Time and time again, I have personally written about the joys and benefits of adopting animals. There are millions of animals in shelters and rescues who are looking for a home and family. There are plenty of reasons one may not be able to adopt a rescue but for me, adopting can be such an amazing thing.

Well, it turns out that there are plenty of barriers to adopting. Many rescue organizations operate autonomously, which means they’re able to establish what criteria make you eligible or ineligible for adopting one of their animals. Some organizations require recommendations, a home inspection, a commitment to obedience classes, and a fenced-in yard, just to name a few things. There are many hoops and barriers that organizations use to help find the right home and prevent pets from coming back to the shelter.

But sometimes, these criteria can prevent animals from going to an otherwise good home and there are plenty of folks who are rethinking these barriers and the mindset behind them. There are many people, for example, that don’t have access to a fenced-in yard but do have a commitment and ability to walk a dog when needed (and/or access to dog walkers and/or pet sitters). With the rise in urban living (and apartment/condo life), not everyone who wants a dog will have yard space, as that can be a privilege in some areas!

Additionally, there are conversations in some circles around adoption fees and whether income should be a criterion for adoption. One criticism of waving adoption fees is that folks who might not be able to financially provide for pets later on would adopt animals and thus, the animals would eventually suffer. But proponents of free adoption fees point out that no adoption fees don’t eliminate an organization’s criteria for a good home. In fact, free or reduced fee adoptions can actually bring in folks who were on the fence about adopting and research actually suggests that no adoption fees do not decrease an adopter’s attachment to a pet or love they might feel. Lastly, while rescuing animals is expensive, rescue organizations aren’t able to rely on adoption fees alone to recoup any money spent on a pet. Ongoing donations and other financial support are significantly better and more sustainable for rescues and shelters.

As far as having an income requirement, this notion is, in my opinion, just classism masquerading as concern for animals. While having pets can be expensive (especially if there are any medical emergencies!), someone’s income doesn’t immediately indicate the kind of home they would provide for animals. Someone with plenty of disposable income might be a terrible or abusive pet owner while another person at the poverty line might provide a loving and stable home. People should be able to have meaningful relationships with animals if they want, regardless of their income.

And instead of shaming folks for their income/financial status in a deeply flawed capitalistic society, we (as a whole) should be helping folks make ends meet! Providing fencing, food, or other resources for those going through hard times can actually help keep pets with their families and out of shelters. By helping families and people keep their pets, we can do so much good for so many people and pets.

There are plenty of other barriers that keep folks from adopting rescues and while having criteria can help find the perfect home for rescue animals, it can also deter folks from adopting or prevent an otherwise amazing home from bringing a pet into the family. Like many issues, I personally don’t think this is a black and white issue and there is a whole lot more grey/complexity involved. The ASPCA currently encourages shelters and rescue organizations to adopt a conversation based application rather than a strict black and white policy. Having some general criteria can help but uncompromising blanket adoption policies can alienate otherwise good homes because they don’t completely fit a certain idea of a pet owner. Rethinking these barriers and having related conversations should at least be a start for those dedicated to rescuing and rehoming animals.

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