Letter: Too Much Hassle To Adopt Shelter Dog

Photo of "Molly" provided

I am writing in hopes of gaining the attention of our community’s humane society and to assist others who may have experienced what my mother has. First off, I feel the Human Society does a wonderful job at protecting animals and finding them appropriate homes. I also feel that their process decreases the chances of pets finding their forever homes.

My mother has been searching for a dog and found Molly, a beautiful 2 year old female Saint Bernard on the Humane Society’s website and quickly jumped at the chance to meet her. She found Molly gentle with a great temperament and quickly fell in love. My mother had no idea that attempting to adopt Molly would be a long and painful journey.

She left Molly to give herself time to think through the decision of adopting Molly and after not being able to get the beautiful canine out of her mind, decided she wanted to adopt.

She informed the Humane Society that she would like to adopt Molly and was told that Molly needs a home free of children and other pets because Molly had bit another dog and was a liability. My mother advised that her children were all grown up and that she had no other pets in her home so she filled out the application. She was quickly told by the woman managing the desk that there must be a lot of dogs running around since my mother lived in a trailer. My mother was hurt by this response and did not think her home should reflect her ability to be a kind and loving owner to Molly. My mother is single, semi-retired, and not in need of a big home. She advised the Humane Society employee that there were in fact, no dogs “running around” and that she would like to hand in her application.

At the end of the next week, my mother still hadn’t heard anything regarding Molly and contacted the Humane Society. She was told that a home visit would need to be conducted to ensure my mother was an adequate candidate and that the Humane Society would be in contact with her to schedule the visit. Many thoughts ran through mom’s mind – do all individuals who adopt pets have home visits conducted? Was it because Molly was “high risk”? Was she being judged based on where she lived? Regardless my mother agreed and was informed that someone would be in touch with her to schedule the visit.

Although I can appreciate how busy and time consuming it is to run such an organization, the Humane Society did not contact my mother. My mother again contacted the Humane Society and was told that, understandably, they were busy. My mother being patient and understanding agreed to continue to wait and was finally, in time able to have the home visit conducted.

During the home visit, the main area of the home was briefly looked at, and then time was spent in the yard. My mother advised the Humane Society employee that she will be having a fully enclosed fence installed in the spring but that in the meantime, she would ensure she was with Molly when she brought her outside. She was advised that there were now two more applicants that were interested in adopting Molly and that home visits needed to be conducted with these families.

My mother was quite upset as no mention of other visits had previously been mentioned, and she had been attempting for weeks to adopt Molly. She agreed that she would wait for the Humane Society to contact her after the home visits were conducted.

Again, after a week with no response, my mother contacted the Humane Society. She was quickly informed that she was not a satisfactory candidate for Molly as her yard was not adequate due to Molly’s “issues”. My poor mother is and was devastated. She cried to me sharing that she knows her yard isn’t the biggest but she really does plan on installing a fence, and asking why they have been so unhelpful, non-transparent, and making her jump through hoops for nothing.

In the midst of it all, I was able to get in touch with a friend of the previous owner of Molly who shared pictures of Molly with the owner’s 2 year old son. I shared that the Humane Society informed me that Molly was a stray and that the owners couldn’t afford to get her out, as well as that because of her being “vicious”, Molly wasn’t allowed to be in a home with children. I was informed that their 2 year old son ended up being allergic to Molly so the returned her to the breeder, who in turn brought Molly to the Humane Society. She also informed me that Molly was good with other dogs and absolutely loved kids.

Now I ask, is my mother’s small, unfenced yard as bad as Molly sitting in a kennel barley bigger than her for months when there is a willing and kind hearted person such as my mother willing to take her? I ask, is it fair for the Humane Society to keep people in the dark for weeks while they anxiously wait to hear about a potential new family member?

I also ask that the Humane Society recognize and acknowledge the people within their community who keep their organization running and treat them with enough respect to make them aware of their processes and decisions.

Lastly, I ask that they take another look at the situation with kindness and give my mother the opportunity to adopt this beautiful Saint Bernard as I know she would have a happy and healthy life.

