The words Dog Breed Info with the letter D inside of a black paw print

Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia (ACCT)

Trying to adopt a senior dog

I just read your story about the attempted adoption of Buddy and it mirrored so many of the ways we were treated that it is horrifying. I am 64 and do not work outside the home; my partner is 60 and runs a business from our home. We have many years of dog experience, including my teaching obedience classes for 13 years as a volunteer and fostering dogs, some of which needed retraining. After doing a lot of research I decided I wanted our next dog to be a senior of a bully breed, which have a very hard time finding new homes. Our local shelters very rarely have seniors available, but I discovered online that ACCT did. I called ahead to ask if there was anything we needed to bring, such as dog licenses or rabies proof and was told no there was not.

We drove up with our dogs to do the meeting there as they suggested. They only had a few people working and no one seemed to pay us any attention, so I asked if we could go look at the dogs and they said yes. We found two of the seniors and one other incredibly gentle bully. A counselor then started an adoption questionnaire with us, and clearly liked us as she took us back in to see her favorite senior. We were allowed visits outside with the three dogs and chose one, and asked if we could bring our dogs in to do the meeting. At that point it fell apart. The counselor went back inside and when she came back she told us that no meeting could happen until we were approved for adoption. She didn't look at us, but stared over our heads and just repeated that sentence for every question we asked. We asked if there was someone else we could talk with and she took us to a room to meet with her supervisor. She told us that we were not approved for adoption because our vet said we had 14 dogs and that our town’s animal control told her that we had nine and that only three of them were licensed. We told her we knew those were mistakes and she kept repeating “you are not approved.” (BTW we had decided my partner would do all of the talking as I might not have stayed calm).

Before we left Philly for the two-hour drive home we decided to call ACCT back and see if our vet and animal control at home called back with the correct info and see if she would reconsider. She said no, she would not reconsider or even speak with anyone from our vet. She said that she was too busy dealing with approved families. I asked if I came back with the correct paperwork the next day would she reconsider and she said no because we had 14 dogs and we would never be approved and anyway it wouldn't matter because the dog would not be there the next day. She was right about that, he was not on their website the next day and I can only hope that out of the 100+ Pitbull type dogs in there he was one that got adopted in the next hour before they closed.

The next day I drove to our vet and went through their records to be sure they didn't have records for any dogs except our current dogs. Besides some fosters they also had records in our chart for breeds we have never owned. Their records also showed that we had a 15-½-year-old that they had euthanized for us a few years previous to that, when he lost control of his hind legs. Then I called our animal control and discovered that they let volunteers answer the phones and that they have a really bad computer system the city won't update, so the only way anyone answering could know what living dogs we have would be to click on each dog's name and see if it was current. No names could be deleted from the computer so it is a problem that is not fixable, although she offered to call Philly for us once she had checked that yes, our dogs are licensed. The whole process made me sick.

A few days after that incident I drove two hours to another shelter that had two senior Pitbulls, one with just an incredible write-up from the staff. Once again I read everything about adopting, including a list of what to bring with you to adopt a dog. Surprise, they do not adopt out any bull breeds except in their county or just outside it and only then if a 16-point program is complied with including a full criminal background check by the sheriff. Who knew it would be so hard to adopt a senior dog? It seems they would rather just kill them.

Update: I have successfully adopted a female senior Pit Bull named Tiger through Bullie Paws. It was a much smoother adoption. We met in a park and first did controlled walks with the dogs on the outside, then walked with the dogs next to each other, then moved into a fenced area where we could let them mingle. I took my two rock-solid anywhere dogs for the first introduction and then added in my littlest. I went through Bullie Paws in Virginia, who mostly pull from high-kill shelters some of whom can't legally adopt out to the public. I have nothing but praise for them and the foster who knew Tiger so well. She gave me clear information on what kind of home Tiger Lily would or would not do well in.

~ Yarrow Morgan

SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) (Read these stories)

© Dog Breed Info Center® All Rights Reserved