Cat Napping Turns into Lawsuit

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cat Napping Turns into Lawsuit

There are too many homeless pets, that is a given, but there are also rescues and shelters that go too far in making sure their wards get to good homes.

The latest example of this comes from a new website, Tales from the Bark Side.

The story begins four years ago when Gene and Nancy Whipple of Lake County, Ill., adopted from a rescue named Save-A-Pet Inc., a black cat they named Newman.

The Whipple’s signed the rescue’s agreement that Newman would remain indoors - and by their account, they kept that promise – except when the slippery feline would skirt out an open door as cats sometimes do.

Fast forward nearly four years later when the Whipple’s decided to give another homeless cat a furever family.

They went back to Save-A-Pet, filled out the application and spoke with the counselor. According to the couple, what they termed an “interrogation” ground to a halt when they told the counselor when asked in a trick question if the cat would be an outdoor cat, ““If our cat gets out, we make sure he gets safely back inside.”

At that point, they were denied the adoption and were given even more shocking news the next day when they called hoping to speak to a supervisor.

They were told the rescue wanted Newman back.

However, they heard no more from the rescue until nine months later, when the Whipple’s said the rescue stalked their property, waiting to pounce on a contract violation.  Newman inadvertently got out a door and someone from Save-A-Pet nabbed him, took him to the rescue and placed him in quarantine.

The Whipple’s immediately filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction before the rescue could re-adopt their fur kid and ultimately spent $2,000 in legal fees and postponed an overseas trip to get their beloved cat back.

The real kicker is that when they were asked the question about their cats going outdoors, they weren’t even referring to Newman, but another cat.

Good rescuers admit that these types of rescues exists and it gives all rescues a bad reputation and perhaps accounts for the reason that a majority of people who want a pet in this country still shop, rather than adopt.

I have a friend who had always bought Airedale Terriers from breeders she found in the local paper. For 20 years, I urged her to adopt a dog from a rescue. When she finally agreed to go to a breed specific rescue, she looked at the dogs available, fell in love with one, filled out an application….and was denied during the interview.

The reason? She didn’t have a fence on her five acre rural property. Although her dogs are all inside dogs and she’s owned the breed all of her life, walks them responsibly on her property and provides a good loving home, she was denied.

She called me infuriated and humiliated. Not surprisingly, she told me she would never put herself through that process again. She purchased a dog the next day from the newspaper.

Reasonable people who work in rescue know their rules are in place for a reason. There are good reasons for them to want their adoptees to have fenced yards and for cats to remain inside.

But there are also exceptions to those rules.

Those reasonable rescues actually communicate with their potential adopters by listening and then if necessary, educating, but denying a good, loving home to a homeless animal is their last resort.

For the No Kill movement to make any more progress in this country, all involved in the rescue of our most vulnerable will need to learn two of the most valuable tools in life: Listening and compromising.  

Editor’s note: The above photo is not Newman. Image by Flickr user Peter Huy.

Have you ever had a good or bad experience with adopting a pet? Share in the comment section below.