Philadelphia Metropolis


How Not to Adopt a Dog

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It is human nature to envy those around us. "The grass is always greener" is an oft-used cliché, but one that rings true. For the longest time in my life I coveted what many of my friends and family members had -- a dog. My father is allergic to animal fur, so growing up I was never able to have a dog as a companion. Recently I was able to adopt a mixed breed that I named Bailey, but not without enduring some surprising roadblocks.

When I moved to Manayunk and found myself a row home that could accommodate a dog, I began to think about adopting. Buying a dog from a breeder for a few thousand dollars was not something I was prepared to do. I decided instead to do the right thing, adopt a dog from a shelter and save its life. I figured it would take a week or two to find a dog I liked and do some paperwork, and I'd be ready to go. How wrong I was.

The first avenue I tried was Main Line Animal Rescue. Being born and raised on the Main Line, I figured I'd be able to find the place, and possibly know someone that worked there. I contacted them and was presented with a 14-page application that I needed to fill out to even be considered as a potential adopter. To give you a reference point, the application I filled out when I applied to Penn State University was six pages, plus a personal essay; this application was more than double that.

Bailey Use This.jpgAfter completing the application, which took hours because they asked me for a budget that I would be spending on a dog, and what type of food I'd be giving him, all of which took considerable research, I was informed that Main Line Animal Rescue wanted to do a site survey at my house to make sure it was suitable for a dog, and then follow up with interviews with my three roommates, my boss, and wanted references for my roommates and I

Being a first timer, I began to wonder what I was getting myself into, but complied. However, when I provided them with my address, I was told that Main Line Animal Rescue did not adopt dogs to residents outside of their "adoption area." I persisted, as I had seen this posted on their website but figured since I was trying to help out a dog in need I could talk them into it. I was informed that Main Line Animal Rescue did not adopt dogs to residents of Philadelphia under any circumstances.

I was shocked. One of the biggest reasons I decided to adopt was that Manayunk is an paradise for dogs. The hilly streets are perfect for long walks and plenty of exercise. The Towpath and trail on Kelly Drive provide plenty of places for a dog to run and play, not to mention its proximity to Fairmount Park. Every restaurant in Manayunk has outdoor seating and encourages owners to bring their dogs and eat. I have never left my house without seeing someone walking a dog in Manayunk, there are at least five dogs living on my street, which has about 30 houses.

After the rejection from Main Line Animal Rescue I decided to try the Philadelphia SPCA. I had heard the horror stories about the SPCA, all the dogs used to be dog fighting pit bulls, every dog was sick and contagious, the place was a horror that took dogs in and killed them.

I visited the SPCA many times, and while there are issues of overcrowding, and smell, you will not find a place that is working harder to place abandoned pets with good families than the hardworking volunteers at the SPCA. They have a fully staffed vet office and many trainers and employees working to improve these animals' lives. I was given a cursory (one page) application and a tour, and I found my guy right away. I made an $80 donation and I was on my way, after Bailey had been updated on his shots at no extra charge.

The arrogance and disrespect I was treated at the other adoption agencies were nowhere to be found in the experience I had with the SPCA. These people are genuinely trying to make abandoned animals lives better. The SPCA certainly has its share of issues, but the bad reputation it has been saddled with seems undeserved, given my experience.


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