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Woman’s Dog Adoption Application Denied Because of Her Age

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A potential adopter hoping to rescue a 1-year old Yorkie-mix from Wisconsin-based Fluffy Dog Rescue says her application was denied because of her age.


Illinois dog lover, Mary, is 70 years old. Three years after her husband passed away, she turned to Fluffy Dog Rescue in hopes of adopting a dog in need and finding a companion.

“I planned to get a young dog so that it will fly with me and be able to go under my seat and go wherever I go,” she told TMJ4.

Mary had her heart set on a 1-year old Yorkie-mix being fostered near her home and sent in the required application. In response, however, the rescue cited her age as reason for denying the adoption.

In an emailed response to her application, Fluffy Dog Rescue said it has “a philosophy of ‘adoption for life'” and that “there are other dogs that may be more suitable for you.  In your case it would be a dog aged three or older.”

“I think they made a very poor judgment, in the fact they don’t know me,” said Mary. Upset by the decision, Mary’s daughter emailed the rescue for more information and was told the rescue has a mission to place dogs in lifelong homes and that they “have established a formula for our older applicants to do our best to accomplish this. With that said, your mother fits into a category of only being able to adopt a dog that is three years or older.”

“I think they made a very poor judgment, in the fact they don’t know me,” said Mary. “I just feel like I’m a good loving person and I could give a lot of love to a little dog, any dog.”

What’s your opinion? Should the age of a potential adopter be a sole deciding factor in whether they can adopt a young dog? Weigh in with a comment below!

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  1. Avatar Of Marie Basile

    Marie Basile


    Same situation, I was turned down by a rescue because I didn’t want two adopt a senior dog. I was 69 at the time and just lost two of my senior dogs within 6 weeks, so I was not ready mentally to deal with another senior dog. I felt they just dismissed me once they saw my age and I would not give in to adopt a senior. They wouldn’t meet with me to even give me a chance to explain my situation, I have already taken the responsibility of seeing that my dogs are cared for after I’m gone. The end result is I purchased a puppy from a breeder who will probably outlive me but it’s a chance I am willing to take because nobody that I know can predict the future.

  2. Avatar Of Marcia Gray

    Marcia Gray


    I have been discriminated against because of being over 70, Although my husband is 67 and we have a stable home, having been married for 39 years, we were still too old to adopt from a rescue. The one thing Rescue’s do not take into consideration is: None of us know when we are going to die… Heart attaches, Cancer etc. homelessness, drug usage. To refuse basses on age only is for sure discrimination.

  3. Avatar Of Katy



    Odds are, a puppy will outlive a seniors ability to care for it. Period! So that poor dog will lose its owner and most likely end up in a shelter where’s its scared to death before being euthanized. If senior citizens think they’re in such shape and will live another 15 years, why not find a senior dog in great shape on the euth list at shelter?

  4. Avatar Of Marilyn



    There is no guarantee that a young pet parent won’t give up the dog at a later date. People move. People have children. Life situations change, not just for the seniors. In fact, the plus is most retirees are past their working years, settled, own their own places or are in a place where they can adopt. They are STABLE ADOPTERS. It IS discrimination to only allow seniors to adopt older animals. Period. The better practice would be to ask all potential pet parents, “If your life situation changes or if you become incapacitated or die, do you have family or friends who have agreed to take in your pets?” No disqualifies. Yes: List name and phone numbers:

    It’s that simple. Period.

  5. Avatar Of Mike



    I’m in my 70’s and have experienced age discrimination while trying to adopt a dog. What is interesting is that these shelters/rescues plead with the public not to buy dogs, but to rescue. It is these same agencies that drive folks to breeders, because they turn seniors away and deny them to adopt. These agencies say that they have love and care for animals…well guess what, senior human beings are animals, too.

  6. Avatar Of Joe



    Same here. 71 years old, extremely healthy, active, no medications and financially secure. Turned down because of age. Plain discrimination. There is no guarantee that a 30 year old will live a few more years longer or have an income/savings to carry them through for the next 10 -15 years. Between 4,000 – 10,000 animals are euthanized EVERY day in the US, and 9 out of 10 were adoptable (no medical, no life-threatening issues).

