Shelter Refuses Family That Wants To Adopt Cat

Vanderhorst family

The Vanderhorst family wanted to adopt a cat since their last cat had passed away two years ago. They went to a shelter, Friends of Strays, and decided to adopt a cat named Sunshine. Except the manager of the shelter said that they couldn’t adopt the cat because of their son, Matthew. The son has been diagnosed with mental retardation and is developmentally delayed. The manager was afraid for the safety of Sunshine when she heard Matthew screaming. Friends of Stray says that since it is a private, non profit organization, it is able to have stricter policies and says they can deny anyone an adoption.

The family says that the shelter passed judgment too quickly and even a spokesperson for the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities agrees. The spokesperson said that: “they should have investigated the circumstances before they summarily denied the family a pet.”

The Vanderhorsts already have two dogs and a cat, and they ended up adopting another cat from a SPCA facility after they were denied adoption at Friends of Strays. Matthew’s parents said that their pets have had an important and significant impact on Matthew’s life.

18 Responses to “Shelter Refuses Family That Wants To Adopt Cat”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Friends of Stray says that since it is a private, non profit organization, it is able to have stricter policies and says they can deny anyone an adoption.

    How idiotic, self-serving and counter productive is this? Ever wonder why things in this country just don’t work anymore?

    Here is one classic example! Egotistical self-righteous pin heads making decisions based on their own petty and personal flawed interpretations.

    Just another example of why America just doesn’t work anymore. Wrong people in the wrong authoritative positions screwing everything up as usual.

    Self-defeating? Absolutely!

  2. Captn' Carl says:

    Friends of Stray says that since it is a private, non profit organization, it is able to have stricter policies and says they can deny anyone an adoption.

    How idiotic, self-serving and counter productive is this? Ever wonder why things in this country just don’t work anymore?

    Here is one classic example! Egotistical self-righteous pin heads making decisions based on their own petty and personal flawed interpretations.

    Just another example of why America just doesn’t work anymore. Wrong people in the wrong authoritative positions screwing everything up as usual.

    Self-defeating? Absolutely!

  3. The World Wide Family Scene » Blog Archive » The boy stood on the burning deck, says:

    […] Shelter Refuses <b>Family</b> That Wants To Adopt Cat […]

  4. Debra says:

    A similar thing happened near where I live. Awhile back, a private so-called rescue organization “repossessed” a cat that a physically challenged woman had adopted from them two years before. Their argument was that because of her disabilities, she was not able to care for the cat. However, the cat had been doing fine for two years!

    All rescue organizations are not equal. If you look at them closely, some just resemble animal hoarders under a fancier name. Although they supposedly exist to try to find homes for these pets, they will invent any excuse not to give them up.

  5. rescuemom says:

    Are you kidding me??

    “Although they supposedly exist to try to find homes for these pets, they will invent any excuse not to give them up.”

    Are you kidding me??

    I can’t speak for all rescues (yes, a tiny minority are downright terrible) but the majority of rescue groups are dedicated, caring, responsible people. We give every ounce of spare time, money and love to the animals in our care, and then some.

    And yes, I can say that I may have refused this adoption as well, depending on the circumstances. Our local SPCA has a policy of adopting to anyone who will fill out the paperwork. However, they also have a policy that after 14 days, the pet can only be returned after paying the surrender fee.

    Most private rescues have a clause in their contract that states that if the family can no longer keep the pet for any reason, we will take it back, no questions asked. These people care about each and every pet in their care. They are about QUALITY, not quantity. Yes, if I have even an iota of feeling that maybe your home is not the very best for the animal in question, you are going to have to go elsewhere.

    If the SPCA wants to adopt them a cat, then so be it, that’s there decision. But the rescue director is correct, it is our right to refuse any adopter on any grounds. And certainly a (possibly quite valid) safety concern is as good a reason as any!

    The point is, none of you are in any position to judge this rescue. Firstly, most of you do not know what is involved in rescue on a daily basis. Secondly, most of you do not know how thorough the screening MUST be to protect the animals in your care (for example, we won’t adopt you a pet if you tell me that you’re going to feed them any food containing corn or questionable ingredients). Thirdly, you have not met the gentleman in question. I’m sure that his family feels that he is not a concern to the pets in his household, but the rescue must be comfortable with the situation as well.

    I would suggest as well that maybe a tiny baby kitten was not the best choice for this family. Possibly a medium to large-sized dog would have been a more suitable option, if the young man has control issues that the shelter director obviously feels that he does.

    Far too many people contact our rescue with an air of entitlement. Like as if by simply being caring enough to offer to rescue a poor animal in need, this qualifies them to care for the pet in question, and the rescue should simply hand the pet over, because after all, they are rescues and any home should do, right?

    WRONG. I consider myself responsible for those animals for life. If something happens to that animal, or that animal is unhappy for any reason, I consider that a personal failure. It was MY job to place that animal in as near a perfect home as I was capable of finding. If that means pissing off some less-than-suitable homes in the process, well, it certainly won’t keep me from sleeping.

