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Dogster Magazine: Should Fenced-In Yards Be a Requirement for Dog Adopters?

This is a special section for dogs needing new homes and for inspiring stories of dogs that have found their furever home through Dogster or through the love and energy of rescuers. This is also the place to discuss shelters, rescue organizations, rescue strategies, issues, solutions, etc. and how we can all help in this critical endeavor. Remember that we are all here for the love of dog! If you are posting about a dog that needs a new home, please put your location in the topic of your thread so those close by can find you! Make sure to check out Dogster's dog adoption center!

  
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Henry Miller

He's a tramp,- but they love- him!
 
 
Barked: Sat Jul 28, '12 8:37pm PST 
I have become heavily involved with a rescue group in my area called Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue. Maybe we have a unique situation in new york city, but if we required a fenced in yard, we'd never be able to adopt out any dogs. None of us have yards!! And I can 100% guarantee you that city dogs with no yards live a great life. Every morning, Henry and I join about 100 other dogs in the 40 acre park down the block for off-leash hours. We have EVERY kind of dog you can think of— from border collies and australian shepherds to bernese mountain dogs and great danes. The run, wrestle, and play fetch. It's really great. No yard mean lots more walks too. (It IS a difficult place to have a dog with any sort of aggression issues.)

On our web site we actually have the following written by the woman who started the rescue:
"We have an extensive application process with vet reference, personal references and home visit required. We are all apartment dwellers and we are NOT snobs about city living. I myself was turned down by a beagle rescue 10 years ago because I didn't have a fenced in yard (or any yard). I adopted my beagle from the city pound and she has the best life a dog could wish for - with three-four walks a day at a huge park a block from my apartment. I have met with many city dwellers who are so grateful to be treated with respect and not immediately condemned for not having a house with a fenced yard. What we care about most is that you will provide a stable, loving and safe home for the dog you adopt. Adopting a dog is a financial commitment and we expect that the dog you adopt will be on par with your other family members in terms of health care and overall care."
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Kodiak

The cheese ninja
 
 
Barked: Sun Jul 29, '12 2:25am PST 
I agree with everyone else- there are cases where a fence requirement is appropriate. In addition to tieout abuse, another thing that comes to mind is reactivity. While it's entirely possible to have a happy and active dog without a yard, it requires that the dog be great off leash, like the dog park, or able to be around other dogs on walks. Unless you are in an extremely isolated area, no fenced yard is going to mean no exercise for a reactive dog, and it's so hard to work on reactivity with a bored, frustrated dog. Fenced yards are also great for puppies who need midnight potty breaks, but not necessary. I believe almost all absolute requirements are a mistake. I think they are a sad, misguided attempt at ensuring the dog doesn't get abused or returned, usually by rescues that just don't have the resources to do home visits and interviews, which are really the only way of getting a good idea of whether it's a good fit and a safe home. I remember one rescue with a list of about 40 items that were requirements for adopting a dog. Everything from a leather leash (??) to three or four different kinds of harnesses and collars. The rescue staff was one older lady, not in great health, and dogs who seemed like they had never seen a leash before. I have no doubt that her heart was in the right place, but perfectly adoptable dogs ended up in foster homes for years. It's all too common.
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Seela

Beauty and the- Beast
 
 
Barked: Tue Aug 7, '12 6:35am PST 
I have never had a fenced in yard and have adopted my last two dogs from rescue groups. We live on a acreage but have invested in proper kennel runs. They are rarely in there for more than a few hours. Our dogs are then in the house and we take them out for runs and walks. I understand my some rescue groups have these restrictions but it is the areas that they have to work with. True, there are some dogs where a fence is just a minor obstacle to get out. I had a GSD that easily scaled 8 foot chain link. I did have to put a solid roof over the kennel. If you want to adopt a dog you should contact your local rescue groups to see if you fit into their adoption requirements before you get set on a certain dog through petfinder. I am sure if you make your case on how you are able to take care of a dog, a fencing requirement can be overlooked. Some rescue groups spend a great deal of time and money to make some dogs adoptable so they certainly do not want to see a dog returned just to be retrained and adopted out again, or worse, hit by a car. There are so many stupid pet owners out there without a lick of sense, so I can appreciate the restrictions set that these rescue groups have.
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Chloe

Honey Bear
 
 
Barked: Wed Aug 8, '12 9:12pm PST 
We started looking for a rescue this spring, but we got shot down every single time because we don't have a fenced yard. We live on 30 acres of private land!

When we moved here, I was very nervous about Chloe, but we supervised her time outdoors for almost a year and made sure her recall was rock-solid. She developed a very good sense of her boundaries, and now she stays by the house -- she's never once gotten lost or run away. She is always within calling distance of the house. I'm at home all day every day, she goes out to do her "patrol" for about an hour in the morning and then keeps me company indoors during the day. In the evening we go for a couple short walks together around the property.

I would still love to have a fenced in area, there are definitely times it would come in handy, but we're renting so that's not going to happen. Imo this is a very happy and workable situation even without a fence, but the rescues treat me like some horrible irresponsible person when I apply. :/ It's very discouraging and upsetting.

I can definitely see how plenty of situations without a fenced yard would be totally undesirable for a dog, especially if the dog in question is a hound or some other breed notorious for not being reliable off-leash, but it really ought to be on a case-by-case basis. Rescues always do home visits anyway, they could easily use that opportunity to evaluate the fence/no-fence situation.

So, since the rescues won't touch us with a 10ft pole, and the local shelters only ever seem to have chihuahuas and pits (we're not chi people, and our landlord's one stipulation was that we don't get a pit), now we are looking into breeders instead.

eta: Seela on every application I filled out, I always detailed our situation and solutions, and every single time I was shot down, sometimes quite snottily. There were 3 or 4 separate rescues I tried, and none of them would have anything to do with us based on the fenced yard alone.

Edited by author Wed Aug 8, '12 9:20pm PST

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Seela

Beauty and the- Beast
 
 
Barked: Tue Aug 21, '12 7:38am PST 
Chloe - That is so sad you were turned down from the rescue groups as it looks like you have a great spot for having dogs. A good elderly neighbor of mine lost his dog due to cancer two years ago. I got pictures of two beagles for him to adopt, one from the SPCA and another from a rescue. The rescue turned him down (I think because he was 70 yrs old) so he got the beagle from the SPCA. Talking about a dogs life, the dog is with him 24/7 and is spoiled with love. This 70 yr old has more spunk than someone half his age. The beagle in the rescue was still needing adoption 2 yrs later.
I have been turned down from a couple of rescues as I did not live in their area. It is frustrating but I do understand some need home checks etc and I try not to take it personally.
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