Nicole, a 2-year-old pit terrier, currently in quarantine in the Hillsborough County Pet Resources county shelter in Tampa, Florida is the latest victim of a well-meaning rescue organization that was attempting to help with adoption this month. Nicole was featured on a social media page that is supposed to help with dogs that need rescue in the Tampa area. It has become apparent that social media is not always in the best interest for the safety of a shelter dog. There is no way to screen a person who shows interest in the dog. Nicole was listed for rescue/adoption and has become a victim of an adoption gone bad. She is now in danger of losing her life after being returned to the shelter by a woman who was irresponsible in adopting Nicole. The pull by the rescue organization is known as a “courtesy pull” in an attempt to expedite an adoption to save a dog. People who are not suitable as pet parents and have no experience with a dog’s personality often play upon a rescue’s well intentions and the dog can become a victim. It has become apparent that “courtesy pulls” by well-meaning rescues are not in the best interest of a dog when irresponsible people may appear on the scene as willing to adopt.
Nicole, ID A29871665, was initially posted by a social media page that helps the Hillsborough County shelter in getting dogs adopted or fostered. There are no statistics for the success of this method of networking dogs, but there may be occasional successes. Volunteers wrote in the notes that accompanied Nicole’s story and presented Nicole as an owner surrender in the beginning and later became a stray after having been adopted once before. Volunteers also wrote that Nicole did very well in play groups for a period of time. Shelter employees and volunteers recently witnessed skirmishes in the shelter play yard between Nicole and other dogs. Yes, skirmishes do happen with fur children, just as they happen with human children. Doggie disagreements happen every day in every shelter all over the country. The shelter continued to send out notices to the social media group each night with pleas for rescue/adoption for Nicole. A woman in New Port Richey, Florida, finally asked to adopt Nicole. One member of the group that networks Florida dogs agreed to vouch for the woman and a rescue group agreed to the “courtesy pull” in order for the woman and her husband to adopt Nicole in order to save her life. There is no evidence that the woman who vouched for the couple who wanted to adopt actually knew the couple. A shelter employee has stated that the woman was counseled with information that Nicole should be an only dog because of bite issues with other dogs. Nicole has never bitten a shelter employee or volunteer who worked with Nicole. The rescue owner also counseled the woman with this information. Nicole is a dog that simply does not like other dogs. The owner of the rescue organization also stated that he counseled the couple with this information. It was made clear that Nicole should be an only dog. The couple that Nicole was handed over to for adoption is guilty of ignoring the information given to them by the shelter and rescue and there was a skirmish with this couple’s dog because of their negligence in providing a safe area for Nicole to begin a decompression period that all shelter dogs need when adopted. Nicole has now been returned to Hillsborough County and now awaits a decision as to whether she will be euthanized or be placed back for rescue/adoption after the quarantine ends on April 17.
Nicole is a victim of a woman who chose to ignore the information given to her by the shelter and the rescue organization that has pulled from Hillsborough County Pet Resources several times. Florida Sunshine Law prevents this journalist from revealing the woman’s name, but she has been placed in a file for consideration to be placed on the Do Not Adopt list in Florida. DNA/Florida brings awareness to communities by exposing abusers and others who adopt or foster for a rescue and have an end result of putting the dog in danger because of their choice to ignore information given to them by the shelter or rescue organization. Citizens can find more information at https//www.facebook.com/DNAFlorida.
“Courtesy pulls” by rescues are never in the best interest of a dog. The rescue organization in this instance has vowed never to be involved in this kind of situation again. Any rescue should be certain that any dog that is pulled to safety can be kept at the rescue until a suitable pet parent can be found. This rescue was quickly made in good faith in order to save Nicole’s life, and the adopting family placed Nicole in danger because of their choice to ignore the needs of this dog. Now this dog is again in danger of being euthanized next week after the quarantine period is over. If any rescue can pull to safety and ensure that Nicole can be held until a responsible pet parent can successfully adopt, please notify the Hillsborough County Pet Resources by email at email@example.com. Please help if you can.
All credible information points to the woman and her husband who chose to ignore information from both the shelter and the rescue organization who made the rescue pull in good faith. Nicole should not have to pay the price for an irresponsible person who adopts and then returns to the shelter because of the inability to provide a safe place for Nicole to become adjusted to a home. It is an unfortunate story that must be told in order to emphasize the fact that “Courtesy Pulls” place dogs in danger.
Update: Nicole was euthanized a few weeks ago. Updating in memory of Nicole and the difficult lesson that was learned. Social media is not always the best option for networking dogs and shelters need to screen administrators of the pages that they send out shelter notices to each night. Administrators of pages that are not affiliated with shelters should screen participants in their page. The person who gave Nicole to a couple did not perform a home check. Nicole paid the ultimate price with carelessness from a participant in social media. The social media page that received notices about Nicole is not affiliated with the Hillsborough County Pet Resources shelter. The director informed this examiner that the administrator of the page consistently refuses to meet with him.
Social media pages that are officially administered by the shelters are reliable. The lesson learned from this is that privately administered social media pages are not always the best source of information. Hillsborough County Pet Resources administers a FaceBook page with fun adoption photos and stories. The shelter also administers an official website at www.hillsboroughcounty.org/animal services. Pet parents who want to adopt are encouraged to use the official pages instead of a privately administered social media page. You are encouraged to read the fine print on any social media adoption page that you may come across on a social media source.