Breaking News
More () »

How to spot red flags when adopting a pet

Since 2011, Hearts of Hope Dog Rescue has helped 2,900 animals find their forever homes.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The story of Cober’s Canine Rescue is not only rocking West Michigan, but it’s also hurting those in the animal welfare community.

We spoke to Hearts of Hope Dog Rescue, a local foster-based rescue about steps you need to take before getting an animal from a shelter, rescue or breeder.

Since 2011, Hearts of Hope Dog Rescue has helped 2,900 animals find their forever homes.

They don’t want the story of Cober’s Canines to discourage you from adoption.

“We want all of the homeless pets to find the right home. And we can only do that if we are responsible in what we do," Anna Pakiela, foster coordinator, of Hearts of Hope Dog Rescue, said. 

Hearts of Hope is a 501(3)(c) non-profit organization registered with the state of Michigan, unlike Cober’s Canine Rescue, which was not.

It’s one of the first signs you should look for before adopting.

“Those are publicly available records, you can see if they've filed their taxes, you can see what their expenses are, all of that stuff should be very transparent," Pakiela said.

If it’s a shelter-based rescue, you should be able to visit the animals on-site.

“I would definitely say no matter if you're adopting, or you're buying a dog, I tell everyone I know, never meet someone at an outside location, like a parking lot or a store, you want to see where these dogs are coming from," Alexis Robertson, Executive Director of Big Lake Humane Society, said. 

A legitimate organization will vet potential adopters through an application process.

“A responsible rescue should be also responsible about who they're giving the animals to. So, with our rescue, the way it works is you apply for a dog and we bring the dog to you. We bring the dog to your house to make sure it's a good fit for all the animals, kids, whoever is in your home to make sure that that's going to work," Pakiela said. 

You should also be provided with that animal’s medical records at adoption time.

“If it doesn't seem right to you, if someone feels like they're not telling you the whole story, if the animal doesn't match what you were told about the animal, ask more questions and walk away if you need to," Pakiela said. 

The biggest takeaway before adoption or shopping is do your research!

“And the same can be said of breeders, Some breeders, not all breeders, you need to do your research there as well. Not everybody's getting the medical care they need. Not everybody's doing everything they need. So, give an animal who is homeless a chance, go to a rescue that you know is reputable," Pakiela said. 

One that cares and wants to give the animals a chance at a loving family of their very own.

If you have any concerns about an organization or business you can report them to the Attorney General’s Office, the USDA, or the Better Business Bureau.

Hearts of Hope Dog Rescue currently has 32 dogs available for adoption, ready and waiting for their forever homes.


Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.

Have a news tip? Email news@13onyourside.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Before You Leave, Check This Out