SNIFF NOTES: Pet adoptions shouldn’t be done on a whim


I was speaking to a lady the other day who said her neighbors had adopted two large breed dogs from a rescue only to return them a few days later because the dogs were “too big for the house.”

I literally boggled when I heard this. I don’t think the dogs grew that much in three days! 

As I stood shaking my head, I had a bit of an epiphany I wanted to share.

I think there’s a misconception out there that animal shelters and rescue organizations provide “trial pets.” In other words, there are people who think they can take home an animal just to see if pet ownership is for them and bring the animal back if it doesn’t work out.

Sometimes it’s almost as though someone wakes up one day and thinks, “I’m going to try a dog.” Almost like you would “try” a new restaurant or “try” a new cologne or “try” an exercise program.

I cannot stress enough that pet ownership should never be done on a whim. Just like people shouldn’t have children without seriously considering their ability and financial security, the same can be said for adopting pets.

Our goal at the shelter is to find homes for the babies in our kennels. Forever homes. We love to have animals come back for a visit, but we do not want to see them returned – that defeats the purpose of what we’re doing.

Granted, sometimes there are valid reasons that an adoption doesn’t work out, but a large breed dog that was “too big for the house” is simply ridiculous. I mean, wouldn’t a person know how big the dog is when they researched the breed, or, I don’t know, actually adopted the dog?

And that’s likely the sticking point for the entire situation. Did the neighbors research? Did they know what they were getting into? Were they actually prepared to bring home another life and care for the dog day in and day out?

Obviously, the answer is no. And sadly, the one who suffers most is the dog, who continues to get shuffled from place to place time and time again – a circumstance which can often result in increased anxiety issues for the animal.

Shelter pets aren’t broken. They aren’t used up. They aren’t damaged or defective. They deserve so much more than someone who just wants to “try” a dog.

For a lot of our animals, someone at some point has already given up on them at least once. That’s how they got to an animal shelter in the first place. The very last thing they need is someone who hasn’t really and truly thought about the responsibilities involved in pet ownership.

We have some folks who ask us about foster care for our animals in adoption. They’re wondering if they could just foster the pet to see how things go. While in some instances, we agree, nine times out of ten we have to explain that what we’re looking for is permanent adoptions and if they don’t feel like they can give that kind of commitment, they should wait until they can.

Honestly, if you want to try a pet, get a stuffed one. Or try one of those virtual pets from a few years back. Or maybe even a furby (remember those creepy things? *shudder*).

Animal shelters and rescue organizations are looking for people who are serious about saving a life. People who know the value an animal can bring and are willing to love a pet for his or her entire existence.

Quoting Yoda from Star Wars here: “Do or Do Not. There is no try.”

The Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter certainly follows the teachings of that infamous, little Jedi Master.

And we do it to continue to help the babies in our kennels and be able to give them what they need the most – a forever, loving home.


Jennifer Vanderau is the Publications and Promotions Consultant for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter and can be reached at [email protected] The shelter accepts both monetary and pet supply donations. For more information, call the shelter at 263-5791 or visit the website CVAS also operates a thrift store in Chambersburg. Help support the animals at the shelter by donating to or shopping at the store.

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