Just got off the phone with a local cat shelter, and had quite the kick listening to their seven-step adoption process:
- Call ahead to arrange a 1-2 hour play n' pet date
- Meet the cat(s)
- Go through an interview (basically prove you're over 18 and live somewhere that allows pets)
- Fill out application and sign contract (a promise to be a responsible kitty parent and that the cat will stay indoors, etc.)
- Meet with a counselor. Yes, you read that correctly: you need to see a counselor before becoming a pet owner!
- Go through one last check to make sure the cat still "approves" of you
- Pay up and go home with your new feline friend!
Now, anybody who has adopted a cat in the last decade already knows that this sort of ritual isn't that uncommon nowadays. And, while some of us might roll our eyes at some of the steps (I confess to internal snickering at the idea of having to see a counselor), it's undeniable that the process goes a long way toward protecting cats from unsuitable homes and/or impulse buyers. I mean, it kind of defeats the purpose of adoption if the cat ends up in a bad home or right back in a shelter once its new owners realize how much work actually goes into caring for a pet, right? Plus, despite the up-front hassles, you end up going home with a pet that's already been spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, tested for diseases and parasites, etc. -- so it's actually a great deal in the long run.
Of course, having all these steps in place does raise a concern that shelters may be turning away potentially good adoptive homes while there are still cats being euthanized. For example: I've heard more than one person say that they felt as if they were being talked down to or treated in a "guilty until proven innocent" manner during their adoption interview, and it's a shame these willing people aren't adopting. But overall, I have to say pre-screening and (even more importantly!) education is a very good thing -- even if it goes a little overboard at times. In fact, the cat shelter's policies weren't too far off from NAIA's own Dog Buyer’s Protection Act model law.
Pretty cool stuff. 21st century cat rescue has definitely come a long, long way from "Free kittens -- take some. No, really. Please take some!"
And I can't help but wonder what kind of world we'd be living in if we humans had to go through some of those same, seven-step processes...