Trial periods: It’s something that every other local animal shelter that I contacted offers to pet adopters because it’s common sense that animals act differently in a home than in a shelter. If you have kids or other pets, there can be additional problems and the animal may feel threatened or be uncomfortable. Animal shelters and rescue groups offer trial periods where an adopter is allowed to take the animal into their home to make sure it’s a good match for their household. If it doesn’t work out, they are allowed to bring the animal back to the shelter within a certain time period to get a refund. The goal of any good shelter or rescue group is to make a good match so that the animal stays in that home forever and trial periods are the way to get things started off on the right foot.
The time that adopters have available for them to bring a pet back to a shelter or rescue group varies with each organization, but it is usually between one and two weeks although some groups give people even more time to adjust to their new furry family member. Some shelters call this time a trial period while others just call it a return policy. Pet Friends Magazine contacted the Sheriff and Undersheriff by email to get a comment on why they changed their policy with an additional follow-up call and email to Undersheriff Trent Taylor to confirm whether they’ll be issuing refunds. They have not responded to explain their current policy and if they will offer refunds.
This new policy came within two days of me contacting the Sheriff, Undersheriff and Board of Directors about a dog named Marley who had been sent out on trial with mange. The issue wasn’t about trial periods vs. adoptions – it was about them sending a dog out to a potential adopter who should have been treated by the shelter’s veterinarian. The dog was sent out on trial with Courney Porter who took her to see Dr. Meyer for a check up right away. Dr. Meyer said that the dog had demodectic mange, which is visible in an adoption photo.
Meyer told her that the dog needed her immune system boosted with special food and had an 80% chance of it clearing up on its own. Although Marley was not initially getting along with Porter’s dog, she decided to follow through on the adoption to make sure the dog gets treated for her condition.
Pet Friends Magazine contacted the other local animal shelters in the region and they all have trial periods or refund policies if their shelter animals don’t work out in the home they are adopted into. As stated earlier in the story, although the Wexford County trial periods has ended, it is not known if the adoption fees will be refunded if an animal is brought back – and what an adopters time limit would be to do that. To find out more about this, you will have to contact Undersheriff Trent Taylor to clarify their policy at 231-779-9211.
If an adopter will have to be stuck with an animal that might not work out in their home, the end result of this new policy will be less adoptions or animals who will end up in bad situations, being abandoned or posted on Craigslist.
When the information about Marley was brought to my attention, I contacted the County to remind them of their obligation to vet their animals and that they had been fined for not doing so in the past. I also suggested that their shelter veterinarian should visit the shelter weekly to check on the animals since the ACO’s don’t seem to be up to the task of knowing which animals need care and following through on taking them to the vet in situations like this.
Two days later, the notice above was posted on the “Wexford County Shelter Shares” Facebook page and a similar notice was posted on the “Animals Up for Adoption at the Wexford County Animal Shelter” Facebook page. Both Facebook pages were set up to network the animals – to get them adopted out before the County euthanizes them. Both pages also had administrators with direct communication with the Animal Control Officers which enabled them to get more current information about the animals at the shelter. This information was very useful because the county’s Petfinder page is updated so infrequently.