  7. Avatar Of Donald Servais

    Donald Servais


    I am going through this misery now.I lost my rattie to cancer,and have been struggling with this mess since. It would be good to at least tell the applicant why they were notapproved
    . After dealing with 6 different agencies, I have had only one to reply with anything otherthan receipt of the app. Oh yeah, I’m 77.

  8. Avatar Of Barbara Barbara says:

    My husband and I have had that same discrimination while trying to adopt a dog. Luckily one could see that we had a great home to offer and we adopted out Daisy. At the time we had an older dog and since then she has sadly passed away. We have been trying again and again but when they ask our ages I just don’t bother because I know we will be turned down due to age.

  9. Avatar Of Linda K Ruhman

    Linda K Ruhman


    A rescue group in South Carolina refused my adoption of a dog because of my age. The group suggested I consider an older dog. An older dog could mean setting myself up for heart ache. I recently lost my Cairn terrier. She was 12 and died at the vet from cardiac arrest. I am on my 7th dog and when you lose a pet it is like someone ripped your heart right out of your chest. These recue groups are a joke. The only thing they do not ask of you is your first born.

  10. Avatar Of Maridel Savage

    Maridel Savage


    If you are healthy and fit to take care of a rescue it is ridiculous to deny by our age. I just put down my love of almost 13 years. Although I am not ready yet I want to do another rescue. I am perfectly capable of walking and taking care of a dog. I do not want a puppy but dog between 3-5

  11. Avatar Of India Mitchell

    India Mitchell


    How are these places getting away with this? If someone of color tried to adopt and was told that they must show a bank account to prove they have money to pay for the dog’s care, people would be up in arms over the racism! Or if a woman was told she had to be married to prove she had a man to be “responsible” for the pet, people would be outraged at the sexism. Many younger people live under the illusion that they’ll always be young. Once you get older you realize there’s all sorts of age discrimination going on but with no repercussions.

    Having these ageist rule is why people are buying puppies instead of adopting!!!

    So people with these “age rules” are really the ones that are causing the premature deaths of dogs in shelters. A good home is a good home, regardless of the age of the adopter. Adopting children is less work!

  12. Avatar Of Sue



    Most of the older (and therefore less adoptable) cats at the shelter I volunteer and foster for are surrendered because an elderly person passed away or moved into a retirement home with no back up person in place to take their pets in. The cats either get surrendered to a shelter or, as with my current foster, get some outside by the children of the owner. It’s not about discrimination. It’s about being the voice of an animal who has already suffered trauma from losing a home or more and wanting to ensure it will have one, safe home the rest of it’s life. My organization has a special “seniors for seniors” program. We pair cats over age 7, who have a hard time getting homes, with senior humans. The adoption fee is waived and we pay for the cats annual exam and vaccines each year. There are ways to help everyone. Another great option for else people who want a pet around is for them to foster adult pets for an organization.

    • Avatar Of Tazzyd



      How old are you? You cannot guarantee a lifelong home in any situation unless you some magical crystal ball. Ageism is discrimination waiting for a lawsuit to happen if it hasn’t happened already. Senior citizens are some of the best people to adopt as most are home with the pet all day long & the pets are the center of their universe. People like you send the message that seniors are incapable & bad.

      • Avatar Of Pamela



        Ageism is discrimination. Period. We are among the most active and responsible people on the planet.
        Any rescue or shelter that discriminates should be SUED. Period. I wondered why I kept losing out (i’m 70). Now I know

  13. Avatar Of Cherylann Dimitri

    Cherylann Dimitri


    This is a blatant violation of this womens civil rights. (Protected class). Prejudice is never okay!!

  14. What a wonderful website, finally something positive about age and adopting a loving friend. We just lost our 15 year old Maltipoo and my heart still aches for her. We would love to bring a sweet little adult dog to our home and hearts. We are both in good health(just the usual aches and pains) and so thankful for that. I’ve also heard that owning a pet can help you live a longer and healthier life. So shelters should be reminded of that. Our son and wife have already agreed to love and care for our sweet one if we become unable to do so. Another plus we are home all day and ready to play with a new best friend. But so far no luck. Not giving up!!! Thanks for letting me vent.

