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Posted on Sat, Jul 20, 2013 : 7 p.m.

'Forever homes' sought out for rescue and foster dogs at Petco adoption event

By Erica Hobbs

After two failed adoption attempts, dog foster parent Karen Spaulding wondered if she would become, yet again, another “foster failure.”

Amid hot, humid temperatures outside the Ann Arbor Petco at 3537 Washtenaw Ave., the Dexter resident attempted to adopt out her 2-year-year old Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dog “Joli” during the pet store’s first “Mega Adoption Event” Saturday. Approximately 200 people attended the event, where animal rescue organizations Last Day Dog Rescue from Livonia and Planned Pethood from Toledo, Ohio showcased about 30 dogs and 50 cats in an attempt to find them permanent homes.

“It’s hard when they come back and you love them,” Spaulding said. “I definitely love her, but when we adopt the dogs out, we look to the best fit.”

Spaulding has been a foster parent with the Last Day Dog Rescue since September of 2009, a process where volunteers house homeless pets until they are eventually adopted into a “forever home.” Foster parents who end up adopting the pets themselves, “failing” to adopt out their animals, become “foster failures,” which Spaulding said happened her very first week as a foster parent.

Spaulding and Joli have been on a long journey together. Spaulding, who already owns two dogs, two cats and a parrot, agreed to rescue Joli and all of her seven puppies in November when no other shelters would take them in.

The process involved a relay from Kentucky to Michigan, where volunteers drove parts of the distance to give Joli and her litter a new life. After months of care, including cleaning up frequent puppy diarrhea, Spaulding was able to adopt out all seven of the puppies by February. But for the mother, an unusual breed known for herding and nipping, finding a permanent home proved difficult.

Spaulding said Joli was returned just more than a week after being adopted out in February to a couple whose busy schedules kept Joli locked in a crate for up to 18 hours a day. A second attempt in May to train Joli to be a service dog to help suffering war veterans also failed after a week when Joli’s nipping and herding instincts became a problem.

“They absolutely loved her but she wasn’t a good fit,” she said.

Finding interest in the dog was never the issue. The lab-sized dog with light green eyes and a light brown coat splotched with darker brown spots had striking enough features to always attract attention at adoption events. The difficult part was finding a family with the right energy and temperament to match the dog’s to make sure it’s a good fit.

“We’re looking for the dog to basically pick the people, because they know what kind of energy they like,” said Kathryn Caulfield, a board member of Last Day Dog Rescue. “We like them to be a forever home so that they’ll see them through to the end of their life.”

Though a relatively simple process, pet adoption is not a guarantee. Adoption requires potential owners to fill out a form and undergo a vet check and home visit by one of the organization’s volunteers, a process that can take anywhere from four days to two weeks, Caulfield said. The fees to adopt a dog range from $200-$300, depending on breed and age.

“If it’s a good match, we do the adoption,” she said. “If it’s not a good match, we usually find them a dog that would be a good match.”

Though this was the Ann Arbor Petco’s first “Mega” adoption event, General Manager Mike Curristan said the national pet store hosts adoption events every month, though on a smaller scale. He said the Ann Arbor store helped adopt out more than 400 animals last year, though the goal is not necessarily to adopt out as many animals as possible.

“The goal is to get people to realize that there are so many dogs out there that are abandoned or their owners can’t keep them anymore with these tough economic times,” he said. “We’ll definitely do our best to get that dog adopted out to a great family who can support it.”

For Joli, there’s still hope.

Trenton residents Jesse and Felicia Jones visited the event with their 3-year-old daughter in a search for a family dog young enough to grow up with their daughter, but not a puppy that would cause trouble. They instantly took a liking to Joli.

“She’s very calm, relaxed and she just seems like a perfect-sized dog as well, and the colors of the dog are interesting,” Jesse Jones said.

The Jones filled out the application for Joli, so now they wait to complete the adoption process to see if the dog is a good fit.

For Spaulding, the process would be bittersweet.

“It’ll be hard,” she said. “But I won’t let her go unless I’m really, really sure.”



Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 4:58 a.m.

I'm so disappointed there isn't a picture! I hope Joli finds a home soon! Great job everyone!

Erica Hobbs

Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

Unfortunately, the dog is not captioned as "Joli," but you'll see a brown dog with a family identified as the Jones.

Erica Hobbs

Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

Hi grimmk. There are actually two photos of Joli. If you scroll through the slideshow, check out the very last two photos. You will find two photos with Joli as she interacts with the Jones. I hope this helps!


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 1:09 a.m.

OMG! I wish we were looking to adopt again. I love that poodle mix. $300? Drop in the bucket. O well. Sigh. Gotta get a puppy fix.


