoor pet that you're fully prepared to care for? Is it just because litters are too big to reasonably assume that a family can take care of them? It's just so sad, all of this.

rescue_x71 karma

Sometimes it makes me sad to think that my dog never had pups while she was alive.

Every puppy is an individual and the notion that you could've had another copy of your dog is unfortunately not true.

The importance depends on your area and situation and how bad the problem is there.

Even considering those factors, if you're not prepared to do a ton of research including finding a responsible breeder as a mentor, spend a ton of money on vetting the puppies, and then keeping up with each and every puppy throughout their entire lifetime to ensure they're not abandoned or abused, it's better to spay/neuter and not take the chance.

I will never own a dog that isn't fixed. While my dogs may never roam the neighborhood and get another dog pregnant, that doesn't stop some crazed unneutered dog from digging his way under my fence and getting an unspayed dog of mine pregnant.

EllieJellyNelly1 karma

Is the shelter just for dogs and cats, or do you take in other animals? At shelters I've been to there's always a huge amount of unwanted birds and rodents that are rarely adopted.

rescue_x71 karma

Birds aren't very popular here and they get sent to a bird rescue.

Rodents sometimes sit in the lobby and are free to take home or like $5. I have a friend that runs a rat rescue and she pulls abandoned rats out.

I don't think it's a huge problem here.

palapiku1 karma

I have seen many complaints that rescue organizations make adoption too difficult. Potential applicants are subject to extreme scrutiny, required to fill out lengthy forms, provide extensive documentation, often to be turned away for no really good reason by people who don't judge them to be good enough.

I can understand that people working in rescue organizations want to make sure that the animals get the best possible home. They can be quite vocal and passionate in defending their position. But they never seem to understand that the people they turn away will just end up buying a pet from a mill. And if the applicants really weren't suited to have a pet, the pet will end up in a shelter, compounding the problem.

Do you think adoption is too hard, or is the difficulty justified, despite the problem outlined above?

rescue_x74 karma

But they never seem to understand that the people they turn away will just end up buying a pet from a mill.

I don't think it's fair to put this blame on the rescue denying them. If someone buys a puppy mill dog, that's their poor decision, not the rescue's. If someone is willing to contribute to animal cruelty in order to have their cute puppy, I don't want to adopt to them in the first place because that's a clear indication of both a lack of compassion and an impulse decision.

I hear complaints that our forms are too long, but frankly I don't pay any attention to them. If someone isn't willing to take 10 minutes out of their day to allow me to verify that they are knowledgeable enough to provide adequate care for the dog I've spent months pouring my heart and money into, I have no desire to adopt to them either. The dog means too much to me to allow that to happen.

I've been the adopter being screened when I was adopting a dog before I had my own group, and I was happy to provide whatever information they required. I let the foster parent of the dog inspect my home. I had no desire to support a group that didn't care where their dogs went.

I think if someone has a problem with one rescue group denying them, they should just look for another. If they have a problem with multiple groups denying them, they should probably look at the reasons why and rethink if they are really ready to have a dog.

Cherpyderp1 karma

Do you often run into situations with animal hoarding? If so, does it seem like animal hoarding is a large scale problem or are they pretty isolated incidences?

rescue_x71 karma

It's fairly isolated. I know people that legally are hoarders in terms of number of animals in the household, but actually take excellent care of their animals. I know a couple that has 14 dogs, but their life literally revolves around the care of those dogs.

I don't agree with the animal limit laws that limit the number of animals someone can have. My husband and I could reasonably care for 6 to 7 dogs at least, but many people can't properly care for 1. The limit in our city is 4, which we are almost always at. I think they should judge owners on the care the animals receive, not the number present.

Hoarding is an interesting situation because often people have good intentions but just get in over their heads. It is very sad when it gets to a cruel point, and I've seen some really bad cases of neglect by hoarders.

pitbullpride1 karma

May I ask why you wish to keep your group anonymous?

rescue_x73 karma

As a board member I'm legally allowed to make statements on our behalf.

I don't want my opinions to be seen as the opinions of my group.

ThoseDirtyBirds1 karma

Let me get your opinion on someone that was denied from a rescue group to adopt a dog.

The man who was looking to adopt the dog has unaltered males and females in his house. He is on the field trial circut competing in AKC events. ALL of his dogs are Champion titled dogs within AKC and American Field. He breeds maybe 1 litter a year and studs his dogs out. Not in the business of breeding just bettering the breed with top of the line dogs. All are inside dogs. He was contacted that a local shelter has a dog in their possession of the same type of breed. He went and looked at the dog and fell in love. He is a responsible breeder and thought he would fix this dog then maybe hunt it but mostly as a companion dog. The shelter rejected his adoption siting the unaltered dogs in the house. They said the only was was for him to fix all the other dogs.

rescue_x72 karma

If he was as involved in his breed as you say he was, he should've been able to have the breed rescue pull the dog and adopt it from there.

rootyb1 karma

So, I was reading a book called Cat Sense (by former AMA'er John Bradshaw), and he offers the idea that, while capture, spay/neuter, release is a good thing, it's possible that it will quickly start to favor, evolutionarily, those feral animals (cats, of course, in the case of his book) that are wild enough to be difficult or impossible to catch (since they'll just keep on reproducing, while the more tame/social-with-humans animals will be taken out of the gene pool).