  15. Avatar Of James Mykins

    James Mykins


    I gave up on rescue organizations,you fill out a 4 page application,to not even get a response they received it,let alone if you qualify for the dog.They tell you don’t apply if your not ready to take the dog,what am I supposed to do wait indefinitely

  16. Avatar Of Jane Boulton Jane Boulton says:

    I think it’s horrid. I lost my Fur Baby in July. This Small Paws is one of the most crooked Ive met. They want all this money to supposedly put a dog back together. I think that needs to be researched. It looks very unethical. But, I just turned 74 and they said I have to get one over 5. All I’ve seen that age aren’t house trained. My pet sitter said too old to train then.
    I’M WITH YOU ALL THE WAY, MARY! This one was 4. I immediately got denied. I wrote back requesting his birthday. All I got was he’s 4. And, they say they really want to help grievers match the right Pet. I’ve had 2 Bichon Frises the last 24 yrs. overlapping. We all got loved to pieces. If they had seen my little princess two nites before the end, she got on top of me and squeezed me to pieces. How said they can’t consider all the love you have for more. They obviously don’t know what that’s like. The letter said Srs. Get tripped and can break a hip. Anyone with any suggestions, I’d really appreciate hearing from you.

  17. Avatar Of Louise Basgall

    Louise Basgall


    I am a rescuer and I hear stories like this often. I feel it’s important to look at each individual situation separately and NOT make blanket rules about the family and the dog. I have adopted dogs and even puppies out to elderly people because I made sure that they had a plan and a way to sure the dog was cared for properly. I’ve even heard of rescues that won’t adopt out a puppy to a family unless someone was home all day! How many families do you know that don’t have two working parents? Not many, these days. However, if they can come home at lunch to give the puppy a break or have someone come home during the day to give the pup a break, it can work out perfectly. How about the rescue that won’t adopt out a dog unless you have a fenced yard? Too many rules and not enough common sense. The only rule I keep is what is your dog’s needs and personality? What is the family’s personality and needs? Are they compatible? Will that family do whatever it takes to make sure the pet is happy and healthy? If so, it’s a match made in heaven. There no such thing as the perfect home, but there’s a way to make sure that everyone is happy, safe and secure for life.

    • Avatar Of Sandra Trummer

      Sandra Trummer


      I will be 75 in September, my two little fur baby’s are 8 this year in June. When they are gone and if I still have my health I will adopt a old dog and make us both so happy.

  18. Avatar Of Jean



    Why does Mary think that only a “young dog … will fly with ‘her’ and be able to go under ‘her’ seat and go wherever ‘she’ ‘goes,”? Does she think a young Great Dane would fit? Is she not planning to take the dog anywhere after it is no longer young?

    Why does the rescue think that whenever Mary dies it will be at least three years too soon?

  19. Avatar Of Linda Douglas

    Linda Douglas


    The problem as I see it is that it is the older dogs that are often overlooked at rescue places. They may take longer to adopt because they are not “puppy cute”. Therefore, they are the dogs that are put down first in many humane societies. Sad but true. She could be saving the life of a loving dog that has a gray muzzle and really doesn’t understand why their families left them. These dogs are so worth saving. I think they generally get it, that they will have a second start. Please consider older dogs…they are usually house broken and can be just as loving and fun as a puppy. OLDER DOGS ROCK!!!

  20. Avatar Of Betsy



    That is absolutely ridiculous. People are living longer these days, and why deny this little dog the pleasure of a forever home.

  21. Avatar Of Harris



    I had a small litter of puppies that I had to find homes for. A 70 year old man wanted to adopt one. We had a discussion about what his options might be if he became ill, or died, and he had it all lined up that his son and family would help him with the dog on an ongoing basis, and take the dog over if it needed a new home. I thought this sounded like a good arrangement, and verified it with the son when they came to pick up the puppy. I think having this discussion makes more sense than applying a formula based on age. And really, anyone with animals– at any age– needs to consider this, and make sure it is specified in will or with those that will handle your estate.

