Wednesday, August 26, 2009

An Adoption Rant

Whenever there's a purebred cat at the shelter, Kim is bombarded with emails from people trying to adopt him. It wasn't any different for a little Lynx Point Siamese named "Marnie" at the shelter. Kim refers the adoption inquiries to me for screening and I decide who is the best fit. There must've been 20 emails for Marnie - everybody telling me why they're best suited to give Marnie a forever home.

I chose a woman named "Diana". I spent a long time with Diana on the phone and she had experience with Siamese and promised to love Marnie forever....yada...yada...yada..."I have vet references"...blah, blah, blah...."I'll get her spayed right away"....blah blah blah..."Yes, I understand Marnie has been exposed to an upper respiratory virus at the shelter"...yada...yada,

I get this email from Diana today: (The spelling errors are hers...I didn't edit)

"I had to take her to the vet on Monday to address a respiratory infection that we had discussed that she may get. At that time, the vet informed me that she has a serious underlying health problem such as lukemia or diabetes that is causing her weight loss. She is very skinny under her fur where you can feel her bones. The problem that I now have is that I can not afford this expensive care for Marnie. I have contacted the Siamese resuce and I have been emailing T** regarding Marnie. She suggested that I let you know the sitution and see if there is anything that can be done. I can not afford anything besides the spaying that I was aware of when I decided to bring Marnie into my home. She is a very lovely cat so far, unfortunately I can not care for her extensive needs. Please let me know what you may be able to do. I will have to turn her over to a shelter in my area if there is nothing that you or T** can help with."

What kind of stupid-ass vet makes an assumption of Feline Leukemia or Diabetes - without testing - on a cat who is sneezing and has runny eyes? Marnie is 5 months old for God's sake - she was RESCUED FROM A SHELTER - of course, she's skinny! She was a stray AND a teenager!!! Holy crap, I'm mad.
My response was less than professional, I'm afraid:

"Most vets don't really understand Upper Respiratory Infections. It's ridiculous for a vet to assume that Marnie has Leukemia or Diabetes. She's a YOUNG TEENAGE cat who had been lost and abandoned. She's supposed to be thin! I'm shocked that a vet would make assumptions like this. How stupid!

I am disheartened to hear that you appear to be a "fair weather" adopter. I approved the adoption, because you indicated you would be committed to Marnie for LIFE. Not until you can't afford it anymore. When we permit these cats to leave the shelter, we promise them that they will NEVER have to go back to a shelter again.

Take care of your commitments, Diana. You committed to this little life, now see it through."

I'm not very proud of my response. I guess I'm extra pissed because she had me fooled. The very thought that she would take Marnie back to a shelter makes my blood boil. I'm hoping that by posting my feelings here I'd feel better.

But I don't. Stupid people.


Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the recent situation where an adopters vet quoted her $500 to treat a minor URI. Instead of contacting the foster parent, she dumped the kitten at the THS. Thank god the kitten is now safe and sound back at the foster home and is feeling just fine. People suck.

RHz said...

I have a bit of pent up frustration these days. If you'd kindly introduce me to her, I will smack her around a bit.

J/K... though it would be nice.

I do hope Marnie will be okay. And yep. People suck.

K said...

Your response was absolutely acceptable. I was prepared to see name-calling when you said it was less than professional. You spoke the truth. This woman "fought" against 20 others to prove that she would put this cat as a priority. I have seen adoption applications on the sites that you work through, and they ask how much the potential owner is expecting to spend on an animal. Animals get sick, REGARDLESS of leukemia or not, they are like people, and being someone that has worked with this rescue organization in the past, I know there are no surprises. You take on a cat, you take it on through sickness and health. My cat was skinny too! Cats aren't happy in shelters, they are sitting in a metal cage, and are terrified, of course they have little to no appetite. I totally understand her fear and think it is totally cool that she consulted the staff......but the fact that she appears prepared to exhaust the option of putting it back in a place she wanted so much to rescue it from so soon is maddening. Instead of spending the $80 on another vet consultation for a second opinion. Hopefully this is a life lesson to her, the kitten deserves better, I'm sorry you guys got tricked, it must be so frustrating. Let us know of any updates!

