Humane Society Rant

So this Wednesday we adopted a little scruffy mutt from the Humane Society. The shelter said she had had some issues when she was brought in and was treated for a serious flea infestation, urinary tract infection, and had a cherry eye fixed while getting spayed. They said she was two years old and in fine health. They also told us their policy was to have owners take the new animals to a vet within a week of adoption to catch any issues they may have missed.

So I just got back from the vet and turns out my dog is actually at least 5 years old. She has a cloudy, scarred eye. Her back teeth are so covered in tarter that they might need extraction and her gums are red and sad. They said her hair loss, which the shelter blamed on the fleas, looks more like a thyroid or hormonal imbalance. Oh, and her eyes are red and I need to put ointment in them twice day for a week. My vet saw all of this in the first 5 minutes of seeing this dog.

So, am I justified in feeling pissed off at the shelter? I feel like they did the bare minimum they needed to do to get this dog presentable enough for someone to adopt her, and no more. I thought I was supposed to receive a healthy dog, but I got a dog who still needs upwards of $500 in treatment to get to a base level of healthy. Not to mention they straight up lied about her age! I feel like this is a bait and switch, like they wanted to get me and my family to fall in love with the dog and then have to pay all this money ourselves to get her healthy again.

I’m not even sure what to do next. They say if I found health issues at the vet appointment I could bring her back for a refund, but I don’t want to give her back! I like her! I feel like the shelter should be on the hook for these treatments, either to pay the bills from my vet or do them in house gratis.

Thoughts anyone?

Similar happened to me. Cute Kitty never should have been adopted out, per my vet. Very ill, wouldn’t have lived w/o $$$ treatment.

But like you, I wasn’t taking him back. BTW, they also told me he was a she.

I won’t go so far as to Pit the HSUS, because they do a lot of good. I blame it on an severe overflow of unwanted pets (SPAY AND NEUTER, PEOPLE, DAMN IT), a lot of volunteer help, overworked vets, $$ shortages in testing equipment etc.

What the hell, you have given a little doggie a forever home.

And FWIW, I would go back to the Humane Society anytime I need a cat.

Hey, you can actually NEED a cat.

I would certainly send a letter to the Humane Society and let them know what the vet said and how much it was going to cost you.

Actually, HSUS is not affiliated with local Humane Society shelter.

HSUS is a lobbying organization. Your local Humane Society doesn’t get a cent from them.

I can understand why you’d be a bit pissed, but I don’t think it was anything malicious or sneaky on their part. Like DummyGladHands says, they have very limited resources and money, and even 5 minutes with a qualified vet might be more than they are able to provide for every animal that comes in the door.

If you have the money and are just upset on principle, then I think you should try to be understanding of what they deal with, pay for it yourself and think of it as a donation to the HS that will end up helping some other poor animal. If this will put a real pinch on your finances, then return the dog or ask if they can treat it at a reduced rate. You can also make a plea to your vet for a discount.

You’re probably right on this, but I’m not sure it’s such a bad thing. I think their primary goal should be to get every animal possible into the hands of someone who can take good care of them, not try to heal every animal themselves. There just isn’t enough money to do that. The unfortunate thing here is that you didn’t get an accurate picture of the dog’s health, but as I said, I don’t think it was a willful deception on their part.

Their vet had the dog under anesthesia to fix her eye and spay her, and they didn’t take two seconds to look at her teeth? When I asked about her goopy eyes the employee said “Oh, some dogs just have goopy eyes” where the vet said “Yeah, here’s some ointment for that.” They may not have been intentionally misleading me, but if they weren’t then they were intentionally not looking for anything they might have to fix or disclose before adoption.

Ugh. I’m just pissed about the whole thing.

Misrepresenting the animal’s health to people who may not be able to afford for its care seems like a terrible way to go about this.

Sincere question. Is there a pet lemon law and does it apply to your situation? We adopted a Maine Coon kitty from a breeder about ten years ago. I brought her to the vet to be neutered. The vet called me up and said the kitty had a bad heart defect and probably wouldn’t live more than two years. She said I was legally entitled to bring her back to the breeder for a full refund under NJ state laws. I did so reluctantly because she was the most beautiful and wonderful cat I’ve ever met. She was literally the most wonderfully friendly cat I’ve ever owned. Really, the six month old kitten was perfect – sweet, good with my daughter, friendly to strangers and amazingly smart. It broke my heart but our other cat had just passed away two months before and I couldn’t emotionally deal with that again so soon. I understand animals aren’t property but it seems to me that you were not being given the animal you were promised and that does not seem fair.

Read the rest of my comment. Yes, I agree a purposeful misrepresentation would be bad. But I don’t think that’s what happened.

If they present an animal as unhealthy and needing medical attention (that they cannot afford to do), they may as well just euthanize the animal right there, because no one will want it.

Sounds like they did do just the minimum to get the dog stable enough for adoption. I don’t think it was bait and switch, but they could have been a little more transparent, and perhaps could have vetted (pun intended) your finances as well. They could have gently suggested there may be some medical bills in your near future. If they presented the dog as “in perfect health”, that’s on them.

Doesn’t matter if it’s “purposeful” or just slipshod work for any reason. If you’re giving over animals to people who can’t afford to care for them because they’re ignorant of the true costs, you’re doing a shitty job of helping animals.

