Saturday, June 17, 2017

Shopping for a Pet is Not Without Peril

Our dear little Addie Rose, still too little to come home yet.
Our search for a kitten was not without peril and pain. It is a different day and age and our hunt for a new kitty started on line. After my long term dearest cat companion died, friends sent me names and numbers of those that had adoptable cats and kittens. Being in the country, barn cats are often with kittens, though over the years we have used the SPCA Rescue Shelters instead as they come with "care package deals" including needed physical exams, de-worming, immunizations and neutering or spaying. We learned the hard way about adopting kittens and not having them spayed. Unspayed cats numbers can grow exponentially almost overnight, and health care is as essential to pets as it is for us! is an available service on-line and helped us locate kittens through local adoption agencies.  Both my daughter and I found prospective pets in this manner.  It worked well for my daughter, but less well for me. Kittens, we learned are seasonal and at the beginning of our search, few were available. To make a long story short, I was unprepared for what I encountered, and hope that my blog will inform others so as to avoid the pain that I went through.

My daughter offered transportation and her day off to take me with her to meet her desired cat as well as my own. Her's was at an animal hospital that also acted as an SPCA shelter.  They had only a few kittens, including the one that I ended up adopting.  The staff of this vet clinic and shelter were welcoming and took much time to bring us each animal that was available for adoption, allowing us to spend time with each individual animal.  My daughter had seen her's on line and thought by her picture and description of her disposition, she would be a perfect match and used a credit card as down payment to reserve this cat for her.  Their service was very respectful to us as well as each adoptable kitty and cat.
Addie Rose, our special little kitty!

We then went to a cat clinic at a Petsmart Store a good distance from us to meet the kitty that I wanted to meet. We were there a few minutes late and I was concerned that perhaps my selected kitten would be gone. She was gone alright, as she hadn't even been brought to that particular cat clinic at all.  We were not warmly greeted, but quite the opposite. It seemed that first and foremost in their minds, was whether or not I had filled out their questionnaire.  I replied that I had just that morning, about five hours before our arrival. This is apparently the policy of Whiskers Adoption Agency. All potential adopters are screened first before being allowed to visit the animals.

My selected kitty was in a nearby foster home. I was told most curtly that she wasn't available for adoption without adopting her sibling though their add on line had indicated that they preferred to have this kitty and her sibling stay together. Whisker's policy states however that each potential adoptive parent would be free to choose the best pet for them and no pressure would be applied by the adoption agency to adopt a particular animal for the sake of saving an animal?

"Blazing Star", the kitty I was not allowed to see or adopt.
It was unclear to me as to which cats would be at particular cat clinic, though I had emailed a note that I would be there that evening to meet little Blazing Star, the kitten of my choice. I assumed that all adoptable cats would be there. Distance was certainly an issue for us, but no one answered their phone to confirm this and we took our chances. My daughter was so angry about the rude manner in which we were treated, she rightfully chose NOT to consider any of the cats that were there, though she was still looking for another cat or kitten to adopt.

I returned home confused and disappointed and  posted an email indicating that I had traveled a great distance to meet this animal and inquired as to how I could arrange to meet her. The next morning, I received an email back from Whisker's agency to inform me that based on the questionnaire, I had filled out, I was found to "NOT be considered a humane animal owner" and was not allowed to adopt an animal through them. This online questionnaire included the name of my vet as a personal reference, but their decision was based solely on a checklist regarding what I might consider in treating any behavioral issues the adopted cat might have and I had checked off "declawing" along with many other options.

Sadly no one talked to me or get to know me before deciding me "inhumane", as declawing would have been a last choice versus a first choice.  I take adoption seriously and have had both easy and difficult animals to train, and always consult my vet as to how to best handle a particular problem. They also included information regarding declawing, and information about another procedure where claws can now be covered with rubber coatings to soften the sharpness to prevent clawing damage of your home and furniture, should your animal display clawing behaviors.