Kate said...

I think your email response was justified... Everything nowadays is so candy coated but you let her know in plain uncensored english that you are genuinely disappointed with her actions and her decisions. Good for you, that takes "kahones".

Jezika said...

That's so sad for Marnie. Any animal, particularly those who've already experienced the shelter system, should go to a home where they are part of a family, where their family is committed to their health in the same way they would be to the health of any other member of their family.

I guess it's easy for a person to say they're committed financially but hard to know if it's the truth. I can sympathise with the struggle these vet bills can occasionally be, but if you care about your pet enough, you'll do everything you can for him or her. And if you really can't afford it, don't have a pet. Let someone else give them a chance for a proper, cared-for life who won't give them up when the going gets tough.

Jezika said...

That's so sad for Marnie. Any animal, particularly those who've already experienced the shelter system, should go to a home where they are part of a family, where their family is committed to their health in the same way they would be to the health of any other member of their family.

I guess it's easy for a person to say they're committed financially but hard to know if it's the truth. I can sympathise with the struggle these vet bills can occasionally be, but if you care about your pet enough, you'll do everything you can for him or her. And if you really can't afford it, don't have a pet. Let someone else give them a chance for a proper, cared-for life who won't give them up when the going gets tough.

Lisa said...

Good for you! I get so angry at people who choose pets like accessories. "This cat doesn't match my sofa."
A living being should not be returned to the store because it doesn't fit your perfect little picture in your mind about how life would be with this pet.
People need to be more sober when they adopt pets. Like adopting children, you don't return them after. You think long and hard BEFORE.
I say this after bringing my cat back from the vet because of a nasty bite. $85 after the $600 for dental extractions and cleaning last week.
When I started regularly feeding this feral cat last year, I committed myself to finding a permanent home for him. I couldn't just stop feeding him for ANY reason. When I had him neutered and vaccinated, I knew I wouldn't likely find a home for a beaten up Tom that sprayed everywhere and hissed and scratched, but I had committed myself. Long story short, he's mine now. He's the most gentle and obedient thing and I wouldn't give him away to anyone now. He even brought out an incredibly gentle and compassionate side in my husband that I'd never seen with other pets. It's only now that Tom is a fixture in our family I can tell hubby how much he actually sprayed when I first brought him in. The harder the work, the more rewarding it is. Our dear Tom has rewarded us big time!

House of the Discarded said...

Lisa: WONDERFUL story about Tom your not-so-feral cat! Loved it!

a girL in a coma said...

Can you please keep us updated on Marnie? I would hate to know that she's been taken once again to a shelter, or worse, just dumped on the streets or put down.

AMP said...

I believe you were totally in the right. I have wished, MANY TIMES, I could make the same responses to many people who have inquried about adoption and who HAVE adopted. I just hope she does what is right for Marnie.

Anonymous said...

You should remove Marnie from her care (and I use that word loosely). Remember there are nineteen other people anxious to give that kitty the love and attention (financial and otherwise) that she so deserves. I cannot see a happy future for Marnie if she stays in her current situation....she might get tossed at a later date.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the other anonymous poster. Her actions show either a) she is not in a financial position to commit to a pet, and/or b) that it is likely Marnie will get dumped/prematurely euthanized further down the road when she starts to get old and her body begins to break down.

Take the cat back and give it to one of the other 19 families who so desperately wants her.

We never know what we're going to get when we adopt an animal, or even when we just take on the responsibility of find a home for the ones we find on the streets. But we commit to helping them, and then you have to do everything you can to follow through. That's just how its supposed to be.

Shannon said...

Apologies for the length of this post.

I felt the need to comment on this story because it so closely reflects my own road. I adopted one of my TCR foster cats after a year of fostering. During the intial physical exam (her first since her spaying after becoming a TCR cat a couple of years earlier), the vet detected a 'severe' heart murmur.

