19601 North 27th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85027
July 25, 2011
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing to let you know about a situation I encountered with one of the charities you sponsor on July 23, 2011. To give you a bit of background, I have been a volunteer for Save The Cats, Inc. which is a PetSmart Charity run out of the Newtown, PA store, for the past 2 years. I am a Thursday evening volunteer and I exercise the cats and clean their cages, and try to promote adoptions. Additionally, I took it upon myself to create the Facebook website for the organization in order to promote adoptions. About a month ago, my friend decided to adopt a kitten, and since she knows I volunteer at STC, she wanted to adopt from them. She filled out an application and submitted her references. The application did not indicate that references had to know anything about pets she had in the past, so my friend thought that people who could vouch for her character would be good references.
I was one of the references she submitted. I was called by a volunteer from the organization named Andrea and was asked questions about my friend's cats. My friend does not currently have any pets, but did in the past, as I told Andrea. I told Andrea that I had never met my friend's cats because I did not know her when she had them. Andrea was obviously agitated with this fact and told me that I should not have been submitted as one of the references if I did not know the cats. It should be noted that from the beginning of the phone call, Andrea was extremely rude. Later, my friend was notified that she was not approved for the adoption. She was told that this was because she didnt give the proper references and because she did not know what type of cancer her cat had died from (this was several years ago) and that good pet owners know exactly what happened to their pet.
My friend was very upset about this and got in touch with Marnie, the president and founder of STC. She explained that she did not understand the requirement and could give different references, but Marnie was rude and did not allow her that opportunity. She also went so far as to tell my friend that she had called her veterinarian and was told that she gave her cats away, which is a blatant fabrication. My friend later went to the veterinarian and requested all copies of her cats records, which all stated that her cats had been put down as they had cancer at various times, no cats were ever given away. My friend tried to provide this information to Marnie but her calls and emails went unanswered. It seems to both myself and my friend that this organization decides whether to adopt to you based on whether or not they personally like you by talking to you over the phone.
This brings us to July 23, 2011. My husband and I were at the store to get our dogs groomed. We decided to walk around the store and see the cats for adoption. I was talking to some of the volunteers about our cats while my husband was playing with a red tabby kitten named Chief. After much consideration, he decided he would like to adopt him. I had been holding the cat and deciding whether to take him with my husband for about half an hour. The volunteers there were encouraging us to take him home. I told the woman I had been speaking with about the cat that we had decided to take him home. She went to get me the application from Marnie who was onsite overseeing things.
Marnie immediately told me that because I am having trouble with one of my cats behaviors that I had mentioned to her, she did not want to adopt him to me. The behavior in question is that she doesnt want to use her litterbox. It is an issue we are working on (keeping a litterbox in the place where she is inappropriately going to the bathroom solves this problem, although it's not ideal, we can deal with it) and should have nothing to do with us being able to take in a kitten. I explained this to her and she then told me that she knows I am trying to take the cat to give to my friend. This was said in front of my fellow volunteers and other people who were there to adopt cats. It was obviously untrue, unfounded and very embarrassing.
I explained to her that I would never do such a thing, and she told me that if she adopted him to me, I would have to sign a legal statement that would allow her to sue me if I gave him to my friend. I explained over and over that I have been a faithful volunteer for 2 years, and would never do such a thing, and that he was for my husband and I. She started arguing with us and embarrassing me, and my husband stepped in. Marnie proceeded to grab the kitten from my arms and said sorry, its not happening, goodbye. I was totally upset and started to cry. As I was standing there crying the other volunteers were asking what had happened, and in front of everyone she explained that I was trying to pull a scam and get a cat for my friend she had recently denied. I left the store in tears and was very upset for the entire weekend about the way I was treated. I am so embarrassed that I am no longer going to be volunteering at STC.
I visited my local ASPCA the next day and adopted a 3 month old kitten, of course, not for my friend, but for myself. He is doing great and my other cats love him too!
I voiced my opinion on the situation to my veterinarians office when I brought the kitten in for his new kitten evaluation. They told me that an organization which wasnt just discriminating against people would have called my vet to evaluate me and be sure the cat was going to be living with me, not make ridiculous assumptions because they have a personal dislike for someone. They also told me that they used to see a lot of people getting new cats from STC, but not anymore, since they are dishonest and ridiculous about rules as far as who to adopt to.
I talked to other professionals from veterinarians to people who volunteer at other organizations, who all agreed that this organization has taken a turn for the worst because of Marnie and her ridiculous screening practices and the way the organization is run.
Something needs to be done to ensure that the process of approving someone for an adoption is fair. STCs intended purpose is to adopt cats to good homes, not to discriminate and not allow adoptions to good people because the interviewer decides they do not like them. Additionally, people who want to adopt need to be spoken to politely over the phone.
At this point, not only will I not be volunteering at STC any longer, but I will be telling anyone I can not to adopt from them, and to support their local ASPCA instead. Marnie should be ashamed of herself, and PetSmart charities should rethink their support of such a corrupt organization. I will be contacting the Humane Society, Better Business Bureau, and spreading the word about the way STC operates. All 3 of us are certainly owed a huge apology from Marnie, especially after all the time I have donated to STC which was obviously unappreciated. If STCs goal is to deny cats loving homes and lose loyal volunteers, they are certainly succeeding.
CC: Store Manager
2600 South Eagle Road
Newtown, PA 18940
Better Business Bureau
1880 JFK Boulevard, Ste. 1330
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Humane Society of the United States
2100 L St., NW
Washington, DC 20037