  22. Avatar Of Barbara



    There are no guarantees on any being’s life span. However, we hear nothing about arrangements this woman offered to make in the event she predeceased her dog. That would seal the deal for me: she can adopt any dog she wants as long as she has made arrangements for the dog to have funding for the rest of its life no matter where it has to go after her death.

  23. Avatar Of Lesley Clark Lesley Clark says:

    As a rescuer we also do not adopt dogs under 4yrs old to people 70 or older and even then have to have a co-adopter sign the adoption contract. I deal with many situations where people do NOT make provision for their dogs should any thing unforeseen happen to them or their circumstances change. As a rescue we have to do our best to protect that dog from ever being homeless again. There are far too many dogs in shelters being euthanized for that very reason. Most people dont realize that dogs that are owner surrendered to a sheltet are the first to be put down if the shelter is full.
    We also insist on a basic obedience training course being done with our very young dogs, something which older people are sometimes reluctant to do. They forget that a 1yr is still a puppy and a older person is better suited to a more mature dog.

    • Avatar Of Nancy Boyarsky

      Nancy Boyarsky


      This is age discrimination, plain and simple. People live longer these days. Odds are that a 70 year old would outlive the dog. Furthermore, no one knows how long they will live. Young people die and leave pets. My daughter did. Her husband took one cat and found a home for the other. In this world you never can predict. But one thing sure: You are guilty of age discrimination

  24. Avatar Of Eileen Smyth

    Eileen Smyth


    How about having a “younger” family member adopt the dog and then gift it to her. Age discrimination is totally wrong.

    • Avatar Of Nancy Boyarsky

      Nancy Boyarsky


      Right on! I lost two cats recently. One to advanced pulmonary disease and one to cancer. I was going to have my daughter “adopt” a kitten for me from a pet rescue organization that I have donated money to over the years. But then I found out they do not allow seniors to adopt a young cat. This really shocked me because I felt they were less crazy than most or these organizations. Lucky for me, a neighborhood website ran an ad for a 6-month old kitten, and I was able to bring her home with no hassle. BTW, I have a daughter who would have cosigned an agreement to make sure the cat gets a home should anything happen to me. Furthermore, I’m in excellent health.

  25. Avatar Of Melissa Finn

    Melissa Finn


    Ok so i’m going to inject a bit of realism here. This older lady may be a great woman, be active and be able to look after herself AND a dog really well. However, the general life expectancy for a human is around 75 years old. Obviously many die younger, and many die older. However 75 is the average. The reason this shelter would have rejected her application is because the dog is only 1 year old, and she is already in her 70’s. It’s highly unlikely she herself would live til she’s 90 or so, when the dog is nearing death. So it makes PERFECT sense to disallow this woman the young dog. The rescue centre is trying to prevent the cycle of dogs ending up in the shelter!!

    THAT BEING SAID… if you are fit and healthy, and you have a living will, you can request that your pets either go to a specific person, or a specific shelter. Many shelters now have bequesting programs. So I don’t necessarily think there’s any reason an older person can’t have this sort of arrangement in place, should they choose to adopt a younger pet.

    • Avatar Of K



      Except it makes no sense to allow her to adopt a three year old dog, but not a one year old dog based on the average lifespan. If they think she has, let’s say 10 years at the most, then at the end of her life, her dog is 13 instead of 11? So she still has a dog that needs to be rehomed, either way. If you increase the age of the dog she can adopt to 5 or 6, then you have a possibly declining senior trying to take care of a senior dog. That makes no sense either. They need to make sure adopters have a back up plan, and that’s all. Anyone could die tomorrow, at any age, but they still adopt pets with no back up plan.