I was worried enough about my new fur baby but the vet instilled panic when he demanded that I schedule an ultrasound immediately, making it sound like she was about to collapse and die. Instead, I opted to get a second opinon from a vet who came highly recommended. He heard the same murmer and calmly talked me through my options. Together we decided that I would visit a veternanrian cardilogist for a diagnostic ultrasound.

In the weeks following her adoption, Katie had thousands of dollars spent on her in blood work (recommended by that first vet again), consultations, and of course the specialist appointment. Eventually she was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and started on appropiated medications.

I was a student, struggling on a very tight budget, who put all the costs on my credit card and worked all summer to pay them off. Yes it was difficult but it was also my responsibility. I adopted her and promised to love her forever and while that forever may be shorter now I will continue to do everything within (and sometimes out of) financial possibility. She deserves no less.

House of the Discarded said...

Shannon: Well said! I was a university student with 4 cats and went into debt to make sure they were vaccinated, spayed and neutered.

I'll keep everybody updated on Marnie. I ran into some folks from Siamese Rescue today and I'm hoping they make room for her.


Anonymous said...


I have an HCM kitty too :). He cost me over $2000 the first month I owned him... and I never considered taking him back to the shelter! I adopted him - he was family! He's beem symptom free for five years now on Atenolol ;). So no, no sympathy for these stupid people.


Anonymous said...

Shannon, wonderful story. And not unlike mine. My special "babycat" had just died after a cancer battle, and I adopted an adorable little kitten from a rescue, to help fill the void. I fell for this kitten the second I saw her.

I'll skip all the "scuzzy rescue that deserves to be publicly embarrassed" part, but 2 days after I got her home (and less than a week after losing my special guy), she started tottering. Massive murmur, tons of money on tests, and yep, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy diagnosis. I was shattered, and actually did come "thisclose" to returning her, thinking I couldn't handle losing another special "babycat" so soon. But I figured they'd either pawn her off on another unsuspecting adopter, or put her to sleep - and she was my responsibility now, anyhow, so she stayed. On just one quarter of a pill every day, she's a fabulous, happy girl, nearly 3 years old. And at her most recent checkup, the vet couldn't detect her murmur any more!

And her cute little face snuggling me at night is worth WAY more than money.

a girL in a coma said...

I hope to hear about a happy tale for Marnie. I would take her away from Dianne right now. I know she should own up to her responsibilities, but you can't lingo that for the sake of the cat.

Anonymous said...

I just can't understand that woman's thinking. If it pulled on her heart strings to see Marnie huddled at the back of a metal cage then surely finding out she was possibly sick would only strengthen her resolve to care for her. I too adopted an a cat out of hamilton that cost me a fortune. I would gladly sell my car and anything else of value if I could have bought even one more year with her. I have never regretted a penny I spent keeping that sweet girl in our lives. Just to clarify, the first $700 came just days after she joined our family. That woman is a fool and she shouldn't be allowed to own a guppie. I'm going to go cry now.

Anonymous said...

I just has to add to my last comment; Years ago when I was fostering for a smaller rescue I became very concerned about the cat in my care but the rescue would not approve a vet visit so I took her on my own. The vet we used for our own cats was unable to fit me in as it was a saturday so I went to one in town. I explained that she was a rescue but before I could say more he said "Well right away I can tell you that she is definitely older than what you were told, those places always lie" I couldn't believe someone you had dedicated their life to helping animals would say something so damning about people who have essentially the same ideals.Rescue is hard enough without respected professionals casting suspicion on us. I guess it's clear why he had available appointments on a saturday. Maybe Marnie saw the same jackass.

Anonymous said...

It is stories like these that remind me why, at 30, I'm going back to do my BSc in the hopes of getting into vet school.

Smartypants said...

Really looking forward to an update on how things turned out for Marnie, Beth!

Shannon said...


Thats inspiring. I'm going back to school (again) at 26 to do an undergrad in the hopes of one day possibly going to med school.

And I feel the need to clarify. Two years post diagnose of HCM and Katie is doing wonderfully. At her follow up ultrasound the vet detected her heart so improved that she was taken off her low dose of aspirin. A relief to me due to the signifigant risks of liver and kidney damage. She still takes atenol but is clinicaly asymptomatic.