Animal Adoption: False Advertising

As I posted in MPSIMS, we have a new cat in our family. I adopted her through a rescue organization, completely non-profit. On her page it said very clearly that she was up to date on her shots (along with being neutered, chipped, dewormed - all that fun stuff).

When we got her home I looked through what little paperwork I had received and saw that her last vaccinations were 16 months ago. It appeared she had never had a rabies shot. I spoke with her foster dad that evening, he stated he had the cat for a while, never took her to the vet, presumed the medical information was good and up to date.

In the paperwork they also directed me to a specific animal clinic for a free exam. I called them - they wouldn’t release any infomation to me even if they knew who she was.

Tonight I took her to my vet for a check up. They were astounded that this ex-outdoor cat appeared to never had a rabies shot. She was behind in her distemper vaccination, too. I ended up paying the $60 for the shots, which were necessary.

My question is - she is not as advertised. I’m irked. She cost more than if I would have adopted her from the Humane Society, and if she had been at the Humane Society she would have been up to date. But, I also feel a twinge of guilt for wanting to contact this non-profit rescue organization and demand compensation. Her foster keeper made a big deal about just how many animals they have to turn away, it’s so expensive to be a non-profit rescue league, &c.

I absolutely adore our new overlord, and I feel somewhat ashamed that I’m annoyed.

What would you do?

She may had been too young at the time the initial vaccinations were done for them to have been able to legally give her the rabies vaccine. Still, since that one is usually given with the last series, I’m concerned as to whether or not the whole vaccine series was given. Meaning, maybe they released it to the foster care expecting the foster to pick up on the vaccine series where the previous care had stopped. Kittens, like puppies, have an initial set of vaccines with later boosters once they’re adults.

As to the paperwork… Veterinary records are medical records, so understand that they may not want to release that information to anyone who asks. That said, you could ask your vet to get them to send a copy (or even the originals) of their records to him/her.

I’d complain. Look at it this way, shots are for the animals own good. Perhaps this isn’t an isolated incident but maybe it’s all too common. I’d ask for re-imbursment and I’d also report them to the local authority that oversees this type of thing.

If it was an honest error fine, they’ll learnn from their mistakes and see too it again it won’t happen in the future

If it was on purpose they deserve it

I say call 'em. IMHO, you’re well within your rights to ask for compensation, although if you would feel slimy asking for it at least call to point out their error. I don’t think a non-profit rescue gets good samaritan points for doing an incompetent job. What if the animal had been adopted by someone a little less thorough than you? The animal would be at risk due to inadequate vaccination. That’s hardly much of a rescue.

I’m not in the market for any more critters yet, but I have to say, between pet shops, breeders and rescues, their is a bunch of bad apples that assume by the time you realize there is a problem, you will be so attached, they won’t be held responsible or you’ll just treat the animal and chalk it up to experience.

Not saying the majority, not saying they are all bad, I’m just saying that is the thought in more than one mind.

In regards to the OP, if the cat was in foster for any length of time (which it sounds like it was) then the cat was plenty old enough for the shots it was missing.

Especially if the cat’s last vaccinations were 16 months ago, the cat’s probably nearly 2, at least.

I’d complain. They don’t get a pass for lying just because they are non-profit. Even if it was a mistake, and they thought the cat was up to date, they need to know about it, so they can make sure their other cats aren’t going unvaccinated.

Do animals have a right to privacy that I’m unaware of? :dubious: If you can prove you own the animal, it’s absurd for the vet to not release its medical records.

And yes, call the organization, explain the problem, and ask for any compensation you consider reasonable. They screwed up. They need to make it right, and they need to not do it again.

There are people who assume vaccines are a once in a lifetime thing and they see some vaccines on the paperwork and assume the animal has had all the vaccines it needs. It’s possible that this was just an oversight, foster home said sure it’s had all it’s shots and shelter didn’t double check. It’s also possible it did gave the shots but it didn’t get put in the paperwork. Call and talk to them nicely about it but try to avoid the “false advertising” angle, it sounds like you’re accusing them of intentional wrongdoing and is likely to put them on the defensive and will not help you get good results.

Not all vets agree that indoor cats need yearly distemper vaccines. Several vets have told me every 3 years is a fine rotation for distemper/calica/rhinotracheitis, and possibly more than is needed. The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends a booster 1 year after kitten shots (which conclude at 16 weeks) and then every 3 years after that.

So, as to the distemper/3way vax schedule, she could be up to date if she got the 1 year booster.

We give ours the required rabies and that is it. She had a vaccine related lump removed - thankfully pre-malignant. Don’t search vaccine related lump feline on the internet, just don’t.

Sometimes rescues lie just to get the critters out the door. We went looking for a dog about 6 months ago and we saw several that we decided we wanted, filled out the paperwork, showed up to take them home and were suddenly told (after buying a leash and food and all that dog stuff) that, “Oh, she can’t be arround cats” even though we had asked about that from the beginning or “He requires thyroid medication and just came off chemo” or whatever. Each time they let us get as close to adoption as possible in hopes that we would fall in love and decide that it was okay and take them home anyway.

I would give the agency a call, too, and come at it from the angle of the health of the animals (and other animals they come into contact with) being in danger if required vaccinations aren’t given. I would also not expect any satisfaction from them, but my due diligence would be to inform them that they’re dropping the ball.