  26. Avatar Of Kathy



    I think if she wants a dog to fly with her and sit under her seat, it would be best to adopt a dog slightly older. It appears the rescue was willing to match her with a dog a few years older, which would be a much better fit. If the goal of the woman is to save a dog, go for one a few years old, puppies easily find homes, it is the dogs slightly older that remain in rescues longer. I never understand why senior citizens want to adopt a puppy with all that energy and training required, would be like adopting a newborn at that age. I applaud a rescue that wants to find the best possible fit, and not just adopt out dogs to anyone that applies. People get so easily upset these days, let a rescue, who knows these dogs as they are in foster homes, match you with a dog that will best fit with your lifestyle. I do not like seeing negative press over a rescue that has placed so many dogs in loving, forever homes, mine being one of them. People that have no idea about animal rescue and what it entails, are always the first to be outraged when they can’t get a dog whose photo they liked. If you want to understand why certain policies are in place for rescues, volunteer, educate yourself, make a difference, before you are so quick to judge and criticize. Unlike a Humane Society, no one is earning a salary.

  27. Avatar Of Joan



    Well anyone of any age, could die! I personally adopted a beautiful little Shih Tzu almost 2 years ago when I was 73 yo. I worked full time until I was 73. And, I am still active with community work since retirement. That little dog would have had a great home and lots of attention! Are we going to request a physical in the future to adopt a pet? And my baby was 1-1 1/2 years old when she was adopted!

  28. Avatar Of Tammy Tammy says:

    What a kroc… will never fund or help that place ever. Poor judgement anf sharing world wide

  29. Avatar Of Vicki



    I understand rescues want the best for each animal. But denying a dog that could have a great home is ridiculous.

  30. Avatar Of Teresa



    My heart breaks for Mary & for the little dog that lost out. I have no doubt Mary would have been a fantastic dog Mom. It was so unfair to discriminate against her due to age. The future is not promised to anyone. When you love your dog, if there ever comes a time you can’t care for them (no matter the reason, no matter your age) your love is the incentive to find them another home. My husband & I were similarly discriminated against a few years ago when trying to adopt a dog. We were told we weren’t what they had in mind for the dog. The adoption service said they wanted to place the dog with a kid, so they could run & play & grow up together. Forget the fact we were home all day & could lavish so much love on the little guy. I think some of these agencies have lost their minds. There are too many dogs needing good homes for them to make judgement calls based on their own preconceived ideas of what a perfect home is. This agency & those like it should be ashamed of themselves. Whatever dog Mary ends up will be one lucky dog.

  31. Avatar Of Meg



    Yorkies can live to be 16 years old. As a rescuer, I usually try to make sure a close family member would be willing to take the dog if something should happen, such as illness or having to enter a nursing home. One purpose of a rescue is to try to ensure that the dog is never homeless again. I also recommend an older dog for an older person, they forget what it is like to raise a puppy.

    • Avatar Of Marianne



      I agree Meg.

      • Avatar Of Pam



        I understand it. I am 67 and have a 7 year old Lab thayt I have had since he was a puppy. I know I could not handle a puppy at my age. It would not be fair to an active puppy. Sad but true for me. I miss having puppies.

  32. Avatar Of Debra Kernan

    Debra Kernan


    Age discrimination pure and simple!

    • Avatar Of Pat Wessel

      Pat wessel


      I am of this age. I would never adopt a young dog at this stage. They have already lost at least 1 home and a family I am sure they loved. I would never have it fall in love with me knowing it would go thru another loss when I pass way to soon. Too stressful and so unnecessary. An older more mature dog could handle the my loss better, and rehome easilier.

  33. Avatar Of Meghan



    this rescue seems to believe that this woman will die soon! how DARE they make such a stupid assumption! they can’t predict the future! this is unbelievable!

    • Avatar Of Lisa Kennedy

      Lisa Kennedy


      I had a breeder be like this because I was buying the dog for my mum’s 70th. Nothing like hearing the insinuation of “well she might die”! As it is he has a wonderful home is spoilt rotten and has daily walks and is fantastic company for my mum.

      • Avatar Of Gina



        It’s really stupid. Hate to tell them, but there are no guarantees on anyone’s life. Even if she did die, I am sure she would make prior arrangements for the dog. Even if she didn’t, he would end up no worse than he is now…..in a shelter!

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