– Dana chalifoux


  1. Came back from the humane society totally disgusted by their practices. They told me that they can’t let me adopt an un-neutered dog because “he might breed”. They’d mutilate a perfectly healthy dog just to comply with some arbitrary rules! If you are a responsible dog owner you wouldn’t let your dog out of your sight to even have a chance to breed! Never dealing with them again the lady was rude and treated me like an idiot when I questioned their practices. I’m sorry I don’t support mutilating dogs lady.

  2. Our last dog was adopted from the Chippewa Animal Shelter in Michigan but unfortunately he contacted bone cancer and had to be put down in June of this year and I am still heart broken as he was a beautiful mixed beagle with a wonderful personality. I would adopt through them again as the service and facilities were excellent.
    Molly, I hope that you get a home real soon.

  3. I have had dealings with the humane society and they weren’t pleasant! I was lied to when I inquired about a puppy that ended in there. I was told no such puppy was ever there. In fact they had put it down when it was only 7 months old because the owner had taught it to be aggressive to protect his home and drugs! I wanted this puppy because I owned the parents! This puppy was the sweetest and most docile of all pups! It was my ex-husband who gave this pup away to that particular person. Anyway I wanted to give it a better home then we’re it ended up and try to undo the wrong that was done to this innocent pup. I found out from a very reliable source that the pup was there and was put down immediately! It was only 7 months old for God’s sake! It deserved a second chance! If it couldn’t be helped, that’s one thing but it didn’t deserve to die at such a young age! It wasn’t the puppy’s fault! And to outright lie about it ever being there! That wasn’t right! And the attitude of the staff on the phone was unacceptable and very rude! Obviously they didn’t care about this poor pup getting help and lots of love and at least a second chance whether it worked or not!

  4. I think it’s great that this lady wants to adopt an animal from a shelter, but a St. Bernard doesn’t suit her living arrangements. It simply doesn’t. A small unfenced yard and trailer is not large enough for this size of dog to be happy and healthy.

    The person at the shelter didn’t have to be rude, but they were doing their job. Human beings aren’t, or at least shouldn’t be, just “entitled” to animals. Dogs are living creatures with complex emotional and physical needs. I feel like modern consumerism really contributes to the shelter crisis. This lady wants this dog, she wants her now, and even though she doesn’t have a suitable living arrangement she’s upset about not getting what she wants.

    I had to go through a similar process adopting Charlie. I had home visits, got to know her, we needed to see how she’d get along with Banjo and fit in with us. It’s not like going out and buying a new object or accessory. The people at the shelter have to do their best to make sure whoever takes this dog is in the best situation to keep her and love her, because unfortunately a lot of dogs get brought back after a short while when the people themselves realize it’s not working because of something the shelter staff would have picked up on in a visit and saved the dog the confusion and heartbreak.

    This whole letter is basically saying “my mom is a good person just give her the dog” but it’s not about that, it’s about being the RIGHT person. And this lady isn’t. As a shelter employee you have to put the needs of the dog above the WANTS of one person.

  5. The Soo humane society is the most self-centred bunch I have ever had the experience of dealing with. Some of the staff are loving and caring people but some of the others are in the job strictly for the money and could care less about anything but being the boss.. If I had to go now and adopt a dog there I would be turned down as living in too small a space, yet I have a 31lb Parsons Russell, which translates to 31lbs of attitude and ambition. We walk every couple of hours day and night and he is probably one of the most spoiled dogs in town, which would make no difference to the society as my space is to small by their standards. There are people here with 2 dogs in the same space and the society would probably remove them.. the Sault’s own by-laws allow up to 5, FIVE, dogs in an apartment, nothing said about size at all, or location.. I feel for the lady in question but I feel much more for the dog in question. I have a hard time walking thru the dog pens at the society. They are so worried about the space the dog is going to but don’t care at all that they spend day after day in a cold concrete pen hardly big enough for some of them to turn around in… And lets not talk about the exorbitant fees they charge to adopt.. We really need a second pet adoption facility in the Soo as they have in Southern Ontario.

    • I have had dogs for 60 years. Healthy and happy dogs and now it is harder to adopt a dog than a human child and the cost is absurd. I will just wait until I find someone who has pups who want to sell them or give them to a good home and bypass all the BS. No one is coming into my home that doesn’t know as much about dogs as I do and decide that the same home that has housed many dogs is not suitable. These pounds would rather kill a dog than give it to someone.