I work for a feline rescue that is apparently vastly different from the one you’ve experienced. We have our own clinic and doctors, so even if the vaccines were missed for some reason (rare, but it does happen even with us), we just have the adopter bring the cat back and we give the vaccines free of charge (since they’re “included” in the adoption fee). We also have a 30-day health guarantee, so if the cat develops URI or something in the first month of being home (very common), they can get checked-up with our clinic staff and/or doctor. Kittens that have an incomplete series are brought back to the shelter by adopters until the series is complete and they’re good for a year.

In your case, if it happened with my rescue, we would fully expect you to call us so we could get you an appointment and get the vaccines up-to-date. If you went to a vet and did it yourself for $60 we would not - absolutely not - reimburse you for something that would have otherwise cost us about 5 bucks.

If you called them first and they would not work with you to get the vaccines up-to-date within their own protocol and expense, then it would be a problem. If you just went and did it without seeing what the shelter could do for you first, then I don’t think you have any recourse.

I saw the other thread with her pictures, BTW. She’s a stunner!

I think the issue here is that it’s hard to prove that you own the animal over the phone. If the OP went to the clinic with adoption papers in hand, they’d run a copy with no problem, or if another clinic requested the records, but typically not for some random person on the phone.

Don’t forget that the animal’s information is attached to the owner’s information. That’s why they would want permission from the previous owner, because their name, address, phone, is all on the pet’s record. If it was under a shelter’s name, it shouldn’t be a problem, but if you show up in person like CrazyCatLady suggests, they should be able to transfer the cat’s info into a new file with your info on it instead.

Like others have said, proving you own the animal cannot typically be done over the phone. And yes, I’ve heard, and it was recommended to my class, not to release the pet’s record. Tranfer of pet’s information from one vet to the another one, yes, transfer directly from vet to owner, discouraged.

I think part of it is CYA.

I am a Board Member of a rescue. If this was my rescue that it happened with, I would be very upset. It would hurt our reputation, IMHO.

We advertise our animals as honestly as possible. It does no one, animal or human, any good to advertise falsely about adoptions. We are a no-kill, foster home based rescue. All our animals are with us until a home is found. We have a few special needs animals, and they are with us for as long as it takes to find them a home. We recently adopted out a FIV positive cat who was with us for over a year. She was healthy, had no issues, and FIV positive cats can live long and healthy lives. There was no reason that she shouldn’t be given the same consideration as any other cat in our rescue.

In the case of kittens, we have them up to date on their shots, but let the new owner know that at X weeks they will need boosters and their rabies shots. We also tell them that those shots are their responsibility. We also have a two week health guarantee on all animals, but we do ask that you take the animal to your own vet within ten days of adoption.

Any animals that we have had euthanized in our rescue were done so because of issues that were not resolvable. We have had a couple of sick cats, a couple of kittens died from severe infections and a couple of dogs euthanized. Our overall euthanasia rate is less than 1%.

A couple of years ago we took a dog that was taken by animal control after it’s owner was arrested on drug charges. It turned out to be a beautiful male English Springer Spaniel. A very sweet dog who just happened to get the wrong owner. We got him into a foster home, it turned out his kidneys were cystic and he had arthritis. We made the decision to not adopt him out and gave the foster parent the option to have him transferred to another foster home if they were uncomfortable with the dog’s prognosis. The vet told us that the dog could have 6 weeks or 6 months, it all depended on the kidneys. The foster home decided to keep the dog for the duration of it’s life. The dog remained stable for about a year. He ended up being euthed because he developed bloat. Looking back, he probably was stable enough for adoption, but we didn’t want to take the chance. He led a happy year of life in a loving home with another dog and a cat. He was given regular vet care and lots of love. When his foster family went on vacation, I had him for that week. He was a great dog, except for his penchant for drinking out of toilets.

I won’t disagree that there are wonderful foster care agencies out there. And, FWIW, Lucy is a wonderful cat. It’s obvious she has been treated well. I just am irked that an agency who heavily promotes how healthy their wards are would be remiss in vet care.

The vet office I called was the one promoted by the agency. It’s my understanding that Lucy had been with another foster agency before coming to this one, so I don’t even know if it was the correct place to call. All I know is that the records I received upon adopting her showed no rabies shot and a delinquent distemper shot. It didn’t state the name of the vet.

I did email them, no response yet.

I would let the chain-of-command know that you were a bit mislead about the adoption process. It sounds like you paid more for this rescue based on the supposed vetting of the cat. And that’s just not fair. I know you love your new overlord-kittie, but they should have given you a reasonable cost-of-adoption.

We all know that many of the homeless pets are due to financial reasons, and they’re not helping the cause by shifting the burden to well-intentioned adopters that have been mis-informed. Rolls up a newspaper and smacks the agency Bad agency! I would call them on it, most decidedly.

I’ve found this to often be the case, too. Plus, I was given a guilt trip: “Well, I suppose everyone has to decide for themselves how much care they are willing to commit to give to a pet.”

These weren’t little white lies, either; more like “We advertised it to be a purebred, but it’s actually a mix, and also it has had major surgery recently and has major ongoing health needs that will be an unknown but substantially extremely high investment, and even though we said the dog was being given up for economic reasons, in fact it’s because of these health issues and behavior problems.”