If people can’t afford to care for animals, they shouldn’t be adopting animals. Any animal can develop health problems at any point in their lives.

If people are looking for guarantees of good health, then the Humane Society is not the best place for them to adopt. And if they go there anyway, then choosing a dog that came in with “a serious flea infestation, urinary tract infection, and a cherry eye” and expecting that it won’t have any other health concerns is pretty naive.

According to the OP’s description of what they said, they flat-out lied, and that is not acceptable no matter how many pets need adoption.

If they had said “we treated her for XYZ, and we’re not sure if she has other issues,” than it would have been fine.

If they had intentionally looked the other way when it came to diagnosing the other medical issues, I’d say that was pretty unethical, but since they allow a return of the animal after the vet checkup, it’s not as bad as it could be. It’s certainly manipulative, though, and that’s really not okay. They know people will get attached.

They’re shooting themselves in the foot by doing this kind of thing. It’s very sad that some animals have to be euthanized, but lying about animals just to get them out the door means that people will lose trust in shelters and will be more likely to choose other options to get their pets.

**Little Bird **- I would recommend you take her back and find another shelter, as heartbreaking as it might be. Who knows what else they lied to you about.

Then that is exactly what they should have done. I just talked to them and explained what happened and this was the conversation:
HS: “Well you can return her for a refund of course.”
Me: “Oh, and then you’ll just turn around and adopt her out to someone else without disclosing, right?”
HS: “No, if she does have all these health issues she would not be adoptable.”
Me: “Great, I’m supposed to tell my 3 year old we’re taking his dog back to the shelter to get put down. That will go over well.”
Shelters should be adopting out animals that are either 1) Healthy or 2) Have fully disclosed health issues. If a dog would not be adopted with the issues it has, then it should be humanely put down. You don’t let someone get attached to a dog and then have to pay hundreds of dollars they didn’t think they were going to have to spend.

The nearest other shelter is 30 minutes away. We got some cats from them last year, and they are great, but we don’t have a lot of choice in where we get our pets around here. It’s really this place or a backyard breeder. :mad:

Wow, great job of making the shelter’s negligent practices and half-assed work the adoptive family’s problem.

I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but what happened here is the result of the current belief that all pets should be saved and put in a home, which means that dogs/cats with severe health and temperament problems are purchased at shelters every day. The new owners then end up not with a fine companion but an invalid that they become attached to and spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on. It used to be that shelters would put such dogs down, but these days the most they will do is kill the biters. They don’t have the money to give these dogs the medical attention they need, so they lie and pass the buck to the owners.

There are so many reasons why getting a family pet from a shelter is not a good idea, and here is just one. Sometimes these dogs are dumped because the owners cannot pay the medical bills, sometimes they’ve been at large before being caught and developed medical problems the shelter cannot afford. Yes, it’s sad to think that this cute scruffy little mutt should never have left the shelter, but neither should shelters be lying about the health (or temperaments) of their dogs just to get them into a home. If the OP is lucky, “all” he’ll have to pay for is the teeth extractions and then thyroid medications for the life of the dog. Which might be how long, given the dog’s health? And I’ll be willing to bet the original purchase price wasn’t cheap either.

OP, my advice is to take the dog back and not tell your child that she is going to be put down. Drive that 30 minutes to the other shelter and see if you have better luck. Or use those hundreds of dollars you are going to spend on the cute mutt to get her healthy and have a well bred pup shipped in.

Basically true, but having worked for a local shelter for six years, I’ll say that they’re more than a lobbying organization; they’re also an educational clearinghouse. Local shelters have access to a huge professional library of best practices via HSUS, and we relied heavily on this library when designing our own best practices documents. Maybe we didn’t get money, but the free advice we got was invaluable.

I know I won’t convince you that the shelter wasn’t purposely hiding the problems or at best intentionally avoiding looking for problems. And if you go into it with that assumption, then I agree it’s a shitty way to run a shelter.

I’m suggesting they might be doing the best they can with very limited resources and money. Anyone adopting from a shelter should realize this is a risk. I’m sure there are shelters that are less than ethical, which makes it even more risky. Maybe this is one of those unethical shelters, but maybe not. It would indeed be wonderful if the shelter was able to dedicate all the time and money that the animals deserve.

No, even if they legitimately are incapable of finding and disclosing issues due to lack of staffing or money or whatever excuse, it’s still a shitty way to run a shelter and does a tremendous disservice to both the adoptive families and the animals taken into their care. Families getting hit with fees they didn’t know about and animals with medical conditions either left untreated or just abandoned because the family couldn’t handle the animal’s undisclosed conditions. This doesn’t require any blinders or insistence that there was intentional deception. Half-assing the job for [excuse] is still half-assing the job only now you can say it wasn’t your fault.

I agree with this 100%. If a dog/cat/whatever is too unhealthy to be fixed up for adoption at a reasonable cost it should be put down, or at the very least the health issues should be disclosed for potential adopters to understand.

Trout this dog was in a vet’s care for 1) flea extermination 2) cherry eye repair 3) spaying and 4) clearing up a UTI. And they didn’t have a second to open her mouth and look at her teeth? While they were fixing her cherry eye they couldn’t see that she has a cloudy eye with a scar on it? These are not in-depth procedures, these are things my vet saw in 5 minutes, so don’t try to tell me they just don’t have enough time to look at a dog’s mouth. These are either terrible vets who miss very obvious issues, or they are liars.