I later talked to my friends as I was devastated by their decision and blown away by their assessment of me. I was and still am grieving the loss of Zeldie. She was my mostly companion and her absence is no small loss, especially as I am mostly house-bound and except for my furry friends, I am often alone. I was vulnerable but anxious to adopt another kitty, but was not prepared for a negative, albeit, superficial evaluation of myself as a pet owner. My friends let me know that most of them had been "black-balled" as prospective pet owners as well. One wasn't allowed to adopt an animal as she worked full time.  Another was refused as she indicated that she let her cats outdoors.  That is considered unsafe for cats now. Other's told me that they have lied or are less than honest and open when filling out such forms, as often they expect to experience such negative judgments, and some have had a relatives adopt animals for them to get around being "black balled".

Already Addie can do tricks and look at you upside down!
I had found our dear little Addie Rose at the SPCA Center where my daughter took us first to get the cat that she desired. She is not only a beautiful kitty is very affectionate and comfortable with us. She literally adopted us! This SPCA shelter has been so welcoming and has allowed us to visit our kitty until she is big enough to go home. This has not only afforded us more time to get to know our kitty, but has also given them the opportunity to view and interact with us. I think actions speak louder than questionnaires. We have also learned more about kitty care, though we have had kitties before. It is sad that Whiskers Adoption Agency doesn't do the same.

While I can't change the world, I did want to speak up regarding how I was treated at Petsmart and by the Whiskers Adoption Agency. Only days later, when I went to show my other daughter a picture of Blazing Star, we noted that she had been adopted without her sibling. Clearly, we weren't just treated rudely as well as dismissed as cruel and inhumane pet owners, but the rules of adoption weren't equal for everyone despite their policy's pledge.

No one deserves to be treated as I was treated and I am writing this blog to warn others in search of a future pet. I will follow up with to let them know that this particular store advertised this kitten as available, when I think she wasn't available at all. They also need to know about the rude manner, and personally discriminating fashion of this agency and store. They were beyond impersonal but unfair and cruel to me in my vulnerable grieving state!  I will also complain to the Whisker Adoption Agency. I appreciate that they are looking for good adoptive pet parents, but judging me based on their questionnaire and honest answer re "declawing" doesn't educate in a positive manner.  This issue  would better be taken up with vets versus the people who seek their professional advice.
"In a world where you can be anything, chose to be kind". (from FB)

I have adopted two other pets from Petsmart and this was the first time that I was treated in such a manner and so I will inform them as well. Meanwhile, I took my business elsewhere and am happy I did. I warn my readers of my treatment in hopes that they will take care to not find themselves in a similar situation. I sincerely hope that others will not expose themselves to superficial paper/pencil tests, without being warned that you may well be judged harshly when answering hypothetical questions, that should only be confidentially addressed with consultation with your trusted vet. I hope that you find shelters that treat people as humanely as they treat animals. Most of us are wanting to be the best pet owners we can be, and such superficial judgement of responsible pet ownership isn't best done through impersonal questionnaires.

Alls well that ends well. Our dear little Addie Rose will soon be able to come home with us.  I am busy preparing to set up her temporary nursery, and have been earnestly reading a kitty training book. We have found to be a cheaper way to purchase just what our kitty may need with trees and perches to climb and different types of scratching posts, and behavioral training aides. We look forward to training her as well as spoiling her and we already cherish being with her. I hope that Blazing Star has found an equally good home as well.
"Contentment" for us both!

My search has ended well, but being treated badly on top of losing a dear pet really shouldn't be part of anyone's healing process. Do beware of such questionnaires that attempt to evaluate and potentially label you. Also watch out for potential discrimination in adopting a young pet if you are in your senior years. I wasn't treated favorably from the initial contact, so perhaps my silver hair and limp entered into their decision as well? I will add that planning is important if the animal you adopt could potentially outlive you, so as to not leave your pet(s) without a home, should something happen to you first. Responsible pet parenting means serious consideration of whatever your pet may need. I may well be on my way to becoming a "cat lady"! When I saw how many need homes and how well developed my "cat communication skills" have become thanks to Zeldie, my beloved teacher, Addie Rose may well be only the first to be adopted. I may well have love enough for more than one cat!
From FB: "Even in 1890, one cat is not enough!" (She is my new heroine!)