  6. Just so everyone knows, my friend adopted her yesterday. She will be in a home where she is loved and cared for. Not sure why they wouldn’t allow anyone else to adopt her before now. She’s been there sinc October. I just want people to know that she is safe and is in a great loving home. 🙂

  7. Molly was my dog. I had her since she was a puppy. She took off one day when I opened the door and when I went to the human siocety, they said I couldn’t have her because I was “un fit” and my yard wasn’t big enough for her. I personally think that was the most craziest thing I ever heard, seeing as I had her for almost 2 years. I miss her like crazy

  8. I foster in southern Ontario and can assure you that home visits are done under all circumstances. Even the organizations we work through down here would have reservations adopting out to a yard without a fence.

    However, I’m a firm believer that the No. 1 priority above and beyond anything else is finding an owner that truly cares for the animal. The rest all sort of settles itself out after that.

    That being said, we too have to consider the physical presence of the potential owner if the dog is known (or in this case alleged) to be aggressive. Maybe that was their line of thinking and they just approached it unprofessionally?

    Saddest part is that the original owner punted the dog because of allergies and it being ‘too big’. Get a goldfish for crying out loud. And we wonder why the SPCA is always full of animals.

  9. I’ve known Molly since she was born . She has been around my 3 grandsons ages 9 6 and 2 and i had no worries . Yes she doesn’t do well around others dogs in her home but she was fine with my dog as long as they were outside playing in the yard. She was giving to a loving home but due to reasons of the first owners she was returned to the breeder which in turn found her another home were she got out n was picked up by the HS .The breeder did not hand her over to the HS as stated in the letter n I truly hope that Molly finds a forever home cause she is a very beautiful dog . Lynn

  10. Hi my name is shelbi, I read your post. Molly was my sisters dog, and that is her son in that picture, that dog is not bad with kids ! I have two kids 5 and 2 which where around Molly and there was no issues, I think she would have a great home with your mother, I don’t understand why that is being said. The reason why my sister got rid of her was because she was to big and her son has allergies and asthma. No other reason ! I hope she gets a great home, she deserves one.

    • Hi Shelbi – I have had a similar response from the humane society today – they told me that this dog is aggressive toward men (which she showed no aggression to my husband today), and that she is very aggressive to other animals. I have heard from some people – who were aware of who owned this dog prior, and that she is an awesome dog. I did notice that she has not been spayed – which I believe may be the issue that they do not want to get rid of her – $800 puppies are a huge cash influx for the shelter. I want this dog – badly – they tell me I can’t have her because I have a cat. I think there is something going on in the background here that we don’t see. There is no way that a dog like this should be in this little kennel at the humane society for 4 months, and one – not be spayed, two – not be put down if the aggression issues are as problematic as they let on. If you could please pass along my email address to your sister – I would love to talk to her about Molly and see if there is anything we can do to get this dog a home – be it mine or someone else who suits her better.

  11. Sadly our local humane society does not have a good reputation. They refuse to be progressive and actually truly help pet owners in the community. There is so much potential for the Sault to become advocates for pet owners and pets but it is just not done. Until someone new with the willingness to show transparency and progressive action pets will continue to not be adopted locally. I know many people who either support the humane society or either refuse to deal with then outright. New management is much needed to change the views the general public has of the shelter. Clearly most of these comments and this story proves that.

  12. With the amount of animals that are in need of forever homes, it sure seems as thought the Humane Society is making it difficult for this to occur. I understand the need find homes that fit the unique needs and requirements of a dog, but in this case it sure appears as though this woman was given the run around. For her to be so persistent, clearly her heart was in the right place. That being said, I am a proud owner of a 3 year old Saint Bernard. And despite his size, he is a very low energy dog. In fact most Saints are, they are actually considered apartment dogs. Until recently, we have lived in a small 750 square foot house which suited my Saint just fine! We live in the country, so just a walk around the yard is all he’s interested in. My 5 year old lab has about 10x more engery than my Saint! I think this woman was wrongly judged based on her location, and she has truly missed out on a wonderful bond and relationship in owning a Saint Bernard!

