Woman says SPCA rejected her bid to adopt dog

Says unneutered childhood pets cited as a factor

Barb Sweet bsweet@thetelegram.com
Published on January 22, 2014
Rebecca Gladney poses with her dog Rooner at her home in Mount Pearl. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

A Mount Pearl woman says she was rejected from adopting a dog by the SPCA because family dogs, with her since childhood, had not been neutered.

“I thought they did a lot of good work, necessary work,” Rebecca Gladney, now in her mid-20s, said of the SPCA

“It’s really taken me aback.”

Gladney had gone to the animal shelter in St. John’s recently with open bags of food after the second of her two dogs, obtained by her family when she was 12, died in December. The other dog — Shaft and Shady were siblings — died last summer and neither was neutered.

She said she was not looking for a new pet, but fell in love with a year-old Gordon setter/retriever mix named Charlie. He was already neutered.

But according to Gladney, her application was turned down on the basis of the status of her previous pets. She said she appealed to the shelter manager and thought that if her veterinarian vouched for her, the adoption might go ahead.

Gladney said while visiting Charlie one day, she overheard a staff member arguing on the phone with her vet.

Gladney also said while waiting to talk to the manager, she overheard a conversation about the kennels being full and there being no room for new surrenders.

She said she visited Charlie for days, but was eventually told the dog was sent to a foster home.

“Charlie found me for a reason. And I think that reason was to bring some of this to light,” Gladney said, adding in the meantime she adopted a dog, Rooner, from an acquaintance about a week ago and the issue is no longer about her getting Charlie.

“But the question remains: how many other great, or even good, homes are being denied for reasons such as this? Even on vet recommendations? It’s basically encouraging people to go buy from a pet store, and in turn support puppy mills — one of the very things the SPCA is supposed to be against,” Gladney said.

“How many animals are being turned away and subsequently abandoned or neglected due to the SPCA not having room for them because they’re turning away perfectly good foster homes/potential adopters? Something, somewhere, is broken. And needs to be addressed. And fixed.”

Shelter manager Kristy Bailey said she cannot discuss specific cases, but said only a minority of applications are turned down each year while about 1,000 animals are adopted out annually.

She said there is no set-in-stone policy rejecting people who have had unneutered or unspayed pets.

“We have a complex process in which we try to find the best fit for every animal,” Bailey said.

“Those decisions involve getting to know the adopter. It also includes their previous pet history and, certainly, those who have chosen to have their pets spayed and neutered is a great indicator of pet ownership, but it is not the only indicator.”

But she acknowledged it can be one indicator of pet ownership suitability — not the only factor.

“We don’t enjoy declining applications,” Bailey said, adding staff feel sorry when it happens.

“We understand it is upsetting for somebody to be turned down and people feel very sad about that.”

Charlie is still featured on the SPCA website as a potential adoptee even though he is being fostered.