  6. straybaby says:

    “I feel sorry for the little boy, ” Klauck said. “It’s a shame that children have to be born that way.”

    I hope she realizes autism and other challenges are increasing not decreasing . . . .

    I found some of the comments in the article interesting. Basically they will deny adoption if anyone’s kid has a bad day. On any given day, the best most respectful animal loving child can have a meltdown (so can adults!!) and if it happens to be at their shelter . . . there are also the kids that get way over excited at the shelter who would prob be just fine in at home with a pet. I’ve seen rescuers and shelter workers make snap decisions regarding kids. you really can’t, imo (have experience teaching kids from pre-k through college, special needs included, along with my rescue/shelter experience).

  7. Captn' Carl says:

    Big difference here. Matthew Vanderhorst may be challenged as indicated, however, challenged people are not mean people. They haven’t got a mean bone in their bodies. It is ludicrous to deny a family a pet on the basis of what some “expert” decides based upon what they falsely perceive.

    I’ll bet that same dingbat at the shelter would’ve given the pet to any of the goons responsible for shooting pets in Louisiana or the sadistic maggot masquerading as a vet without batting a blind eye! Because they would all be unquestioningly “perceived” as professionals and instantly worthy of trust placed in them. Yeah; right!

    Resucemom what you say has a lot of truth in it, but the manager of the shelter in question here made a bad decision.

  8. Debra says:

    Rescuemom,
    You will note that I did say “some” so-called rescues. And I agree with straybaby about kids and snap judgments. This applies to people with disabilities as well, who are so often discriminated against in so many ways.

  9. crowgirl says:

    I read the article in question in our local paper and have several points which are, I feel, worth making.

    -Rescues do not exist to provide “therapy animals” for special needs children. Though both dogs and cats can and do serve this purpose, especially in institutional settings, the owner is always present to supervise interactions. Rescues are solely and unapologetically seeking suitable homes for the animals in their care.

    -The “child” in question is a large, well-developed 13 year old boy and anyone who has ever actually worked with autistic children can tell you that physically violent outbursts are not out of the question. An adult cat has a “fighting chance” of getting away. A kitten does not and, as such, was NOT an appropriate choice.

    -The article indicated that the family’s animals were brought into an office to interact with the children. Brought in from where? Outside? I live in the Tampa Bay area and the heat index was 85 degrees at 8:00 this morning. Imagine what it will be in August. It is cruel to have an “outside only” dog or cat in Florida during the summer. Or, are they inside pets that are occasionally herded into a room where they can be confined with the children–because they’d run like hell otherwise? If so…what does that tell you about those interactions?

    -Lastly…yes, rescue organizations can be very picky. So can adoption agencies. Simply saying “I want one” is not sufficient reason to release another being into your home. It seemed to me that, for this family, animals are mostly of utilitarian value (nice for the kids). I find this attitude troubling on many levels. But, and here’s the thing, animals are of greatest “value” for children (and the adults they will become) when parents insist that pets are treated as sentient beings…with wants and needs that must take priority over most other considerations.

  10. straybaby says:

    “The article indicated that the family’s animals were brought into an office to interact with the children. Brought in from where? Outside? I live in the Tampa Bay area and the heat index was 85 degrees at 8:00 this morning. Imagine what it will be in August. It is cruel to have an “outside only” dog or cat in Florida during the summer. Or, are they inside pets that are occasionally herded into a room where they can be confined with the children–because they’d run like hell otherwise? If so…what does that tell you about those interactions?”

    sorry, but you are way out of line going there, imo. they are healing specialists. they have an OFFICE. I’m guessing they live in a HOME, not their OFFICE/PLACE OF BUSINESS and they chose to bring their dog into the OFFICE from their home to interact with some of their patients. How you turned THAT into animal cruelty is amazing. MANY pets perform as service animals in a PLACE OF BUSINESS. Many people adopt pets for that reason. They WANT to do therapy work. And many rescues/shelters that have animals that are capable of providing some sort of therapy or service are more than happy to adopt a pet out for that reason!!! IT’S A WIN/WIN FOR A SHELTER PET and A GREAT WAY TO SHOW HOW WONDERFUL SOME SHELTER ANIMALS ARE.

    and lastly, those parents sound MORE than capable of handling their son. and did you even bother to look at their picture?!

  11. Heather says:

    I think the shelter made a snap judgement. A home visit would have been in order. I have worked with many special needs children including children with autism. While SOME *may* have violent outbursts not ALL do. Nothing like making judgements based on your own predjudices and preconceived notions. Lots of special needs children become overstimulated in new surrounding and that would be indicative of this boys behavior. Viewing the family in a familiar home environment would have given them a better picture. *Any* child can harm an animal, disabled or not. It’s time we stopped treating those with disabilities like the lepers of our time.

