Dear Tabby,

We would love to adopt a dog, but we have reached out to several shelters and rescues and either don’t hear back or get flat-out turned down! We are good, animal-loving people and would make wonderful pet parents, but we are beginning to get discouraged in this adoption process! What are we doing wrong?

Desperate to Adopt in Garden Oaks

Dear Desperate to Adopt,

First of all, thank you so much for considering adoption over buying a pet from a breeder. By adopting (versus shopping) you can save at least one life -- if not several more, since adopting one pet frees up space for more needy pets to come into a shelter -- and gift yourself with the love of a lifetime. So, why are you running into stumbling blocks on your path to pet parenthood and what can you do to finally become a pet owner?

Be diligent

Like many organizations and businesses right now, there is a shortage of people to man the front desk. So, the fact that you’re having trouble communicating with area shelters isn't surprising. Most shelters and rescue groups are run by volunteers, so it’s often difficult to get a hold of people who can help. Might I suggest going in person to talk with someone face to face at a shelter? This will expedite the communication process and help you to get connected with the right people to facilitate your adoption.

Check out local government-run shelters

Since you said you’ve been denied adoption, there could be a reason such as a lack of a fenced yard, being a renter instead of a homeowner or having small children at home. Many shelters and rescues have rules like this in place to protect the animals in their care, but government-run pounds and shelters often will not be as picky. Yes, a fenced yard is ideal for many dogs, but a lot of dogs (and their owners) can do fine with other setups.

So before you give up on your quest, check out your local government-run shelter (and even those outside of your area) to see if you might find the pet of your dreams there. These shelters are often overrun with animals and are willing to bend the rules to free up space in their facilities.

Skip the shelter and head to internet

Check out local social media threads to see if anyone is “rehoming” a pet. Often folks end up in over their head with a pet or must get rid of a pet due to a life change or a move. This is a great way to help out a neighbor or a friend and possibly find a wonderful, loving pet. This will also potentially keep an animal out of a shelter -- thus saving a life.

I understand your frustration and hope you will entertain some of these ideas for finding your new pet. Lastly, please consider the reason why you might have been turned down previously for a pet and decide if that reason is warranted. In some cases, it truly might not be the right time to bring a dog or a cat into your family. And, if this is the case, there are other, easier pet options to think about, such as a smaller furry pet, like a guinea pig or even a super easy fish. Either way, know that your heart is in the right place and, when the time is right, your perfect pet will find its way to you!

Do you have a question for Tabby? Email her at deartabbyquestions@gmail.com.


Meet Sierra. Sierra is a young Rottweiler who was found after being hit by a car. Despite being in immense pain, Sierra has been nothing but sweet to everyone she encounters. While at the emergency vet, Sierra was also diagnosed with Addison’s Disease. Now, with proper medication, Sierra is thriving and living a full and happy life in foster care. Addison’s Disease is easily controlled and Sierra will live a long life with her forever family ... maybe that’s you? To learn more, go to www.scoutshonor.org.

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