How to Decline a Pet Adoption

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

Animal rescues should never begin with being so critical that the overall outcome of each adoption interview leads to a “no.”


The goal of every animal rescue should be to adopt out as many animals, as they safely can.


We operate under the assumption that most people are good people and are confident enough to care for animals in need.

We recommend contacting a qualified consultant when your animal rescue declines more than 10% of prospective pet adopters.


Unfortunately, even with the goal of approving as many pet adoptions as an animal rescue safely can, we still find many instances where adoption counsellors will need to decline prospective pet adopters.

Here are Some Reasons for a Pet Adoption Counsellor to Decline a Pet Adoption


There are many instances in which your animal rescue's adoption counsellors will need to decline a pet adoption.


Here are some of the many reasons why an adoption counsellor may need to decline a pet adoption:

  1. The prospective adopter has a history of abusing animals.

  2. The prospective adopter is unable to understand the animal’s medical or behavioural needs.

  3. The prospective adopter indicates that they plan to use physical abuse to discipline the animal.

  4. The prospective adopter does not believe that pet ownership should be a life-long commitment.

  5. The prospective adopter indicates that they plan to use the animal for an inappropriate purpose i.e. attempting to breed the animal, use a dog to be a guard dog or a cat to eat wild mice.


There are many other red flags that an adoption counsellor may notice in an adoption interview.

Your training program will need to train adoption counsellors on how to recognize these red flags.

In instances where red flags are present, adoption counsellors will need to decline adoptions.

Declining pet adoptions is a part of keeping animals safe.

Adoption counsellors should never hesitate to decline a pet adoption when they have determined that it is unsafe for a companion animal to go home with a prospective adopter.

Adoption counsellors will need to know how to properly decline a pet adoption.

Your animal rescue is who is responsible for teaching your adoption counsellors how to properly decline a pet adoption.

A good adoption manager can help facilitate this process.





Here’s What Happens When You Decline a Pet Adoption the Wrong Way

Here’s What Happens When You Decline a Pet Adoption the Wrong Way

Your Animal Rescue’s Client Satisfaction Levels Will Go Down.


Prospective adopters who are declined fall under the umbrella of ‘clients.’


Adoption counsellors need to remember this.


Being turned away from an animal rescue is a terrible experience for prospective adopters.


The prospective adopter will feel as if they’re being judged.


They may also feel as if their families, their homes and their children are being judged.


This factor can lessen your client satisfaction levels.


A low client satisfaction level can lead to a bad reputation for your animal rescue.


A low client satisfaction level can lead to your animal rescue receiving negative reviews.


Both instances can hurt your animal rescue’s ability to raise the funds necessary to help your organization achieve your mission!


1. Your Animal Rescue’s Reputation Will Suffer.


If a declined adopter leaves your animal rescue feeling judged, they’re going to need to find a way to cope with those emotions.


Most people cope with their emotions by talking about their feelings with their family and friends.


Remember, the family and friends are hearing their story, not yours.


They’re also more likely to believe their friend’s story, over yours.


This negative word of mouth is the direct result of poor client satisfaction levels.


This negative word of mouth also has the potential to have consequences for your animal rescue.


In smaller communities, these consequences are often felt with great impact.


Don’t believe us?


Try convincing a community member, who has heard terrible things about your animal rescue, to donate to help your organization achieve your mission.


We promise you it will not be easy.


2. Your Animal Rescue May Get Bad Reviews.


In some instances, community members who had bad experiences with your animal rescue will do more than just tell their family members and friends.

Sometimes bad client experiences result in negative online reviews.


Negative online reviews can prevent prospective adopters from contacting your animal rescue.


This can negatively impact your animal rescue’s adoption rate.


Negative online reviews can also prevent prospective donors from donating to your animal rescue.


This will impact your animal rescue’s operating budget which in turn will affect your animal rescue’s ability to save more animals.


As you can see, declining pet adoptions the wrong way can have very devastating effects on your animal rescue.


This is why your animal rescue needs to train adoption counsellors on how to properly decline pet adoptions.


Six Steps Must Be Taken to Properly Decline a Pet Adoption


1. Pet Adoption Counsellors Must Control Their Emotions


Adoption counsellors are usually very passionate about animal welfare.


Unfortunately, there will be some instances where prospective adopters will say things that are so appalling, that it will be difficult for adoption counsellors to keep their composure.


Here are some examples of things we’ve heard in adoption interviews:

  • I’ve never given any of my animals veterinary care before nor do I believe that any of them need it. I have no intention of providing any veterinary care for this animal either.

  • I intend to adopt not one, but six cats to eat any mice who enter into my backyard. The cats will live outdoors.

  • If my birds peck me, I intend to discipline them by grabbing them by their beak and slapping them in the head with two fingers until they stop.


We’re sure you can understand how difficult it must be for adoption counsellors to keep their cool in these types of situations.


However, adoption counsellors need to remain calm and respectful towards prospective adopters even in these types of situations.


The prospective adopters simply lack education, insight and perspective.


It is an adoption counsellor’s job to provide prospective adopters with the education, insight and perspective they may be lacking.


It is your animal rescue’s job to train your adoption counsellors on how to maintain their composure, in order for them to effectively deliver this education to all prospective adopters.


2. Pet Adoption Counsellors Need to Educate the Prospective Adopter on Their Areas of Concern