Will Henry’s story have a chilling effect on pet adoption?

Intervention in the lives of adopted pets and their owners poses a threat to the future effectiveness of adoption agencies and rescue organizations. It was disheartening to learn of the unnecessary reclamation of Henry from his adoptive owner, Karin Debelius, our next-door-neighbor of 10 years. During that time we observed Karin to be the most capable of pet owners. She demonstrated the highest level of humanism and devotion to animal rights, educating herself in new discoveries about animal health and welfare and consulting promptly with veterinarians regarding her pet’s health issues.

When people of her proven abilities, affection and scrupulous care can still have a pet reclaimed, it demonstrates the hypocrisy of the “forever home” promised by agencies in advertising. It will certainly have a chilling effect on the willingness of responsible people to adopt animals: Pet adopters will lose trust in adoption agencies and avoid investing the considerable energy of adjustment, paying adoption fees and forming an emotional attachment to their new pet — only to have it reclaimed without good cause. Fearing the heartache and waste of resources if their pet is reclaimed arbitrarily, without their knowledge, they will shun rescues and adoption in favor of buying animals directly from breeders and private individuals.

If organizations like VIPP and Collar of Hope are to be relevant they need to adopt clear protocols to guard against making arbitrary judgments and arrogant decisions in their operation. If they are truly dedicated to preventing suffering in the lives of animals and providing a service to capable, loving owners there must be scrupulous oversight, adherence to their established principles and values, and transparency in checks and balances on the authority of individual employees so they cannot abuse power or make unwise, unconsidered, arbitrary decisions.

— Ann Jacobs, C.P.

John Hoag, Esq.

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