When Your New Pet Isn’t a Good Fit for You

Financial Constraints

Financial troubles and human health problems that crop up after someone takes in a dog or cat can make it hard to keep a pet. It’s something Kim Wolf, director of the nonprofit Beyond Breed in Brooklyn, New York, sees every day.

Wolf combines her background in social work and animal welfare to help pet owners in underserved, low-income areas, many of whom have taken in strays. She helps connect them with the resources they need and either can’t afford or don’t know are there.

Her group might help get an animal spayed or neutered, provide pet food or grooming, drive to a pet store to get a crate because the owner doesn’t have a car or offer temporary boarding.

Wolf sees a lot of people who are forced to give up their pets when they have to move into apartments that aren’t pet friendly. “It’s not that these people don’t want to keep their pets; it’s that they’re having to choose between their pets and the roof over their heads,” she says.

She points out that lower-rent apartments usually aren’t the ones that are pet friendly, and many landlords have size restrictions on animals or a limit on the number of pets or require deposits too large for someone living paycheck to paycheck. “Life circumstances happen, and not everyone has the resources to get through them,” she says.

Wolf also oversees a program that helps senior citizens in New York keep their pets by taking them for walks or to the vet. Sometimes simple things like that can help someone keep his or her pet.

Withholding Judgment

“Certainly the goal is, the adopter comes in, we make the right match, they go home and everything’s great,” Weiss says. “But if we’re judgmental when he brings [the pet] back, then he’ll probably get a pet from another source that may or may not be a humane one. [The adopter] came to our shelter to save a life. We just have to find the right one.

“There are organizations that can be judgmental toward the person, but more and more shelters are moving away from that and understanding that adopters are just like us and understanding that it just didn’t work out,” Weiss says. She explains thatif an animal comes back, at least the shelter workers know a lot more about that pet than they did before, which can facilitate another potential adoption.

After the heartbreaks of her first two adoptions gone wrong, Alexandra found two more cats who needed homes and who were a better fit, and now has a happy ending to her story.

“It was hard to take in these other cats and develop attachments to them and have to give them back,” she says. “Finally, I have a little cat family.”

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