  13. Everything about our Humane Society makes me horribly sad. If I adopted an animal from there I’d call it a rescue and say I saved it from a horrible fate, which would probably be the truth. Whereas if I adopted an animal from the shelter across the river, I’d thank them so much for everything they do for animals in need, and for how gracious they always are towards potential adopters. (Plus, have you seen the shelter fees at the Chippewa shelter? You can really tell they aren’t in this for money, they’re in it for the animals 100%)
    Things here need to seriously change. Starting with the Humane Society’s attitude toward all aspects of the shelter (adopters, the animals, money money money, etc).
    And for the record, when we adopted a dog from the Humane Society we literally walked in, asked for him by name and they brought him out, we signed some papers and walked out with him. We only adopted him as he had been there an awfully long time&I had a feeling his ‘time’ was near..

  14. There are SO many comments I could make on this article. I personally agree with their decision not to adopt Molly to this woman. While I’m sure she is wonderful, and would be a great mom to Molly, the Humane Society needs to do what they feel is best for this dog, to ensure that she does not get returned, or does not bite someone and need to be euthanized. I have always said that they need better adoption applications, and should perform home checks on adopters. Their stupid little adoption questionnaire tells you almost nothing about a potential home. I know exactly which rude staff member you and commenters are referring to, and have had my own share of encounters with her. Aside from that, I am not a supporter of the way the Humane Society is run. I sent a letter over a month ago addressing my concerns regarding the small animal care(rabbits, hamsters, etc.) and have received no response, nor have the issues been addressed. I am a supporter of them rescuing animals, however, there are MANY things that need to be changed. This is all I’m going to say.

  15. I do understand and in many ways completely agree with the writer of this article. However, I’ve volunteered at the humane society and too many times I’ve seen dogs that get adopted by owners bring them back a week or two later because of issues not addressed earlier. For example, if you have a cat, you should find out if the new pup is going to jive well with the cat, instead of adopting the dog and then bringing the dog back because the dog chased the cat. It’s not fair on the animal.

    I adopted a dog just a bit smaller than Molly from the humane society a while ago and was grilled about my living conditions. A dog that’s 100 pounds is not going to like living in a small apartment building. Cats on then other hand are smaller and would work well in an apartment. The larger the dog, the bigger the needs. From pas experience dogs get house crazy in small living places and tend to get aggressive towards the living environment.

    A Saint Bernard, is going to need a lot of space indoors and out to get the required exercise, especially if the owner is not there for some of the day. As well as exercise, Saint Bernard’s are very stubborn dogs. My parents owned one, and although they loved him to bits, he was stubborn as heck and if wanted to sniff that tree over there he was going to, whether you liked it or not. As a pretty strong breed my parents, even in their younger years had difficulty walking him. My dad, a pretty gruff, weight trained guy, would get pulled down the street by him if he wasn’t careful. The older you get the harder it is to control a Saint Bernard, especially if it’s still a young one like Molly.

    So, to sum it up, yes, the staff at the humane society should have been more approachable and attentive to the person applying, but unless you’ve owned a Saint Bernard you don’t really know what you’re in for. Of course they’ll guard you with their life, but they are very strong, and need a lot of indoor and outdoor space to run around. I see nothing wrong with wanting to do an in home check for a larger, young, Saint Bernard. You may be adopting a new family member, but what happens if the space is too small for this livable creature, she grows angry in a confined space, or one simply can’t control it on walks. Having to take the dog back to the humane society is going to be the only option, and that will be upsetting to both you and the dog.

  16. Chippewa county animal hospital. There is a beautiful Border collie/Springer spaniel that would love a home. Maybe inquire about her. She looks like a little Dolly that would love and protect you forever.

  17. Let this lady adopt the dog. What is the issue? Sounds like a good home to me. She has been living in a cage for months now…..give them both a chance and cut the bullpucky.

  18. I would like to comment on this not because I am trying to criticize the humane society because anyone that helps and rescues animals are exceptional human beings. My step daughter (18 y/o) and I (34 y/o) filled out applications to volunteer and we were willing to do anything that was needed. The first lady we spoke with was absolutely the nicest, helpful person who said they really needed volunteers. As we approached the desk it appeared we were bothering this lady , she was vague, gave us the wrong form and when I pointed that out she was rude but gave us the proper form. She said the person who takes care of the volunteers was out of the office so she doesn’t know when she’d be in contact. Well here it is 6 months later and we haven’t heard from anyone. We were both fully available because of being here because of a job transfer. So please humane society, take advantage of willing and able volunteers to help get these dogs homes faster

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