You might remember a few weeks ago my writing about Jack, our dog, who was diagnosed with lymphoma and given just a short time to live. Well, that short time was about six weeks. Jack died two weeks ago today sitting in my wife’s lap as the two of them decided to take a nap. Life passed from Jack while he slept. It is a way of dying that I hear some people speak about longingly for their pets, and even for themselves.

The good and caring folks at Wayne Veterinary Hospital handled Jack’s cremation for us in such a loving way that my family will be forever grateful.

We’ll miss Jack for the rest of our lives. But we also know that as he enjoyed playing and bringing joy to us all, he would not want our home to be dog-free for long. Over the past week, we have inquired from some animal shelters their policies on adopting a dog. We have nothing against those compassionate people who breed dogs. We simply believe that with so many dogs waiting for a home that we should open our doors to one living in a shelter.

When opting for adopting from a shelter, people must be prepared for the length to which some shelters go to vet, or thoroughly examine, those looking for a new pet. We understand all the hoops requiring our jumping through when being checked out as an adoptive pet household. We hope others feel the same way. But they don’t.

With some shelters, it would be easier to pass a background check for super-top-secret security clearance from the government than adopt a pet. Size of home, income, the number of pets and veterinary experience are just a few of the checks made by most shelters. Some ask for a list of multiple references (who are called), current and previous employers (who are called), and veterinary clinics and hospitals used over the past 10 years (who are called). I read a newspaper column a couple of years back reporting the detailed questions on adoption applications. The questions included if a backyard was fenced, if there was a backyard, at all; if pets were allowed to spend time alone outside; if there were kids in the home; if a couple was planning to have kids; if the pet would be left alone for more than four hours; if pets had recent fecal screenings, were using heartworm preventatives or were on flea control medications.

Then you also have some shelters that demand essay responses to questions as part of the application to adopt. “If you have a pet that appears not to feel well, how long would it take before calling a veterinarian and what five questions might you ask the doctor?” How about, “Dry or canned food? Please describe the benefits and problems of each for a pet living in your area.” Or, “Please explain your thoughts on crate training versus treat training.”

I sense that most people would hold a dogged yet positive view of such application requirements. After all, the shelters must protect the pets under their charge from being sent to unsuitable or even dangerous homes. Plus, shelters want the pets’ new homes to be permanent. They don’t want to get a returned pet.

I’ll admit, I get a little short at times with the length some of the shelters go through to vet clients. I do understand, though, the importance of the shelters’ work and why they are so challenging. Yet, can their intrusiveness go too far?

Several stories in newspapers, magazines and on the web tell of people skirting the pet adoption application with false information. People will come up with fake documents from landlords and neighbors, photos of fences protecting backyards that are not theirs, phony shot records, the list goes on. These people claim that they are forced into lying because they see no other way to adopt a pet. Also, people who have given up on the pet adoption-go-round go directly to breeders, which is fine. But it keeps another dog needing rescue from finding that forever home.

What I would like to see is for shelters holding on too tightly to the application process to ease up their grip a bit. It is so important to make sure pets go to good homes. But it’s also equally important that people who do great caring for dogs be given a chance to show these pets their love, even if they live in an apartment, have several kids and have no backyard.

Duke Conover is editor of the Goldsboro News-Argus. Email Duke at or call 252-676-6813.