Dear Critter Chat,

My wife and I wanted to adopt a dog from a rescue because we wanted to save a life. Each of the rescues we dealt with made us jump through so many hoops you’d think we were adopting a baby. We didn’t get any of the dogs we wanted and the whole experience left us with a sour taste in our mouth. At this point we’re thinking of buying a puppy from a breeder. This is not what we wanted but we’re being forced into it by these over-zealous rescues. What’s their problem??

–John, Pasadena

Dear John,

Since you mentioned baby adoptions let’s use that analogy. Any shnook can have a baby; doesn’t matter whether he uses drugs, is an alcoholic, was convicted of abusing children, or even committed murder. But would an adoption agency let someone who’s done any of these things adopt a baby? Not if it’s any kind of a decent agency!

Likewise, a rescue is responsible for finding the best home it can for each animal. Screening allows the rescue to make sure an animal doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, and that animals and adopters are a good fit, which is to everyone’s advantage – humans’ and animals’ alike! A rescue might’ve felt you were great potential adopters, but not right for the dogs you were interested in. Maybe, for example, one of the dogs doesn’t do well left alone for long stretches of time and you and your wife are gone 10 hours a day.

Your only options are not a rescue or a breeder. How about a shelter? There are lots of wonderful dogs at public shelters who end up there through no fault of their own. Their lives can be (and are) saved by people like you. You can find purebreds aplenty at the shelter. But don’t overlook the mutts! Not only can mutts be healthier than purebreds, how great would it be to have an exotic, one-of-a-kind, “what-kind-of dog-is-that?” dog of your very own!

AND . . . . if you find a dog you like, unless it hasn’t been spayed/neutered yet, you can take it home that day, not a “hoop” in sight! It just doesn’t get any better. So while a rescue might not be your cuppa tea, give your local shelters a whirl.

Critter Chat is a weekly column from attorney Deborah Knaan, who seeks to answer your animal-related questions. Email questions to with subject line CRITTER CHAT.