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IN OUR HANDS RESCUE
January 6, 2013

A few weeks ago after much thought and a lengthy search, I adopted a five year old terrier, Chester, from In Our Hands Rescue. A few days prior I had filled out the online application and was immediately contacted about adopting him. While I knew I was obviously a qualified pet owner, In Our Hands did not check any of my references or with my landlord to confirm that my building was a suitable, pet-friendly apartment. This should be a standard, first step in an adoption process for any reputable animal rescue or shelter.

I inquired with both Chester’s foster mom Susan, as well as Jenifer, the owner of the rescue, about Chester’s medical history and former living situations and was informed that he was perfectly healthy, except for a “minor case” of separation anxiety. I was told when left alone he whimpered a bit, but didn’t cause too much of a problem otherwise – no barking, destruction, or the more severe symptoms attached to separation anxiety. I knew Chester would be in a good home now, where he would only occasionally be left alone for a maximum of two or three hours, as my roommate works from home.

I signed the paperwork and Jenifer made sure to confirm that the $300 donation was non-refundable and that they “make no claims as to the temperament, health or mental disposition of any animal put up for adoption.” This seems very odd for a rescue that wants to a great best outcome for the pets they supposedly care for. For an adopted pet to be placed in the best home, a new owner must be informed of a pet’s full background story – any traumas, relocations, medical issues, and problems with training. The fact that they legally absolve themselves from telling potential adopters a pet’s background is deplorable.

When I returned home I found that one of the pages of paperwork from Chester’s vet visits included his former owner’s name and number. I called her up out of curiosity to see exactly why she had given up Chester and to find out a bit more about him directly. Kate enlightened me on the full picture of Chester’s severe separation anxiety and how, after 15 months of training, vet visits, and even anxiety medication, she had no choice but to give him up as her attempts were ineffective. Clearly he was not meant for city/apartment life and really needed the support of someone who would never leave his side.

She returned him to the rescue begging them that he needs to be put in a home where he would have 24 hour support possibly with other dogs or children as there seemed to be no cure for his problems, which include loud barking when left alone, destruction of property, depression, and severe attachment issues. She also included many of Chester’s supplies (food, leash, dog bed, etc) for his new owner, as well as full records of his attempted training and medication for his new owner. In Our Hands Rescue conveniently did not include any of these materials or supplies when I adopted Chester, even after asking specifically.

I soon saw first-hand how bad Chester’s anxiety was. Even after leaving for only short periods of time (five or ten minutes) Chester would begin to bark loudly. Not only did my neighbors justifiably report me to my management company for noise complaints, but also to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection because of his non-stop barking when we were out of the apartment. In addition, Chester began repeatedly breaking into garbage, urinating in the house, and other destructive behavior. While Chester is a calm, affectionate and loving dog when people were around, he clearly could not be left alone at all.

When I finally made the decision to return Chester to the rescue, Jennifer tried to dissuade me instantly. Both Susan and Jennifer curtly told that I would have to wait an indiscriminate amount of time for a new foster home to open up. Only after following up several times did Jennifer agree to have him taken back to Susan’s home. There was a clear lack of communication as Susan claimed she would have immediately taken Chester back if she knew of the situation. Even after returning Chester, Jennifer refused to acknowledge that I previously told them about his behavioral issues.

Jenifer’s decision to proceed with an adoption for a dog that needed such intense care was severely irresponsible. While noble in theory, In Our Hands Rescue is clearly failing to provide an adequate service to pets that truly need care and compassion. Instead they are filtering dogs in and out of homes, causing even more pain and trauma for animals, many of which are already maladjusted and confused.

I am so sorry that my $300 went to supporting a rescue that hastily flips dogs into new homes without proper research or compassion. Clearly Jennifer is not qualified to be running this operation. I am writing this letter as I do not want to see any more animals or potential owners inflict the hardship, heartbreak, and monetary loss that the ordeal put both me and Chester’s former owner into.

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How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

None

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

No

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Badly

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

MY ROLE:
Client Served