Any thoughts on this?

rescue_x72 karma

I've never met a feral cat that was even remotely social with humans. The majority of them are happy to claw your face off. That's what makes them feral.

The opposite case could be made that cats that are more likely to come into human environments are more likely to be fed by local cat lovers, and more likely to have a constant food source as a result.

MicroPixel1 karma

Does your shelter ever get in exotic pets such as parrots? If so, what procedures does your shelter take with them?

rescue_x72 karma

Exotic pets are generally transferred to a rescue that's equipped to deal with them.

Sometimes my group gets donations of pet bird supplies and we give them to a bird rescue that takes in abused birds, like parrots.

huskyguides0 karma

What is your opinion on the cost to spay or neuter where I live it is $230 to get your dog neutered. If the prices were lower there would be a lot less unwanted animals in the world. Has it ever been brought up that reducing the cost significantly or offering free spays would help reduce the amount of animals finding there way into shelters?

rescue_x72 karma

In my area, there are numerous clinics that do spay/neuter for under $50. If you adopt from the shelter, your $30 fee includes spay/neuter as well. They do free spay/neuter but only if you live in one of about 10 zip codes that contribute the most to shelter intake.

It does help a lot and hopefully a group can step forward to start that where you are.

huskyguides1 karma

Thanks for the reply it just never made sense to me that they would charge so much when it would almost be cheaper in the long run for the humane societies to just offer one free voucher for spay or neuter within their postal code per household. For example, any male cats that were spraying because they were not fixed would not end up at the shelters because they are considered "dirty" which cost the shelters time money and space.

rescue_x71 karma

It's generally accepted that low cost, high volume spay and neuter is essential to reducing killing at a shelter.

In addition to the male cats like you've mentioned, it's cheaper to spay one female adult dog than it is to deal with an unwanted litter dumped at the shelter when she gets pregnant. So it is definitely cheaper for the city/county/whatever to promote and provide cheap spay/neuter.

Acmnin0 karma

Do you really consider this place a "shelter".. That's a large percentage that are killed...........

rescue_x77 karma

The shelter would be happy to see every adoptable animal walk out the door alive.

In an ideal world their primary function would be to unite lost dogs and cats with their owners, but they do what they can with what the world throws at them, not to say that they couldn't improve.

nprovein-3 karma

How many pot bellied pigs do you take in, and subsequently kill?

SuperShak7 karma

Why are there so many dumbasses in this thread that think she works for a kill shelter?

Title of the thread, I highlighted the important part because you're having a hard time reading apparently: "IamA leader of an animal rescue that works with a high kill shelter that kills over 30,000 animals a year."

rescue_x75 karma

It's a common misconception. People often don't realize that every animal rescue and shelter is its own independent entity, or that most rescues operate completely on volunteer work with no paid employees.

rescue_x73 karma

My group only takes in dogs and some cats. I don't think the shelter keeps or kills farm animals, but signs them over to a rescue group more equipped to deal with them.

nprovein1 karma

So you never personally came into contact with a pot bellied pig you handed over to a pig rescue?

rescue_x72 karma

My rescue group only pulls dogs and occasionally cats. I don't actually work at the shelter. I've never personally come in contact with a surrendered or seized animal that wasn't a dog, cat, or small fuzzy pet.

It's really unusual for them to get something other than a dog or cat. I see guinea pigs and hamsters occasionally. I'm fairly certain they are signed over to a rescue or a trusted owner willing to adopt them.

nprovein2 karma

Ill try and take some photos of my pot bellied pigs for you. Maybe seeing them will cheer you up.

Edit: here is the pig in bed photos I tried to take some while they were walking around. but they wouldn't hold still for a decent photo.

rescue_x71 karma

That pig in the front looks especially happy :)

_KaspeRRR_-3 karma

the words "rescue" and "high kill shelter" don't exactly tie well with one another...

rescue_x73 karma

We are two separate entities. My group rescues dogs from being killed.

Big_Billyo-6 karma

Works at animal rescue


Kills over 30,000 animals every year.

rescue_x74 karma

I'm a software engineer in consumer electronics. I volunteer in animal rescue.

I don't kill any animals. We pull animals from the kill list.

Xentec6-7 karma

I got a better idea, why dont you devote your time and resources to helping homeless HUMANS, just let then animals go, they are just animals.

rescue_x71 karma

Humans are animals as well.

I have offered my skills to a local homeless (human) outreach group. They did not take them.