  12. crowgirl says:

    straybaby,

    I was ASSUMING that they brought pets into their “home” office. In that case, it wouldn’t have mattered if they were, instead, bringing animals into a den, or bedroom, or any other room where the animals could be confined–quite specifically, were not allowed to leave. THAT was my point. Why pick a particular “place” where animals and children were to interact? Why weren’t the dogs, cats and children simply interacting in the home?

    And I will say again: Brought in from WHERE? If you believe that animals just ARE here for the benefit of humans, then our argument lies elsewhere. If you do not, I don’t understand why you apparently feel that this “child” is an unqualified plus in the life of any kitten they might adopt.

  13. crowgirl says:

    OK…as a separate issue, therapy animals are (if one believes in such things) one of god’s special gifts. There is, however, a significant difference in what we normally think of as “therapy animals” and the situation, as described, in the article. If I’ve trained a therapy dog, I have: evaluated the dog’s personality, conditioned him to accept a variety of of responses from clients/patients and ALWAYS accompany my furbaby on the visits. Moreover, I’ll remove my animal from any situation which might endanger him. The same absolutely cannot be said of parents who seek to adopt an animal for their own children–with the welfare of the animal as a secondary and, apparently, minor consideration.

  14. straybaby says:

    “Why pick a particular “place” where animals and children were to interact? Why weren’t the dogs, cats and children simply interacting in the home?”

    because they are not *their* children. they are patients. thus, you take the dog to work. you know, there is a national bring your pets to work day . . . it’s not uncommon and does not mean because you bring your dog INTO work, he’s left neglected outside the rest of the year in Florida weather.

    “I don’t understand why you apparently feel that this “child” is an unqualified plus in the life of any kitten they might adopt.” and ” The same absolutely cannot be said of parents who seek to adopt an animal for their own children–with the welfare of the animal as a secondary and, apparently, minor consideration.”

    these parents are professional care givers and understand special needs. that’s what they do. they also have pets as part of the family. i feel they are probably well qualified to determine their childs abilities. i doubt they would jepordize a kitten, and i’m sure the kitten would benefit from a loving home. i would prob trust their judgement (based on this article and nothing more) over that of some parents i’ve met in regards to their children and their ability to monitor them around pets.

    these people are trying to adopt a family member, not a therapy animal, though they do know the value of an animal and their effects on humans. i think it’s great their cat helped their son crawl. that is crucial, not just on an acheivement level, but crawling is very good for the brain. my cat’s taught me to destress and not bring home the job anger. you know you’re in trouble when you open the door and your cats back away slowly because of your energy! ;) see, they aren’t therapy animals, nor were they ever meant to be, but they did help me change things. doesn’t change their status as loving family members nor is it a form of animal explotation.

    since you are implying you are involved with pet therapy, i don’t understand why you aren’t understanding these people’s situation.

    “The manager of Friends of Strays said a disabled boy’s “screaming” upset the animals.”

    seems like this would exclude every family and multi-person household :0

  15. crowgirl says:

    A 60+ pound golden retriever, used as a therapy animal, is a wonderful resource for both their patients and their son. If that’s what they meant, then all the better for everyone. So, let’s leave that for a moment. The FOS manager (who admittedly does not come off as the world’s most enlightened individual) claimed that their son was screaming and BITING himself.

    If they’d wanted to adopt a comparably sized dog it might have been a different story. But they wanted a kitten. A kitten. I still say she made the only choice she could under the circumstances–given what she’d witnessed. Too, I guess I’d feel differently if the photo accompanying the story had shown Matthew physically interacting with the kitten so I’d have an idea of how well he actually did handling a young animal.

    I too doubt the parents would knowingly endanger a kitten. But I also will defend the right of a rescue organization to make decisions in favor of their animals if they have questions about an adoption.

  16. crowgirl says:

    I suppose I should have mentioned that I have done substitute teaching with special needs kids (all ages and school settings). I helped a neighbor do the prescribed exercises for her toddler with Downs. And I volunteered in a group home for developmentally disabled adults (women). These were some of the most delightful and loving people I will ever meet.

    I will also say that I worked with individuals (two come immediately to mind) whom I loved very much but could be physically aggressive. I wouldn’t have let either of them near a kitten. Ever.

    As to turning down anyone with a child who is having a “meltdown”, if you bring a child who is screaming and biting himself (whether that child is 2, 5, 11 or 17) I would expect rescue personnel to have some questions about the suitability of your home. Especially if you are looking to acquire a kitten.

  17. Ala Howell says:

    They wonder why there are so many animals in shelters……. hum, could it have to do with things like this. I was once refused two cats (sisters) just because I was not going to feed them canned cat food as their main diet. I would have understood if there was some sort of medical reason for it. Even normal kids are noisy at times. It really depends on the kittens personality. Most are not upset about noise and tend to give a “what`s your problem” look.

  18. Bonnie says:

    As a shelter worker, i do understand the reason they were turned down. For shelters, the safety of the pet is the most important issue, we are not here to provide therapy for anyone. to all of you, before you condem a shelter, why not volunteer and find out what it is all about.


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