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 12:59 a.m.

Homeward Bound does theirs out of Canton. This is also a rescue group as well. We found a forever friend for our other dog. Yes, forever friends know they have forever homes. Always remember this, who adopted whom?


Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 9:50 p.m.

Hopefully the herding and nipping issue isn't a problem with their toddler. That's why herding dogs are not always recommended for homes with small children. Good luck to them though, hope Joli finds her forever home.

Lisa Freeman-Johnson

Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 12:05 p.m.

The Rescue put alot of money into these animals the vetting bills can be outrageous as alot of the dogs we rescue come in sick and need treatment for alot of things. We spay/nueter all of our animals before they are adopted (with exception of puppies that are not old enough) they are up to date on all there shots, they are microchipped and this rescue goes above and beyond to provide us fosters everything we need for our foster animals. Food, crates, toys, there flea preventives monthly, heartworm preventive monthly, and anything else our animals need. With todays economy the way that it is without them doing all they do for us fosters we couldnt save these animals lives, as it is very costly when you get rescue dogs that need so much treatment. So I dont think the adoption fees are unreasonalble at all if you look at the big picture. If you go buy a dog or get a dog somewhere else you would be paying more than the adoption fees just for basic vet bills if you are going to properly care for your pet! We save our animals from the highest kill shelters alot of them come in with heartworm which the treatment for is very costly and very painful for the dogs,There arent alot of rescues out there that do everything for the fosters of these animals like Last Day Dog Rescue Does!! I wouldnt want to foster for anyone but them they are a great organization who save many many lives!!!


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 1:02 a.m.

As with these people, Homeward Bound asks for a nominal fee and then they let you know that you can use the money that you used to adopt these wonderful animals as a donation. So yes, you do not have your hands dirty when exchanging money for a wonderful forever friend. You get a tax write off and some extra money to spend at the end of the year to get a new toy. I do agree with this statement. We will adopt again from another rescue group when ready.


Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 8:36 a.m.

If there was a way to get paid playing with all these doggies and kittehs all day long, I'd do it.


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 1:03 a.m.

Don't forget...good exercise too while walking and tossing balls. Now where is the ben gay?


Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 12:24 p.m.

Good News! There is a way to get "paid" for playing with dogs and cats. Volunteer with a rescue or the Humane Society -- you'll be paid with wet kisses from dogs, and loud purrs from cats. That kind of payment is good for your heart and soul, not just your wallet!


Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 1:49 a.m.

I understand they have costs to cover, but that is one of the problems with adopting.the costs they charge. I would think more could be adopted if it wasn't so high. Hey, make a payment plan..


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 1:06 a.m.

I think we need to break it down for this person. Spay/neuter? Runs about $100. Vaccinations? Ran us last time about $100. O and don't forget the heart worm test and those chewie pills? $100. Then there is the pills for the fleas and tics. $25. Then there is clean up fees, clean your carpet fees because puppy did not make it outside fees. Then we have the emergency fees. Dog would not stop throwing up at 2 in the morning. Do not want to know what that cost us. So, in the long run? Better off going with these people.


Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

I would also like to emphasize that responsible pet ownership is not only an emotional relationship that goes both ways between pet and person; it is a serious financial commitment that is 100% upon the person . There is much heartbreak and emotional fallout for both the animal and the human when a cat or dog is returned to rescue because their person was unable to meet the expense of food, housing or adequate medical care for their adopted pet. The adoption fees are really minor compared to the life long financial responsibility that must be undertaken and fulfilled when a pet is adopted. This fact must be understood and accepted before a pet is adopted out to anyone.


Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 4:17 a.m.

I understand all that.. considering I have adopted the last 6 dogs we have had from the humane society.. but..... if they want them adopted help people get a dog.


Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 3:46 a.m.

Think of it this way, if your neighbor gave you a puppy for free and you are a responsible pet owner you would need to get vaccinations for that puppy, get them spayed or neutered, get heart worm prevention, rabies, etc. When you adopt a dog they come fully vaccinated, spayed or neutered and micro chipped. Some of the animals in rescues have also been through surgeries from crushed bones from accidents or other health or medical treatments . Many dogs become heart worm positive which is treatable or they develop other problems from being kept in shelters or from being strays. So in the long run owning a dog and being responsible is going to cost you probably the amount you would pay for the adoption fees. Plus those fees go toward food and general care of the animals.


Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 1:37 a.m.

I'm confused. The story is written in the past tense, but it's dated 7:22 a.m. today. ???


Sat, Jul 20, 2013 : 11:41 p.m.

Hoping the potential adopters give Joli a chance- not just a week or two, but a real opportunity to settle in and adjust. Good luck.